Eco Printing Tips
Aichi Expo 05
Green Map Japan
Brooklyn USA 02
Harlem USA 00
Malmö SE 99
Liverpool UK 97
New York 92
From New York City to Havana
talk was given by GMS Founding Director Wendy Brawer at the Ethics & Culture
of Sustainable Development symposium in Havana, Cuba in
May 1999. The
symposium was co-sponsored
by the American Friends Service Committee, UNESCO and Felix
I bring you greetings from the small island nation where I live
and work, Manhattan, the most international part of the US. So much about
New York City inspires my work as a designer, and I am part of a network
of urban ecologists that believes our efforts to transform NYC to a more
sustainable place will have geometric impact in large cities everywhere.
started looking for signs of eco-positivity around 1990, when I decided
to focus my creative energy on something important. Home was burning
as I was fiddling around, so I put down my old art & design toolbox
and started learning to work with a new green one. Since then, my work
has revolved around promoting ecological stewardship to urban-dwellers,
especially New Yorkers, and encouraging people to work together to
create a better common future...here are some of the things I found,
right at home:
- Community Gardens: Neighbors
take over unused city land growing whatever they wish, for the social
and biological benefit of all.
- Greenmarkets: Only
locally grown produce is sold, by the people who grew it.
A Bicycle: School-based project teaches kids to repair and
maintain old bikes, how to ride safely, and develop cooperative skills.
Police: NYC has over 1,000 cruising on their own power.
- Workbikes & Pedicabs: The
Hub's bike-powered transport help us meet NY State's 2% zero emission
- Recycling Center: We
have the largest municipal program of any city of more than a million
people in the US.
Drop-off Site: Drop off food scraps in the Greenmarket
so worms can turn the waste to rich soil for city plants.
- "Deposit Bank": I
designed these self-emptying recycling bins for Times Square so people
could easily collect and redeem the deposit on drink containers).
- Info Centers: Helping
us understand the waterways that surround us, how to be energy efficient,
appreciate indigenous cultures, have healthier schools, etc.
- Economic developments:
include green stores and other sustainable businesses and services,
many organic cafes, natural health practitioners, etc.
- Mass Transit: NYC
has 40% of the USA's mass transit. New "smart
cards" give transit riders free rides, too.
- Parks: we have 500
of them, including 60 on the waterfront, helping us relax and connect
with the environment that supports all.
I wondered how I could help everybody see these places
that challenged the prevailing image of NYC, and decided to make a map
of all the good green places. Maps are resource efficient, universally
understood and have a powerful way of connecting people and place. We
hoped our Green Apple Map would provide a fresh perspective of this city,
and encourage personal discovery of the small and large eco-resources
there. We charted the environmentally significant projects and places,
and added sites of cultural importance that help make our city special,
along with the challenging toxic hot spots--and in 1992 the first Green
Apple Map was completed. Lots of people wanted to make such a map for
their cities after seeing the impact it had on New Yorkers, urban-dwellers
not usually thought of as environmentalists.
The idea of creating a freely
adaptable Green Map framework that could be shaped to fit any city's
needs started growing. Right from the start, the concept was that each
locally produced Green Map would be culturally specific and different
in focus, format, media, design, narrative, etc. But we could dramatically
increase the influence of each city's greening initiatives if all Green
Maps had a common visual language, a set of symbols to indicate the various
kinds of green sites. This language of Green Map Icons needed to be globally
designed to have validity and we needed some citiizens to be pioneers.
So in early 1995, I brought the project to an international meeting with
eco-design colleagues in the O2 network. People there were enthusiastic
about Green Mapmaking, plus I learned about the Internet, and how we
could use it to shape the Green Map System collaboratively. Despite the
lack of funding (other than what my company contributed), the Green Map
System was launched.
We began building a network of people who wanted
to take on the creative responsibility of being the Green Mapmakers for
their hometowns. Simultaneously we would help create the Green Map Icons,
a set of tools and a website we all could use. It took about a year to
make the 100 Icons, which we are continually adding to -- I hope our
workshop in Cuba will lead to more new categories of urban green sites
to add to the Icon set -- and to get the basics together. By then, several
people had decided to officially volunteer to lead the project in their
cities, and make maps that help people discover new ways to participate
in a sustainable lifestyle everyday.
Today, we're up to 83 Green Mapmaking
teams in 22 countries. The project became truly global a year ago, when
Araxa Brazil joined us, and now every continent is involved. We have
8 world capitals, larger regions, many small towns, and one whole US
state (tiny Rhode Island) involved. Mapmakers include grassroots organizers,
city agencies, students, designers and artists, tourism boards, planners
and geographers; all are welcome to see how this framework can be adapted
to fulfill local needs with a global linkage. The people inform the officials
about what they value, and the Green Maps are being used to make an inventory
of today's eco-resources and a visioning tool for tomorrow's. Kids are
Green Mapping their neighborhoods, sharpening their powers of observation,
and showing adults how they view the environment. Ideas are being transferred
from city to city, and all kinds of people are seeing how to support
the growing movement toward community sustainability.
Today the first
9 beautiful, culturally informed Green Maps have been published:
Denmark was first, published in time for the big Organic Expo in the
summer of '96. Published in Danish & English versions,
it has informative text about how "organic" is defined there,
describing unique bicycle services, etc. It even uses the Icons as graphic
elements, a concept we had not foreseen!
Soon it was followed by 2 web-based
Green Maps from Holland. Gouda's is quite interactive with city center
and larger views, a scrollable Icon Key and in-depth text on each green
site. It was completed in under 4 months, and the whole process of making
it is posted on our website.
Montreal's is the first in 2 formats, both
print and web mediums. The McGill University Urban Planning students
who created it also have developed a community college curriculum around
it. This summer, 12 teams are creating an in-depth datebase "that will be used by government and business,
as a tool for understanding economic efficiencies to be gained" (Douglas
Jack, Eco-Montreal team). The webmap starts with the watersheds of North
America, gradually zeroing in on their island city, and the print map
is very cool and "pop".
Malmo Sweden has both city and countryside
views for day trips. The '98 edition has a special focus on the central
business district, and there's one of the special trees in progress,
too. The city sponsors a bus to take people to see several key green
sites, such as 3 urban farms, ecological puppet theater, biogas plants,
The latest Green Apple Map was published collaboratively between
Metropolis magazine and my company, Modern World Design. This map is
proof that NYC is improving...our first Green Map had only 143 sites,
this third edition has about 700 green sites, plus 100 other eco-resources.
We hear from people all the time about how it changed their relationship
with the city. Thanks to NYC Environmental Fund and Interface, it's free,
there are copies available here. The web-version is underway, too, and
we're planning for a June debut for our database driven website, so please
visit the Green Apple virtually this summer.
Kyoto's Green Map has a wonderful
design charting about 500 sites, which of course, includes the historic
environment, so important to Kyoto's sense of place. It's the first one
published in Asia. It debuted during December's United Nations climate
change summit. They did their own workshop, global exhibit and tour in
parallel with UN COP3.
Maps are in progress in Wellington NZ (web), Adelaide
AU (print) and Pforzheim DE (print). In Argentina, parts of Buenos Aires
and La Plata have been Green Mapped, too. The Icons have been translated
into 7 languages, including Spanish! Several Mapmakers are self-organizing
into regional hubs for promoting the project.
Obviously, no city is a
biological paradise, but the mix of culture and nature in urban ecologies
has its own special charms. I'd like to encourage you to promote these
sorts of actions in your city by putting them on your own map, and hope
that we can now discuss how you might begin the Green Mapmaking process.