A Year in Review

By Katie Kowalsky | May 15, 2015

I finished my junior year this morning with a full summer and fall ahead. I’ll be done in December, which is an INSANE thing to consider. I have to start figuring out my life, printing out my resume, publish my first journal article (hopefully), present at  NACIS for the first time, and figure out how to look like I have any clue what I’m doing.

my feet

Things that happened in the past year:

  • Started work the UW Cart Lab with a ton of different clients and learning production cartography like a champ
  • Learned everything I know from sitting next to Daniel Huffman for a summer
  • Finally made my own portfolio website
  • Started tweeting for NACIS as their social media director
  • Made an interactive map of abortion rights in the US with Robin Tolochko and Dylan Moriarty
  • Went to NACIS for the first time! (Met some of my carto-crushes and learned about my new favorite hobby, CartoCSS)
  • Co-founded Maptime Madison with Robin Tolochko and Rashauna Mead
  • Created a blog to remember all of this stuff
  • Tackled leaflet.js, AJAX, jQuery & D3 in Rob Roth's interactive cartography class
  • Did professional research under Rob Roth on Mapbox Studio and CartoCSS
  • Made some ridiculously cool maps (one of which made me famous for 15 mins) in CartoCSS
  • Got a phenomenal TAship with Girls Who Code in DC for the summer!
  • Fell in love with Open Street Map & became a member
  • Went from 120 to 625 Twitter followers (my brother would argue that that's valuable)
  • Learned PostgreSQL/PostGIS for bo$$ data purposes

I’ll say it time and time again- without the incredible people that take part in #uwcart and are involved in any facet of my life in Wisconsin Cartography I couldn’t accomplish a single thing.  I’m so undeniably lucky for the time, energy, patience, kindness, and thoughtfulness put into our formal curriculum and all the work/innovation being done outside of the classroom.

A lot of people would say that’s a lot to accomplish in 365 days, with a full undergraduate course load, two jobs, and trying to do other things like Maptime Madison! or see friends/loved ones, but to me, it’s not enough. I think constantly about the beautiful ray of feminist sunshine that is Leslie Knope  and how great of a role model it is to have in a world that is full of apathy.</p> In fact, I like to steal a quote that Amy Poehler added in the last episode of Parks and Recreation, because it’s my mission statement:

"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." - Theodore Roosevelt

I don’t know if there’s anything that’s ever driven me to cartography more than the point that it’s work worth doing to me. And it can be relentless, exhausting, without any reward or thanks, but that’s not why we do it. Doing things that are easy are boring, and I refuse to live that life.

As a side note: I’ll be publishing a blog tutorial on CartoCSS shortly, I just needed to be nostalgic for a moment. Also, come to NACIS to see me present on it or State of the Map US to say hi. I’ll also be live-blogging and live-tweeting the first Maptime Summit immediately after, so follow along on the interwebs.

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