Janelle Ketcher had recently moved to Los Angeles from Iowa and was looking to familiarize herself with her new neighborhood.
She was looking for feminist arts and community programming and found the Women’s Center for Creative Work, a feminist space in the Elysian Valley neighborhood that runs along the Los Angeles River.
There, Ketcher met other women like her, who had recently moved to L.A. “and wanted to learn about L.A.” She also learned and got involved with an effort that was already underway at the center: Angelena Atlas — an intersectional feminist mapping project of the Mapping Feminist Los Angeles working group.
Spearheaded by Leana Scott, 30, the project’s goal is to build a crowdsourced online and print map to share intersectional feminist resources, services, and events for people who identify as women across L.A. County, not just the city. The map will include organizations and events that focus on anti-racism work, improve the lives of women, and that serve low-income communities.
Los Angeles resources to be featured in the map so far include: Inquilinos Unidos, which works for tenants rights; the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights, which advocates for immigrant rights; and the Social Justice Learning Institute.
“There are so many resources in L.A. and you don’t know how to look for them until you start looking for them,” says Ketcher, 25.
On the surface, Los Angeles County can be often be regarded as an area known for the Hollywood industry, palm trees, and beaches. L.A., however, has a more multi-layered reality. Do-it-yourself maps and atlases help feature the nuances of daily life, community organizers say.
Llano Del Rio Collective, for example, has for years created guides and maps that showcase L.A.’s cooperatives, art spaces, gardens, beekeepers, and cooking collectives. Its most recent guide, Rebel City, features grassroots organizations advocating against evictions and in support of public banking.
Robby Herbst, with Llano Del Rio Collective, has said such guides can hopefully “challenge people to see and use the city differently.”
The Mapping Feminist Los Angeles working group — which includes women who are city planners, community organizers, and visual artists — began brainstorming in 2016, and is now fundraising for web design developers to build the crowdsourced map. The working group is hoping to crowdsource more resources to feature on the map, as well as the resources to build it. A GoFundMe page went live Saturday, Sept. 22. The goal is to have the digital map live by 2019. There are also plans to print the map and distribute copies to public libraries.
Working group members also include Brittany Arceneaux, 28, a New Orleans-native working as a planner and GIS analyst at the City of Los Angeles Planning Department, building this map is about making it easier for the general public to access this type of information.
“Access to these type of things is almost like a privilege … you have to be a part of social media groups (and/or activism groups),” she says.
Arceneaux says data for the digital map will be crowdsourced and maintained by volunteers.
Yasmine Batniji, 24, is another member and an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles who uses sound, video, and 3D animation, the map is a tool to help and engage with people.
“The day we get actual feedback to say, ‘Hey, you don’t have this location’ (or) ‘This isn’t the right address,’ that will be the day we’re really excited because that means someone is using the map,” Batniji says. “That’s the kind of conversation we’re looking to have.”
Alejandra Molina is a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow for 2018-2019. Previously, she was a reporter for the Southern California News Group where she covered cities, immigration, race, and religion. In her decade-long career, she's reported how gentrification has affected downtown Santa Ana in Orange County, followed up how violent shootings have affected families and neighborhoods, and reported how President Donald Trump has impacted undocumented communities in the Inland Empire. Her work has appeared in The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, The Orange County Register, The Los Angeles Daily News, and The Mercury News in San Jose. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of La Verne, where she taught an introductory journalism course as an adjunct professor.