[Also posted on Fast Company as “We design maps for a living. Here’s who got the 2020 election right”]

Every election season, maps and charts take center stage on major news outlets and across social media. The public is hungry for numbers and understanding, and data visualizers and cartographers race to produce their best work under tight deadlines, adapting familiar tropes to keep up with unpredictable and fast-moving developments.

As a cartography and data visualization studio (you may know our work from our open source basemaps at maps.stamen.com, or our more recent projects visualizing the possibilities of electrifying America’s households, exploring changes in mobility during the COVID-19 pandemic, or mapping the impacts of climate change on bird migrations with the Audubon Society) at Stamen Design we follow along with the election map deluge with particular interest. We’re constantly sharing election maps and charts in our internal Slack group, discussing which ones are our favorites, and also closely watching which ones seem to get the most attention in the public. …


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UPDATE May 31, 2020:

As of the morning of May 31st, the sign is gone. Chief Doll took it down himself.

I personally removed the sign this morning and we will work towards an image that is more inclusive for our Community. We are saddened that the original intent of the image has been co-opted by others to beget a different meaning.

I thank you for your outreach and communication. Dave.

David Doll — Police Chief

Bellingham Police Department

Thank you to everyone who wrote in letters on this topic. And special thanks to Chief Doll for promptly making this decision which was surely a difficult one. …


  1. Today I dropped off my ballot in the Washington State presidential primary. We’re a vote-by-mail state, so hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians have already voted weeks ago. And now that the results are coming in, we see that over a third of the votes went to candidates who have already dropped out. Similarly, on Super Tuesday over a million votes were wasted on “zombie candidates”. Imagine, instead, if we had a system where you could vote your first choice, but then also indicate your second and third choices in case your preferred candidate dropped out before election day. …


Today (January 22nd) is Treaty Day in the region where I live (the northwest part of Washington State). It marks the day in 1855 when the Point Elliott Treaty was signed between the United States government and the native nations living around the north part of Puget Sound (the central Salish Sea).

I talked a little bit about the importance of understanding and honoring native treaties in a presentation I gave a few months ago at the North American Cartographic Information Society conference in Tacoma, Washington. …


TL;DR: The answer is yes. You don’t have to rank all the candidates, but there’s no reason not to.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF) is currently holding an election for four seats on their Board of Directors. This is the governing body for the global OpenStreetMap project, and ideally the Board will represent all the diverse perspectives and communities within the overall OpenStreetMap movement. Thankfully, the OSMF board uses the Single Transferable Vote (STV) method for its elections (also known as multi-winner Ranked Choice Voting), which is perhaps the most robust and flexible form of Proportional Representation, giving the voting public the chance to elect representatives that fairly reflect the diversity of their views, without requiring candidates to form political parties or requiring that the voting public be divided up into artificial geographic regions. …


[crossposted from mappingmashups.net]

Last month I gave a presentation at the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) conference. NACIS is always one of my favorite conference, and you can now watch videos of most of the presentations on YouTube here.

My talk was about getting Native Reservations to show up on OpenStreetMap. I blogged about this previously: “It’s about time OpenStreetMap showed native lands on the map”. Now you can watch the video of my presentation:

You can also follow along with the slides on SpeakerDeck.

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Enrollment is now open for Stamen’s next Data Visualization Foundations class, scheduled for November of this year at Stamen Design. This hands-on class, which we developed with dataviz expert Curran Kelleher (author of the online platform for teaching & learning data visualization vizhub.com) will teach you the fundamentals of visual communication with complex information. It’s well-suited for beginner-to-intermediate practitioners and anyone who wants to develop more dataviz literacy.

The class will take place over the weekend of November 16th and 17th, 2019, in-person at the Stamen offices in San Francisco. Sign up now, before spots fill up!

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Hey students! This is a reminder that our classes are half-price for full-time university students. It always makes sense to supplement to your college studies with some hands-on experience using the cutting-edge tools of the trade! …


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In a parallel universe, I became a professional astronomer instead of a cartographer. Most people don’t know that I spent the first two years of my undergraduate degree as an Astronomy major at Caltech. I still believe that we need bold, ambitious pure science research to understand our place in the universe. Even though there are so many pressing problems here on earth and so many people who are suffering that need help, the taxpayer funds spent on astronomy and space exploration are insignificant compared to the trillions wasted on military spending and hoarded by billionaires and corporations worldwide.

But that said, I also know that “Big Science” (including a lot of contemporary astronomy) is like any other massive industry, with incentives that encourage unending acceleration and growth, and little prestige offered to those who find ways to make do with less. It operates by an internal logic that rewards constant one-upmanship for its own sake, and attempting bigger and bigger projects just because we can, rather than thinking about the implications and impacts on the rest of society. …


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Today (Saturday June 29) from 2–5pm is the first open house for the new Housing Co-op Resource Center in Bellingham. If you’ve been following along with Localgroup Studio for a while, you’ll know that urban design and especially the design of affordable housing is very important to us. That’s why we’re joining with Bruna Press + Archive and the organizers of The Vienna Model exhibition to bring this new resource center to Bellingham.

Join us to discuss affordable housing in Bellingham and peruse our growing collection of books and reference material about limited-equity housing cooperatives. …


Today in the Bellingham Herald we learned that the population of the City of Bellingham hit 90,665 people in 2018 according to US census estimates. This is the first time Bellingham has reached the 90,000 mark, having added 1,526 people in the past year (a 1.7% increase) and with a growth of 11.5% since 2010.

For me personally this is a significant milestone, meaning that Bellingham has now doubled in size during my lifetime. As a young kid growing up in Bellingham, I have a vivid memory of an odd piece of graffiti downtown on the back wall of the Mount Baker Theatre. The spray paint said simply: “45,000+”, which was the city’s population at the time (specifically 45,794 in the 1980 census). I have no idea why anyone would graffiti such a thing on a wall downtown, with no other commentary, but to me as a nerdy child with a growing fascination for maps and almanacs, it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to see written on a wall. …

About

Alan McConchie

Lead Cartographer at @stamen / election reformer @FairVoteWA / founder @LocalgroupBham. Maps, networks, visualization, code. 15 min of fame: @pop_vs_soda

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