DTL launches initiative with statewide barnstorming tour

Chris Satullo| September 8th, 2018

Draw the Lines PA is barnstorming the state this fall to launch its three-year initiative to inform and engage Pennsylvanians around gerrymandering and democratic reform.

DTL will hold more than 20 events in September and October to spread the word that the battle to slay the gerrymander is not over and to introduce a new weapon in the fight: DistrictBuilder.

The barnstorming tour begins, appropriately, on Sept. 17, Constitution Day, in the city where our democracy was born, Philadelphia. It will also reach Erie, Pittsburgh, State College, Harrisburg, the Lehigh Valley, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

DistrictBuilder is a free, online tool that anyone can use to make their own, valid election maps and share them with elected officials. DTL developed it in partnership with Azavea, a Philadelphia-based mapping and GIS firm. Most of this fall’s events will include a test drive of the tool.

To encourage people to draw election maps on DistrictBuilder, DTL is staging a series of statewide mapping competitions, with significant prizes. The first one begins Sept. 17, with an entry deadline of Dec. 14. The challenge is to draw a valid, 18-district congressional map of Pennsylvania.

The competition has three divisions:  school, higher education and adult.  The competition will be judged first in three regions, West, Central and East, with regional winners going on to compete for state grand prizes of up to $4,500 apiece.

The portal to DistrictBuilder is this newly launched site, drawthelinespa.org. Here, you’ll also find lots of resources and activities to build your grasp of the redistricting issue and to prepare you to draw a great map. You’ll also see stories about citizens from around the state who are working for democratic reform.

Some of the barnstorming events are open to the general public; some are aimed at college and secondary school audiences. You can follow the progress of the statewide blitz on DTL’s social media: 

Twitter: @drawthelinespa.

Facebook: Draw the Lines PA.

Instagram: @drawthelinespa

We'd love to do an event in or near your town.

If you'd like to help set one up, Help organize a DTL event

DTL is a project of the Committee of Seventy, a good government nonprofit based in Philadephia. Each DTL region has its own nonpartisan steering committee, made up of civic, education and business leaders from that region.

The project is supported by grants from the William Penn, Heinz, Hillman, Benedum, Grable and Independence foundations, as well as individual donors.

Here’s a rundown of the planned events:

Monday, Sept. 17

Constitution Day Program, University of Pennsylvania, 12:15 p.m., Class of '49 Auditorium, Houston Hall, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,  Sept. 17 is Constitution Day and Draw the Lines PA honors the nation's founding charter by visiting the campus to talk about how gerrymandering subverts the Framers' vision. Then we'll let folks test drive our DistrictBuilder tool and get ready to map.

Tuesday Sept. 18

The Path to Redrawing PA’s Districts, 7 p.m., Waldron Conference Center, Gannon University, Erie. DTL and Committee of Seventy CEO David Thornburgh speaks along with Carol Kunihold, head of Fair Districts PA.

Redistricting by Citizens, 7:30 p.m., Emmaus Fire Company No. 1, Sixth and Broad Streets, Emmaus. DTL Project Director Chris Satullo speaks along with Amanda Holt, the anti-gerrymandering activist from outside Allentown who is also a member of the DTL Eastern Steering Committee.

Wednesday, Sept. 19

DTL team speaks to college classes at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre.

“Eat Pizza, Save Democracy,” 7 p.m., Henry Student Center Ballroom, 84 W. South St., Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre.   Games for Democracy event for Wilkes University students and others.

Thursday, Sept. 20

Bar Games for Democracy,” 6 p.m.,  Marzoni’s Brick Oven and Brewing Co., 26 Montage Mountain Road, Moosic.  Evening of fun, food and beer, open to the public.

Tuesday, Sept. 25

Mission Story Slam 2: Saving Democracy,” 6 p.m., Yards Brewing Co., 500 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia. Story slam emceed by Chris Satullo, co-sponsored with PWP Video Co.  Premiere of the Draw the Lines video, The Power of One, which PWP Video produced.

Sunday, Sept. 30

Gerrymandering 101, 2:00pm - 3:30pm, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main Branch, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh.   DTL’s primer event on gerrymandering, including hands-on activities.

Monday, Oct. 1

DTL Webinar/Workshop, 1 p.m., Local Government Academy, 1501 Preble Ave #202, Pittsburgh

Tuesday, Oct. 2

Gerrymandering 101, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, 1 p.m., Kurtzman Room, William Pitt Student Union, University of Pittsburgh.

Thursday, Oct. 4

News and Brews, WITF public media, 4801 Lindle Road, Harrisburg. DTl does its Gerrymandering 101 presentation jointly with the WITF newsroom.

Saturday, Oct. 6

Data Day, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main Branch, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh. DTL will have a table at this annual event.

Thursday, Oct. 11

Remake Learning Professional Development Workshop, 11:30 a.m., Homewood. DTL team presents on its mapping student, student competitions and gerrymandering curriculum.

State of Young Philly Civic Engagement Fair, 6 p.m., WHYY, 150 N. Sixth St., Philadelphia. DTL has a table at this annual event.

Saturday, Oct. 13

State of Young Philly: Bar Games for Democracy, 4 p.m., Catalyst Center, University of Pennsylvania, 3440 Market St., Philadelphia. Fun, food, beer and lots of good information on redistricting reform.

Monday, Oct. 15

Pennsylvania Library Association Conference, Harrisburg Hilton, Harrisburg. DTL is tabling at this event.

Slay the Gerrymander: Bar Games for Democracy. 5:30 p.m.; The Firehouse Restaurant, 606 N. 2nd Street, Harrisburg. Fun, food, brews and good information on redistricting. Co-sponsored with Fair Districts PA and Dickinson College.

Wednesday, Oct. 17

Mapathon, multiple sessions, Drexel University, Philadelphia. The DTL team will get Drexel political science students mapping on DistrictBuilder.

Friday, Oct. 19

Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies Conference, Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg East, 4751 Lindle Road, Harrisburg. DTL will be present and tabling and hosting a happy hour.

Saturday, Oct. 20

Gerrymandering 101, with the AAUW-PA Indiana chapter.   Time and site to be determined.

Sunday, Oct. 21

Mapathon, 2 p.m., Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main Branch, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh. Hands-on activities and a demo of the DistrictBuilder mapping tool to get people ready to draw maps and enter them in the competition.

Tuesday, Oct. 23

Mapathon with Code for Philly, 6 p.m., Ladder 15, 1528 Sansom St., Philadelphia.