For hundreds of years Europeans thought California was an island. If you take a look at early maps of California it was completely separate from the rest of the continent. A large river separated California from the resources and safety of the rest of the continent.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The first person who attempted to make a map of our gigantic state was a guy by the name of Cadwalader Ringgold. It was 1841, and the beginning of the gold rush. The United States Navy sent Cadwalader here to learn what he could about the terrain and layout of our great state. He started right in the location of our conference this year in the San Francisco Bay area to begin to map our massive, beautiful and complicated state.
The mapping effort took them over 10 years to complete with coordination from small cities, state government, special interest groups and the military working in concert to complete the largest pieces. The effort continues today as we are still refining the way we see our state and making sure that as California’s landscape changes, we keep a good idea of what it looks like.
Today, just like good ol’ Cadwalader, we are building a map. We are building a map to help families and those living with a mental illness find help. We are building a map to help community leaders and government officials decide how to best go about designing their services with input from families and people who so desperately need to have their voices heard.
Right now, our map has many holes in it. Right now, there are blank spots that leave entire communities unrecognized. We won’t allow that. We remember the time when we were a blank spot on a map. We remember when the map was created without us and we broke the door down to be seen!
We know that we cannot build our map alone. None of us can see from every mountain to understand the valley. Building our map will require sitting down together and talking about what is happening in every corner of our state at our kitchen tables and city halls.
At NAMI California, we are ready for this challenge and we are taking an active stand to make sure our map has no uncharted territory! Our affiliates in every corner have been working this entire year to reach out to communities in ways they haven’t been able to in the past. We are working on adapting programs to welcome in new members from new communities and not just allow them in our doors, but to welcome them with open arms to the NAMI family.
We won’t let your family be uncharted, we want to be sure that our map represents every mountain, valley, color and river in this state and with your help we will do it!