Public Lab Research note

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Creating a guide for community science action planning: first steps

by gretchengehrke |

Over the next few months, we're hoping to put together an interactive resource for people to use while figuring out a monitoring and/or advocacy strategy to address their concerns. This resource, provisionally called the Community Science Action Planner (CSAP), would help guide people to gather information and make decisions about the best approach for their needs by asking questions and providing decision-making resources at each step of the process. We're hoping to make this as comprehensive as possible, starting with prompts for articulating the issue of concern, going through relevant assessments of the local community and regulatory landscape, resources available, types of studies that may be appropriate, tools available, potential avenues for advocacy, and resources necessary for different approaches. The resource would be composed in two phases: a scoping phase and a synthesis phase. We think this planner would be useful because it would be so multifaceted and explore challenges and opportunities on a variety of issues that would influence the success of an environmental campaign.

For each section there probably already exist excellent resources, like Beautiful Rising's guide for power mapping (, and I'm wondering if you know of resources to highlight and utilize. If so, please comment below!!

I've copied the current idea of the basic outline of the CSAP here. Do these sections make sense as important in developing an environmental monitoring and/or advocacy strategy? Are there sections we're missing? Are there sections you think are unnecessary and should be kept in an appendix? To reiterate the question above, do you have or know of resources that would be good to include in the CSAP?

Thank you so much for your thoughts and comments to help get this project going!

Basic Outline

Scoping Phase (helps to navigate to and populate Synthesis Phase areas):

1. Initial / broad problem definition

2. Available Resources (financial resources, human resources, skills)

3. Political / Cultural / Economic Landscape Assessment (including power mapping)

4. Regulatory Landscape Assessment

5. Type of study (exposure, emissions, health, etc)

6. Physical Landscape Assessment

7. Tools available (spreadsheet and descriptive comparison)

8. Advocacy Pathways (available channels, narratives, challenges)

9. Necessary Resource Assessment (financial resources, human resources, skills, anything else)

Synthesis Phase (compiles answers from Scoping phase and makes space for revision):

1. Defining your Win (specific)

2. Study Design

3. Advocacy Strategy Design

air-quality water-quality methodologies monitoring advocacy


Wow, this looks exciting. A quick interjection here - one of the most challenging aspects of organizing groups of people gathering environmental data is that they may be required to respond on a moment's notice and how the communication is set up is critical. During the design phase of a data project, it seems there is more emphasis on the protocol/collection of the data, and not so much the people part.

Including resources to help new/novice organizers how to set up this part of the problem would be useful, too. (Maybe first responders have a pattern-language ready solution that could be adapted)?

That's such a good point @sarasage. That also ties into key elements about knowing your rights on public and private land and air space, states where certain kinds of documentation are illegal, etc. Thanks for highlighting this, Sara!

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