HabitatMap is a non-profit environmental health justice organization whose goal is to raise awareness about the impact the environment has on human health. Our online mapping and social networking platform is designed to maximize the impact of community voices on city planning and strengthen ties between organizations and activists working to build greener, greater cities. Utilizing our shared advocacy platform participants can:
- Alert the public to environmental health hazards
- Hold polluters accountable for their environmental impacts
- Highlight urban infrastructures that promote healthy living
- Identify future opportunities for sustainable urban development
- Promote policies that enhance equitable access to urban resources
HabitatMap was launched in 2006 by Brooklyn activists documenting the links between the built environment of New York City neighborhoods and the health and well being of the people who live, work, and play in these neighborhoods. While HabitatMap got its start in Brooklyn, our platform is now open to participants and contributions from around the globe. Wherever you are, HabitatMap invites you to sign on, get involved, and join our campaign for livable cities and healthy communities.
Partner with HabitatMap
Are you affiliated with a non-profit or community based organization that would like to partner with HabitatMap to map your community? Are you a high school or college instructor interested in incorporating urban planning, environmental studies, and the internet into your classroom? We conduct community mapping workshops, teach and develop curricula for high school and college students, and are more than happy to consult on mapping projects of your own design. If our services may be of interest please give us a call, 347.410.9499, or send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
How it Works
Using HabitatMap is simple, free and, best of all, it’s rewarding to you and the people in your community! In seconds you can become an advocate for your community and join a worldwide movement for just and sustainable cities. Getting involved is easy. Simply identify something in your neighborhood that either enhances your quality of life, such as a local farmers market or public park, or is cause for concern, such as a historic building threatened by bulldozers or a contaminated property down the block, and add it to the map. You can also create your own map highlighting a specific area of interest, embed maps on your website or blog, invite fellow activists to contribute to your maps, and discuss issues and recruit collaborators in the forums.
Get started now by following this guide:
Starting a Profile
Before you can contribute to the map or communicate with other participants, you’ll need to create a profile. Click Create a Profile in the upper right hand corner of your screen then enter a profile ID, email address and password (be selective when choosing your profile ID, as it cannot be changed). Now you’re ready to begin!
Adding a Marker
HabitatMap is a wiki-map. This means that every marker you add to the map becomes part of the “HabitatMap” and is open to edits and additions from fellow participants.
To avoid duplicating markers you should first search for the marker you plan to add (for details on how to search for markers, see the Exploring the Maps section). If you find the marker you planned to add already exists, click on the marker then click “edit marker” to contribute additional information.
To add a marker, navigate to the Maps page, click “add a marker”, fill in all the fields, and click “submit” (you can add photos and insert YouTube videos by clicking the icons at the top of the “Owner/Occupant” and “Location Details” fields). This will add a marker to the “HabitatMap”.
If you want to add this marker to a map you’ve already created, check-off these maps before hitting “submit”. If you already added a marker to the “HabitatMap” and would like to go back and add the marker to one of your maps, click on the marker and then click “add/remove marker from my maps”. The marker will now be included in both the “HabitatMap” as well as any additional maps you selected to include it in.
It is important to understand the difference between the “HabitatMap” and your own maps. The “HabitatMap” is a universal map that includes every marker that has ever been added by any participant. When you add a marker, it automatically becomes part of the “HabitatMap” but it does not automatically become part of one of your maps. In order to add a marker to one of your maps you must assign it to your map using one of the above mentioned operations. Note that a marker can belong to more than one map, you can add markers that you did not create to your own maps, and you can also add markers to other participant’s maps by adding their maps to your shared maps.
You can create a map one of three ways. From your Profile page click “My Maps” then click “Create New Map”. From the Maps page, search for the relevant markers or maps and click “Save this Map” or click "Create Your Own Map". (For details on how to search for markers and maps, see the Exploring the Maps section).
Drawing Map Lines & Shapes
To draw map lines and shapes, navigate to your Profile page, click “My Maps”, click on the map title (this will navigate you to the Maps page and display the selected map), then hover your mouse cursor over the map title (located in the upper right hand corner of the screen), click “draw map lines/shapes”, and follow the directions at the top of the window.
Exploring the Maps
The first time you visit the Maps page you will be looking at the “HabitatMap”. The “HabitatMap” includes every marker that has ever been added by any participant and it is centered over the United States. As you zoom in and out and pan, additional markers will come into view. The Maps page remembers your last location so when you navigate away from the Maps page and return, you will return to your last map view. If you prefer to start at the same location every time you visit the maps page, navigate to your profile page, click “edit profile” and follow the directions for establishing a starting point.
Searching for Markers and Maps
On the Maps page you can either search for markers or maps (maps are aggregations of markers that have been grouped together by participants and assigned a description and tags). When you initially land on the Maps page the markers search panel is visible in the upper left hand corner of the screen. To access the maps search panel, click the green tab reading “Maps".
Search for markers or maps by typing in keywords and using the location based search options. The distance based search will search within one, five, ten or twenty miles of an address, intersection, or zip code. Alternatively, you can check “limit my search to the current map view” to perform a location based search that only returns markers within your current map view. For the maps search, this option will return any map that has at least one marker located within the current map view. You will notice that as you enter your search, the number of matches is registered at the bottom of the search panel. This allows you to add additional keyword search terms or constrict your search area to achieve a more focused result. After you have finished entering your search criteria, click “Submit” to display the results or click on a relevant tag word in the “Current Search Tag Cloud” to simultaneously narrow and submit your search.
After submitting a markers search, the relevant markers will be displayed on the map and listed on the “Marker Key”, located on the right side of the page.
After submitting a maps search, the relevant maps will be displayed on the “Map Key” located on the right hand side of the page. Hover over the map title with your mouse cursor to get a description of that map. Click on a map to display its associated markers, lines, and shapes. Check off multiple maps to view them simultaneously.
Sharing Markers and Maps
To share a marker, click on the marker, then click “Share Marker”. If you want to share a map, navigate to the map or maps you want to share and click “Share this Map”. Want to add markers, lines, and shapes to other participants’ maps? Navigate to the Maps page, search for the map, hover your mouse cursor over the map title and click “Save to Shared Maps”.
Add a Map or Maps to Your Website or Blog
Want to get the word out to a wider audience? Embed a HabitatMap on your website or blog by navigating to the map or maps you want to embed and clicking “Add to your site”.
Start a Discussion
Starting a discussion creates awareness and ultimately sparks change in your community. If you want to start a discussion or ask a question in the forums, simply navigate to the Forums page, click on the forum title that best matches your intended topic of conversation and click “Post New Topic”.
Keep up to date with what’s happening in the HabitatMap community by subscribing to markers and topics and signing up to receive “Action Alerts” from participants. To subscribe to a marker, click on the marker, click “Subscribe to Marker”, select how frequently you want to receive updates and then click “Submit”. You will now receive updates whenever the marker is edited. To subscribe to a forum topic, navigate to the topic you are interested in, click “Subscribe, select how frequently you want to receive updates and then click “Submit”. You will now receive updates whenever a new reply is posted. To subscribe to a participant’s “Action Alerts”, navigate to their profile page and click “Subscribe”. You will now receive an “Action Alert” message from that participant whenever they have urgent news to share with their network.
Michael Heimbinder, Founder & Executive Director
Michael Heimbinder is a community organizer, educator, and information designer. Since launching HabitatMap.org in 2006 he has worked with dozens of community based organizations and schools to create planning and advocacy maps that publicize the issues they care about most. In addition to running HabitatMap, Michael is Chair of the Newtown Creek Alliance, where he has made community knowledge sharing the keystone of the organization’s successful efforts to clean up the Creek and improve quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods. He is also a member of the New York State Environmental Justice Interagency Task Force Mapping Work Group and an advisor to the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods where he consults on solid waste management issues in New York City. Michael is a graduate of Colorado College and received his M.A. in International Affairs from the New School for Social Research.
Eileen DeRavin, Board Member
Eileen De Ravin is Manager of the Equator Initiative, a United Nations Development Programme partnership that brings together the United Nations, civil society, business, governments and communities to help build the capacity and raise the profile of grassroots efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Eileen has an M.P.H from Columbia University and is a lifelong resident of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Kathleen Schmid, Board Member
Kathleen Schmid is the founder and director of The Newtown Creek Alliance. She recently completed a law degree at New York University, before which she was the legislative policy analyst of the NYC Council Committee on Waterfronts and Transportation. Since graduating from law school, she clerked for United States Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger in the Southern District of New York. Currently she is the Environmental, Health, Safety and Security Counsel for WeRecycle!, an end-of-life electronics and universal waste recycler with facilities in Connecticut and New York.
Roberta Weisbrod, Board Member
Roberta Weisbrod Ph.D. is the principal of Partnership for Sustainable Ports, a business engaged in improving maritime transportation, urban freight transport and waterfront development. Previously she worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as Special Assistant to the Commissioner for the downstate marine ecosystem, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and the environmental literacy organization INFORM.
On Earth, 11/15/09
Where’s Your Local Brownfield?
Behind Corrugated Walls: A Tour of Local Toxicity
Biodiesel Magazine, 3/09
"Re-New-able York City", Letter to the Editor
New York Daily News, 2/9/09
Greenpoint to get greener Superfund money to pay for nabe's toxic cleanup
New York Daily News, 12/9/08
State Testing 450 Greenpoint Homes Sitting on Plume of Toxic Chemicals
Center Networks, 11/12/08
HabitatMap - Environmental Mapping Service (video)
Campaign for Community Based Planning, 8/1/08
Habitatmap Launches Community Mapping/Networking Platform
Gotham Gazette, 4/21/08
The Dirty Side of Biodiesel
Gowanus Lounge, 4/17/08
Upcoming: "Virtual Toxic Tour" - Do You Know Where Your Superfund Site Is?
Grassroots International, 3/12/08
What Does Heating Homes in New York City with Biodiesel Have to do with Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon
Have You Checked Out the Greenpoint 'Toxindex'?
New York Magazine, 6/6/07
You Can Find Brooklyn’s Toxic Sludge
New York Underwater
Combined Sewer Overflow in Newtown Creek