It was wonderful, if slightly overwhelming and sometimes surreal to finally meet so many fellow mappers again at SOTM Firenze last week, as well as so many new friends that I’d only interacted with online. This was my 4th in person event and it reinforced not only how much Crowd2Map has grown since Brussels 2016 but also how the mapping community has changed.
In 2016 arrived in Brussels late at night, a bit disconcerted to find that I was sharing a bed with a stranger - Miriam from GeoChicas. We quickly got over this surprise and she became a great friend and ally, even visiting the FGM Safe Houses we work with in Tanzania en route to FOSS4G 2018. In Brussels I was a newcomer who knew no one. I tried to navigate the seeming chasm between the brown shirted craft mapper gang and the humanitarian team. In Firenze I was very pleased to note much less of this divide. Arriving felt like coming home after a long journey, meeting so many people from previous events and others for the first time IRL.
Particular highlights for me were talking about the impact of our Digital Champion project, meeting colleagues from Missing Maps HOT and Youthmappers who I’d only interacted with online. Kristen Tonga’s talk on the challenges of mobile mapping in rural Tanzania really resonated with our experiences setting up our Digital Champions program, and we look forwards to working with her going forwards.
Greatly looking forward to next meet up - particularly State of the Map Tanzania in January 2023 and hope to see many of the mapping community there either in person or online!