Public Lab Wiki documentation

2015 Regional Barnraising

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The Public Lab Regional Barnraising 2015: Chicago, Illinois

June 13th and 14th

6/13: @ Civic Lab, 114 N. Aberdeen Street
6/14: @ Crowbar , 4001 E. 106th Street

We'd like to say THANK YOU to our 2015 regional Barnraising sponsors, Microsoft and MapBox, for making this event possible!


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About this event

In June 2015, forty Public Labbers got together in Chicago Illinois for the second annual Public Lab Regional Barnraising. Ongoing projects and growing interest made this an exciting time to host the first event of its kind it the region! The first day of the event was hosted at Civic Lab in the West Loop of Chicago. There, participants set the schedule for two days of exciting Barnraising activities. Sessions on Saturday included Water Quality and Wetlands Installations, Data Quality and the Relationship between the DIY Science Community and Professionals (fondly labeled the "Sci vs. Sci" session).

On Sunday, Public Labbers traveled (or welcomed us) to the Southeast side of Chicago. Crowbar hosted the second day of the event, providing us with a beautiful space to share and meet, and delicious brain food! This second day was focused on a specific local issue faced by residents of Southeast Chicago, the petcoke problem! Olga Bautiste, Jim Kinney, Chris Walley and Kate Koval introduced us to the community and the struggle they have been facing for years dealing with the petcoke piles that line the river they live on. Dust pollution, a contaminated river and environmental justice were some of the environmental themes that ran through the discussion, while the political climate, water access and jobs were social some of the social undertones we explored.

Public Labbers spent the afternoon trying to map the petcoke piles from the water and from the land. A toxics tour helped participants to visually understand the impacts the industrial site was having on the local community. The boat group was able to capture some spectacular images of one of the petcoke piles and spent the rest of the afternoon knitting a map of the site on

Overall it was a spectacular event! We are grateful to our friends and sponsors who helped to make it possible. Check out some of the event pictures below.

Sessions that were hosted at this event:

  • Hands on Public Lab tools and kits
  • How does Public Lab work together
  • Water Quality and artificial wetland installations
  • What projects have design needs
  • Midwest organizing
  • Data Quality
  • Chemical Ecology
  • Relationship between citizen science DIY community and professional (Sci. vs. Sci)
  • New tool ideas and future tool wish-lists
  • Introduction to the Petcoke issue
  • Smartphone aps and sensor networks
  • Project Development
  • Mapping from the land
  • Mapping from a boat
  • Map stitching
  • Dust monitoring with the new dust kit

Attendees included people from:

  • University of Chicago
  • UNCC
  • NPS
  • USGS
  • Chicago State University + Argonne National Lab
  • Civic Lab
  • MIT/Southeast Chicago
  • Chicago Academy of Sciences | Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
  • Analytics Lounge NFP
  • ThoughtWorks
  • PhotosynQ
  • University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine
  • CartoDB
  • Pumping Station One
  • The Naru Project
  • Southeast Environmental Task Force

Photos from the event:

click edit on the top of the page to drop your photos in below!

Event Prep:



Proposing Sessions:








Saturday Sessions:






Sunday Sessions: