At CoLab, we strongly believe that planning is a participatory discipline. People should be involved in any decision-making process affecting their lives. Communities possess valuable knowledge and insights about the challenges they face. However, it is difficult to harness local knowledge if we do not have the necessary tools to communicate and to visualize it. For that reason, we are currently working on developing CoLab's own capacity for using participatory planning and community mapping tools and methodologies, to support our work, and that of our partners, with communities. For example, participatory mapping processes can enable people in the Bronx to become more aware of the impact of anchor institutions in their local economy, as well as enabling trash pickers in Bluefields, Nicaragua, to better understand the impact of dumpsites on their ecological resources.
Our goal is to develop a toolkit that is tailored to the specific needs of CoLab projects, so we are exploring different mapping tools and participatory methods, helping CoLab project managers to figure out what their project needs are through mind mapping, as well as consulting with experts in the field.