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Relational Reconstruction Toolkit Now Available

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This post was co-written with LC writer and editor Sahar Kazmi.

Relational Reconstruction Toolkit Now Available

For the past year, Innovator in Residence Jeffrey Yoo Warren worked with LC staff, collections and community members to develop an open source “relational reconstruction” toolkit to share his methodology and inspire the public to reconstruct other lost enclaves from Library collections and other sources. We are thrilled to announce that the toolkit is now available on Github and the video series featured on and YouTube!!!

What’s in the toolkit?

The intention with the toolkit is to offer a method for deepening one’s connection to a space that’s meaningful for their own story, with a special focus on communities of color. Though sourced maps, photographs and oral accounts, reconstructions of erased historic spaces are intentionally imaginative as well as authentic. The toolkit is organized into a series of chapters that describe stages of the work to consider. Ultimately, the relational reconstruction process itself can be a homecoming practice for those looking to honor important spaces in history that is nourishing and often highly collaborative and cross-generational.

Starting with research, Yoo Warren shares his process for finding glimpses of lost enclaves within archives, with a special focus on strategies for researchers of color working in white dominated archives. He offers tips for finding and building these disparate traces of a place from maps and photographs into a fuller picture, and provides a source set of free to use images from the Library’s collections as sample material to get started. 

In the modeling chapter, the Innovator describes his strategy for starting with a Sanborn map as a base layer in a 3D program, working with scales of reference to begin creating the footprints of buildings or landscape features in a scene.

In the atmosphere chapter, Yoo Warren collaborates with artist Alicia Renee Ball to share how a space can begin to feel more human as textures and visual layers are added (see the previous blog post with Alicia for more info). 

In the soundscapes chapter, the artist Ann Chen describes the transportive value of ambient sound. With clues from archival materials, such as photos of merchant stalls or roadway traffic, Chen describes how creators can incorporate similar sound effects in a virtual reconstruction and demonstrates a listening exercise with Jeffrey inspired by the author Linda Barry. Such small inflections help tell the story of a place.

Start your journey

For the next year of his residency, Jeffrey will be collaborating with folks around the country and teaching his relational reconstruction methodology. Engaging the public in this work will take a variety of forms, from virtual and in-person workshops to 1:1 collaborations with community members and descendants. If you are interested in participating in any of these future programs, watch the page, email [email protected] and say you’d like to be added to the Seeing Lost Enclaves distribution list, and/or follow Jeff on social media @jywarren (on X/Twitter) or @unterbahn (on Instagram).

If you have feedback on the guide, you can email or post an issue in the toolkit Github repository.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you! 


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