The Great Lakes Commons Map is an online, collaborative tool that tracks and maps stories relating to the Great Lakes and the growing efforts of many communities to take a commons approach in the way we relate to the Lakes. The map is a living tool that aims to build capacity for both individuals and organizations who are curious and committed to a Great Lakes Commons. As the map grows, it can become an important tool for public engagement, connecting more and more individuals and groups from across states, countries, First Nations and Native American nations.
The map was conceptualized by Paul Baines and during his bicycle tour of Lake Ontario in 2012. Many of the first “Reports” were from that trip, but now the map is expanding and has always belonged to a broader public. Text, photos, videos, and links are organized by category and location, so users are reading, seeing and hearing each other’s stories and tracking each other’s progress around the Lakes.
The ultimate goal of this map is to use the energy of the crowd (crowdsourcing) with the power of networked media to arouse our biosphere consciousness: a mind-shift that understands our interdependence with all of the earth's elements.
In the true spirit of the commons, reports and comments can be contributed by anyone and the map runs on an open-source software platform. “We are all connected to these lakes and regularly have something to offer this commons work: a story, an example, a website or video, a curiosity, a campaign, an observation, some data, a photo, or a request,” says Baines. Head over to the map now and tell your stories!