As socially conscious people around the world adopt ethical, open and sustainable lifestyles, they are collaborating to support one another. One collaborative trend is the formation of certification organizations. B Corp and Organic foods are examples. Startups in these sectors can organize themselves based on existing standards and best practices.

Another trend is organizations forming commons. Creative Commons licensing and Mozilla Foundation are examples. Again, new commons collaborations have a template they can adapt to their specific needs.

But how do organizations formed prior to commons era transition toward an open model?

“There isn’t really a map for that,” Wendy Brawer told me.

Which is ironic, considering that Wendy’s organization is Green Map System. She went on to explain,

“In 2009, we opened up our site. Mapping data was still very propriety. So enabling users to upload their own content was a step forward.”

Green Map has been collaborative since its inception. So, with the development of multiple open mapping platforms, the Green Map board was persuaded to move in that direction. But how does a traditional non-profit corporation make the transition?

Green Map, of course, developed a map. That helped inform the journey-in-progress. We share it here in hopes that other proprietary organizations making the transition to open will benefit from Green Map’s experience. Similarly, we hope to profile the experience of other such organizations in future posts.

Regarding collaboration with other organizations, Wendy was part of an open mapping presentation at the 2016 World Social Forum. This year, Green Map will participate in Intermapping, a gathering of mapping organizations. The goal of the Intermapping is to find ways to collaborate and make their platforms more interoperable.

Extracted from: correspondence with Wendy Brawer of Green Map

Confirmed by Green Map System’s board in Spring 2016, going open includes relaunching with a new ‘operating system’ in 2017. With inclusive participation central to our nonprofit’s ethic, we are elevating all types of spin-off initiatives, partnerships and place-making, and raising the status of slower processes and low-tech grassroots methodologies that cultivate ongoing involvement in community wellbeing.

In this era of municipalism and as part of this reboot, we are changing how we serve the diverse needs of agencies, organizations and institutions. For example, we are developing tutorials for robust third party mapping platforms to support our movement’s evolving and expanding network of users. , and take resource-intensive tech tasks off our plate.



Moreover, as the Green Map Iconography and tools go open, we are shedding our sliding fee model and seeking a pathway forward that is a sustainable balance aligned with the solidarity economy. New partnerships will help us consider options toward development of a fresh new business model and at the same time, share our experience to strengthen the commons.

Extending our pattern of piloting new approaches locally before sharing models with the global network, since Superstorm Sandy in fall 2012, our focus has been on ‘solutionary’ climate-centric local projects. Applying capacities developed making Green Maps, we have supplied mapping expertise, communications, systems-thinking and participatory design to local initiatives, including (a $2M community garden as green infrastructure project), Ranch on Rails (a self-powered bio-industrial park in Long Island City –, the Return of the #StantonBldg (community resiliency lab) and more. These foreshadow new Green Map tools, and are already inspiring projects led by Green Map Makers around the world.

Extracted from:

The question of how to make commons visible was taken up during the forum in a meeting of mapping initiatives. Silke Helfrich and Jon Richter from , Jason Nardi from Ripess , Wendy Brawer from came together to investigate the possibilities of interoperable standards for sharing data between different commons mapping projects. The group continue to work together and plan to organise further mapping events over the coming year. I also recommend reading Mapping as a Commons for more details on the concept.


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