GRID-Arendal has focused on creative map making since its beginning. Over the last couple of years, we have developed Story Maps that combine Esri-technology and cartography to tell environmental stories in a new and powerful way.
Yesterday, our work was rewarded with the Most Creative Map prize at the Esri User Conference in Oslo where Levi Westerveld, our expert in spatial analysis and cartography, spoke earlier in the week.
The Norwegian Esri User Conference is an annual event that gathers experts and professionals in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to share experience, knowledge and to inspire cartographers. As a part of the annual event, Esri had invited organisations and companies to send in their maps and Story Maps for a competition. GRID-Arendal won Most Creative Map for Endangered Reefs, Threatened People, a Story Map created by Levi, in collaboration with Linwood H Pendleton and partners.
The Story Map explains human dependence on coral reefs and the threats these reefs are facing from climate change and ocean acidification. People benefit from healthy coral ecosystems in a variety of ways: reef fish provide food and materials from reefs are used for medicine. Coral reef tourism also provides financial capital and jobs to local communities. As well, healthy coral reefs protect our coasts from erosion and waves.
Besides creating award winning maps for GRID-Arendal, Levi is also an artist. His work was recently featured in National Geographic as a part of the Best New Maps, According to Cartographers collection. His map - "Those who did not cross" - tells the story of all the people who who died trying to reach Europe by crossing the water from Africa and the Middle East between 2005 and 2015. Levi's map shows the extent of the human tragedy behind the numbers reported in the media.
Levi's interest in people is also reflected in his portrait collections where he draws people with a special story to tell. Chinese migrant workers, traditional farmers, indigenous tribes and refugees are just some of the people Levi has featured in his collections of drawings.
Combining science and research with creativity and storytelling has created new opportunities for GRID-Arendal. Showing how climate and environment affect people's lives is crucial in our work. A team of passionate professionals with different backgrounds and different interests makes this possible.