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Green Maps are locally created environmentally themed maps with a universal symbol set and map-making resources provided by the non-profit Green Map System. Based on the principles of cartography a Green Map plots the locations of a community's natural, cultural and sustainable resources such as recycling centers, heritage sites, community gardens, toxic waste sites and socially conscious businesses.
The Green Map tagline is “Think Global, Map Local!”. It’s a play on the familiar think global - act local, and implies the same depth of local involvement for positive change.
All Green Maps use a set of globally designed Green Icons, developed collaboratively by the network of local project leaders. Allegedly this is the world’s only universal symbol set for maps. The globally designed icons ensure that all Green Maps engage and guide a diversity of users. Because concepts of sustainability are continually evolving, Green Mapmakers have developed the third version of the symbols, released in March 2008. Provided as a font for ease of use or as stickers for youth/computer-less Green Mapmakers.
The website GreenMap.org is the gathering point for both the makers and the users of Green Maps. GreenMap.org went online in 1995 and it was re-launched in May 2007, with a resource center for Mapmakers all over the world to communicate and exchange their Green Map making experience. This content management system is named as Greenhouse, symbolizing its ability to cultivate and present a “garden of Green Maps”.
Green Map’s office in New York City is the resource development, outreach and support center. Due to the growth in the number of projects a decentralized or "hub" based management system has been adopted. Green Map System has encouraged various regions to form local support networks. Green Map System and its network of regional hubs and community-led Green Map projects share their outcomes.
Although Green Map System authorizes local mapmakers to use its Green Mapmaking icons and tools, every project is independent and locally-led. Grassroots and established non-profits, universities and schools, governmental and tourism agencies use the icons and adaptable methodologies to develop and publish their own community's Green Map in a way that meets the needs of residents and visitors.
Impacts and developments
Green Map System is now active around the world in over 400 cities, villages and neighborhoods in 51 countries (see  the complete city list). Both the mapmaking process and the resulting Green Maps have seen tangible impacts on the communities and sites they chart.
Over 325 Green Maps have been published, including 80 online editions.
Green Maps are an educational and environmental communication tool for advocacy and public awareness first created for New York City by eco-designer Wendy Brawer of Modern World Design in 1992 as seen at the Green Apple Map website. The global Green Map System was formed as a result of the response to this first Green Map. Since 1995, Green Mapmaking has grown steadily around the world.
Branding and spelling
While Green Map System prefers and promotes the spelling "Green Map" to preserve trademark claims, "green map" and "greenmap" are often used by local Green Map projects. Green Map System is concerned with maintaining control of copyright and trademark in order to preserve the perceived integrity of the system; they wish to prevent the use of Green Maps in greenwashing and do not allow public use of their assets.
- Wendy Brawer, e-mail message to Jerrad Pierce, November 21, 2004 regarding word choice in "Improving the Cartographic Quality of Green Maps"
- Brawer, Wendy. "Copyright & Icon updating". 11 December 2004. http://www.greenmap.com/gm/forum/viewtopic.php?p=90 (31 August 2006)
- Green Map System, "Mapmaker Checklist". 22 September 2003. http://www.greenmap.org/report/checklist03.txt(31 August 2006)