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Bioregional mapping

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quoted from Kathy Cone, reviewing Doug Aberly's (et al) Boundaries of Home: Mapping for Empowerment (New Society Publishers, Philadelphia, 1993) in The Workbook, Vol 19, No. 1, Spring 1994, p. 27.

Our ability to express in visual terms the places where we live returns the power over our circumstances to us. Mapmaking, traditionally the province of those in power, has been and is used principally to denote property; the boundaries are thus arbitrary, artificial, and unrepresentative of any true living experience of the region. We've lost touch with our ability to conceptualize our own surroundings.... Re-visualizing, redefining our places through mapmaking - however untechnical or unskilled our efforts - can be a tool for regaining those places....

It might require a stretch of the imagination to visualize metropolitan Chicago as the Wild Onion Bioregion, but being able to do so means an understanding of that place's relationship to the entire Upper Illinois Valley watershed and a stronger sense of connection with the natural world. Says Beatrice Briggs, whose bioregional community group members spent more than four years learning how they could map - and thus define for themselves - their place, there is nothing like "a good map to teach us some important lessons about the place we call home."

The map they eventually produced... shows the are's surface geology, forest cover, wetlands, and Indian settlements before the arrival of Europeans.