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Google’s International Cleanup Weekend puts maps to good use

Google has just announced the latest project to bubble up out of Google Earth–International Cleanup Weekend, a coordinated global effort taking place Saturday, October 13, and Sunday, October 14, 2007, at locations throughout the world.

Who’s doing the organizing? You are, naturally, using Google Maps to plot cleanup sites.

What began as an internal corporate eco-venture for local involvement has now been embraced by communities in 15 countries. Google Earth’s outreach team is asking groups of six to 10 people to pick a modest project close to home, do it, then share their accomplishments by posting photos and videos to the team’s Google Map.

Individuals can coordinate their own events or try to contact Google’s partner organizations, like Idealist.org, Sierra Club, and The Scout Association in the U.K., which are urging their members to form local projects.

Prospective organizers begin by creating a personalized Google map using the MyMapps feature. Users then paste map URLs, like this sample of a beach cleanup, into Google’s cleanup form to be added to the International Cleanup Weekend database.

Google’s tips for organizing your own cleanup event include taking stock of needed supplies like garbage bags and gloves, and distributing teammates’ cell phone numbers. Groups are encouraged to make their accomplishments public by posting photos and videos to the team’s Google Map.

This might not be what you’d expect from the makers of the popular Google Earth app (download), but it should be. The department showed what it could do to raise awareness and incite global action when it teamed with the Holocaust Memorial Museum of Washington, D.C., on a project to pinpoint genocide hot spots in the Darfur region of Sudan.

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