By Donna Drewes
Every town has green gurus and community experts. These are the ultra-connected people I call to find out the best trails to hike, the hours of the farmers’ market, innovative sustainable projects, the most interesting cultural resources to visit and more.
Imagine having an insider connection like this to provide you with the greatest community resources, events and even future sustainability goals in every town in your county, state and galaxy. Actually the Green Map System® has not moved beyond the planet, but just give them a little more time.
I confess that I have an aversion to maps that comes from driving for hours around the state before GPS systems arrived. I can assure you, the Green Map System does not involve the static road lines of a conventional map, but rather cool global icons and adaptable tools that you want to use.
The Green Map System has engaged communities worldwide in mapping green living, nature and cultural resources since 1995. In 2011, Green Map received funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to provide resources and technical support to a number of Sustainable Jersey municipalities that were interested in doing a Green Map.
Sustainable Jersey Green Teams
Sustainable Jersey set up an application process, and four teams representing nine municipalities were selected to participate in the program. They include: Central Jersey Team (Hillsborough, Princeton, Montgomery and Lawrence); Camden/South Jersey Team (Galloway, Haddonfield and Camden); a Montclair Team, and a Jersey City Team.
With locally-led Green Map projects in 14 New Jersey communities and in 766 other cities in 60 countries, these maps help people of all backgrounds and ages share fresh perspectives on hometown progress toward sustainability. Each project informs and connects diverse constituencies that care about local nature, cultural, social justice and green living resources. In New Jersey, the maps can even highlight the actions leading to Sustainable Jersey certification.
Seeing is Believing
With an interactive Green Map project underway, great progress has been made in this diverse community. Through funding and tax programs, Jersey City is encouraging green building and green purchasing standards. The Adopt a Lot Law has created community gardens and green areas from vacant lots. Educating the community on urban agricultural practices has driven the construction of two hydroponic greenhouses. It’s the first New Jersey city to execute a Buy Fresh Buy Local Program that will enable local restaurants, schools, food banks, and hospitals to buy local healthy food at wholesale prices.
Montclair is paving a path toward a green future. The program Eat Play Live…Better has helped communities work together to improve awareness and access to healthy food and enhance infrastructure related to healthful choices. Montclair’s Mount Hebron Middle School students recently completed their first edible garden. Community gardens are encouraged throughout the town and safe routes for alternative transportation have been developed.
Central New Jersey: Includes the Townships of Hillsborough, Montgomery, Princeton and Lawrence.
These four Central Jersey towns have joined in the movement towards a greener future with cycling and local food focused Green Maps. Green Mapmaking will be used in the district’s education system as part of a new sustainability curriculum. Carpooling and bike lanes have been promoted and built. Princeton has begun holding “Green Drink” gatherings, at which a collection of community members meet on a regular basis to share ideas about eco-conscious living. The West Windsor community has opened their first farmers’ market to sponsor local and organically produced food.
Camden County & South Jersey: Camden, Haddonfield, Galloway
Camden has New Jersey’s new EcoVillage, and aims to encourage awareness among college campuses, high school students, and community members for green action. Camden County’s 36 municipalities are working together to spread sustainable information, strategies, and skills. An inventory to gather information on all greenhouse gases created from county commerce is underway. Galloway and Haddonfield are encouraging the preservation of open green space, as well as the promotion of alternative transportation options. With city and suburbs working together, a wide variety of social and eco issues are being addressed.
Each Green Team has an Open Green Map in development. Among the first to open their map to public insights, images and site suggestions are the four created by Camden, including the Native Plant Corridor, Camden Food Assessment, Mid-Atlantic Rain Gardens and the Camden City Green Map.
Through working with these Green Teams, an interesting challenge has arisen for Green Map System. As each community began developing Open Green Maps, many wanted to include pre-existing environmental health and planning data from GIS maps created by local governments. Green Map System is currently investigating data interchanges to bridge diverse information resources.
For more about Sustainable Jersey®:
For more about Green Map System®
Sustainable Jersey staff and partners are regular contributors to the Dodge blog.