The Ewing Green Team began the process of mapping Ewing Township community assets in the Fall of 2013 in collaboration with scholars from The College of New Jersey’s Bonner Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. Our task was to collect and inventory as many of Ewing’s Township’s assets including, but not limited to, places, institutions, programs, and people. Our collection of Ewing assets would provide a foundation for making our town more accessible to residents, assessing gaps in services and making Ewing a richer place to live.
We began our process in 2013 with a list of Ewing restaurants, government institutions, parks and paths, recreational facilities, houses of worship, schools, health services, food stores and more. This data was imported into a free online mapping service called Community Walk. This service is used by many organizations to document assets of their particular interest. Our Ewing map is located at http://www.communitywalk.com/ewing/nj/ewing_township_nj/map/1661721.
The Community Walk web service offered a number of advantages.
- It was free (we had no budget for this process).
- It allowed us to import data and arrange them in layers for users to select on and view only the data that they needed.
- We could include photos of assets.
However, it had a number of disadvantages.
- There were ads that impeded viewing.
- The site was slow to load.
- Our maps were not able to be embedded on our WordPress website (although it did allow for embedding on other sites.)
- It was difficult to correctly input paths.
However, as we worked our way through this process we found that we simply needed more functionality. In June of 2014 the EGT embarked upon a community visioning process to discover, hand in hand with township residents, their desires for Ewing’s future, both immediate and long term. Over the summer months we worked together to refine a list of areas and actions to take toward a better Ewing. One realization from this process was that the Ewing community was highly interested in a more bikeable and pedestrian friendly community. With that as a major goal we needed to define the current bikeability and pedestrian friendliness of our streets and a bike/ped audit was determined to be the first step. For that we would need a mapping service that would more easily incorporate the results of our work. With the help of biking enthusiast Mark Wetherbee, Jr. it was determined that the open source Q-GIS software had the functionality that we needed and that it, paired with the Google Map engine, would allow us the functionality that we needed in the amount of data that we could import into our maps and were easily embeddable on the EGT site as well as others with whom we could share our data. EGT officer Joanne Mullowney conducted a trial run of the Google Maps software for EGT website inclusion using data supplied by the Ewing Township Historical Preservation Society – Ewing’s Historic Sites. (see Ewing’s Historic Sites) This is the first of numerous maps of the township assets to come. Check back in the future for more results.
Q-GIS and the Bike/Pedestrian Audit
In September 2014, EGT member Michael Nordquist and new Bike Enthusiast led a cadre of TCNJ student volunteers in conducting our first pilot audit of the Braeburn development near the college. The preliminary results will be available on the EGT’s Bike Advocacy page shortly.
Ewing Bike Advocacy Committee
Also in September of 2014, interested citizens gathered for the first meeting of Ewing’s new Bike Advocacy Committee. Meetings will occur monthly as we work toward our goal of creating a community where transportation is not only defined by the automobile, but also by the biking and pedestrian mobility of its residents. A community that illustrates the improved health and quality of life, economic vitality, reduction in traffic congestion, air pollution and dependence on automobiles that comes from these alternate forms of transportation. For more information please contact the EGT at firstname.lastname@example.org.