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Green Map Icons History and Credits

The story of the Green Map® Icons has been an integral to GMS's development. Over the years, scores of talented and dedicated individuals from around the world have helped create and refine these universal icons. The process continues as the Green Map Icons were designed to evolve with our understanding of sustainability in the local context.

Version 1: 1995 – 1996

Developing the original set took about a year, with sketches emailed, faxed and mailed in to our New York office, following the first meetings about the project in Copenhagen Denmark and Kyoto Japan. Members of the O2 Global network, including Niels Peter Flint, Conny Bakker, Sytze Kalivaart, Fumikazu Masuda and Misako Yomosa were the first to contribute. For many of us, it was our first opportunity to collaborate using the internet and email!

Illustration and digitizing the final version of the set of 100 symbols followed the collaborative design and development process. To make them usable with any computer application, design student/IT developer David Campbell, suggested distributing them as a font, the lowest common denominator of software. His partner, Priscilla Prentice, an animator, completed the design work in Seattle US. Version 1 was released in April 1996, and just 4 months later, the first Green Map using these icons was published in Copenhagen!

Version 2: 1998-1999

Two years later, it was clear we needed to expand the set and revise some of the symbols that were culturally inappropriate or unclear. The online discussion included approximately 60 Green Mapmakers and friends of the program. By this time, we had a selection of locally designed place-based icons to draw from, and several were adopted into the global set, as shown below. Michael Samuel Graphic Design completed the design and digitizing work in New York.

Version 2 includes 125 Green Map Icons, organized in 11 categories. With World Studio's help, we developed and printed a 4-language poster. Then our first intern, Alexandra Sticher created a template for a single language poster in PDF format, which you can download here in a dozen different languages. We developed the definitions and resources for Mapmakers regarding their use. A youth sub-set of 50 Icons was also created. By this time, the icons and Green Map System was receiving awards and recognition from many corners of the globe, and the network of active Green Map projects had swelled to nearly 100 projects!

Version 3: 2002-2008, and beyond

With many new kinds of sustainability resources to consider, the development of ‘themed Green Maps’ as well as more education and outreach materials that utilize Green Map Icons, work on the third version of the iconography took a 'slow food' approach to completion. Although the discussion and planning began during our first Global Green Mapmakers Gathering at Italy’s Bellagio Centre, giving all Mapmakers a direct way to consider and comment on the symbols, their titles and definitions, arrangement of the set and so on took place largely since 2005. We used specially designed web platforms to collect and exchange insights, images and suggestions. We also took note of the urban and rural ‘local icons’ created to enrich Version 2. We recognized needs: a 'standard set' to make it easier for youth and community groups to participate, an icon pattern language to harmonize and codify design, even a expanded set of public works and landmark icons to make maps easier to navigate. As we moved toward the final phase, we invited public input through our Icon Open Studio – both online and in NYC – to assure this collaboration had the best possible results. Our deepest thanks to all participants over the past five years!

Our entire staff and all our of interns were involved throughout the Icon Update process. Risa Ishikawa, our designer and Ciprian Samoila, who created the first discussion database and the final font, deserve special recognition!

And our thanks to all participants, including: Misako Yomosa and all of Green Map Japan, especially Ichiro Chihara and Shoichiro Sendai; Jen Pei Wang and the Taiwan Hub; Jerrad Pierce - Camberville MA, USA; Benjamin Shulman - Johannesburg's Egoli, South Africa; Horatiu Popa - Cluj Napoca Transylvania, Romania; Hecky Villanueva – Manila, Philippines; Sasha Needham – Albuquerque NM, USA; Mike Trevett – Fife, Scotland; Rasto Kirn - Podravje, Slovenija; Isabelle Duvivier – Los Angeles CA, USA Daniel Agudelo – Quintana, Colombia; Dóra - Neusiedl am See, Austria; Nia Adamson – Butetown, Wales; David van Vliet – Winnipeg, Canada; Harold Hernández – Pereira, Colombia; Renate Foks – Eindhoven and Breda, Netherlands and Glasriket, Sweden; Elanto Wijoyono, Maria Carmelia, Hani Raihana, Glen H. Chandra – Yogyakarta, Indonesia; Kathryn Tate - Swansea, Wales; Max Goldstein - Stockholm, Sweden; Jacqueline Rose – Jerusalem, Israel; Janet Felsten - Baltimore, MD USA; Carolyn Emery – Sylvania OH, USA; Nadine Bopp - Chicago, IL USA; Michael Calderbank - Hackney, London, England; Ken Josephson - Victoria, Canada; Sandra Brazzini and Nicola Furey - Suisse Romande, Switzerland; Youness Chtaini in Geneva and Lama Tawk in Beirut and another 100 Green Mapmakers have taken part in the Icon Update project (more credits to come plus illustrated overview).

Our thanks to Icon Update supporters, including Rockefeller Foundation – Bellagio Centre, Fosters Group Community Grants, the Foundation for Sustainability & Innovation, Global Giving, and individual donors!

If you have any comments or questions about the Green Map Icons, please let us know.

Local Icons adopted into Version 2 in 1999:

  • Eco-agriculture (Scranton US)
  • Shantytown / Self-built Housing (Buenos Aires AR)
  • Art Spot (NYC)
  • World Music (many)
  • Child friendly Site (Calgary CA)
  • Senior Friendly Site (many)
  • Wind Energy Sites (Gouda NL)
  • Regeneration Opportunity Sites (Berkeley US)
  • Community Center (NYC)
  • Green Tour Available (many)
  • Alternative Health Resource (Kyoto JP)
  • Open Space (Rhode Island US)
  • Spring Blossoms (Kyoto JP)
  • Autumn Leaves (Kyoto JP)
  • Shaded Boulevard (Tel Aviv IL)
  • Insect Watching (Kyoto & Calgary)
  • Amphibian Habitat (Adelaide AU)
  • Marine Habitat (NYC)
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation/Info (Adelaide AU)
  • Wilderness Info/ Site (Scranton US)
  • Camping (Cape May US)
  • Snow Activity (Calgary CA)
  • Light Rail - Trolley (Kyoto JP)
  • Wheelchair Accessible (many)
  • Pollution Monitor (Tel Aviv IL)
  • Danger Zone (Calgary CA)