On Moon Shots, Minions and Map Year

Jan 15, 2015

JFK and James Boxall (Canadian Geomatics Community Round Table (CGCRT) Co-Chair) aren’t the only ones to dream of a moon shot.

In the 2010 movie Despicable Me super-villain Gru planned to steal a shrink-ray, downsize the moon, and bring it back to earth to show-up rival Vector’s feat of stealing Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza.  The goal?  To be recognized as the world’s #1 villain.

To get his plan off the ground (literally), Gru needed financing, but was turned down by the President of the Bank of Evil.

About to throw in the towel, Gru assembled his goggle-and-overall-clad minions to break the news, when the three orphan girls he adopted offered up the few coins they had in their piggy bank.  This started a frenzy of giving by Gru’s minions, who dug into their pockets for coins and bills, and gathered whatever they could find on hand – chairs, pinball machines, empty water bottles – to build the rocket that would transport Gru and the shrink-ray to the moon and back.

They succeeded – getting both the moon and media recognition – thanks to 3 things:

  • They had a shared vision and plan;
  • As a community, they had a strong brand in Gru’s “despicable” persona;
  • They directed individual resources to a common cause. They used what they had and didn’t rely on new resources from the bank.

The takeaway?

2015-16 is International Map Year (IMY).  Brainchild of the International Cartographic Association (ICA), IMY could be an opportunity to put Canada’s geospatial community on the map.  It could be the CGCRT’s moon shot.


With activities like a Children’s Map Competition and National Map Day, IMY is a ready-made campaign with popular appeal.  Countries are being asked to form multi-stakeholder, national committees to champion these events and others throughout the year.  Signing on to IMY could give Canada’s geomatics sector visibility – a CGCRT goal under the Pan-Canadian Geomatics Strategy.

The CGCRT and its members are active, and increasingly so – look at the range of Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day activities this past year.  But while there are lots of things going on in the community, they are not branded as CGCRT events.  Initiatives are still a random assembly of individual black, white, red and beige tiles rather than the intentional layout that makes the complete image of Colonel Sanders visible from space (HINT: you’ll have to read the post!).

For Gru and the minions, pooling resources made the difference between getting their plan to steal the moon off the ground or fading into anonymity.

For CGCRT, taking ownership of IMY, and coordinating distinct activities under the community brand could make it a rallying point that brings recognition to all things geospatial in Canada.

But it will take a plan, concerted effort, and a strong shared identity to make it happen…matching goggles and overalls not required.

What activities are you planning for 2015-16 that could benefit from CGCRT branding as part of International Map Year?

Let me know in the comments.

Wendy is a senior policy advisor with the Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, Natural Resources Canada, who clearly spends too much time watching movies with her kids.  Views in this post are her own.   


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