Think global, map social

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

In 1992, New York-based eco-designer Wendy Brawer hit upon the idea of an eco-map for her city. With UN delegates congregating for several weeks to prepare for the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, Brawer wanted to find a way to highlight the city's eco-features. She and her co-workers came up with 143 sites, ranging from community gardens to bike paths to green buildings--even the toxic hot spots of New York.

The fruit of their labour, Green Apple Map was a hit, and by the time the fourth edition came out in 2000, it contained more than 1,000 points of interest.

As activists in other cities got wind of the project, they joined Brawer's team. Using the original map as a template, the expanding group created a set of open-source tools and icons. These are now available at

Currently, the site pools in the services of mapmakers from nearly 50 countries. Collaborators include students' groups. Over 350 green maps have been published to date.

These maps, according to Brawer are about bringing people closer to the natural world, "and showing them just how much is happening, ecologically speaking, right in their own neighbourhoods". They document features like hazardous wastes and sources of pollution.

The resources at should prove helpful to researchers, students, and environmental activists.

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