Chris Brewer
ENVS Internship Report—5/6/02

Walla Walla 2020—Green Map of Walla Walla County

Background

Walla Walla 2020’s Green Map has the potential to be an education, advocacy and planning tool for other community groups, city and neighborhood governments, and the private sector. The map will include about 40 icons to highlight Walla Walla’s environmentally friendly and not-so-friendly sites. When completed, the Green Map of Walla Walla will eventually be available in print at various “green” locations in Walla Walla city and county.

I am the first student to have this internship, so I am essentially starting out from scratch in terms of making a prototype “green map” and establishing contacts. I became interested in this internship after viewing the Calgary Green Map website: http://www.telusplanet.net/public/sustcalg/greenmap/greenmap.htm . Once it is placed online, the map of Walla Walla will be similar to this one.

I was also interested in this internship because it would allow me to work independently on a project-based job. In addition, I have always had an interest in geography and cartography, as well as city planning.


Objectives

I divided this project into two halves: the compiling of map information, and putting that information online. For this semester, my objective was to compile all the information for the features and icons on the green map in a manner that would make the map web-ready.

The first half of the project is further divided into city and county information. I anticipate that the map itself can be divided into maps of Walla Walla and of the county, with the city environmental features being more specialized (e.g. state-record trees, open space and parks, bike paths), while features on the county map would be larger (e.g. wind power, Mill Creek project, McNary Refuge).

The main feature of the green map are color-coded icons that highlighting environmental features on map of the city. I plan to use a topographic map for the county green map, but a basic street map will suffice for the city map and will keep it from appearing too “busy.” The subjects featured in the icons are divisible into five categories: Nature (recreation within the city/county), infrastructure (recycling centers, landfills, bike lanes and paths), pollution sources within the city/county, economic development (green seal businesses and second hand stores, and information on environmental issues (offices for environmental and sustainable development groups and other resources in town).

Unfortunately, one semester is not long enough to create the entire online green map of Walla Walla. For instance, Sustainable Calgary, the organization whose green map this project emulates, took over two years to develop their project with a team of 10 people. Although I would like to continue this project in the future, the goal for this semester is only to gather enough information on locations of environmentally friendly/non-friendly sites and lay them out in graphical form for reference when creating a web site. I also plan to look into mapping software that Walla Walla 2020 could use when putting this map online.


Green Map Logistics

Over the course of the semester, I obtained environmental information and maps from public offices in Walla Walla, and utilized their web resources. Much of this process is simply synthesizing information from various agencies. I obtained site information from: City Parks and Recreation, city and county Public Works, and the Corps of Engineers, National Tree Registry and Green Seal, a green business directory. Some of these groups had maps featuring their facilities either printed or on their website.

I have obtained more specific maps (and/or location information) from: The Parks and Rec. Dept. (parks and bike paths), County Waste Management and recycling centers, the Army Corps' Mill Creek project, Downtown Walla Walla and Walla Walla 2020 projects, Tri-State Steelheaders riparian habitat repair, the locations of Green Seal businesses in the area, and the locations of the FPL wind farms. Most of this information was available on the websites for these groups and agencies. I also obtained information on record trees in Walla Walla from a student who documented these trees for one of his internships last year, and from Forestry Magazine’s National Tree Registry.


Current Progress/Duties

I am currently working on obtaining topographic maps of the county and city that I can access online, preferably free, that can be used as a background for the icons once the web page is put up. I determined that because Walla Walla’s natural environment will be the focus of the map, a map showing the contours of the land and vegetation would be preferable to a political map.

Topographic or Geographic Information System (GIS) maps will be of little use until the Green Map is put up on a web page. In the meantime, I am using personal mapping software to mark the future locations of Green Map icons. This map is not intended to be used as the actual green map, but is only a visual aid for use in placing the icons on the Green Map website. To place the Green Map on the web page (which has not yet been created on the Walla Walla 2020 site) will require GIS or other such mapping software. The county planning department has zoning maps that would fit the purpose, but other mapping resources may be available.


Benefits to the Walla Walla Community

I believe the Green Map system overall is a great way to place focus on environmental issues that are often ignored because we encounter them on a daily basis. The goal here is to re-center civic pride and community priorities on the living environment that the city creates, which will hopefully have an effect on the future planning and environmental impact of the city in years to come.

Another community-building feature of the Green Map is its inclusiveness. That is, the map’s target audience is any member of this community. The map’s content includes a wide variety of businesses (from bookstores to junkyards) that are environmentally friendly, and recreational sites (xeriscape garden, bike paths) that appeal to many. In short, this map is not made only for environmentalists. The goal is to get rally community support for the preservation of the city’s natural environment.

The map is very versatile and has unlimited uses, including (but not limited to): a teaching tool in schools, and a starting point for environmental discussions. Walla Walla can also use the map as an environmental inventory, a resource guide, and eventually, as a catalyst for influencing environmental policies. Ideally, Walla Walla’s Green Map will be distributed free of charge to maximize exposure to its issues and education throughout the city and county.


Future Goals for the Green Map

In addition to mostly public projects, I also would like to research other types of sites to put on the map, especially potential polluting sites under private ownership. Unfortunately, this is very subjective, and a system of standards would need to be developed to determine which private sector sites are polluters and deserve to be placed on the map. I hope to gather more information on from local environmental groups, namely Kooskooskie Commons, Walla Walla 2020 and the Green Seal Program.

Urban sprawl could also be a potential map feature by creating a category that could emphasize growth issues on the map. This could be an icon for recent housing developments, or I could overlay county-zoning areas out onto the map.

I contacted Kyle White, part of the group of ten people that built the Calgary Green Map, about gathering public input about the map. He informed me that to gather public recognition of the Green Map, they put large displays of the map downtown and in major Calgary parks. Surely, the people who live in Walla Walla’s neighborhoods are the most knowledgeable about many environmental features, such as good viewpoints, local bird habitats or cool-looking trees. I decided that gathering public input on a map that has not been created yet is too abstract and difficult a job, and that it would be better to build a prototype map, get it online, and then refine it according to new information from the public. Most people have never heard of a green map, so having a prototype online would help to familiarize the community with the idea, and solicit suggestions from the public in turn.

I anticipate that eventually we can print a green map of Walla Walla and make it readily available to both locals and tourists. I think this could be done by soliciting the support of Green Seal businesses and businesses specializing in recycling (e.g. Goodwill), which would be featured on the map. If the map is printed, these businesses could pay for printing with advertisements.

Problems/Outlook for Future Contributions

The biggest problem I faced in working on the Green Map was in defining the goals for my part of the project. Because of the complexity of the project, and the number of different angles from which I could pursue it, it was difficult to stick to my original goal of only gathering information for the map. My proposed solution for next semester’s interns would be to provide three or four internships, two of which would involve extensive web site development for the map. The other one or two interns would work on community support for the map. They could solicit funding for the map from Green Seal businesses with advertising interest, or from private donors and community groups.

The current problem is finding an adequate electronic layout of the city and county for the icons on the web page. Ideally, the map would be similar to an aerial or satellite view of the city—it would show land contours, but be free of contour lines and other features that could distract from the map’s intended focus. Once an adequate layout is obtained (we need to secure funding), the initial website could feature 10-20 standard green map icons after the page has been set up. After this stage, the map creators can solicit public comment, and can continually place icons on the map until they deem it ready to be distributed in printed form.

While there remains an intimidating list of things to do, I believe this map is one of the best things we can do to promote a sustainable community here in Walla Walla. Once this map is created, it will be a great resource for many within the community, as is visible in other North American communities that have created Green Maps. All that is required is enough time, people, planning and funding to make an effective Green Map for Walla Walla.