Short Paper , , ,

Participatory Mapping for Community Empowerment and Health Equity

Jason A. Douglas, Chapman University
Andrew M. Subica, University of California, Riverside
Laresha Franks, Community Coalition
Gilbert Johnson, Community Coalition
Carlos Leon, Community Coalition
Sandra Villanueva, Loyola Marymount University
Cheryl T. Grills, Loyola Marymount University

Participatory mapping is an empowering, yet underutilized method for investigating social determinants of health disparities. To elucidate the empowering approach of participatory mapping, this paper explicates the process and outcomes of a CDC Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health-funded community-academic partnership that leveraged participatory mapping to investigate access to public parks, and community organizing to advocate for environmental change and health promotion in South Los Angeles (SLA), CA. Thirty-five SLA residents partook in two participatory mapping sessions in March and April, 2015. Using 4’x5’ paper maps, residents drew mobility routes to their local park, ranking community assets and deficits along those routes. Process forms were used to document resident participation in ensuing community organizing events and activities to disseminate mapping results and advocate for policy change. Tobacco shops were identified as problematic spaces that attract subversive activity and crime including loitering, theft, and drug dealing. Subsequent geospatial analysis confirmed significant clustering of crime around SLA tobacco shops. Following, 81 SLA residents participated in community outreach events and activities from 2016-2018 to advocate for policies limiting the proliferation of tobacco shops. As a result of community organizing around resident interests grounded in empirical data, the Los Angeles County (LAC) Board of Supervisors voted to introduce legislation banning tobacco shops in residential areas of LAC. As illustrated by this community-academic partnership, we argue that participatory mapping is an empowering approach for (1) investigating social determinants of health disparities, and (2) redefining neighborhood spaces toward the implementation of health policies that reflect community interests.