New Jew in Town: Finding My Way, Making a World of Difference

I miss her.
She was terrible, but I miss her. The way she pronounced “road” “rowd”. Her tendency to lead me in circles. The adorable way she misunderstood abbreviations; according to her “In 500 feet, turn left on Franklin Dr” meant “In 500 feet, turn left on Franklin Doctor”.
She was my GPS, and I miss her every day.
On Day 12 in our new house, after I finished washing the final load of towels used to clean up the basement flood that occurred on Day 10, I decided to reward myself with some caffeine before I left for work. I pulled the milk out of our brand new refrigerator — we had to replace the old fridge on Day 4 after it started leaking something smelly and chemical — stirred it into my tea, and was on my way. When I sat down in my car, I noticed the contents of my glove compartment scattered all over my front seat. All of the contents, that is, except for my GPS.
What kind of horrible person steals the GPS of someone new to a sprawling metropolitan area?! That thing was my lifeblood. What was I supposed to do now, use a map? The horror!
Around the same time, I was briefed on a new Federation project that would be taking up a lot of my time: an interactive, social media driven map used to show Federation supporters how their gift makes an impact around the globe.
Suddenly, I went from map-averse to practically a cartographer.
The Federation assignment, the Make a World of Difference Project, takes maps to a whole new level. We’ve decided that the best way to tell Federation’s story is to show you, in real time, the impact our organization has around the world. But how to map600TEXTdo that? We turned to David Grossman, of Grossman Design, and he blew us away with his idea.
Built on top of Google Earth, the Make a World of Difference Project uses pins to identify and present the range of Federation-supported organizations, programs and services.  Click on a pin – they’re spread from Minneapolis to Japan and every continent in between – and up pop the Twitter, Facebook and YouTube feeds for that  particular location, capturing up to date news about what’s happening on the ground, and giving users a real-time look into how we’re changing lives across the world.
You guys, it’s pretty impressive. It has elicited actual oohs and ahhs. And I’m very proud to be a part of it.
In the meantime, I still haven’t replaced my GPS, whom we called Desterny (a name bestowed upon her because she pronounced “destination” “desternation”). A true wandering Jew, I’ve been relying on Post-It notes with hastily scribbled Google maps directions and often ending up in sketchy situations.
An excellent example: a TC Jewfolk meeting in downtown Minneapolis.
I had never been downtown before, so I left a reasonable 20 minutes early. Just in case.
You know, just in case my Post-It directed me to a parking garage on the complete wrong side of downtown. Just in case it started pouring and my umbrella broke. Just in case, while walking along with the metal of my umbrella scraping a hole in my scalp, I tripped in the middle of the street, losing a shoe in the process and causing a group of questionable looking youths to snicker and inquire about my well-being. Just in case no one downtown knew what or where the Gravidae was (probably because I was pronouncing it completely wrong).
About 15 minutes into my rain-soaked, headache-inducing journey through the heart of Minneapolis, I discovered a  helpful tool: the skyway. Helpful, that is, if you have any idea where you’re going. I did not. I briefly wondered if the skyway had “bad” areas like a normal street; I answered my own question when I turned a corner and the walls became dingy, the lighting dim and flickering, and a panhandler asked me for money.
Finally – 20 minutes late – I arrived at the Caribou Coffee where the queen of TC Jewfolk, Leora, was waiting for me. My hair was twice as big as it had been when I left the house (#jewishgirlproblem). Somehow, Leora agreed to let the flustered, sopping wet girl who had missed nearly the entire meeting write for TC Jewfolk.
And here I am.
Explore the Make a World of Difference Project at! Zoom in, click, and scroll around to see how Federation is making…wait for it… a world of difference! Also, does anyone have a GPS I can borrow?