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There is no map to the place we are going. We will be lost for a good, long time.
— Eva Saulitis, Becoming Earth (2016)
Between Vermont’s Green Mountains and river valleys, an estimated 1,500 migrant farmworkers milk the cows and run the machinery that help keep the state’s landscape open and its pastoral image intact. Proximity to the U.S. northern border means undocumented Latinx farmworkers risk detainment and eventual deportation each time they travel from hill or valley farm. Migrant Justice organises in Vermont for human rights and economic justice. The group notes that farmworkers, thousands of miles from their homeground, typically live in extreme isolation, “often without a clear sense of where they are”.
Different maps are needed in this time we share.
The ground that holds us – be it rural, city-scape, suburban, edgeland, forest, desert, or beneath the sea – also holds depths of understanding, of reciprocity, of the truths of our present moment. Mapping these depths allows us to see and be seen in radical, necessary ways. Root mapping moves beyond time-less, life-less, story-less grids. Like the deep maps Robert Macfarlane describes in The Wild Places, we can create maps “that register history, and that acknowledge the way memory and landscape layer and interleave”.
What is sparked when today’s mapping is guided by a desire for beauty instead of power?
Root mapping brings strata of knowing into new shape and form. Born of a practice of listening to our places and their layers of relations, root mapping can take us to grounds where distance and division fall away. That which is hidden or different might find its name and know tending and care, or perhaps be met with our restraint and forbearance.
We can convert satellite images into fingertip navigation tools, but what happens when we turn our energies to mapping place rather than space? What does mapping look like when it engages with love, fear, wonder, threat, and curiosity? What is sparked when today’s mapping is guided by a desire for beauty instead of power, when maps are living creations, arising – like beauty itself – from our engagement and attention?
In this section of The Learned Pig, you are invited to take us on a journey of way-finding, of root mapping, where notions of power, domination and human-centrality make way for cartography as art, as resistance, as journey and guide to the present with an eye to the future we face together.
What maps will help us live with a clear sense of where we are – in our homeground or worlds apart from the known? Offering your words, images, experience and attention, your mapping and your maps, show us how you would mark the way.
We want to amplify the voices of people who are underrepresented in the fields of art and arts publishing – in particular, Black people, people of colour, people on low incomes, and those who self-identify as disabled, LGBTQI+ and/or working class.
Please send all work to The Learned Pig’s editor Tom Jeffreys (firstname.lastname@example.org), who will forward it to the editor responsible for this section, Melanie Viets.
There is no word limit for written submissions. Please send as Word documents, not PDFs. For art and/or photography, please send no more than eight JPEGs, with a combined total no bigger than 3MB. We will get back to you within six weeks.
Please note: The Learned Pig is very much a labour of love. Our only income is from donations and these do not cover the costs of running the site. This means that, as much as we might like to, we are unable to pay contributors (or anybody else for that matter).
Image credit: Jussi Kivi, Cross-section of natural cave, Korppivuori, Pesolansaari, Finland, scraped on photographic paper (1996) www.jussikivi.com