Green Streets

Seeds of worldwide interest in green mapping were sown in 1991 when artist and designer Wendy Brawer thought of creating a map that would guide visitors attending the United Nations Earth Summit to the surprising number of ecologically significant sites and “green” resources in New York City. The resulting Green Apple Map offered a fresh perspective that proved to be just as popular with residents and local organizations (many of whom wanted to be on the map) as with international visitors (many of whom wanted to know how to create a green map for their own cities). Recognizing the potential of green maps to promote urban environmental health and awareness, Brawer founded the Green Map System (GMS) in 1995. GMS invites teams of volunteers, including students, to create their own green maps charting places, projects, and organizations in their home communities.

GMS is a globally connected, locally adaptable framework for promoting community sustainability. While local mapping teams select the sites, green mapmakers around the world use a shared visual language: more than 100 icons that symbolize various types of ecological and cultural sites. Among the features highlighted on green maps are:

– Gardens, parks, places of natural beauty, wildlife habitats, and zoos

– Farmers’ markets, ecobusinesses, and sustainable economic developments

– Pedestrian zones, bike lanes, mass transit, and car-free options

– Cultural resources, historical features, ecotourism destinations

– Solar and other renewable technologies sites

– Important social, governmental, and health information resources

– Bioregional, geological, and other natural features

– Water, power, and waste infrastructures

– Environmentally sound architecture and significant design projects

– Toxic hot spots and pollution sources.

Green maps help residents discover new resources for preserving and sustaining urban ecology, and guide visitors to successful greening initiatives that they can replicate in their own communities. Maps have been published in 30 cities as far-flung as New York, Kyoto, Adelaide, Utrecht, and Montreal, and over 100 green mapmaking projects are now in progress across North America and abroad. Each completed map is posted and linked on the GMS Web site ( along with contact information and reports from the mapmaking team.

Green Map System, Box 249, New York, NY 10002; 212/674-1631;; From Green Teacher (Summer 1999). Subscriptions: $24/yr. (4 issues) from Box 1431, Lewiston, NY 14092;

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