Ok, so this sounds more noble than saying I was playing around to avoid having to do my “work” work… Can I get away with saying it wasn’t avoidance, but just a break?
Anyway, from our last Chapter back in 2003, we had four Chapter Initiatives. The committee I signed up for was for Initiative II: Develop further collaboration at the membership and elected leadership levels with the Federations of the Sisters of St. Joseph on issues of ministry, organization and resources.
Another committee (Initiative III) is working with the following directive: Form congregational structures and commit our energies and resources to implement the values inherent in our Directional Statement, especially social justice and the integrity of creation within the context of global solidarity.
One of the things that our Leadership Team learned more deeply on a recent trip to the United Nations was the critical importance of local action when it comes to the promotion of social justice. So one of the things that the Initiative II and III committees are trying to focus on is how all the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can put their voices together and effect change at the state and local levels.
My little contribution to this effort is to figure out how to create some kind of visual image of where Sisters of St. Joseph are located throughout all of Pennsylvania. My thought was a map of the state with pins indicating the location of CSSJ residences or places of ministry.
So this week, I asked a couple of colleagues in our Civil Engineering Department what software I needed to do this. Turns out I can do it in Google Earth, which I had already installed on my machine, well, just because it’s so cool. (I used Google Earth to show visitors to my web site a bike ride I took while I was in France last year…check it out.)
Now the present task turned out not to be so simple, as I wanted to have the ability to import a list of zip codes and have Google Earth create all the markers on the fly. But I found out you have to pay $20/year for that capability, so being the cheapskate I am, I poked around a bit more and found a site that provides a spreadsheet listing all the zip codes in the US, along with their geographic coordinates. I then found a freeware program that would take these coordinates and put them into a file format that could be opened in Google Earth. All I need now is for someone to provide me with the list of zip codes where Sisters of St. Joseph serve in PA and I’ll have the map done in almost no time. Below is a test run, using a few randomly selected zip codes from the database.