Public Lab Wiki documentation

The Barnraiser

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The Barnraiser is a 1-page daily "newspaper" we're publishing during the PL Barnraising as part of the Documentation Committee (DocCom). We see it as a lighthearted (but hard-hitting journalistic) way to summarize and share in a succinct, low-burden, but regular way, what's going on at our busiest and most productive event of the year!

Recruiting reporters & editors

Email and/or to become a reporter or editor! Despite limited page space, we're happy for any help we can get!



We'll use the talk page of this wiki page as a (chaotic) staging area to collect material and links over the course of each day. Please dump content there with your name.

We're planning on doing a digital layout using Google Drawings (for now), and the template is here. Please make a copy of the template and paste the link in here for each issue:

  • Issue 1:


Current reporters include @marlokeno, @patcoyle and @kanarinka.


Logos, graphics: barnraiser.svg and barnraiser.png


Feel free to upload photos here for upcoming issues; click "edit" and drag and drop them in:





After activities, the suggestion was to move onto actionable outcomes reports, victories.

@lizbarry: GLAMstuff: Gowanus bacterial reporting led to expansion of Superfund scope and area.

Also, "dead body" park resulting in actions to reduce sewage release into canal. Interesting twist on advocacy.

Gretchen: aerial imagery revealed violations like washing vehicle with runoff into canal, led to legal actions which curtailed activities.

Mathew noted conference where people used Google Street view to find and report violations and lawsuits with results.

Stevie noted dust and sand mine visibility on what is not working

Mathew noted may need to consider shift in focus to what can monitor with more actionable outcome vs other aspects

Liz noted bucket monitoring with big win. Certain samples can bring big results in getting funding and regulatory movement.

Likewise at nuclear reactor, thermal water monitoring as part of broader concerns.

Nick: in formaldehyde monitoring useful to ask regulators what is of most interest to them so can focus on those stories. Also Gretchen noted from Wisconsin trip, regulator suggested take photo of, for example, dirty water, it can be enough to get them to initiate actions (time stamped and geoloacated) are good evidence.

Jeff suggested make list of examples:

Gretchen also thought of cameras actuated when sensors detect spike. Liz noted also by other project team.

Don Blair noted in Columbia, re: mining pollution concerns, folks thought if could set up monitors that could increase visibility.

Mathew noted re: sand mining, even with poor sensors and suggestive data put pressure on regulators to make company install better sensors, although installed on upwind side of facility.

Gretchen is POC to get these stories shared.

Points from earlier in the day to go in the feed are as follows:

Where does your food come from question

Whatever the name of the store is. Ha ha. Well yes but think of all the work

Coffee log lessons learned

Small kites

Then out of the break room and into the the multipurpose room we opened with the icebreaker leading and falling apart near with her eyes closed and open just touching fingers

Then the world map exercise

Also we overview of the program in the agenda for the day

We started with stories of organizers, starting with newest, pathway in, issues encountered.

Phil spoke to his experience. Hearing Mathew et al at conference, then with Don Blair event, then on in.

Matt, specific project, with structure, goals.

VJ, mapping event, then following list, wanting to mobilize in Brazil

Liz, saw Jeff demo flying balloon or kite- so public demo and knowing someone

Dan, BP oil spill, learned of the balloon mapping, connecting by email, taking it from there.

Benjamin, saw demo, then in Chicago wanted to connect with communities, got help from kits phone call, texts from Jeff and Mathew- that personal connection really drew him in.

Voice as first contact powerful per Liz.

Katherine (?), part of a show with Jeff and book, S Wylie connection as well, class, mapping w Jeff,coming at it from art and jeff's willingness to come help, then to a Barnraising, interested in participatory data, met Don Blair. Liz asked what made PL a place can work? Finding a way to get past not having science background, but place to tell env stories.

Jeff: during the BP spill, do many people connecting via the grassroots mapping list, a wild ride. But very special that the Grassroots mapping list was place could share, etc.

Gretchen joined staff. Learned of PL via environmental leadership program, connections to PL

Braunwen(sp), via a workshop with Liz et al, from library studies, also easy to step into groups with the people

Don, met Pablo at Occupy hackathon, then on into PL list, met @ cfastie

Tony, looking for Tyvek kites, met Mathew, had kite in car, saw opening Mathew spoke toTony's background w DYI

ML long running joke in sketchbooks, will just make this inflatable sculpture, then balloons, then connected via friends to Jeff, then BP spill, then mailing strange parts to New Orleans, in2010 Helped start PL

Cindy, Shanon and S Wylie came to citizen Science event in UK, connected w them and her background, started project in London, later with Matt et al workshops, continued

Stevie, duringBP spill, was no way to work on it

Yuez, wife's role in spectroscopy, Pitcom conference, jeff's talk by another guy, heard it, then networking session on uses of spectroscopy, olive oil application for detecting food fraud, others dismissed idea, so he took it on presented at next Pitcom, NE barn raiser

Ann, in grad school, resonated with her interests, met Liz, interested in the community, at Cusp, kept connecting with PL, Don and Will, came did workshop, applied for grant,wanted to use tools, came to Gowanus event, atSSW, met Jeff,

I did me

Did post its w how to bring in more organizers

Lunch session by Cindy re: Publically initiated scientific research



See soft copy of her talk, incorporate it.

World cafe group exercise with topics of


Science My 2nd: prior group:?formal or informal; also the exploratory work to see if need a tool; fun vs work aspects; language re: state of tools; issues with software vs data issues, urgent need vs time to develop.

Cindy noted issue of exclusion due to some noting fragmentation, eg, site issues w tension between being geared for us to use vs for newcomers. Some formally trained scientist complain that while PL results nice, not peer reviewed. PL could address in various ways. Some PL work has been peer reviewed, could add caveats that while not peer reviewed, tool results can be useful, eg, low quality sensors with suggestive results can initiate actions, or that other tools are along the path to certification or peer reviewed results.

ML noted found in some cases as he sought academic partners, some undergrad teaching schools, were more interested than top research schools.

JW noted it's not a matter of displacing traditional science, rather a way to engage.

ML noted SCAT method for survey of oil spill response vs PL approach to develop oil test kit.

I noted application of science, JW noted sometimes old science, often it's new innovative engineering and yes in some cases science too.




Inclusion and exclusion Don't let technology prevent use,eg, if using Mapknitter is hard, just take single image,

Benjamin: saw in Chicago some folks aren't as comfy with digital tools, but able to accommodate them, so have "ambassadors" set up pipelines to participate

Teaches how to put in the flow of events to be able to participate

Also others reach out accommodate others who are capable but are not posting research notes

Jeff has tried to advocate for shorter notes

Stevie noted sometimes hard for folks to find what looking for, irrespective of length of note

Benjamin can we do more presentations and events, seem to work well, how can we do that better

If did a lot of talks, still need more, a project, someone to talk to, or other - also then need way to follow up

In case of Chicago there is grant to help keep it moving

Summaries from each group were presented.


Clusions (In/Ex)


as part of summary joked about post-cognitive dolphin reference in context of very focused community activist groups who can't spare the time or energy priorities.

Suggestion to assess demographics see if need strategy to address.



Logos and graphics: kits and boots, cookies with stuffings references, milk as money; discussed the development process: playful and fun; is it iterative design? Are the half-broken things inspiring more development? And more.

Community: image.jpg

Some communities are distributed, eg, indoor air quality. Idea for "crit" modeled on writing critiques with smaller group first as prep for larger group critique, ideas of being able to request a crit, also cohorts to come into and get involved w PL. perhaps clips of folks to showcase them, mentors. Idea of floating up notes, or indicating went through a critique.

Cindy wrapped up.


Two sessions didn't get done, maybe tomorrow.