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Social Design Notes' John Emerson is Worldchanging

Green Maps

Green Maps chart the natural and cultural environment of cities around the world. The maps are locally designed and published, but share a common visual language of icons to highlight green living resources. Green maps provide an in-depth, alternative reading of cities and spaces from a green point of view, promoting environmental awareness, citizen participation, and community sustainability.

First published in 1992 by Modern World Design, the New York Green Map sparked international interest through the o2 network for sustainable designers. Since then a collaborative global program has developed, developing the shared system of Green Map Icons. The map design processes are locally driven, and rendering techniques vary widely - using GIS, vector graphics, pen and ink, or even crayon.

Each map highlights local resources that impact the quality of life - green spaces, recycling centers, bike paths, green businesses, vegetarian cuisine, renewable energy sources, etc., as well as toxic hot spots and pollution sources. The network has developed a set of icons for youth maps as well. The process is similar to the asset mapping approach to community development.

To date, 178 Green Maps have been produced in 43 countries around the world. For a good introduction, the Green Map Atlas features 10 case studies in North America and Asia. For more information, visit the Green Map site.

John Emerson is a New York based graphic designer dedicated to research, development, and promotion of design in the public interest. His Web site is backspace.com, and he blogs at Social Design Notes

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