In an earlier entry, I mentioned the community sustainability group I volunteer with, Ecolocity DC. Since last summer, we’ve been focusing on building the food resources available in the Metro DC area. One of the main resources we’ve been developing is our foodshed map, which shows local community gardens, sustainable restaurants, farms, community supported agriculture programs, food co-ops, and gardening resources. Just today, courtesy of a volunteer from Idealist.org, I’ve discovered a number of tools that will help us significantly improve this map.
Because of these tools, I spent all of my lunchtime and most of my evening working on the map instead of writing for this blog. Quizzically, I put off making dinner (even though I was starving!) because I was so involved. Google Forms allows anyone to create a form, embed it in a website, and have the entries upload into a Google document. Gone are the inglorious days of needing to know about databases! Lack of computer-knowledge vanquished! Forgive me, I’m a bit giddy. I’ve been working on this project forever, and the thought of not having to personally enter all of the data by hand is miraculous. Then, you can take that spreadsheet and load it into Google Fusion Tables. These nifty tools organize information and will geocode data for you, matching addresses to actual places on the map. You can download the map information, load it into Google maps, and ta da! You have a map that has an actual backend with data that can be downloaded or updated as needed. For anyone who is interested in creating a map of their local foodshed, sustainability resources, or any other set of locations, this combination is a godsend.
But if you aren’t a giant eco-nerd like some people, you can still benefit from this new and improved food map. Check out the map that is up there already, and if you’re in the DC Metro area, please add any that aren’t up yet. Your entries won’t go up right away because we need to merge the old system with the new one, but thanks for the help in advance!