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The Northside Narrative Atlas Project 

In spring 2013 I assigned my environmental humanities class (ENVS 202) a unit project based on Denis Wood’s book EVERYTHING SINGS maps for a narrative atlas (siglio, Los Angeles 2010).           T Fitch 

Wood’s book surveys Boylan Heights, his small historic neighborhood in Raleigh, NC, and attempts to “subvert the traditional notions of mapmaking to discover new ways of seeing both this place in particular and the nature of the place itself.”

Wood’s maps are varied and professionally done. (He is a geographer.) He maps alleyways, the rhythm of the sun, lights at night, public and private trees, sidewalk graffiti, wind chimes, view sheds, autumn trees, and many other things. These maps describe what NPR radio commentator Ira Glass calls in the introduction “human lives without ever showing us any people.”

My class attempted to pull something similar off, but with even more urgency. Wood’s Boylan Heights is a stable neighborhood, one of the oldest in Raleigh. The Northside is vanishing before our eyes. A large redevelopment project is underway and many of the houses in the 400-acre former village had already been cleared when we started our work. Because of this urgency I asked the students to survey the remaining material culture of the former mill village, the Northside area across Church Street from Wofford College, and capture some remaining aspect of it.

Using inspiration from Wood’s maps my students explored the Northside for several weeks. These maps are the result of their work. Some of what they mapped is already gone.

John Lane

 

  E Rhea 

Mailboxes 

By Elizabeth Rhea

 M Daly 

Houses with Chimneys 

By Madison Daly

 H Bradshaw 

Number of Front Steps 

By Hunter Bradshaw

 M Harpe 2
 

Boarded Up Houses 

By Michael Harpe

 L Dunbar 

Crime Map 

By Lauren Dunbar

 SF Koontz 2
 

“Empty but Bright”  Brightly Colored Houses

By Sara Francis Koontz

 
 T Neil 2 

Hierarchy of Power Lines 

By Taylor Neil

 S Knight 

Alternative Signs 

By Seth Knight

 M Pindar 

Survey Markings 

By Mallery Pindar

 J Jones 

Tree Cover 

By Jessica Jones

 H Williams 

Roof Shapes 

By Hampton Williams

 M Green 

Porches 

By Michelle Green

 J Patton 

Storm Drains 

By Jan Patton

 M Comer 

Boarded-up Houses 

By Michael Comer

 J Daly 

Houses with Gutters 

By James Daly

 R Coxe 

Shade 

By Rags Coxe

 J Francis 

Stop Signs and Streetlights 

By Joey Francis

 L Bishop 

Porch Furniture 

By Lizzy Bishop

  R Hurst
 

Where the People Still Live 

 By Ryan Hurst

 

 J Pope 

Where I Think the Nasty Branch Flows Based on Location of Large Trees

 By Jordan Pope

 J Poston 

Parked Trucks, Cars, and Motorcycles 

By Jay Poston

 F Rogers 

Condemned vs Occupied Houses 

By Frank Rogers

 J Keith 

Ant Hills 

By Jackson Keith

 T Fitch 

Multiple Colored Houses 

By Taylor Fitch

 L Hutto 

Green Spaces and Houses 

By Logan Hutto