Before I go into a long essay about why I’m teaching this class and what I hope to get out of it, let me start by giving you a lengthy introduction to my life. An introduction that will hopefully stretch to at least 100 of my 500 word limit.
Why is it when we meet someone we typically ask two things: what’s your name? and where are you from? Why don’t we start with … what’s your favorite color or what’s the best book you’ve ever read? Anyway, I was born Kimberley Britt Sullivan in San Jose, California in 1967. So I am pretty close to that cool age where you throw a huge party and don’t care anymore about what anyone says. On my Mom’s side – English mostly (Cornwall). On my Dad’s side, the Sullivan side, are deep deep Irish roots. Mostly potato roots actually. In fact, when my Grandfather Sullivan died in 1998 at the age of 87 he left behind a harvest of about 300 potatoes in the garden he tended until his death. The Irish Potato famine was 3 generations in the past, and on another continent, but was still very much alive (and in some ways relived/suffered/experienced) in a small plot of green land in a small town in rural New York. So time and space and connectivity are interesting concepts for me to think about. I actually bleed beer and believe in Leprecauns.
My parents grew up less than 10 miles apart on either side of the Hudson River in the Adirondacks. I consider the Adirondacks my “home” or “where I’m from”. To me it’s the most perfect and beautiful place in the world. The Irishtown (yes it’s really called that) cemetery is almost entirely full of Mary’s and Patrick’s, and Mc this that and O this that. So, I may have been born in California, but I’m from Ireland.
I’m teaching this class for a number of reasons. My motivation for teaching the class can help students better grasp what I’m passionate about and why. I’ve taught Introduction to GIS (and a number of other courses here at UR) for 8 years but I’ve never been able to devote a whole course to thinking about maps – just maps. JUST?!?! In my other courses we use maps to look at patterns, and in GIS we sometimes create maps as output of our analysis. But rarely do we spend more than a few class periods on developing beautiful, clear, readable maps. We have no cartography course at UR. Cartography – the art and science of creating maps – is still relevant. We need to know how to read and interpret maps. We need to know how to make beautiful maps. We need to learn to be critical of choices of symbol, scale, projection etc. We also need to learn to make very lovely, cool, interactive maps that tell compelling stories. So, welcome to class!
499 words and I didn’t die – Kimberley Browne