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Get to know your neighborhood like you have never known it before.

Students engage in sustainable systems thinking and geographic literacy by conducting an inventory of the current conditions of their neighborhood. This is the perfect problem-based, place-based lesson design that gets students off the computer and outside.

The Protocol
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The protocol asks us to reflect on three critical questions…

  1. What was this landscape like for a kid my age who was a member of the indigenous people living prior to colonization?   

  2. How did this landscape get to be the way it is now? Based on what values?

  3. What is the most sustainable vision I can imagine for my neighbor in the year 2050 or 2100, in a time when my children and then my grandchildren will be the age I am now? 


We encourage students to work in phases over weeks, months, or even over different seasons of the year. Enjoy getting to know your neighborhood. Learn how you can help your neighborhood association, a local nonprofit, or your city government make improvements. That’s how democracy works. You’ve got to participate in it. 

Download Resources
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Download the Resources

Download the Neighborhood Inventory Protocol as a word document. Use it in whole, or break it into parts, or adapt it for your own purposes. Download PDF Version  |  Word Version 


Download one or more of the following checklist categories to get yourself thinking about your neighborhood. Take the checklist, your journal, and your phone/camera for a walk. Make some field notes. What do you see? How did it come to be this way? What improvements do you suggest? 


Here are checklists for all eight categories. Where would you like to start?


  1. Human Population and Land Use | (Word Version)

  2. Transportation Infrastructure | (Word Version)  

  3. Food Access | (Word Version)

  4. Size and Condition of Green Spaces | (Word Version)

  5. Water Bodies, Description by Type and Conditions | (Word Version)

  6. Stormwater Infrastructure and Water Pollution | (Word Version)

  7. Tree Canopy Inventory  | (Word Version)

  8. Solar Potential  | (Word Version)


FULL VERSION (includes all 8 Categories)  | (Word Version)

Student Examples

See some intriguing examples made by other students:

Anna’s Neighborhood Inventory
Risa’s Neighborhood Inventory
Elisha’s Neighborhood Inventory
Simran's Neighborhood Inventory
Student Learning Target
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Student Learning Targets 


  1. I can observe and inventory human land use decisions that have resulted in the current conditions of a half mile to one mile radius surrounding the place where I live.

  2. I can produce and narrate (using voice-over software) a slide presentation of my inventory, integrating my own photo documentation as well as screenshots of different GIS map layers and attributes.

  3. I can collaborate with other students to compare and combine neighborhood inventories in order to identify and prioritize a range of possible impact projects that I or my team can implement. 

  4. I can demonstrate that the impact projects(s) I am designing will make a direct and measurable contribution to one or more policies, plans, or performance measures valued by my city or county government. 

  5. I can identify and engage with stakeholders to refine my project design and report the resulting impact to staff and elected officials in my city or county government. 

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