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The "Where" Questions

In many of our other articles and resources about geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping for nonprofit organizations (NPOs), we focus more on the "NPO" than the "GIS" aspects: why should NPOs use GIS/mapping tools, how do these tools help fulfill nonprofit missions, when is it appropriate for NPOs to use these tools, what types of projects are other NPOs working on, etc.

In this article I'll be discussing some concepts squarely from the GIS/mapping side of the fence, but relax: we're going to keep it super simple and try to put in as many relevant community/NPO/NGO examples as we can :)

Custom Community Maps Go Mobile!

google maps mobile screenshotYesterday, Lily posted an article introducing readers to Google's "My Maps" feature, which allows people to construct their own maps, with points, shapes/regions, formatted text, images, video, and more.  This easy-to-learn mapmaking tool is being used by many nonprofits to create maps of their communities, their causes and issues, and various other geo-nifty applications.

HOWTO: Quick and Dirty Google Maps

The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) has long since been a hero to me: the dedication, the participatory politics and the clear and open campaigns that are respectfully fought. It seems only fitting to use their fabulous community resource map - created in conjunction with the Open Youth Network - as an example for this article. First, take a look at what it has going for itself:

MapTogether to present on nonprofit mapping at FOSS4G/Australia!

We're very pleased to announce that's proposed nonprofit mapping session - "Maptivism: GIS for the People!" - has been selected for presentation at this year's Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Conference to be held in Sydney, Australia this October.  FOSS4G is the annual international conference for developers and implementers of Free/Open Source GIS Software, and this is a great opportunity to share the awesome  neogeography work our communities are doing with the global GIS/mapping development community! Helping To Build Strong Neighborhoods

screenshot of is a new website and nonprofit organization dedicated to helping housing seekers find neighborhoods that meet their needs while at the same time promoting diverse, healthy, and vibrant communities.  The organization's core offering is an interactive mapping application called Neighborhood Finder (launching late summer 2009), which provides a geographic interface to many different types of data about neighborhoods.  Other resources include a series of informative guides about relevant housing and neighborhood topics and a blog about fair housing and other similar issues.

You can learn more about, as well as watch a short video about the organization and the website, by visiting (new window).


California Inclusionary Housing Policy Database

screenshot of CCRH mapThe California Inclusionary Housing Policy Database provides a geographic search capability for users seeking information about policies in specific regions or municipalities in California.  The database, possibly the first of its kind in the US, is managed by the California Coalition for Rural Housing, and was developed by MT development partner CTC in 2008-09 thanks to funding from the S. H. Cowell Foundation.  The database and associated website are built on the Drupal content management system, using GIS functionality supplied by Google and CTC's mapping software.