On The Map|Over-the-Rhine

On The Map|Over-the-Rhine aims to challenge – and introduce alternatives to – the predominant narrative, cartography, and economy of the neighborhood at a time of rapid redevelopment.

At the core of On The Map is an aesthetic of relationship – an interest in cultivating connections among Over-the-Rhine people – now a more diverse mix than ever in the neighborhood’s history, a direct result of the re-development, in what has historically been first a working class and then a low wealth community.

On The Map is art generating a network – connecting more than 200 people who live and work in Over-the-Rhine who had never met before. Many of these are connections across socio-economic and racial difference.

But On The Map aims to do more: Might a network of diverse connected neighbors be more likely to work together toward goals that meet the needs and interests of all?


Several approaches have been used to explore how to best support the formation of social fabric among small, diverse groups of Over-the-Rhine folks who want to connect…

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In August 2014, a small, diverse group of people who live and work in Over-the-Rhine, who had never met before, sat down and told stories of the places in the neighborhood most important to them.  Over the next months they collaborated to design guided walks to these places, took each other on their walks, and then invited the broader community to experience the same.

A kiosk-on-wheels invited more Over-the-Rhine people to meet and get to know each other through mapping, swapping stories about their important places in the neighborhood, and sometimes just having coffee and donuts together.

In Spring 2016, Community Table meetings were held every day in the lobby of Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). Stakeholders from six sectors were invited each meeting, to dialogue and build a map in response to prompts: “Tell about a place in Over-the-Rhine that makes you excited about your future here,” “…a place that makes you nervous…” “What story do you tell yourself and others about Over-the-Rhine?” and “Did today’s conversation change what story you might tell moving FORWARD? If so, how?”

That same week ended with Who do you want to move?, two performances by four Over-the-Rhine residents to a packed lobby at the CAC, dancing their experiences of connection and dis-connection in their rapidly changing neighborhood.


On The Map|Over-the-Rhine is a response to observations that:

  • the social fabric among the mix of community members does not seem to be keeping pace with the speed of the development that is creating the diversity;


  • the potential exists for the neighborhood to become a shining example of an urban community where development provides quality housing, employment, and enjoyment for all – now when the neighborhood is in transition, and ongoing, starting with those who are already here who want to be here, and regardless of socio-economic status.

On The Map|Over-the-Rhine asks: “What if the current diverse mix of people could meet and form social bonds by sharing stories about the one thing they all do share – their place?”

The map is a basic tool of development – what if in this place being re-defined by development, the people who spend their time here use that same tool to get to know each other by trading stories of the places they value, through walking, marking places on a map, sharing stories, listening, drawing, writing, dancing…?

How might this generate new maps of Over-the-Rhine, new ways of seeing and thinking? And what kinds of shifts in what is happening in the neighborhood might new maps like these spark?

Explore OTM | O-t-R