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It’s our new favorite tradition: Releasing our calendar on #PostGISDay

The 2022 GeoHipster Calendar cover, featuring an image of the Lena Delta by Inge van Daelen.
Behold the cover of our 2022 calendar!

Well, let us be the first (?) to wish you all a happy #PostGISDay today, by delivering on our promises and bringing you our absolute favorite day of the year! That’s right: once again, in addition to raising a glass to your favorite open source spatial database extension, you can celebrate by ordering yourself a brand-spanking-new map calendar for next year. (Or order one, two, or three as gifts! Who doesn’t need some video background improvements these days?)

The calendar is now available for order and features maps from:

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be tweeting out teasers of the maps that were picked over @geohipster – but if you really want to experience these maps in their full glory, you’re going to want to buy a copy of your own, for the low price of just USD 15.99! (And allow yourself at least 10-12 business days for print and ship.) In the meantime, we’ll leave you with this peek at the map that graces our back cover. Now what are you waiting for?

A map of chlorophyll concentration in September 2020, using the Spilhaus projection.
Long live the Spilhaus projection!

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Kate Berg, May

Kate Berg's Happiest States Map

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I am GIS lead at the State of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). I’ve been in the field for almost 10 years since my first GIS class at UCLA in 2012. Since then, I’ve taught GIS at the university level and worked in the non-profit, private, and public realms. I currently act as outreach chair for URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet of Young Professionals. You can find me on Twitter (@pokateo_) hosting the weekly #GISchat conversation as well as creating and sharing original map-related memes (#mappymeme) as ways to unite and uplift the geospatial community.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I made this map for the 2020 #30DayMapChallenge for Day 4: Hexagons, and then modified it slightly to work better for this calendar. I had found this dataset prior to the Challenge and was looking for an excuse to make something with it. The data tries to identify the happiest states in America based on several indicators, including emotions, “physical-ness”, work, and community. 

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: I used ArcGIS Pro to create this map. The data comes from the Happiest States in America by WalletHub and I also used the US Hex Cartogram by John Nelson (download here). There was so much information in the happiness dataset (an overall rank as well as emotional and physical well-being rank, work environment rank, and community and environment rank) that I had to get creative on how to show it. It couldn’t be as simple as one hexagon per state…it needed four overlapping hexagons. I ended up playing with offsets to get the desired effect and I’m pretty happy with it – though apparently I live in a pretty averagely happy state (Michigan).

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 Calendar: Dan Fourquet, April

Dan Fourquet's unique map of Richmond, Virginia

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I’ve loved maps for my entire life and have been drawing and making maps since my childhood. Currently I live in Richmond, VA. I work for the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment where I do my best to make a positive contribution to Virginia’s transportation plan (VTrans) using my background in GIS and data management.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map

A: In 1864, as the American Civil War was entering its final months and the Union army was closing in on Petersburg and Richmond, the US Coast Survey Office produced a map of Richmond, Virginia, presumably commissioned in support of the Union Army’s ongoing siege, showing the streets and major landmarks of the city. One hundred fifty years later in 2014, the US Geological Survey mapped the same area using lidar to evaluate the damage from Hurricane Sandy. My map combines these two datasets allowing you to see how the city has physically evolved over the past century and a half.

You can easily see how much has remained the same over the years in the basic layout of the streets. The fact that the 19th century map is able to be georeferenced so accurately to the lidar data is a testament to the skill of the surveyors who created the original map. Mayo’s Bridge, the oldest in the city, is clearly visible in both datasets even though it’s been rebuilt a couple times in the interim. Some of the buildings that survived the war are visible in the lidar dataset (in fact I used the Capitol building and the Masonic Hall as control points while georeferencing the 19th century map). The ruins of the Petersburg railrod bridge are clearly visible as periodic squares in the lidar data next to the line in the 19th century map. The most notable change is the removal of the canal system and the additional bridges that were built in the 20th century, as well as the Interstates and the Downtown Expressway that carve their way through the city.

Not as easily seen in the map is the cultural change the city has seen over the course of a century and a half. Before the Civil War, Richmond had the second largest slave market in North America. The St Charles Hotel in the eastern side of the map was known for hosting auctions in the basement. By 2014 there was a growing movement to recognize the city’s dark past, often hidden from the history books, and to remove the massive “lost cause” monuments scattered throughout the city that glorified the Confederacy.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc you used to make the map

A: The 19th century basemap was acquired from the Library of Congress’ map collection. Taking a look at that map by itself is interesting (you can view it at the Library of Congress website), but I decided to try georeferencing it in order to compare it to modern GIS data. I relied on buildings and intersections that have survived since the mid-1800s as control points. I was amazed by how well the map matched up to modern imagery.

The 21st century lidar data was from the USGS National Map. I used WhiteBox Tool’s Python interface to visualize the data using the Time In Sunlight tool. Finally, I combined the two datasets in GIMP image editing software.

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Inge van Daelen, Cover

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I started working in the cartography field about 2.5 years ago. I started part-time at Red Geographics as I had a full time job on the side. I studied Chinese and Tourism Destination Management, so I didn’t have a background in GIS at all. Luckily, my friend (and boss) Hans van der Maarel helps me out and I’ve learned a lot. I now provide training in (geo)software packages, give presentations about field-related topics, take on cartographic projects and recently became an FME Certified Professional and Trainer.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: We used to have Friday Funday at the office, where we would try new things. Things that aren’t necessarily productive, but fun and related to what we do. Hans found a tutorial online, made by Tom Patterson, on editing raw satellite images. I immediately became hooked. We decided to create our own webshop selling products with the prints we’ve made, because we wanted to share what we created. I usually go for bright colors, not true to nature per se. Sometimes though, you don’t need to edit them at all, our earth is absolutely stunning as it is! I also make my own accessories, use the images as a background for phones and computers, and we print our images on the notebooks and business cards we hand out during training. Choosing which image I want is often the most difficult part.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: The data is downloaded from the USGS website and then edited in Photoshop. I merged the red, blue and green band together and started the editing. I added two more layers to be able to edit the water and land separately and enhance the quality with another layer. By then, the images were around 16K in quality, so I reduced them to 6-8K, otherwise the files were too big to handle.

A Changing of the Guard at GeoHipster

Mike Dolbow
Mike Dolbow

From Mike

“You’ve seen enough of that one.” –Nigel Tufnel

Well, here we are! It was about five years ago that I agreed to head up the effort to create an independent business for GeoHipster, building off the amazing momentum that Atanas began back in 2013. Since then, I’ve been amazed at all the opportunities and connections that GeoHipster has opened up for me: attending conferences, meeting some pretty cool people (including many of you!), and connecting with other map nerds around the globe. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to do this and “steer the ship” over the past few years.

But, as I explained to my fellow GeoHipster collaborators in December, it’s become pretty clear to me that I’ve run out of steam. I haven’t published an interview since January 2021, I’ve only pitched one or two since then, and I keep forgetting other key parts of the effort. (Notice how late we’ve been in publishing our “Maps and Mappers” posts for 2022.) In other words, I feel like I’m not putting in the effort that our community deserves.

So back in December, I started asking around to see if anyone was interested in taking over leadership of the brand and establishing a new business for it. Lucky for me (and for all of us), Randal stepped up. We’re not in any rush to do a “clean hand-off” or anything like that, but I do anticipate that by the end of this calendar year, GeoHipster will no longer be a registered business in my home state…but will carry on in Tennessee. I’ve got a plan for transferring most of the assets as well as donating to some of our favorite geo-charities.

I’m confident that GeoHipster will be in good hands with Mr. Hale, who has conducted many interviews for us over the years, judged for the calendar, and provided valuable guidance and insights. Perhaps most importantly, he embodies the fun and independent spirit that makes GeoHipster stand out as not just a business, but a force for good within the community. It’s been a pleasure serving in this role over the years, and I’m incredibly excited to see where Randal takes it next. Happy Mapping!

Randal Hale
Randal Hale

From Randal

….and that’s where I come in….I think. Hello! 

Mike put out a call and I slowly stuck my hand up and volunteered to run with this. As Mike said above, Atanas started this weird journey back in 2013. At that point in my life I was sitting in Athens, Georgia responding to Atanas and probably going “What is a geohipster anyway – oh yeah I’ll do some interviews….”. I think we even ran a poll somewhere on what we think a geohipster does. For me the website turned into this documentation project on “why we do what we do”. It’s also scattered with healthy irreverence for this industry, poking a bit in some areas, and just being fun. That’s the most important thing – make it fun. 

Anyway – over the next bit Mike is going to teach me all the hidden features of the website and how GeoHipster is run. I’ve been thinking about this for a good while and I’m excited. Of course I’m already running “one thing” – which is North River Geographic Systems. So I’ll be juggling for a bit as I get into a good routine. 

With that – bear with me as we get this thing rolling. I look forward to it and I hope you all hang with us during this transition.

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Jonathan King, January

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: Originally from New England in the U.S., I’m a second year student in the International Master of Science in Cartography degree program, which takes place in Europe at the Technical University of Munich, the Technical University of Vienna, the Technical University of Dresden, and the University of Twente. Probably like most people reading this article, I’ve been interested in cartography for a long period of my life. Since elementary school, some of my favorite things to do have included perusing the content of globes, atlases, and maps and making maps (or at least attempting to) of real and imaginary places. For my undergraduate education, I completed a B.A. in geography partly because I like maps, but perhaps more than anything because I like a lot of things and geography seemed like a sufficiently broad and synergistic discipline to allow me to pursue a lot of interests. Following graduation, I completed two cartography and geospatial analysis internships and then spent about ten years working in a few jobs that often had little to do with geography – a fact which might be considered hipsterishly ironic because I spent the majority of that time working for National Geographic. I also occasionally did work with maps in volunteer and recreational contexts. 

At some point a few years ago, I decided I wanted to pursue more formal education in cartography and geoinformatics and spend some time living in Europe (my Europhilia is nearly as strong as my cartophilia), so I enrolled in my current program. In addition to maps, I really like reading, traveling, attempting to learn new languages, playing the bassoon, and trying unusual foods. I’m honored by my map’s selection for inclusion in this wonderful calendar alongside the amazing work of other cartographers. Its selection helps me confirm for myself that I’ve likely taken a step in a good direction by studying cartography at the master’s degree level.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: I made this map last spring for a class called Project Map Creation, which is a degree requirement for my current study program. It is taught by professional cartographer Manuela Schmidt, to whom I’d like to express strong gratitude for the help she gave me while I worked on the map at the Technical University of Vienna. Students enrolled in the class are required to spend a semester creating an analog thematic map about a topic of their choice. In past years when this course was offered, many students made maps showing cultural features of the places they’re from. I decided I wanted to do the same thing. The thought struck me that Maine’s lighthouses might be an interesting focus for my map: They are culturally iconic of the place where I’m from and have a large number of spatial attributes suitable for visualization on a map and ancillary infographics. 

I often kayak along the ocean coastline of Maine’s Midcoast region in the early evenings when lighthouses first begin to flash their lights. I’m curious to learn the geographic locations of the lighthouses associated with the lights I see, as well as general information about the lighthouses’ histories and how they can be used for navigation. I thought other kayakers and casual boaters might be similarly curious, so I created the map with these people in mind as target users. The map shows the geographic locations of Midcoast Maine’s lighthouses, the colors and flash patterns of the lights’ primary lights, and the oceanic spaces where each light is generally visible for an observer two feet above sea level (such as a kayaker) during a night with good weather conditions (meteorological visibility of ten nautical miles).

As is the case with all maps, this one excludes information about the geography it depicts, including some I’ve come to think is important. In addition to the primary lighthouse lights the map provides information about, small sector lights, whose colors, flash patterns, and visible ranges differ from those of the primary lights, shine from some of Midcoast Maine’s lighthouses. When making my map, I decided not to include information about these sector lights, since I couldn’t quickly figure out how to do so in a legible and aesthetically pleasing way. I considered their exclusion an appropriate generalization for the map’s scale. However, in retrospect I’ve questioned this decision because lighthouse sector lights help mariners avoid dangers to navigation. My exclusion of this information likely means that while the map is appropriate for use as an art object published in a calendar, it should not – despite its title and original intended use case – actually be used for navigation.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: My sources include:

I carried out geoinformation pre-processing in ArcGIS pro and cartographic styling Adobe Illustrator.

Rosy Schechter to GeoHipster: “Be kind to yourself.”

Rosy Schechter is a human being who has been fortunate to channel her love of learning and desire to improve the world into a tapestried professional practice. This path has most recently led her to lead Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC), a private foundation that both provides free IP address space to the international amateur radio community and makes grants to support amateur radio and digital communications science and technology. Prior to joining ARDC, she ran a nonprofit that focused on open sourcing data related to cannabis plants (Open Cannabis Project) and another nonprofit that connected people all over the world to learn about how to make open source maps (Maptime). A large portion of her career has also centered around educational and technical writing; she’s written curriculum on HTML, CSS, and Javascript basics, edited a guidebook for communities in Ghana wishing to exercise land tenure rights, copyedited a book on the science of tattooing, ghostwritten articles on the science of cannabis, and diagrammed how the patent system works with cannabis plants. Though she now roams the West Coast with a root in Portland, OR, she originally hails from Atlanta, GA, where she got her MS in Digital Media at Georgia Tech and a BA in Philosophy at Georgia State University. 
Twitter: @RosySchechter

Website: bethschechter.com 

Rosy was interviewed for GeoHipster by Atanas Entchev.

Q: You founded Maptime in 2013. How did that come about? Was Maptime your first encounter with the geo crowd?

A: It all started at the 2013 State of the Map US conference. I was working in business development at the one and only Stamen Design, a boutique data visualization and design studio in San Francisco. Aside from being my first State of the Map event, there were two events that stood out: meeting Alan McConchie (Maptime cofounder and amazing human, who I’ll talk a bit more about shortly) and a striking talk by Alyssa Wright on the dismal number of women contributing to OpenStreetMap – 3%, and only 1% of open source contributions overall. This lack of female contribution had a negative effect on the data, and thus the overall map. For example, there were a variety of different accepted attributions for bars, brothels, and nightclubs, but a proposed attribution for childcare was rejected, though a tag known as `baby_hatch` remained. It made no sense and was clearly the result of a lack of contribution from non-white males. I wanted to change these numbers, which meant learning more about the technical details of mapping myself.

A few weeks later, I invited some friends over to Stamen for snacks and beverages and to work on Javascript tutorials for mapping. There were only a handful of us, and Alan was one of them. A brilliant cartographer with a knack for teaching, he had recently started working at Stamen and was happy to be our resident expert. Camille Teicheira, also a coworker, helped organize. Everyone had lots of fun, and we decided to do it again the next week. And then the next week. And then the week after that!

Before we knew it, word about our little get-together started spreading. In SF, suddenly we had a waiting list for this event that we called Maptime (which is just what it sounded like: time for making maps). Our soon-to-be-friend Lyzi Diamond in Portland, OR, wanted to start a chapter there, which became known as MaptimePDX. Thanks to these co-founders – Alan, Camille, and Lyzi – talking to their friends and tweeting the tweets, folks from all over the country and even internationally heard about us and wanted to do similar meetups in their city, including Washington DC, Berlin, and New York City. Just like that, Maptime was born. 

Q: We met at the 2015 State Of The Map conference in NYC, where you gave a passionate presentation about Maptime to a packed room. Your excitement was contagious. Tell us more about Maptime.

A: I remember! At that time, Maptime had exploded to be something like 40-50 chapters all over the world. And it really was exciting. I had never been a part of a phenomenon like that, and it was incredible and beautiful to me that there were people all around the world who just wanted to get together and learn about making maps, who shared a love for cartographic art and science and had a desire to share knowledge. I am still in awe at how quickly it spread. People stepped in to volunteer on our website (like Rafa Guitierrez), help with our code of conduct, fill out our resources and learning page, and, in a delightfully participatory way, make the whole thing happen. 

Q: At the 2016 SOTMUS in Seattle you gave another passionate talk (I have watched the video many times). In your summary you say “the truth is, [Maptime’s] success has come with a heavy load, one that has challenged my ideals around volunteerism, open source projects, my duty as a founder, and who I am as a human being.” What happened between 2015 and 2016?

A: Thank you. This is one of my favorite talks, and it means a lot to me that you like it and have watched it so many times. It was also one of the hardest – up until that point, most of my talks had been happy and enthusiastic or some kind of how-to. This one touched on some darker subjects, and I wanted to speak to them honestly.

Between 2015 and 2016, I moved from San Francisco to the deep suburbs of Portland, OR. Frustrated with the cost of living and our dismal chances of ever owning property in the Bay Area, we bought a relatively large house on a third of an acre. The summer was great – we were getting settled in our lovely new home, the sun came up early and set late, I worked and gardened. But then winter set in. We didn’t have many friends in Portland yet, we worked remotely, and it rained all the time. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize just how hard it would be. Plus, I had moved from a tiny apartment in the Mission to a three-story house. Cleaning became a part-time job in a way that I didn’t enjoy – still don’t, but now there are roommates to help share the load. At the same time, my mom was having some severe health issues, the same ones that brought about the end of her life in 2019. I had already been feeling a little burnt out when I moved to Portland, but suddenly I was incapable of keeping up with Maptime. 

Though I didn’t want to admit it, I eventually opened up about what was going on with the Maptime board. It turned out, to my surprise, that they were also feeling it. At that point, it had been well over two years since Maptime started. In SF, we ran events every week and then every other week. When Lyzi moved to town, she started a Maptime in Oakland, just across the Bay. All of us had been running events, organizing around the international growth of Maptime, and working our regular jobs. Even though Stamen was supportive and gave us some time to work on it, it was still a lot. As a project that ran free events run by volunteers, it was bound to happen. 

The board decided to step down and pass the baton to a new board, which we announced at the talk you’re referencing. And amazingly, I still see bits of Maptime activity glimmering in my email and around the internet, which makes me very happy.

Q: A lot has changed in your life since 2015, including your name. Care to share details?

A: Sure! Career-wise, Maptime taught me that I really loved writing curriculum and how-tos. So the next job I took was as a curriculum writer for a delightful company called Skillcrush. I eventually decided to try the freelance life out, which gave me some flexibility that I’d been craving. During those early days, I rented a little art studio and started painting. One of my favorites is this 8’ x 4’ quail – Queen Quail, or Inky

It was during this time of freelance that I got involved in the cannabis industry and once again got to put my nonprofit chops to use. Sadly, though I met a bunch of wonderful people on that journey, it ended in heartbreak. It was around then that my mom passed away (not long after her mother, my grandmother) and my relationship took a big hit. I describe that time – 2019 – as my Bad Country Song Year. It was one difficult thing after another. It felt like the entire house of my being had been shaken in an earthquake, and all that was left was scaffolding. For me, it made 2020 and a global pandemic feel easy. That’s how bad it was. 

As it often goes, those times of great destruction are also a time of growth. In addition to taking on practices like prayer and meditation, I also decided that it was time to do something I’d wanted to do since I was a kid: take a different name. I was experimenting with the name Rose when one day I was out to lunch with a friend. When I walked up to his table, he greeted me with “Hey, Rosy!” A lightning bolt of delight ran down my spine. Needless to say, the name stuck. I love it. I also love how often people tell me that they love my name, that they had an aunt or grandma or truck or boat with the same name (likely spelled Rosie). It brings me endless joy. 

The last name I had a harder time settling on – I tried on Moss and Wolfe (the latter being an homage to my mom and her love for wolves). But ultimately, on the 2021 autumnal equinox, I came back to Schechter – my atavistic root. 

So, these days I go by Rosy Schechter, with no penalty to family or friends who still call me Beth. I practice Iyengar yoga daily, which helps to treat an autoimmune disorder (Graves’ Disease) and keeps depression at bay. My relationship is solid. And to top it all off, I have a job that I absolutely love. It’s been a journey, and I am so grateful to Be Here Now.

Q: Currently you are the Executive Director at Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC). How did you end up in that field? What do you like about it? What are your daily duties?

A: My first job working with a nonprofit was actually Burning Man Project, when I was an admin for them as they transitioned from LLC to 501(c)(3) back in 2012. Then there was Maptime. Though we never became an official 501(c)(3), Maptime was the first nonprofit I ever ran. Later, I would run an organization called Open Cannabis Project (OCP). A board member from OCP, John Gilmore, who also sits on the board of ARDC, reached out to me after its founder, Brian Kantor, died in 2019. A tiny nonprofit that had suddenly come into an endowment unexpectedly needed someone to lead it. Knowing nothing about amateur radio, I gave it some thought and then signed on to the adventure in July of 2020. Since then, I’ve helped ARDC get organized operationally, build a small but mighty staff, and together distribute over $10 million in grants, gifts, and scholarships. 

The running joke about being an Executive Director is that it’s a continuous spectrum of “Other duties as assigned,” all while making sure the ship runs smoothly. It’s a challenge, but one that I enjoy. I would dare to say I even love many things about what I do. First, I love being in a philanthropic role: there are few greater pleasures than providing funds that can help make someone’s dreams come true. Second, like with maps, amateur radio and digital communications provide endless room for learning. Since coming on board, I’ve had to learn about the FCC spectrum and regulations, internet routing, packet radio, satellites, and so much more. I also love that we’ve created a culture that offers room for human-ness and flexibility. 

Q: I know of more than a few people who left the geo industry. Some cite burnout or other reasons, others just move on quietly. This topic is dear to my heart, as I must admit the thought has crossed my mind. Why did you leave? Is the cure for burnout workload reduction, or must one change roles/jobs/fields?

A: Leaving maps was hard, and to be honest, I miss it on the regular. That said, I am also someone who craves learning many different things. Through Maptime, I learned that a big chunk of what I loved was curriculum development and documentation. I got to then do a bunch of that work at Skillcrush. Craving more topics, I did even more freelance technical writing work: documenting mapping applications, editing guidebooks on land rights and the science of tattooing, and diagramming how cannabis patents work. So, part of my leaving has nothing to do with being over maps so much as it had to do with wanting to keep learning and trying new things. 

As someone who has been burnt out and is currently not burnt out, I can tell you what works for me:

  • 32-hour workweek
  • Plenty of time for creativity and volunteerism
  • Iyengar yoga!
  • Eating healthy food
  • Taking time off 
  • Spending time with friends
  • Opportunities to learn and try new things, at my job and elsewhere

As I write this, and reflect on the fact that this list reflects my current reality, I recognize that it’s a privileged place to be. That said, as some of my former colleagues know and former managers may lament, I have been advocating for a 32-hour workweek since I had my first office job. I really and truly believe that it is the key to keeping people healthy and happy in their jobs. 2021’s Great Resignation has taught us that people are no longer standing for work environments that lead to moral injury and burnout. If we actually treated people like people, then maybe they wouldn’t want to leave. Maybe we wouldn’t have a healthcare shortage. 

Q: What are your thoughts on change in general? You say “It’s OK to move on”. Is change a goal unto itself, or means to an end?

A: What are my thoughts on change? You mean the one constant that exists in the universe? My thoughts are that I’m fine with it, or else I will be run over by it. 

In all seriousness, change is necessary. A friend of mine, who is training to be a spiritual director, recently shared with me the idea that stagnancy is the root of all illness. I believe this, for our bodies, our lives, and our societies.

That said, I’m learning as I get older that commitment is just as important as being able to surf the waves of change. Otherwise, it’s too easy to be in a state of constantly starting over, which can be detrimental mentally and financially. These days, when I go to try something new, I treat it as an experiment and make a commitment to do it for a certain period of time. Why? Because I’m going to suck at it at first, and some work is required to not totally suck at it. So this year, for example, I’m committed to finishing a screenplay I started working on with a friend. Perfect is the enemy of done, and done feels really good.

Q: Do you miss geo? Do you see yourself returning to the geo field?

A: I do miss geo, and I’m open to coming back. Right now, however, I’m really loving working in philanthropy, so I’ll likely stay here for a minute. 

Q: Do you consider yourself a (geo)hipster? Why/why not?

A: I’m probably more of a Geo-Hippie. I am literally wearing tie-dye leggings as I write this, with Tarot cards and a singing bowl directly to my left. 

Q: I love what you say in your Seattle talk: “It takes sunshine to make a rainbow, but it wouldn’t be possible without rain.” So rain’s not all bad? Sometimes you don’t even want an umbrella.

A: Well, after living in Portland, you just kind of get used to rain and living in boots and a rain jacket for 6-8 months out of the year. And after living in drought-country California for a spell in 2021, I can tell you, not only is rain not bad, it’s essential. Literally and metaphorically. If I hadn’t had my Bad Country Song Year, I would not have found the spiritual and physical practices that have led to my current state of well being. It’s not like my life is perfect, far from it. But I have tools now and a deep appreciation for my life that I didn’t have before that year. I also have an even deeper appreciation for the people in my life – family, friends, colleagues, community – who have supported me or offered patience during the harder times. It’s really humbling. 

Q: If you had to give one piece of advice to our readers, what would that be? 

A: Oh that’s hard. One piece of advice? I’m going to have to give you two that go together.

First, practice accountability. When you are accountable for your actions, it helps your soul feel whole and radiates outward to your home, work, and community. That person you said you would call but didn’t? Call them. Feel bad because you always wanted to write a screenplay / learn Tai Chi / get back to painting? Find a class and go to it. Wish you had done something differently when you were in a relationship with your now ex partner? Find a way to make a living amends. 

There are many ways to keep yourself accountable, and the key is finding what works for you. Shameless plug – here’s a worksheet that I created and use to help me keep on top of my commitments. I’ve shared it under a Creative Commons license, so feel free to modify and share with attribution! I have a friend I meet with weekly, and we each go through our lists. It’s really helpful to have someone to report your progress to, and who can help motivate you when you inevitably fall behind.

Which brings me to the second bit of advice: be kind to yourself. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. There is no magical handbook for how to be perfect that some people got and you didn’t get. No one got the book, no one is perfect, and anyone who thinks they are needs therapy. If you make a mistake and you can learn from it, it’s not a failure – it’s a lesson. Only if you are kind to yourself can you give yourself the strength to keep learning, which is truly one of the greatest joys in life.

Call for Maps: 2022 GeoHipster Calendar

Could your map be the cover of the 2022 GeoHipster Calendar?

Is it true that 2021 was almost as unpredictable as 2020? We don’t know the answer to that, but we do feel like our 2021 calendar was our best yet. We also know some of you are back in the office and need wall candy…and those of you who are still working from home love to mix up your backgrounds! So why stop now? That’s right, we’re pleased to announce that there will be a 2022 GeoHipster Calendar, and we’re opining up the call for maps today.

We want to continue our tradition of revealing the calendar by PostGIS Day in November, so get your maps in soon. All the details are available on the 2022 calendar page. Happy Mapping!

Maps and mappers of the 2021 calendar: Kate Berg, September

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: 👋 I am a GIS lead at the State of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), where I wear many hats including web GIS administrator, open maps and data wrangler, geospatial educator, and project consultant. When I’m not wearing those hats, you can find me in the water scuba diving a local Michigan shipwreck (I wonder where the idea for this month’s map came from!) or at the desk dabbling with my latest carto- creations. I am known on Twitter by my alias @pokateo_ because my idea of a perfect day is being surrounded by yummy spud dishes. Another hobby I enjoy is making and sharing geography/geospatial memes under the tag #mappymeme on Twitter.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: As an avid scuba diver, I’d been playing with various Great Lakes shipwreck spatial layers and knew I wanted to do something fun with them but didn’t know what. It wasn’t until I came across this article and saw a painfully sad Google Maps + Microsoft Paint map for the “Bermuda Triangle of the Great Lakes” that I had a lightbulb moment. I played with two versions of this map: a messy conspiracy theory board (akin to this Always Sunny meme) and an antique pirates map you see on this month’s calendar page. There are various Easter eggs on the map including a faded list of all the ships that have gone missing in the triangle over the years, a reference to a Stonehenge-like structure recently found under Lake Michigan as a possible correlation of the disappearances, a remnant of old maps where cartographers would put the phrase “Here be dragons” in unknown areas with potential danger, and a simple map monster that’s apparently factually inaccurate (should have checked out Michele’s Lake Monsters of the world :p).

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: I used ArcGIS Pro to complete this map. The majority of the artistic flair credit should probably go to John Nelson (as per the uzh), as I adapted some of the styles, textures, and bathy he’s shared on his national treasure of a blog. The triangle’s location is from the previously mentioned article, and the shipwrecks were a combination of datasets from NOAA and this most excellent story map by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. This map was originally made portrait with north straight at the top, but to submit to the calendar I adjusted it to make it landscape and I am pretty happy with the funky tilt of the map. I am humbled to be in the 2021 calendar. Thank you for all GeoHipster does for our special spatial community!

Raluca Nicola: “The community profits from everyone’s knowledge.”

Raluca Nicola

Raluca Nicola works at Esri as a Product Engineer for ArcGIS API for JavaScript. She enjoys creating maps and data visualizations using the latest web technologies. Most of these maps are in 3D and all of them live on the web. 

Raluca was interviewed for GeoHipster by Ana Leticia Ma.

Q: Can you tell me about your journey as a web cartographer? 

A: My journey started with me being clueless about what I want to study and generally what I want to do in life. I started studying math in college because that’s what I liked most during high-school. In my second year I realized it was too abstract for me, so I quit math and started studying geography. I found it interesting to learn how the world around us works. I soon discovered GIS and enjoyed analyzing and visualizing data to explain real world phenomena. Then I got more and more drawn towards the visualization part, and in my Master’s studies I focused on cartography. During those studies, I had a web cartography course and I was hooked. I like coding and the web is a great environment: I can create beautiful, interactive visualizations and it’s so easy to share them with others. 

Q: What do you like most about being a cartographer?

A: I love the data exploration part. It feels a bit like detective work to process and visualize a dataset in various ways and extract important information from it. And then the part that I enjoy the most is figuring out how to convey that information to others in a good way. In recent years I discovered that the magic in visualization comes when you combine concepts and ideas from different fields in novel ways…and I love to apply that to cartography. 3D cartography for example, makes use of 2D cartography and classical data visualization concepts, but it’s also heavily influenced by architecture, games and art. And like everything else nowadays, it’s also heavily influenced by technology. 

Q: Where do you get your inspiration to make maps? 

A: I try to take it from everywhere: maps and visualizations I stumble upon (mostly online), movies, commercials, articles I read, ideas I discuss with colleagues and friends. I think inspiration can come from the most unexpected places! 🙂 

Q: How’s your experience working with 2D and 3D maps? Do you have a preference for one over another?

A: My motto is: choose the technique that helps you send your message across in the best way. From experience, I would say that there are fields where one could be better than the other. For example, 3D is great when you visualize data related to cities or urban planning, and 2D can be better for complex multivariate data visualizations. But even in those cases, I’d first analyze the goal of the project and the audience, and then I’d choose the mapping technique. 

Q: How do you keep up with the latest trends in mapping? 

A: I think social media like Twitter or Linkedin are great platforms to see what people who are passionate about GIS and cartography are up to. Whenever I can, I also try to attend conferences that are specific to cartography like NACIS, Eurocarto or the International Cartographic Conference. 

Q: You live in a country with the most beautiful landscape. What outdoor activities do you like to do in Switzerland? 

A: Switzerland is amazing if you like mountains! I try to go hiking every weekend, and I often bike around Zurich, exploring the surroundings. I also enjoy skiing in winter, even though I’m not the greatest skier. 

Q: What was it like to work in the Swiss Alps and make maps for the Swiss National Park?

A: Such a great experience! It was a one year internship after university and I learned a lot there. I was really lucky to have a great supervisor who gave me some awesome and challenging tasks to work on. The village where I lived was very small; about 1000 inhabitants. And that was very strange for me, because I had only lived in big cities until then. I lived in a shared flat with other interns at the park. We had a really nice time, we cooked together, went hiking a lot, and watched movies. I also participated in my first karaoke there…turns out I can’t really sing, hehe!

Q: Aside from making maps, do you have any nerdy hobbies that you want to tell us about?

A: Not really a hobby, but for sure nerdy: I have an obsession with computer keyboards. At some point I built my own keyboard, but it was probably the worst one in my collection and the one I paid the most for…my fingers didn’t really get along with the layout of the keys. 

Q: One of your maps was featured on our Geohipster calendar in 2020, so you’re ahead of the GeoHipster game. What advice do you give to our users?

A: One piece of advice I try to offer is to share with others what you do and learn 🙂 The community can profit so much from everyone’s knowledge. Even if you think that it’s something simple, I’m sure someone out there could use it at some point, so share it!