Public Lab Research note

Public Lab Seeking Documentation Fellow

by stevie | February 16, 2021 16:52 16 Feb 16:52 | #25707 | #25707

Public Lab is seeking a Documentation Fellow

The Details

  • Starting: February 28, 2021 or ASAP
  • Commitment Period: roughly 15-20 hours per month March-November
  • Fellowship Stipend: $3,000.00 in total over the commitment period.
  • Where: This fellowship is open to anyone and is remote; phone in team meetings will be held on Los Angeles PST and be grounded in community efforts in Val Verde, California.
  • Requirements for the position: This fellowship will require remote work abilities, comfortable working across diverse stakeholder groups, and strong communication skills (verbal/written). Bilingual speaking and writing abilities in Spanish/English is strongly preferred.

About Public Lab: Public Lab is a community, supported by a 501(c)(3) non-profit, that develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible do-it-yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of practitioners who actively reimagine the human relationship with the environment.

About the Issue:

A large landfill has been operating in the community of Val Verde in Los Angeles County, CA since 1972. Throughout the history of the landfill’s operation, there has never been a local ambient air testing program, despite grievances from the community and multiple violations issued by South Coast Air Quality Management. In the community’s fight against the landfill, residents have conducted preliminary air monitoring results, collected, shared, documented and reported their concerns to every accessible body including to government agencies and the company itself. They have appealed permits and reported civil rights violations to the State of California. Still no changes or legal enforcement have come from this work and now the County and the City are suing each other, further complicating the need for meaningful regulation and data. Having long since established local networks and organizations of support to address these challenges, only one or two people locally are versed in the pilot monitoring program. The data has been challenging to obtain and communicate, and community members who are conducting the air quality monitoring do not have proper support to continue the work. The intent behind this project is to share existing knowledge regarding the landfill air quality issue with more local community members, train them on how to conduct ongoing monitoring and have an air quality monitoring program that can be effectively shared to the broader Val Verde community.

About the Fellowship

The Documentation Fellow position will work remotely with the Val Verde based community on the air quality monitoring project. This position will support the documentation efforts of the team to obtain, catalog, document, and creatively share progress on the collective project efforts.

The major goals of this Fellowship are to:

  1. Regularly meet with the team, working closely with the Community Organizer, to elevate the project team’s questions and progress to the website. You will support the team in making sure the project data is shared in a centralized location on Public Lab.

  2. Design and publish the project page, ensuring that the information is high quality, free of jargon, and visually appealing to reach others who may also be facing air quality environmental concerns. With emphasis on sharing air quality monitoring data to grow the body of evidence on existing air quality and related community concerns. This will require being able to both review and write technical documentation of the monitoring methods conducted by the team to a range of audiences.

  3. Support the collaborative development of a bilingual air quality monitoring program guide and manual that is translated in Spanish/English for Val Verde community use.

In this Fellowship, your primary tasks will include:

  • Developing a project page on that highlights the Air Quality Monitoring project, the team’s process, steps, and related graphics.
  • Work with Community Organizer to draft the initial Issue Brief, post the project's initial questions, and conduct interviews as needed.
  • Writing research note documentation on detailing your process, steps, and highlights from your Documentation Fellowship.
  • Support the proper translation of monitoring program guide and manual, and other related materials including data to potential future collaborators.
  • Connecting the cohort’s project with others working on and potential partners elsewhere working on similar issues
  • Interacting with a core team of 5-7 people in regular, biweekly team meetings across various communication platforms.
  • Draft documentation materials early and often for review by Public Lab staff and/or the team; providing written updates on progress.
  • Maintaining and adhering to Public Lab values, and the Code of Conduct.

In this Fellowship, your supporting responsibilities could include:

  • Advise on accessibility about the air quality monitoring program (i.e. use effective science communication skills) to translate technical information to a broader audience
  • Co-creating a bilingual air quality monitoring program guide and manual

The Fellow will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn methods used by community-led air quality monitoring groups who are working with unwanted land use issues - including landfills, oil & gas facilities, etc. through direct guidance from the Community Organizer Fellow
  • Learn how to use and regularly post documentation on the website detailing the progress of the project teams experiences; working in public to foster a culture of resource sharing and share learning moments
  • Connect with the Public Lab community remotely through the website sharing/answering questions and resources related to the methods used in air quality monitoring
  • Support the development of bilingual, print materials that highlight the air quality community science project through this Fellowship program, so others in Val Verde learn about air quality monitoring and design advocacy campaigns in their local communities
  • When possible, join the Public Lab team and their peers to attend select community science monthly/quarterly public events online to share your fellowship experiences and learn more about environmental concerns

This role may be for you if you are:

  • Detail oriented: You have excellent attention to detail and documentation skills; An exceptional written and oral communicator: You have excellent interpersonal skills
  • You have bilingual speaking and writing abilities (Spanish/English)
  • You’re a problem-solver who is often praised for your organization and ability to learn quickly and adaptively
  • Team-oriented: You work collaboratively with remote colleagues, to envision and promote positive change, and to be supportive of others. You bring integrity to all situations.
  • A collaborator: You've worked with people with different backgrounds, and from different fields and lived experiences; you're able to communicate on environmental science.
  • Tech savvy: You thrive working in a remote work environment and a commitment to use related communication platforms daily to interact with the team (Slack, Zoom, Google Drive etc); you are excited to learn new programs and share about technology and monitoring in the context of advocacy.
  • Self-directed: You work successfully with minimal supervision. You can organize work, set and meet your own internal milestones, and communicate regularly and often when help is required.

To Apply

To submit your application, please complete the Documentation Fellow Application form to tell us more about your experience, share your resume, and complete a writing sample. All instructions are within the application form.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at and include Documentation Fellow in your subject line. No phone calls, please.

This Fellowship will be hosted through Public Lab. Public Lab is committed to a diverse, multicultural work environment and we strive for our team members to reflect the lived experiences and diversity of our global community. We encourage people with different ability sets, people of color, and people of diverse sexual orientations, gender expressions, and identities to apply.


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