Often when we’re seeking to transform a space or place, we focus more on noticing the problems we see, rather than on what’s already working well. Mapping all the moods associated with a place can help us figure out how best to identify and address the challenges present there.
In small groups, walk slowly through a building or neighborhood you’re hoping to improve. As you go, pay attention to how the environment affects how you’re feeling—from room to room, street to street, block to block.
Working as a group, use different colored markers to represent shifting moods on your map. Does one block or room feel particularly lonely? Trace it in black. Is another lively and vibrant? Mark it with a warm color, like red.
Make notes on your map with all of the factors that contribute to the moods you’ve identified. What makes one block lonely—are there a lot of parking lots or abandoned buildings? Are there no street lights? What makes another block vibrant—are there places for people to gather and play? List as many assets and problems as you can, and mark them in the appropriate places on your map.
Back in your classroom, pin up and compare all the groups’ maps. Identify the areas that your group finds problematic and the areas that are working well. Where do they overlap?
Make a list of possible places for intervention—sites that will allow you to make the most of the great stuff that exists, while minimizing the negative elements. Once you’ve figured out what issues you’d like to address as a group, you’re ready to move on to exploring possible solutions!