Need help with finding allies and determining who you could work with? One of the tools you can use is called Community Mapping. Here's how it works. 

1.  First, draw 4 concentric circles on a sheet of paper

2.  Once you have the rings drawn, start mapping out everyone you know on the circles. Those people / groups you have a closer relationship with are nearer to the centre, while those people / groups you know, but perhaps not quite so well, go in the circles further out.  You might want to make this location specific. For instance, only mapping out those people you know who are relevant to a specific city or region.

It should look something like this:

3.  Once you have mapped out everyone you know / every group you are involved with in a particular area, take a few seconds to sit back and just look at it.  Are you sure you have mapped everyone?  Have you mapped the cleaners at work?  How about the dinner ladies at school? Have you remembered your book club?  Your dance class? That lovely old guy at the coffee shop you always see?

4.  Now that you are sure you have mapped everyone, think about what makes each person / group on the map passionate. What are their interests? Think about what kind of skills and resources they might have. Are any of the people you have down, particularly wellnetworked? You can write this down on the map or on another sheet of paper if you would like.

5.  You are now building a much fuller picture of what your community looks like and the possibilities it offers.  Begin looking through everyone and circle a list of potential people / groups to approach.  Generally, you want to approach people who share a common interest in your aims and goals, might have some skills or resources you think would be useful, or who just well networked and can bring many more people with them.

6.  Once you have a list, select 4 or 5 people / groups to actually approach.  And write down how you are going to approach them. Ask yourself: why? Where? How? When? And what is your specific ask?

7.  Go do it, and keep coming back to this map to update it and find more inspiration!

A couple other ways to use the map

  • You have not only mapped out people, but also their access to skills and resources.  Take a look at your Local Group and think about if there are any skills or resources you are deficient in.  For example, if you need someone to help with social media… is there anyone on your map you could approach or who might know someone else?  If you need access to a councillor, is there anyone on your map who might be a good starting point?
  • This map is all about who you know.  As such, it reveals who you do not know… is your social map truly representative of your wider community?  Or is fairly narrow in regards to age, gender, socio-economic class, ethnicity, or religion?  What can you do to widen your social network?  Don’t expect people to come to you, you need to go to them!