Alex created a pleasing map with the lowest municipal splits in his age/regional category. A well-designed and thoughtful map, that really carries out his focus on geographical integrity. We loved the last paragraph of his essay, as well.
This map aims to balance several goals within a few, main priorities. It prioritizes minimizing county and municipality splits along with geographical logic. Compactness, population equivalence and competitiveness took a back seat to these priorities but were still important.
Specific geographic regions that were kept as intact as possible are the following: Allegheny National Forest in district 17, using the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers as borders in district 16, the Mon Valley in district 14, the ridge & valley of PA in district 11, the lower Susquehanna River in district 10, the upper Susquehanna River and Lackawanna River in district 9, the upper Delaware River in district 7, and the lower Schuylkill River in district 2.
The biggest challenge that I encountered while making this map was balancing the many goals I had. Specifically, when trying to tweak areas to get them to what I thought was the best balance. that still left some less-than-ideal-looking edges on districts - such as with Washington Township in Berks County, West Vincent Township in Chester County, and the border between Districts 1 and 2.
Additionally, this map, like all maps like this that I have made and continue to make, are an effort firstly to educate myself on how maps are drawn and can be drawn. I also am making them for others to see at least what a new option to the maps we have had in the past might look like. This map distinctly looks to the future. Ultimately, I hope that this map is a small but important step in the direction of fairer maps on all levels throughout the nation for generations to come.