The goal of Districtr is to put the tools of redistricting in the hands of the public, with an emphasis on meeting the needs of civil rights organizations, community groups, and researchers.
Districtr came about from a conversation with Lawyers for Civil Rights, the Boston arm of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. LCR was describing their work with community members in Lowell, MA, who were frustrated about not having a voice with the city council.
In those conversations, a few places kept coming up… like Clemente Park, a much-loved meeting point for the city’s Asian and Latino populations, but one that felt unsafe at night because the city had not provided adequate lighting in the park. And Lowell High School, the city’s only public high school, which serves over 3000 students. The city announced plans to move it from its traditional downtown location, but did not invest in substantial outreach to communities of color about possible new sites.
Our idea was to create a mapping tool whose fundamental principle is to ask the community members one key question: what matters to you, and where is it located?
With maps that show relevant landmarks and data, users can try their own hand at creating maps with attached community narratives. Our research team at MGGG will support public mapping efforts by synthesizing public input into a Community Map Report.