The other day I blogged about psychic maps, specifically my psychic map of Martha’s Vineyard. My psychic map features certain places that glow with color because of my experiences there and my feelings for them, but my psychic map isn’t strictly a personal thing. Psychic maps have political implications: because of our varied psychic maps, we see different things and have different priorities, and when we sit down at a meeting we may find ourselves with very different, even contradictory, perspectives on an issue. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to illustrate this.
Well, duh, a perfect example was staring me right in the face: the roundabout that has been proposed for the blinker intersection. You know the public hearing I wrote about all of two days ago? That roundabout. Some people love the idea; quite a few of us hate it. Some people think the intersection is working just fine as it is; other people don’t.
Our diverging, sometimes clashing opinions have a lot to do with our psychic maps. Let’s go back to my psychic map of Martha’s Vineyard — new map, new colors, but it’s got the same basic shape as the one in “My Martha’s Vineyard.”
The red dot sitting on the chartreuse line marks the famous intersection. Barnes is the road that goes through it north–south. The unmarked road approaching from the north is the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, which we think of as an east–west road (for reasons that will become clearer in the next map). The rose dot slightly left of center is where I have lived since March 1, 2007. The chartreuse line marks one of the two routes that I usually take to Oak Bluffs, where I buy all of my liquor and most of my groceries. Notice that this route takes me through the intersection south to north or north to south.
Until 2003, the intersection had lights that blinked red in the north–south direction, the less heavily traveled route, and yellow in the east–west direction. People who customarily traveled east–west loved it: they could fly through without slowing down. People who traveled north–south had to wait and wait and wait, then risk pulling out into oncoming traffic. Understandably they tended to hate it.
The institution of the four-way stop in 2003 was a huge improvement for the north–south travelers. For those going east–west — not so much. At peak traffic times in the summer, traffic on the Vineyard Haven side might back up as far as the electric company and it could take 10 to 15 minutes of crawling forward before you finally got through the intersection. Grumble grumble grumble.
Here’s a hypothetical someone else’s psychic map of the intersection:
This hypothetical someone else lives in Vineyard Haven and works in Edgartown, or the reverse (the blue dots). The heavy black line is the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, and once again the red dot is the intersection. Looks different from my map, doesn’t it? Barnes Road barely exists for this person. She rarely goes up-island, and she’s got better ways to get to Oak Bluffs from both Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.
Not hard to see, is it, how people with these two psychic maps might hold differing opinions on whether there’s a problem and what the solution should be?