March 2009 marks the beginning of an ambitious project by the Center for the Study of Science and Religion, a subsidiary of Columbia University's Earth Institute, to develop a "green map" of Harlem. This initiative involves Harlem religious leaders, community activists, and Columbia students working cooperatively to locate environmental public health hazards and issues of food justice affecting the Harlem community. In partnership with Green Map System, participants will use the data to create a map designed for community education and advocacy. The resulting green map of Harlem will be revealed at the CSSR Symposium "Common Ground: Science and Religion in Dialogue for a Sustainable Future" (Low Library, May 3-4, 2009).
The lessons learned in creating this particular green map will reverberate beyond Harlem. Thanks to a grant from Columbia's Earth Institute, a documentary film is being created about the project. The film will have its public premiere at the "Common Ground" symposium in May. In addition, it will be streamed on the Internet to educate other communities about the innovative use of "green mapping" for community empowerment.
The documentary is a collaboration between CSSR and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, whose Global Policy Innovations program is a cosponsor of the "Common Ground" symposium. The Carnegie Council recently teamed up with award-winning documentary production company Dorst MediaWorks to create a documentary series on innovations in social entrepreneurship, entitled Ethical Innovators. CSSR's work on a green map of Harlem will be the pilot episode of this series thanks to generous support from the Earth Institute.
Other organizations partnering with CSSR on the development of a green map of Harlem include West Harlem Environmental Action, a nonprofit, community-based environmental justice organization; New York Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice; and the Ecologies of Learning Project, a center studying the impact of religious communities in urban settings.Stay tuned for further details on these projects and events.