In March 2014, an improved version of the Baltimore Art+Justice website went live. Over the last year the IRC, in partnership with the Office of Community Engagement at MICA, has been at work refining the site, a social networking and mapping application created as an online resource for the Baltimore Art+Justice Project. Art+Justice brings together individuals and organizations who combine art making and social justice activism in Baltimore City, to create and strengthen arts/design based collaborations working for a better, more just Baltimore.
Accessing the site, users can search and locate individuals, organizations, and specific projects that merge artistic strategies and concerns with those of social activism, mapping their physical presence in the city, and can join the project, creating a profile for themselves (in any of those categories) and putting themselves on the map alongside their peers and potential collaborators.
The Art+Justice project presented a number of technical challenges to the IRC team. Testing the original site, we discovered that our initial decision to customize and interlock existing software would require some rethinking of how the site manages the data it displays. As more users joined the project, load time from our database of pin markers to the map was slowing down, making the site difficult to use. IRC programmers redirected the interaction between the database and Google Maps, speeding up the load time and allowing the site's membership to continue growing without affecting its performance. New filtering options were engineered for the map, editing functions were added to the user profiles, and the site's search engine was integrated with the map, directing users visually to the connections they are trying to make. The site also has a new video page, and a new overall look.
Karen Stults and Kalima Young, Office of Community Engagement, MICA