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disovery activities

Discovery phase activities

Learn where you live through positive senses


1. Discovering a neighborhood through positive feelings
2. Understanding your personal perception of your environment through senses and images
3. Telling your story through the good things you perceive in your environment
4.Identifying what you would like to change in your environment – and through this, in your life

Material needed

A mobile phone or a camera
Paper, pencil
A printer
A map of the neighborhood
In case of online course: computers, access to Wifi, MIRO board, video call program/application

Time frame

60 minutes inside/online
At least 60 minutes for field visit in total – walk in the area
60 minutes inside/online


The exercice is recommended for all age/social groups who need to discover and understand their new environment. It has been tailored more specifically to people with migrant or refugee backgrounds or people living with specific disabilities who need to find positive and accessible areas in their neighborhood.
The method can also be used by urban planners or citizens participating in urban planning.

To animate this exercice, you will need to know how to use maps, have a basic knowledge of your neighborhood and in photo/video making.
In case of an online course: you can use online community platforms, for instance MIRO.

Map me Happy method has been developed by a group of young geographers, urban planners and architects. The core idea was to suggest a method that could be useful for participatory urban planning, in a way to fight against the growing pressure of “unhappy urbanism”: “Large parks and squares have become targets of private enterprises, sidewalks and pedestrian areas have been blocked by unsystematic constructions and turned into informal parking areas (Zazanashvili)”. As the initiators claim: Map Me Happy is rather to help you develop an eye for the best positive practices found around the city. This might helps you come with alternatives for negative places.” Map me Happy is an open-source method that can be used online and offline in any city, by any community.

Although originally created for supporting participatory urban planning, in RE-STOR-E we suggest to exploit the strong community development and identity building potential of the method in order to support people with migrant and minority backgrounds to explore the neighbourhood and the local community in the city they are settled in. In our sessions we suggest to combine the Map Me Happy method with storytelling through pictures, motions and images, in order to support our target group to understand and explain to others their own personal perceptions about the neighbourhood and the society they are living in.


Map Me Happy in Berlin (in German)

1. Introduction and Phase1: How to make a mental map?

Tell your participants about the Map Me Happy method and what is it for.

Present the method and some examples on its use. Explain the main objectives of its specific use in RE-STOR-E method.

In this session participants will learn about the meaning and creation of a mental map and the reasons it is useful for understanding their environment.

Option 1- Offline course:


Ask participants to draw a mental map of their neighbourhood or any other place they like. 


my map.jpg

Ask them to search for the "real map" with any online/offline maps application (ex: Google maps).

You can also print the maps of the areas depicted.


Then, let the participants discover and interpret the differences and similarities between their mental map and the real map.

Ask them to explain why they saw the area differently. What are the parts of the area they like the most, if they have any specific stories, memories linked to them?

You will probably have many different interpretations of how to draw a map.

You can also compare your different ways to interpret space, your different points of view or any other issue that comes up during this discussion session.

Option 2 - Online course

Ask participants to get a piece of paper and a pencil and to draw a mental map of their flat or the place they are in.

Ask them to go around and discover the differences and similarities of the real map of the place and their mental map.


Ask them to explain which are the parts of the flat they like the most, what specific stories or memories are linked to these spaces?

To introduce the next phase, you can also ask them to add comments to their maps: the main differences between  their mental map and the flat, what do they like, what do they dislike and also what would they change to make the place better. 

marie map.jpeg
marie map.jpeg

Phase 2: Discover your environment

In this session participants will discover their personal perceptions of a concrete urban area: First, they will draw a mental map; Second, they will discover and capture on a real map the places they have good feelings about.

 By comparing the two maps and the photos/videos presenting the places of good feelings, participants will learn how to understand and explain their own perceptions of the urban area they live in.

In case of an offline workshop, this space can be the area surrounding the workshop's location; in case of an online workshop, or a blended workshop with remote activities, participants can work on the neighbourhood they live in.

1. Bring the participants on a short walk (15 minutes) within the perimeters of the area you would like them to discover.

2. Back in the room, ask them to draw a mental map of the area.


plan maisons-alfort.jpg

3. Give them a printed real map of the same area and  send them out again for a 45 minutes’ walk (at least) and ask them to check out the places they have good feelings with.

These feelings can be  linked to hearing, smelling, seeing, touching, thinking, or all these senses together. 

4. Ask them to take photos and short videos of these places. Pictures can be taken of only a small detail that the person found interesting and that might remind her/him about the good feeling linked to that space.


5. Back in the room, give them printed stickers with symbols of the above mentioned senses:  hear, smell, see, touch, think, or all together.

You can also make them drawing the symbols by themselves.


6. Ask  the participants to place these symbols in the  right place on the map, where their photos were taken and which are linked to one of them.  

7. If you can, print some of their photos as well and ask to link them to specific places on the map. 


8. Again ask them, to compare the real map with their mental maps and to share their experiences within a  conversation session:

What they have learnt?
What has changed in their perception of the city or  neighbourhood they live in?
Which are the elements or learning outcomes that they could use in their work or in their everyday life?

In the online version of this activity, you can follow the  same steps, but participants will work remotely on their own separate neighbourhoods wherever they live.

Maisons-Alfort Kata.jpg

As  maps and  photo collections shall be managed digitally, it might be also an occasion to improve participants' skills in digital content making.

You can co-create a collective board of your maps,  photos and comments on Miro, or on a similar white board application. 

Miro or other participatory white board are ideal to support the activity during the whole workshop:

to explain the activity,

to collect and to put together your maps and images, to mark them with symbols

to set up the final plenary session where participants can present the story of their discoveries based on the maps and the pictures, to resume and compare their experiences, to make general conclusions, etc. 

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