Biofuels Community with Google Maps

biofuels-map This Washington state map is an example of what nonprofitdesign.org is creating for my local (NC) biofuels community website (in the works).

This new biofuels website, I hope, will have a map that functions better than most of the buggy hatchet-jobs out there (above site excepted, of course).

There are a lot of directions that can be taken regarding an interactive map, i.e.: Google API (AJAX) vs. Yahoo API (Flash), local vs. national, user-editable vs. administrator-operated. I'm currently soliciting help from other programmers online and of about our options, because I don't have a lot of advanced Javascript under my belt. Personally, I want to see two major features:

1. Images of the pumps included in each "pin" on the map (for orientation). 2. Community-editable, not completely administrator-run.

As for the NC Biofuels community website as a whole, I hope to achieve three things:

1.) Share technical information about their experience in making + using biofuels. I would like to include references, for example, to articles in academic journals. (Using RSS syndication, this could be largely automated, and it would be as current as can be.)

2.) Find information about current local legislation, and easily email relevant legislators. This is easy enough to implement with PHP.

Piedmont Biofuels3.) The third, most important goal (though I think this has to come after the above 2) is to create a centralized place for dialogue. To do this I would like to offer blogs to each of the current biofuels operations in NC. (Though I doubt most of them could keep up with Lyle "Energy Blog" Estill at Piedmont Biofuels.) We could syndicate all of their posts on the community site so you can read everyone's posts in one place. Likewise we could create a tag for use in Flickr, Technorati and delicious. (Something like NCbiofuels.) (Using tags to create a close community online has certainly worked well for the nptech folks in recent months, though it is easier because we're all geeks. But even if just a few people used it for photosharing it would work well enough.) And we could also have a more traditional bulletin board for on-site conversations. (Probably using PhpBB, if I have my druthers.) And I think that a really comprehensive "Upcoming NC biofuels events" page would be an important result of this online community building. I know that all of these things are happening already online in the community, but I want to magnify and multiply the network. I don't want to replace, just republish and distribute widely.