Students kayaking at Glendale

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