I love maps. I like to know where I am relative to other places. I like figuring out how people and places intersect. A few months ago, fiveminutes was offered a free map. How cool! I love maps so couldn’t say no. Folks at Modern Map Art sent me a high-quality print of Morgantown. It is simple and isn’t cluttered by many road names. It helps me understand where I live. Although my job, kids, and activism have prevented me from hanging it, I recommend checking them out.

To understand how we got where we are, we do need to understand place. As a researcher who actually studies people and places, I know that it matters. Where we lives affects us. Children in crime-ridden areas experience more stress. Living in poverty can have longer-term consequences on things like depression. And to improve where we live, visual representations help.

So if you like maps like me — and are concerned about where you live — check them out. Put the map up on your wall. Think about those places where people may struggle and figure out how you can make the change. Go to your city council and ask for more bus routes. Advocate for a stronger police presence. To improve our world, we need to know about it.

Maps help.