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How Green Maps are Made

Each Green Map is a local project, created by people who live or work in the community. Each is independently managed, and all Green Mapmakers (our term for the leadership team) are part of a global movement, sharing their progress, resources and experiences to benefit others. This spirit of collaboration among the global network has been central to Green Map System’s success since 1995.

Capital cities, rural villages, tourist destinations, watersheds and neighborhoods – these are some of the settings where successful Green Map projects are based. It’s easy to appreciate the phenomenal way a Green Map project can bring communities together to chart practical solutions and address urgent environmental issues. Created by established organizations, universities and governmental agencies, as well as newly-formed youth, community and grassroots groups, regional design elements, narratives and images are often highlighted in our maps.

The Green Mapmaking process is scalable: it offers citizens of all ages, backgrounds and technological skills a genuine opportunity to build sustainable communities. Taking cues from more experienced leaders, Green Mapmakers determine the best way to develop their team and funding, then research, design and produce their Green Map. Whether published online or printed as a folding map, painted as a mural, or simply shared on a bulletin board, each map may be used by thousands of people who discover new ways of seeing and interacting with their home environment.

"It’s a great way of working with communities to help them understand what sustainable development actually means on a local level”. Mike Trevett, Fife, Scotland Green Mapmaker, Action for Change

Green Mapmakers in the past have charted within a city's political boundaries, mapped clusters of small towns, and bioregional boundaries such as watersheds. Youth have often worked at the neighborhood level. Whether comprehensive in scope or a ‘theme Green Map,’ great care is taken to assure the mapmaking process is inclusive and the resulting map communicates well with its intended audience (which can be tourists, families, general, newcomers, etc). Many Green Mapmakers work in multiple formats over time, piloting new concepts and continually creating compelling new perspectives on familiar places.

All projects receive help from this website’s ever-expanding Tool Center, other members of the Green Map network, regional Hubs and our global office as soon as they register. This website includes a Mapmakers Exchange and other shared resources refined by direct experience that cannot be accessed by the public; many Mapmakers also purchase a kit that includes inspiring maps as examples and outreach materials. Each Mapmaker supports Green Map System by contributing a modest fee or service, uploading tools they have developed and by sharing their story with the public in their Profile.

It may take many weeks or months (or even years!) to publish a Green Map (unless Mapmakers are using the new Open Green Map, which makes their work instantly available on an interactive platform that invites public participation). The traditional mapmaking process isn’t easy, but it helps create stronger and more connected communities. Even the smallest green site becomes important when it is literally put "on the map". Moreover, successfully published Green Maps have opened vocational and career doors for many project leaders as the map projects demonstrate evidence of personal commitment to sustainability, organizing skills and design expertise. Further, Green Map projects around the world find that their efforts are elevated by being part of the movement. Truly, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts!

Today, printed and digital Green Maps guide millions of people to everyday resources for sustainable living, right in their own backyards. Explore our in-depth profile, articles, newsletters and stories to find out more about each project’s unique approach, validity and impacts.