Growing up, every night I looked at my Cracker Barrel map taped to my bedroom wall before going to sleep. 

Perched just above my bed, the curving interstates (with Cracker Barrels scattered in all the nooks and crannies) and the stickers I overlaid marking places I'd been and places I wanted to go was, I guess, little Christine's vision board before she knew that was a thing. The map has changed over the years from my vision to my reality, as the pink slowly started overtaking the yellow. (And Cracker Barrel apparently stopped printing the maps, to my dismay.) But maps only show one part of these travels. What if I made a map of the locations of people I already know?

That's what a team of researchers at Facebook and a few universities did, and the New York Times gussied it up for us all in a lovely interactive piece. This is a really fascinating map, examining how Facebook connections are distributed across the country based on county. I hope you'll allow me this tangent (lol) this week; I'll be back with another Q&A in two weeks. 

One last thing: You might remember that each issue includes a map of its own — the map of Sown! As we think about maps this week, what are your top ideas for how we could make better use of it? (Privacy/opting in obviously being a top priority.) 📬 Reply to this email with your thoughts! 

Your friend,


P.S. I promise this issue is not sponsored by Cracker Barrel. I'm just a huge fan. This couple is now one of my life goals — time to add it to the vision board? 
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Here's how the New York Times' Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui explained their project: 

America is often described as a place of great divides — between red and blue, big cities and rural towns, the coasts and the heartland. But our social lives are shaped by a much stronger force that ignores many of these lines: distance.

In the millions of ties on Facebook that connect relatives, co-workers, classmates and friends, Americans are far more likely to know people nearby than in distant communities that share their politics or mirror their demographics. The dominant picture in data analyzed by economists at Facebook, Harvard, Princeton and New York University is not that like-minded places are linked; rather, people in counties close to one another are.

Even in the age of the internet, distance matters immensely in determining whom — and, as a result, what — we know.

Though our generations are moving away from Facebook (and closer to Facebook-owned Instagram, among other social media), the ties we've built up on our profiles paint quite a beautiful picture, especially thanks to the calming colors the NYT used in this interactive. Basically, the way the map works is that the darker the color, the greater "the relative likelihood that any two people living in two different counties are connected on Facebook." You can spin your mouse around the map and see the changes by county. 

Some counties have incredibly strong ties to those just next door or within their state lines, like MIchigan, South Carolina, and Nebraska. Others are more likely to have friendships scattered across the country, like Washington, D.C. and counties in North Carolina and Florida.

How are your friendships shaped by distance? How are they strengthened by close geography? It's okay if one way works better for you than the other. 

If you drew in a map, how would you label where your connections are? And these aren't just your people-friend connections. These can be your connections with nature, with a campus, with an exercise class, with a book store, with what was or what could have been, with a One Direction concert you went to this one time in this random place because your friend's mom reluctantly agreed to take you all and that was where the cheapest tickets were. (If these are all in one place, that's perfectly fine!)

Our connections are always growing and always changing. What do you want your map to show in the next 3-5 years? What steps can you take to build that map?

(Take a screenshot of this map and color it in on your phone!)

Go sow: Challenge for the week. 

One of the most important maps is the electoral map 🇺🇸. If you're eligible, I strongly recommend checking out this Washington Post guide for finding out how and when to register to vote in your state. It also includes information about what you need to bring to the polls and if your state offers early voting. Super helpful!

Grow the Sow.

Zoom into the full map here.

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As always, reply to this email if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas. I want you to hear from you! 
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