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Using Google Map Mashups to Improve Your Hood

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Maps are way too much fun, way geeky and way effective in community projects and analyzing your neighborhood. Above you see a map we created on an easy Web 2.0 tool called Wayfaring.

When communicating with city officials and neighborhood councils, visuals are key. And if you really want to make your neighborhood the best it can be, why not drive/bike/walk grid and take note of all the improvements that can be done. Maybe you want to identify all the locations that could use trees and work with the Million Trees LA program to get that going. Maybe you have spots on your street where potholes will not go away. Maybe a left hand turn is really hard to make at this intersection or crossing the street on foot takes 5 minutes of waiting for cars to pass by because they will not yield to you.

The above map (or click here to see our notes attached to the full sized map) shows a portion of Sherman Oaks with all the above listed improvements. The yellow markers represent places we think trees could beautify the street. The red markers signify problems such as abandoned houses or never ending potholes that need to be addressed. The blue routes are places where it is hard to cross a street (maybe it could use a crosswalk) and traffic lights where you think left turn signals could be useful.

When we walk communities and talk to people about improving an area, we find a lot of cynics who rather complain about city services. The reality is, these micro-neighborhood problems can be solved -- you just have to work a little at it. All you need is to communicate with the right people in a clear manner and remember to be patient. Calling 311 and describing your problem is a good start and so is beginning a relationship with your city council office.