Resource mapping and power mapping are collaborative activities that a group might use to analyze a problem and design a plan of action. Both activities involve pulling information together from many sources — including the library, the Internet, public records, interviews, and the personal knowledge of participants. As the term “mapping” implies, the process often involves presenting information visually, using charts, diagrams, photographs, neighborhood or community maps, and other media. The maps let people see information from new perspectives, discuss it, and notice underlying patterns.
Resource mapping involves two steps: gathering information about social, economic, or political problems and identifying community resources to address them. A group might use resource mapping to look at a wide range of issues, like the consortium described on page 19, and then decide what to tackle first. Or, if a group has already selected a problem, resource mapping can be used in a more targeted way. For example, an organizing group whose members wanted to do something about high arrest rates of young men in African-American and Latino neighborhoods might take several steps:
Power mapping also involves gathering and mapping information, but the real point is to figure out who has power to change the situation and make a plan of action. To extend the example at left, the group concerned about high arrest rates might use power mapping to build on what they learned from resource mapping. One way to start is to name the problem as specifically as possible, then work outward to identify institutions and people with influence over some aspect of the problem, and draw lines to show connections among them, following roughly these steps: