By: Conor White
The United States is currently well into the second month of life under lockdown. Not many could have predicted that our normal daily lives could have changed so drastically in such a short space of time. It is clear that geography is at the heart of this global pandemic. The entire planet has been affected by COVID-19 in many different ways. It is in these times of crisis that the whole world population must come together to save lives and to protect each other’s livelihoods. The future is unclear as to what state the planet will be in socially and economically once the spread of the virus is under control. It is clear, however, that during this health emergency, as people remain in their homes to protect themselves and others, they have had more time to ‘press the pause button’ and to think about what’s really important; friends, family, physical health, mental health etc. Instead of focussing on physical, political, health or economic geographies, this week’s ‘Map of the Week’ is focussing on the geography of the everyday person and the redefined spaces and transformed landscapes people find themselves in life under lockdown.
CityLab is an online platform that focuses on sharp analysis and the reporting of pressing issues in an urbanizing world. They began an initiative for people to map their worlds in the time of coronavirus with the aim of presenting a diversity of geographies and experiences. It is clear that social-distancing and shelter-in-place orders have transformed homes, neighborhoods and entire cities.
“The street will be my gallery, the park my theatre”
Irene Palko in Glasgow, Scotland, has designed a map that sums up the new world that we find ourselves living in. She positively describes what she uses as a replacement for social activity establishments during these times of lockdown. The observation of nature in her local park as a means of entertainment and the use of the internet as a social output amidst the closure of cafés and bars are just two ways she describes her new life under lockdown.
“The tiny details that reveal things”
Champ Turner in Austin, Texas, explains how people have become more aware of the geography in their neighborhoods. As people spend more time in their local areas, the layout of streets, locations, and landmarks become clearer. Champ’s map depicts three routes in the local neighborhood each revealing tiny details in people’s yards that uncover more and more things about the people living there that before might have gone unnoticed.
“I found myself listening more intently”
This map of sounds from a neighborhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts was drawn as human activity has decreased in recent weeks. These unprecedented times have allowed nature to prevail; birds seem louder and more wildlife than ever seems to be amongst us. As the human environment is currently constricted, the natural world is allowed to flourish.
“We just wave to each other through the windows”
Auck land, New Zealand
This map, designed by Joanna Chow in Auckland, New Zealand, explains the reality of life for most people in the current pandemic. The map accurately displays how her environment has changed during the lockdown and how various rooms and places have adapted or transformed completely.
Whether it’s in Massachusetts, Texas, New Zealand, or Scotland, people all over the world are experiencing the new normal of life under lockdown. These homemade maps of life during the coronavirus pandemic explain in a variety of ways how people’s lives have changed in recent weeks. Whether it’s a subconscious thought or not, people are becoming more aware of their surroundings and local environments during these times of lockdown, and thinking more about the geography that surrounds them and their lives on a daily basis.
Click here to discover more homemade maps from around the world depicting life under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.