Public Lab respectfully draws on multiple rich lineages of organizing focused on site-specific knowledge production towards community self-determination:
We lift up indigenous movements for land defense, poor people's struggles for land reform and tenure, the lived expertise of HIV patients that changed medical research, and the knowledge production undertaken by families affected by cancer clusters as ancestors in this work. We lift up the methods and ethics of Freirian organizing, action research, participatory planning, public participation in geographic information systems (PPGIS), and popular epidemiology as we develop methods and ethics.
Public Lab's community science projects are place-based and led by local residents. This is for several reasons, including that: 1) people living and working near the site over time possess priceless lived experience; 2) governmental environmental regulation and the likelihood of it being reinforced varies geographically by zoning, administrative boundaries such as polity or electoral district, and specific landform qualities such as type of surface water or viewshed; and that 3) place offers a framework for multiple standpoints to co-locate and test each other for coherence. Stand for what you stand on!
This page is a place to collect and organize resources on organizing. Visit the organizing tag page to see the latest community posts about organizing on Public Lab, and get updates on this topic by following:
Lead image from the Appalachia Barnraising in 2017
- Ask a question, answer a question, or follow future questions on organizing
- Post an issue brief that describes your local place-based concern
Read stories from organizers doing community science
Find further reading and resources on organizing
Methods for community organizing
Organize around place
We recommend this sequence of steps, even if you skip a few, for attracting and organizing a group of people around place-based research.
Tour the area
Move through the area together
- How to organize walking tours from the School of Planning, Design and Construction at Michigan State University
- Benefits of a community bus tour
- How to make a Green Map cycling tour video (and in Chinese here)
Invite each person to draw a mental map of landmarks, personal situated memories, infrastructure
Historical land use mapping
Start investigating what's happened previously on this site as the best way to focus future study designs
Capture a portrait of the landscape with you and the group in it. Bonus, this is really fun!
Annotating aerial maps
Add the points that emerged from touring the site, drawing mental maps, and overlaying the historical maps
Image: by @eustatic
This content will likely elicit the next round of questioning, which will provide some direction for your group to:
- Design future studies. See https://publiclab.org/wiki/study-design.
- Taking action with your maps: see how you can use your maps for advocacy
More methods for organizing
- How to facilitate a meeting
- Host a community organizing event
- How to host a barnraising
- How to make a power map
Methods published on Public Lab and tagged with
organizing will appear on the organizing methods page at https://publiclab.org/methods#organizing
Activities on Public Lab that have been tagged with
activity:organizing will appear here
|Making a power map at the start of your advocacy campaign||-||-||@julia_e_masters||-||-||0 replications: Try it »|
|Host a Goal Setting Workshop||-||-||@stevie||-||-||0 replications: Try it »|
|How to ... make your own community annotated map!||-||-||@julia_e_masters||-||-||0 replications: Try it »|
|How to host a community meeting||-||-||@kgradow1||-||-||0 replications: Try it »|
|Workshop: Explore Issue Briefs with others||-||-||@stevie||-||-||0 replications: Try it »|
|Workshop: Draft an Issue Brief with a group||-||-||@stevie||-||-||0 replications: Try it »|
Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.
Join the conversation
Questions from the community
- See if other community members are asking questions like yours
- Ask a question so other community members can offer support
- Sign up below to be notified when someone asks an organizing-related question
Questions tagged with
question:organizing will appear here
Post an Issue Brief
Share information about a local environmental health concern and get support from the Public Lab community by writing and posting an Issue Brief. Visit “Write an Issue Brief” to find information on what an issue brief is, see examples, and learn how to write one.
Stories from community organizers
- Stories from the Public Lab community
- Community Science and Monitoring Networks in Central California
- Community interviews series with several grassroots community organizers
Further reading and resources
- Tools for equitable climate resilience--Fostering community-led research and knowledge: a comprehensive toolkit from River Network on how to organize and facilitate community-led research. Also includes information about community mapping (pg. 13) and case studies.
- Mapping for Community Organizing: From the Advancement Project, this guide explains how maps can be used in community organizing, especially when planning a campaign.
- The History of the Participatory Map, by Jo Guldi chronicles innovations by international networks spanning New Delhi to the Cree tribes of Canada in the 1970s who experimented with many-to-many mapping and as a result won major land reform victories.