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Great Lakes Article:

Mapping out the Earth's green spots
By Rhoda Amon
NY Newsday
Published March 6th, 2005


Senior travelers have a stake in going green. We breathe better where the air is fresh and smog-free. We eat better in places where we can get organic natural foods.

And many of us enjoy the quiet pleasures: viewing botanic gardens, walking on scenic trails, visiting farms and farmers' markets. We all want to leave this kind of a world for our children and grandchildren.

One way to accomplish this is to take along a Green Map. The nonprofit Green Map System, started more than a decade ago, has mapped 181 places throughout the United States and Canada and around the world. Green Maps chart the eco-cultural sites in nations and neighborhoods, where to see cherry blossoms or mangrove forests, find biking trails, vegetarian restaurants, nature museums and old-fashioned B&Bs. Green Maps go "wherever nature and culture connect with daily living," says system founder anddirector Wendy Brawer of Manhattan, who created the first Green Apple Map of New York City in 1991.

The map-makers are local environmentalists charting their own territory, so the maps differ greatly in style and format. Some are highly professional and easy to read; others are handmade and may be more difficult to follow. There is, however, a uniform system of icons in use from New Zealand to Brooklyn.

If you're heading for Southern California but worried about smog, for example, there's a Green Map of Santa Monica that shows where you can find the tall trees planted to fight pollution and global warming. Other icons guide you to state parks, nature trails, vegetarian restaurants and natural-food shops.

Many of the maps are interactive and include the names of the designers and their e-mail addresses so you can write them with questions.

Heading north? One of the more comprehensive Green Maps is called the OTHER map of Toronto (see www.greentourism.ca), which shows the green things to see in the central area and the waterfront, beaches, islands and surrounding villages. One of my favorite historic sites is Toronto's First Post Office, where the computer-weary traveler can try to remember how to write an old-fashioned letter with a quill pen and ink.

Also listed are Toronto's environmentally friendly hotels that provide chemical-free laundry and restaurants serving organic and vegetarian food. There are eco-lodges such as the Algonquin Log Cabin on a lake in Algonquin Park that promotes canoe, hiking and dogsled trips with comfortable beds at the end of the day.

The Niagara Watershed Green Map invites visitors to go beyond the falls and explore the whole region between the Great Lakes Ontario and Erie, including the farms, 22 wineries and great theater in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Very different from the OTHER Toronto but just as useful is a handmade map of Halifax, Nova Scotia, which pinpoints parks, nature trails and healthful eateries.

For those who may be going farther afield this year, Japan beckons to Expo 2005, which opens March 25 and continues through Sept. 25 in Aichi Prefecture. The Japanese love world's fairs, and so do we, especially the dwindling number of us whose memories go back to the 1939 New York World's Fair, where we went as schoolchildren to ride the General Motors Futurama through the "cities of tomorrow" and where we saw for the first time something called television.

The Japanese theme this year is "Nature's Wisdom," and its lofty aim is "to pursue a sustainable and harmonious coexistence for all life on Earth."

The Green Map system will have a pavilion at the fair, and local residents are drawing up 30 maps of the central Japan area where the fair will be held, Brawer says. For a virtual fair experience, visit the Web site www.expo2005.com.

For seniors staying closer to home this year, an updated Green Apple Map of New York City is available. There's also one of Brawer's own favorites, the "Lo-Map" of the pleasures and pastimes of lower Manhattan, drawn up from site nominations by New York City schoolchildren.

"Grandparents can use the Lo-Map for touring the city and having fun with their grandchildren," says Brawer, 51.

For a free Lo-Map, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Green Maps at P.O. Box 249, New York, NY 10002. For printed copies of other maps, visit the Web site www.greenmap.org and click on the Online Store, or call the Green Map System at 212-674-1631.

RHODA AMON gladly accepts letters from fellow senior travelers. Write to her at Newsday/Travel, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4240,

or e-mail her at rhoda.amon@newsday.com.
Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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