DiscoverHow To Citizen with BaratundeBuilding Bridges, Not Walls (with Tonika Johnson)
Building Bridges, Not Walls (with Tonika Johnson)

Building Bridges, Not Walls (with Tonika Johnson)

Update: 2020-10-081


Baratunde ignores the headlines about Chicago and heeds a listener’s advice to learn more about the South Side from a local artist who is building bridges in her community and literally helping people find common ground. Tonika Johnson helps us understand the pride that comes from being a Chicagoan and the root causes of today’s community struggles grounded in segregation and discrimination. Through her Folded Map Project, she is a perfect example of using art as a way to citizen.

Show Notes + Links

We are grateful to Tonika Johnson for joining us. 

Follow @TonikaJ on IG. You can learn more about The Folded Map Project at

We will post this episode, a transcript, show notes and more at

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Internal: (actions that help you reflect on your own emotions, opinions, and experiences regarding a particular issue)

Find your fold, as Tonika says. 

Whether you live in Chicago or not, there is a dividing line exacerbating racial and class segregation in our lives, and we want you to find it. 

First, reflect on your own neighborhood, and digitally identify and write down the following:

  1. The food you enjoy and the restaurants you support

  2. The neighborhood cultural institutions and local artists you appreciate

  3. The local businesses you depend on: grocery, bookshops, dry cleaners, etc.

  4. The local library and any programming it offers that you’re into

  5. The local news sources you rely on

Now, think about a neighborhood you hear about in the news that is in your city, but that you may not visit because it’s “bad” or “undesirable” or because it’s too nice and inaccessible to you. 

For that neighborhood, use the internet and social media to get to know it outside of media headlines using the questions below: 

  1. For the food you enjoy, find a restaurant in that neighborhood that you’d want to order from.

  2. Find and follow two local artists and one cultural institution to follow on social.

  3. Find and follow three local businesses that match the type you frequent in your neighborhood.

  4. Check out the corresponding library website and follow them on social media.

  5. Find one neighborhood news source from that neighborhood. Maybe there’s a podcast, online weekly, or social media account devoted to telling stories of that community.

We want you to become a better citizen of your neighborhood and your whole city. 


Listen to these two episodes of This American Life called “House Rules” that examine segregation in the U.S. 

Explore the history of redlining in your US city. This project by the Digital Scholarship Lab a the University of Richmond let’s you examine the New Deal HOLC (Home Owners’ Loan Corporation) maps which set the stage for so much segregation that persists to this day. 

EXTERNAL: (actions that are public and require you to interact with or join others in your community)

For Chicago residents, use the Folded Map action kit to find your map twin. Submit your results. All this is at

If you know an educator, share the the story - and sign up for more info on the curriculum currently in development.


If you take any of these actions, share that with us - Mention Bridges, Not Walls in the subject line. And brag online about your citizening on social media using #howtocitizen. 

We love feedback from our listeners - 

Visit Baratunde's website to sign up for his newsletter to learn about upcoming guests, live tapings, and more. Follow him on Instagram or join his Patreon. You can even text him, like right now at 202-894-8844.

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Building Bridges, Not Walls (with Tonika Johnson)

Building Bridges, Not Walls (with Tonika Johnson)