Public Lab Research note

Public Lab Community Newsletter: October 2017

by Delaney | October 27, 2017 17:32 27 Oct 17:32 | #15120 | #15120

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October 2017

First off, thank you to so many of you for backing the Public Lab Kickstarter and helping spread the word - we reached and well surpassed our goal! We're excited to meet this new wave of mappers, photographers, environmental researchers, civic investigators, and curious, hands-on explorers.

What did the "Gold" part mean?

Kickstarter Gold was invitation only, and it highlighted projects that received their initial funding on the Kickstarter platform. We decided to use this opportunity to showcase the community's (your!) newest iteration of kite and balloon mapping kits for use with smaller, lightweight cameras (see a growing list of options here).

Why are they considered prototyping kits?

Well, with the invention of these now-smaller flying contraptions, many of you have new questions about how to best use and refine the tool: What are the best ways to rig and stabilize kites, balloons and cameras when they're this small and lightweight? What kinds of sites and weather conditions are they best for?

Together, we energize and equip each other with the knowledge and tools necessary to document and share our observations about our environments with the world at large -- we can't wait to see what everyone does with their kits!



Kits has opened shop in Providence, Rhode Island. We're looking forward to being part of the Providence community! Drop us a line on instagram to stop by.


We've recently welcomed Margie Cohen to the nonprofit team as the new Director of Development! Margie works out of Atlanta, and will be supporting our fundraising efforts and partnerships. We're excited to have her on the team and for you to meet her!


Q: You're our first staff member in Atlanta, and we're looking forward to having a presence there. What connects you to your city?

"For starters, Atlanta is often called a "city in a forest" (36% tree canopy). As a nature lover and a fan of urban hiking, I find Atlanta to be an awesome place to live. I can walk from one cool neighborhood to the next, often making the connection via a park or green space. And, when I yearn for the mountains, they are a mere hour from Atlanta. There are seemingly endless outdoor opportunities. Some of my favorites are paddling the Chattahoochee River (great exercise to paddle up upstream and then float down), biking Silver Comet, and walking the Beltline. Also, I've found people in Atlanta to be incredibly friendly! Whether I'm going for a run or checking out at the supermarket, everyone takes the time to smile, say hello, and often strike up a conversation. I moved to Atlanta after undergrad, and other than a two-year stint in Chicago for grad school, I've lived here ever since. I can't imagine living anywhere else."

Q: So, it sounds like you've always been a fan of the outdoors. Is that how you became interested in exploring environmental issues?

"Interesting enough, I did not grow up in a family that camped or ventured outdoors. My first experience was a big one; at the age of 20, backpacking in the Rockies with my cousin. I had absolutely no outdoor experience and I remember it as a grueling experience, but it clearly stuck in my psyche. After that, I started spending more time outdoors, both hiking and picking up other outdoor recreational activities. All I can say is that being outdoors, in nature, truly chills me out - and at the same time, makes me keenly aware of the beauty that surrounds me.

From being a nature lover to a conservationist to an environmentalist was a simple progression. In essence, it's very important to me to help preserve the places I love, including entire ecosystems. To do that, I needed to develop a conscientiousness about the way I live and the impact I have on the environment. Practices - and sometime oddities - have evolved over time. For example, if I forget my own bags at a grocery store, I'll start stuffing items into any and all the pockets I have..."

Q: We'll keep that in mind when we go shopping with you, haha. It's interesting that you have a background in environment but have also worked with the Atlanta Community ToolBank. How has your experience in those two separate fields played into what you're excited about in Public Lab?

"I love that Public Lab has actual kits that folks can either build on their own or purchase from the Public Lab store) that make it really easy and affordable to monitor environmental problems and transgressions. I have guided or introduced hundreds of kids to the outdoors through playing in the woods and exploring nature. This has been a particular joy of mine. Public Lab kits are a great way to foster connectivity between enjoying the outdoors and nature, and the need to preserve and care for our environment."

Q: Speaking of tools and kits, what's your favorite tool?

"I have swung a pulaski many a time on trail building and maintenance details, working alongside other volunteers and hard-working National Forest and Park Service staff. But, when it came time to operate the chainsaw, I would step aside."

Q: Last but not least! What's your favorite outdoor adventure?

"So hard to choose. I owned an outdoor store and outfitting business (Geared To Go) for ten years and then worked for American Hiking Society for five, so there are hundreds of trails - near and far - that I've hiked and locales that I have explored. Some of my favorite places are those that I know will not be the same in my lifetime (think climate change, increased accessibility and tourism, shifting government policies, etc). Certainly Glacier National Park in Montana and the Galapagos Islands fall in this category. Other favorites adventures include kayaking the glaciers of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska as well as the mangroves of the Everglades of Florida, hiking the many trails on the South Island of New Zealand, and biking through Cuba - which is more mountainous than one might think!"

Thank you, Margie!


[To contact Margie, email her at To read hers and the rest of the staff's bios, head over to]



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