Public Lab Research note

Regional Barnraising 2016: A Few Thoughts About Public Lab's Work

by sarasage | August 08, 2016 18:26 08 Aug 18:26 | #13339 | #13339

Greetings From Val Verde:

It has been a month since Public Lab has left Val Verde, and a month since a very intensive Barnraising in which we literally met in a barn with incredibly interesting, creative and dedicated people. Sharing the event with the greater Public Lab community was foremost in our minds, until we got distracted with recent events – apologies for the late report.

Before I start, and because I plan to share this with my community, I want to answer the question that a lot of neighbors asked me: What is Public Lab and what do they do?

Okay, so. Public Lab is a lot of things: they focus on low-cost approaches to fill data deficits; they provide a crucial platform for interested parties and stakeholders to share ideas; they communicate with communities and help to uncover and research areas of human health and industry that are not being addressed. They help to provide tools and support to enable researchers to map the world's urban population who live in unauthorized settlements, for instance.

But what is Public Lab really do -- Without all of the language -- What do they do? In my opinion, I believe that Public Lab’s mission, the most important thing that they do, is spread this gospel:

The most efficient way to solve a problem is to communicate.

As a newcomer to the Public Lab community, Public Lab truly is an altruistic group of people who have a method and way of organization that works to solve problems. The regional barnraising event is another tool for Public Lab to share their innovative approach with other regions. We were very fortunate to have been able to host the event and want to thank Public Lab for the opportunity to be influenced by PL's way of thinking.


Public Lab does something different in that they do not place primary value on the outcome, but rather the work and the process. This is a refreshing point of view when you are locked in a battle as my community is with a local polluter. The focus is always the outcome.

If I can be allowed to be sentimental, since the Olympics are underway, successful athletes think this way. They focus on process, the moment and also employ innovation in finding ways to make their hard work take them further.

On a less local level, if each of us learns to communicate and collaborate with others to solve very real, pressing, human issues – such as biodegradability of ocean plastics – we have a chance to make change that we desire and leave the world not only in a better place. We can also leave the world a better place not only because pollution has decreased, we can leave the world a better place because we have learned to communicate and value each other -- a foundation for global peace and understanding.

Enough of that.

(Stay tuned for more pictures and events from the July Regional Barnraising in Val Verde).


Hey @sarasage thanks so much for this thoughtful, reflective blog post! I was unable to attend but certainly enjoyed watching social media and hearing stories after the event. Looking forward to following the developments in and around Val Verde.

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Hi @sarasage, I just stumbled upon this nice (very basic) resource from the New York Department of Health about landfill gases. It might be useful:

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