Sullivan’s maps “explore new boundaries for municipalities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” he explained. “They range from a John Wesley Powell-inspired watershed map to a Voronoi-driven Dunkin’ Donuts township map.”
The project began with a series of questions: What if the official internal boundaries of Massachusetts were entirely erased? “How would we redraw them? And how could new municipal boundaries better align government with our needs today?”
Many of Massachusetts’ town lines were based on geographic features; forgotten disputes among parishes; long-dead landowners’ property lines; and, yes, craven political gamesmanship—this is, after all, the state that invented the gerrymander. Now, as the Commonwealth contends with the politics of congressional redistricting, we realize how arbitrary many of these designations are.
Of course, Sullivan’s suggested replacements are less serious political proposals than whimsical parameters for a surreal new state to come—its jurisdictions defined, for instance, by doughnut consumption—but if we are to redesign the political units through which contemporary governance functions, I suppose you have to start somewhere.