Feb 10 2020

The Passing of ISPM Advisor Gregory (Greg) G. Brown


It is with great sadness that we received the news of ISPM Special Adviser and scholar Gregory (Greg) G. Brown’s passing on January 2nd, 2020. It has taken us time to gather our thoughts and really reflect on how meaningful Greg has been to ISPM. Greg was a professor at California Polytechnic State University and head of the Natural Resource Management and Environmental Sciences Department (2016–2020). He was known by his colleagues for his generosity, effective and fair leadership, and unwavering support of his students. 

Greg published multiple seminal works in public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) spanning three decades. He founded the Landscape Values and PPGIS Institute to facilitate global research and communication about participatory spatial planning methods. Landscape value and special place mapping is a method whose principles are grounded in sustainable land/marine use, environmental protection, meaningful public participation, and the inclusion of multiple values in decision making.

As a scholar in the field of participatory mapping, his foundational work on PPGIS  critically engage the definition of ‘public,’ and demonstrated the inconsistencies of stakeholder engagement across real-world projects. He often challenged scholars and practitioners of participatory mapping to communicate and resolve long standing disputes over terminology and methods. He valued the incorporation of underrepresented communities in the participatory mapping process. He understood how top-down policymaking processes often led to negative outcomes and slowed the necessary changes needed to create sustainable policies. 

It was in this space of critical contrast that the International Society of Participatory Mapping (ISPM) was first conceptualized. Greg provided ISPM with startup funding to reach our collaborative vision, a world in which participatory mapping is focused on meaningful public participation and the inclusion of multiple values. His vision for the ISPM society was to create an arena for participatory mapping technologies to empower indigenous – and local communities, to explore the wisdom of crowds, and to provide high quality data for urban planning and for creating sustainable futures.

We cannot be more thankful for Greg’s service and support with ISPM and the many other organizations and institutions he touched. 

Our minds are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We hope they find comfort in the fact that Greg’s legacy will never be forgotten. 

-ISPM Executive Committee