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Mapmakers Center

NYC

Green Map & TED!

Excitingly, our director, Wendy Brawer is now a TED Resident!

With 14 weeks of support to further the development of Green Map as an 'idea that matters" the residency culminates in the making of a TED Talk (see some of the most popular and search all of them here).

As you can guess, Wendy is delighted that she and Green Map are included. Based at TED's NYC offices, the Residency program curates a co-hort of 20 accomplished people, all briefly introduced in TED's blog.read more »

25 Years Today!

Wendy Brawer at the Papanek Social Design Awards in Vienna (photo by Peter Aiolovia, 2011)

The date was December 13, 1991. I was in a room full of environmental activists in New York City. The @UnitedNations Earth Summit ‘prepcom’ was coming up, where Agenda 21 would be negotiated prior to the main UN event in Rio. We were planning talks and tours for hundreds of governmental, sustainability and social justice participants who would soon arrive, some to stay a month.

I thought about these individuals coming from all over the world, and wondered, would they see the signs of progress that I was noticing: Community gardens, farmers markets, bike paths, solar sites and more? I considered their many languages and cultures, and decided I should make a map of these and other hopeful features. read more »

Hola LES NYC Green Map

Mapping the green spaces of today and tomorrow’s developments

The Hola LES Green Map charts the speculative future of the ever-changing Lower East Side, highlighting existing resources as well as conceptual projects that contribute to the community’s sustainability and sense of place.

Manhattan's vibrant Lower East Side is on the forefront of climate change, like all coastal communities, and this map was developed as a resource to help increase the green spaces, sustainability and resiliency of the neighborhood. The Hola LES map highlights existing green living resources, development projects that are transforming the neighborhood, and speculative design ideas that can increase sustainability and resiliency.

The map (linked here with legend) includes research gathered during three mapping workshops, interviews with community members, historical research, and through participation in Community Board 3 meetings. It was built using the Carto mapping engine platform and Green Map icons. Below, find the embed code to add this to your website!

A nice crowd joined on a tour to celebrate this map's launch on Saturday May 7, 2016 - the event was both a Jane's Walk and a LES History Month event. Excitingly, later in May, our Director was named an LES Community Hero (photo to come).

The goals of the mapping workshops, which were held in Siempre Verde Garden in 2015, were two-fold: to map the current green space and sustainable living resources and to find underutilized space with sustainable development potential. The workshop participants explored the 36 blocks between Sara D Roosevelt Park and Hamilton Fish Park from HOuston to DeLAncey streets (“Hola”). We discovered places where new green spaces could be created from currently vacant tree pits and swaths of bare earth as well as excessive paving that could be greened, an emerging Green Wall, and hidden-in-plain view gardens. We also learned where solar panels are powering neighborhood buildings, about cycling resources, initiatives to re-purpose Parks buildings for community use, and more.

Our workshops included discussion about green infrastructure to address storm water, a problem that confronts many New York City neighborhoods (the 15 ‘combined sewer’ overflow points in East River Park are evidence of this condition). We discovered underutilized green spaces that could be enhanced, gardens where rain barrels could be installed, asphalt that could become permeable, and bare earth around a housing development that could be utilized as a rain garden or bioswale. These solutions enable natural systems to work more smoothly, so that storm water is sponged up and slowed down, which will help prevent flooding in the community and the overflows that pollute the East River.

There are several development projects currently underway that impact the Lower East Side and are relevant to the sustainability of the Hola LES neighborhood. The largest is the Essex Crossing development that will add 1000 new apartments and new retail spaces to the area. In addition, gentrification is an ongoing process, with older buildings being torn down or converted to luxury housing. The map charts these new building developments from 2005 to the present.

The Big U is a 335 million dollar project that will create a barrier around lower Manhattan to reduce storm surge impacts. With community engaged in planning, the first section will break ground due east of Hola LES in 2017. NYC Community Garden Coalition's 2-million dollar "Gardens Rising" project will add another sustainable layer to the neighborhood. Launched in November 2015, green infrastructure will be planned with 47 community gardens, including the five on the Hola LES map.

Other, more local projects include: the updating of the landmarks spaces Bluestocking bookstore, the Essex Market and ABC No Rio; the Suffolk Tree Stewards, who have taken the initiative to improve the trees and tree pits in and around their block, and the projected "Lowline"project, which could become the world’s first underground park.

The Lower East Side has a unique built environment. Looking back via the Viele Map and historical references, we can see how waves of immigrants transformed land where the Lenape people had lived, building tenements, places of work and worship as the population grew. Today, income disparity, litter, lack of green space and car traffic are challenges that we residents of the Lower East Side must address to assure the vitality of this dense, diverse community.

And yes…. read more »

NYC’s HOLA LES! Mapping Project

Hola LES! workshop #2 participants

What is Hola LES? It’s the name of a new Green Map project that covers 36 blocks between two city parks, from HOuston Street to DeLAncey (Hola!) streets on Manhattan's Lower East Side. This hands-on project is designed to highlight not only the existing green spaces around the LES but also to identify potential for new green spaces and green infrastructure. Along the way, we are involving different groups of stakeholders and testing out different mapmaking methods.

Workshops in May and June were led by us and project partner Professor Alice Arnold. Starting from Siempre Verde Community Garden, the workshop included a discussions at both ends of the neighborhood walking tour. Workshop #1 included many Civic Corps volunteers while #2 was a global affair, with attendees from Brazil, Japan, Denmark, India and the US. We're planning neighborhood residents and youth workshops later this season. read more »

Summer News!

Summer News and Events with Green Map
A Green Map Update!
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new office, new perspectives!

Green Map has ‘moved the mountain’. Yes, after nine years of great progress and global accumulation, we have moved into a new office in the same East Village neighborhood. We said goodbye to the Connelly Center, which is expanding its school into our former space, and relocated two blocks east. Overlooking a community garden and a lively urban streetscape, our new space brings us closer to our diverse community and local sustainability efforts. Our new address is 292 East Third St, #1A. We’ll be ready for visitors soon, and a fresh flock of summer interns is starting this week.

Projects this season include updating the Mapping our Common Ground book, which focuses on community mapping and grassroots sustainability. Created with Green Mapmakers in Cuba, Brazil, the US and Canada in 2006, much of the book will be completely revised with our network's involvement. The project is led by the great team at University of Victoria, and partly funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Our June 24 workshop in NYC builds on this project!

We’re also continuing work developing our research archive, shifting our mapping platform and gearing up for new road map (pictured above) and 20th anniversary activities developed by design student teams this spring. Yes, you can support our 20th year any time! Our board has expanded, too, adding Meredith Gray of the Coop School, Lela Prashad of NiJel, and Chelsea Wittman of Google. Our appreciation to outgoing board members Lara Penin and Randy Meech, too.read more »

Spring News

Mapping New Directions
A Green Map Update!
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mapping new directions

At Green Map, we’re in the process of moving! Not just where we work, but also in some ways, how we work.  As always, it’s an exciting journey in support of positive change.

This spring, we are starting the process of ‘going open’. It will take some time to fully explore options and set the course forward together with our beloved Board of Directors, Green Mapmakers worldwide, student teams from social design programs at Parsons and SVA, and members of the open source community. We invite your participation in this process. We believe going open will make it easier to for people to extend the usefulness of our outcomes and contribute leadership, energy and expertise that enhances our global movement.

Why? Our world and climate are changing quickly. More people need to be involved immediately to meet the new challenges we face, and Green Maps can help them do that!  Going open will help us share and further develop our toolkit more sustainably, equitably and collaboratively.

Watch for more news about our journey to open as 2015, our 20th anniversary year, rolls out! We’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, we’re gearing up for a change in location: after eight great years, our uber-nice office will be turned into a classroom over the summer, so we are soon to encamp at a new Lower Manhattan location. Once all the dust settles, we will tell you where we’ve landed – and yes, there will be a party to say “goodbye and hello again,” in the near future.read more »

Summer Newsletter!

*|MC:SUBJECT|*
A Green Map Update!
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Map it Fast!

Ready for New Participation

M.OpenGreenMap.org  is our new Mobile Site Collector for interactive Green Maps! This handy webapp makes it easy for everyone to collect new green sites as they visit them. 

Now, Green Mapmakers, tourists, students and locals can collect great green living sites and quickly add up to 8 icons and a photo. Every new site is reviewed by the local Mapmaker, and when it goes live on the map, the person who collected it is notified.

Transforming how Green Maps are made, the Mobile Site Collector can be used with smart phones, tablets or computer. It has 13 language options, thanks to the contributions of the 65-country Green Map network. It even works offline!read more »

Mobile Site Collector Launches!

We are delighted to launch the new Mobile Site Collector!
It’s super handy for charting green living sites on the go and for involving new participation in Green Mapmaking.

Try it at M.OpenGreenMap.org – complete info and video are at GreenMap.org/mobile.

Created by Romanian Green Mapmakers and translated into 13 languages by our global network, this new tool is great for workshops, as well as community members and visitors who encounter places that belong on the Green Map. “Now, you can add them as you find them!" said Wendy Brawer, director of the nonprofit Green Map System. "The Collector automatically grabs the location, and all you need to do is select icons, add a little description and snap a photo. Each site is reviewed by the local mapmaker and contributors receive a notice when it’s on the Green Map”.read more »

1st Green Map Collector Workshop

In July, we took part in organizing a workshop at the United Nations that introduced Green Map’s new Mobile Site Collector to participants from 7 countries - explore the map we made at OpenGreenMap.org/UNdistrict-nyc!

Organized by summer interns Benji Shulman and Samantha Riccio, it was hosted at the head office of Global Action to Prevent War, a UN-based NGO (follow their important work at GlobalActionPW.org). While most participants have a UN connection, the group also included a member of the surrounding Community Board, Manhattan CB 6, which is an appointed advisory liaising with local government on an ongoing basis.

After short introductions and an ice-breaker (where everyone had to share the greenest thing they had done that day) participants were given a brief history of the district and global examples showing how community-engaged mapmaking has been used to build knowledge, networks and action for inclusive, sustainable local development.

Based on her experience making other Open Green Maps with the Collector, Green Map’s summer intern Samantha Riccio then gave a tutorial on how use this new fast, fun tool on mobile phones and tablets. The Collector allows people to collect sites as they encounter them through a simple effective web-app interface on their smart phones. “Offering 13 different languages, the Mobile Site Collector is the perfect tool for this very diverse group. Hopefully it will inspire them to introduce Green Mapmaking to their local communities” said Samantha.

Use the Collector at M.OpenGreenMap.org

Then the fun really began with participants breaking into groups and spreading out around the UN to make use of their new-found mapping capability. Along with many famous landmarks in the area, smaller sites such as bicycle repair and tailoring shops were also mapped. Some groups even discovered beautiful public spaces that had been unknown to them even though they had worked in the area for some time. In just 45 minutes, participants mapped 14 new sites complete with descriptions, photos and the signature Green Map Icons, showing their engagement and enjoyment in the process.

The workshop included a view of all the newly mapped sites and discussion of ways to improve the presentation. This eclectic group's feedback very helpful as we move toward launching the Collector on August 6th, and planning next steps for our 'Map it Fast' mobile tools. Thanks again to Samatha and Benji for their work on this project and to Global Action, which posted a blog here as well as hosted, and to all the participants.

Open Engagement

The Queens Museum hosts beautiful and innovative exhibitions and events, and in May, Green Map System took part in the Open Engagement conference with our partners at the Queens DiverCity Green Map project, Carlos Martinez and Beatriz Gil and the local arts org, Hibridos Collective. Carlos took the wonderful photos here, more are on the group's website.

OE is an annual exploration of various perspectives on art and social justice. This year it focused on a Life/Work theme, and, we found the venue and event to be an ideal showcase for Green Map! Together, we led a virtual tour of New York City around the Panorama – an amazing model of NYC built for the World Fair in 1964, and kept up to date, accurately featuring the city’s streets, buildings and green spaces.

The conference attracted attendees from all over and our 'tour group' included several states and countries. Together, we discussed many noteworthy sites, spread across all five boroughs, as seen on this little map.

We presented both global and local Queens Green Map and explored the use of our shared iconography to express the positive, green and innovative as well as the toxic and hazardous aspects of these various sites. Then, we taught the group how to use our-soon-to-be-released Mobile Site Collector to collect and add more sites to the Green Map we created especially for this event.

Our thanks to the Queens Museum, partners, organizers and participants. We had a great time sharing knowledge, exchanging ideas and exploring new ways to strengthen resiliency in our hometowns!


Wendy, Bernice, Carlos, Beatriz and visitors walking around “New York City”


Visitors share their experiences and assess the potential for mapping for community engagement


Bernice (author of this post) presented one of the New York's most beautiful views - of the Hudson River and the NJ Palisades. During her internship at Green Map, she also published a Green Map of Tel Aviv!


Like being in a virtual helicopter (but without noise!) we strolled across the city in seconds

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