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Geographic information and spatial data have played increasingly important roles in development planning and environmental decision-making from top-down management to grass-roots participation. This paper will present a series of case studies that integrate traditional participatory mapping methods directly with ArcGIS and ArcPad and evaluate potential applications of new digital pen technology. This unique combination of mapping media allows community groups and project-affected people to work with familiar hand-drawn participatory maps and mapping techniques that retain the culturally appropriate symbols and use familiar media, while still taking advantage of the quantities and speed of information exchanged through GIS. These new maps have the appearance of a traditional participatory map, but each icon accesses the database of spatial information typically stored in a GIS. Overall, this paper will focus on the implications of this new tool for improving project information exchange, stakeholder communication, and participatory decision-making in a wide variety of development programs.