On Friday January 29, Englewood artist Tonika Johnson shared the vision behind her project, Folded Map!

On Friday, we talked about grocery stores. Yep, you read it right! Visual artist and photographer Tonika Johnson has a creative knack for sparking important conversations. She got us thinking about segregation in Chicago with the Folded Map pledge:

I, [insert name here] promise to visit a grocery store in a neighborhood different than my own.

Johnson is a visual artist and photographer, and also a co-founder of R.A.G.E. and Englewood Arts Collective. Her art and active role in her community is what earned her a spot as a 2017 “Chicagoan of the Year”.

The grocery store pledge came as part of her talk about Folded Map - Johnson’s renowned multi-media project which explores the differences of Chicago neighborhoods (she pointed out: it’s America’s #1 most segregated city). Folded Map brings together “Map Twins” - folks living on the same street on different sides of the city - to meet each other and talk about real estate, economics and stories of their neighborhoods. She asks her participants questions like:

  • Why did you come to your neighborhood?    
  • What’s missing in your neighborhood?    
  • Is your place of peace in your neighborhood or somewhere else?    
  • How much do you pay to live in your neighborhood?

She starts these conversations through everyday actions (like groceries!). Her goal is to foster intentional and introspective real-world experiences of different neighborhoods. It’s an idea sparked from her own high school commute, which started at 5:45am and took her thirteen miles north on the bus every morning. The project is personal, profound and action-based. It’s no surprise it’s been featured in museums and publications across the city. Tonika has big plans to expand the project to more cities. We had guests hailing from other cities like Indianapolis, Milwaukee and LA - all curious to meet their own “Map Twin”. Wanna find yours?

Download the Folded Map Action Kit and learn how to find yours in any city!

CMChi encourages everyone to take the Folded Map Pledge and share it to social media. #CMPromise #CMCHI #FoldedMap Learn more about Folded Map website, and sign up for updates on the project.