Award of Special Merit: Natasha’s Pigeon & Pastry Project | Natasha Mei Ong


Click on image above to view a zoomable PDF of the full map [3.4 MB]

Author Essay: My name is Natasha Mei Ong. I am an eight-year-old student at SF Brightworks School. In our school, we have arcs, which are specific topics that we study on. Within the arc we do a project. This arc was “maps”, and my project I call, Natasha’s Pigeon & Pastry Project, now submitted to the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, UC Berkeley, Mapping and Its Discontents Symposium, November 2013. I decided to do this project because I got interested in Stamen design and La Boulanges. I like La Boulange because the servers are nice and I like the way their food tastes.

I got interested in Stamen Design when they came over to present all their maps. I liked the way that they take two non-related things and put them together to make a very detailed and beautiful map.

These are some questions I had when I began. My big one was do bakeries and pigeons relate? Another one was, is there a pattern in where the people put the La Boulange? The last question was, which one do pigeons like more out of croissants and chocolate?

This was my process: First I went to five La Boulanges in the city, and at each La Boulange I made a chart. I was recording how many pigeons came before I gave them any pastries, and I was recording how many came after I put out the croissant, and I was recording how many came and ate chocolate.

After I was done I gathered the data and put all the information together.  Then I decided to use transparency paper to make 4 different layers of my map. The layers are: 1)  the map of san Francisco, 2) the dots show where the La Boulanges are, 3) the picture of the La Boulanges, and 4)  the data that shows how many pigeons came and ate.

To make my map, first I had to figure out where the La Boulanges were on the map of San Francisco. At first when I laid out the whole map of San Francisco, I felt like the streets were too tiny. So in order to make it bigger I used only the area that included the La Boulanges. I found where the five La Boulanges were, and my teachers helped me print the map from Field Maps. Then I cut the area and pasted it on my board. Instead of just putting all my data on the map, I chose the transparency layers so that viewers could flip through and see my process.  If I had put them together they would be all bunched up and messy. Since I noticed that each La Boulange had a different color scheme, I used each location’s colors when I created the pigeon data layer. I wanted the photos of the La Boulanges, taken by me when I did my research, to be colored, because it would look prettier on the map and it would show that that pigeon data goes with that La Boulange.

You know how pigeons have different colorings of feathers just like people have different skin and hair colors? They have different tastes like people do to too, from my observations. This is why I think that: When I fed the pigeons plain croissant and chocolate, some preferred croissant while others preferred the chocolate.

Click on image below to view the map in full size [3.4 MB PDF]


Medium/Software: Google Maps and Stamen Design’s Field Maps

2 thoughts on “Award of Special Merit: Natasha’s Pigeon & Pastry Project | Natasha Mei Ong

  1. Daniel Brownstein

    Natasha rocks! This reminds us of how much data–and attention to cool ways data-counting–is at the heart of any map. Even if we all know that pigeons like breadcrumbs, the tabulation of how many pigeons were attracted by the crumbs of different sorts of pastries at a variety of La Boulange shops creates a great sense of place that the field map does not register: the map becomes a way for Natasha to explore not only space, but elements (birds) not present in the map.


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