Updated: Visualizing Altadena's Treasures, Challenges and Future (Graphic)

The graphic below shows the most common words used by Altadena residents when describing what they treasure about Altadena, what problems it has, and their vision for its future.

At the first county , the consultants asked participants to stick Post-It notes to the wall laying out what they treasure about Altadena, the challenges Altadena faces and their vision for its future.

The roughly 125 participants came up with a whole variety of responses, but their were some common themes.

The first graphic above captures some of them--the graphic is a word cloud that was created by inputting every single response written down on the Post-Its by the April 4 workshop participants. 

The next three graphics show what words people mentioned in each specific exercise, the first when they were asked about what they treasure about Altadena, the second when asked about Altadena's challenges, and the third when asked about their vision for Altadena's future.

Those words were put in a program and all the common words like "the," "and" and others were taken out.  The graphic depicts the words mentioned most as the largest.  By looking at the respective size of the words, readers can see which words were mentioned most often at the meeting.

Unsurprisingly, in the first graphic "Altadena" is one of the largest words and "community" appears to be the biggest.  And readers of this site won't likely be surprised to see "business" and "businesses" among the largest-sized words.

The purpose of the ' is to gather public input on what potential changes should be made to update Altadena codes, as well as take a broader look at what priorities county planners should have for Altadena's future. 

The next workshop is on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the gym.


Editor's note: The original version of this story said the word 'Altadena' is the biggest in the above graphic.

Alison Johnson April 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I love the concept and the information it provides to us about our collective consciousness about our "town." The color of the words I find to be a distractor, as certain colors tend to draw more attention or be more easily visible. It would be helpful to have it all printed in black-and-white (or dark-brown-and cream, for those with scotopic sensitivity). Even better for me would be the words sorted into a list, from largest/most frequent to smallest/least frequent. The "cloud" graphic representation is pretty but ultimately less clear and informative to me. But then again, I used to take my notes in college in block-printing, outline-format. What can I say, it's my particular brand of nuttiness! BTW, the word "community" is actually in the largest font size, followed by "businesses" and "Altadena" tied for the next-largest font. (maybe the red color and capital letter of "Altadena" made it appear that it was the largest font.)
michele Zack April 24, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I arrived late at that meeting so missed having input to this exercise. The word(s) I was looking for and didn't see were "blight" "empty stores," "gone out of business," etc, which made me wonder about how this exercise was framed. But it is a fascinating snapshot of what people were thinking about.
Dan Abendschein April 24, 2012 at 06:45 PM
michele - blight is up there (you can see it under restaurant if you zoom in). I think one of the reasons business is such a big mentioned word is that some people saw it as a treasure, many saw the lack of businesses as a challenge, and almost everyone mentioned business in their vision for the future. The above word encompasses all three exercises because I had all the input squashed together. If I had them separately, the challenges, the visions, and the treasures, we might see some other words highlighted more prominently.
Dan Abendschein April 24, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Thanks Alison and good point on the size of Altadena. I'll need to change that in the story. As for how it is displayed, I tried a couple of different programs and different fonts and went for what looked most readable to me. But the programs do all seem to favor artistic appeal over practicality for the most part, so I did not see a simple list option anywhere.
Steve Lamb April 24, 2012 at 09:12 PM
somehow I doubt that business is more in the minds of Altadenans than say trails or nature.


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