To qualify for State Runner-up, Blyden finished first in the Central Region.
One of the contest’s most prolific mappers (12 submitted), Blyden Potts seemed to have an enormous amount of fun playing with the data and trying to achieve different objectives. Map #232 won first prize in the Central Adult group not only because it is a beautiful map but also for its great essay and the innovative “circle” method that was used. Working in circles, out from the center of Pennsylvania’s cities, Blyden managed to create 10 competitive districts and get an excellent compactness score, of 42.5 percent.
Interesting. I started with only the most basic plan, which was to try to create rough circles around population centers, with the idea that if I stuck to the straightest possible boundaries in my circle (a bit of a paradox I guess) that this might improve overall compactness. I started with a circle around State College / Centre County. I then did the NW district, a quarter circle around Erie. Then Pittsburgh as a very tight circle.
After that, the circle idea started to erode a bit as I needed to fit districts in the Laurel Highlands and in the Northeast into the available spaces, which were not very circular. Then I carved up the Southeast in approximate circles, trying always to leave a remaining space that could be carved into other circles, as I closed in on Philadelphia.
The results were only crude approximations of circles but ... with a little tweaking, I got the populations very equivalent, as good or better than any of my previous maps, and the compactness is pretty good, plus it turned out to have 10 competitive districts, also pretty good. Though I was not at all trying for competitiveness with this map, it is as compact and competitive as any of the maps I designed with compactness and competitiveness in mind!
I really had no intention of this map being one to submit. It was just going to be a private experiment, very little plan or concept, and I did not consult with or interact with anyone in making it, but since it turned out strong in all three qualities, I decided I would submit it.