citizen science

Chromatography Gallery

Veracruz Day#2

First real day of work today… Good to have a clear idea of what we are going to be doing in the next 2 weeks, to bring out all the doubts, have a resolution to the doubts, have more doubts arise and more solutions… that for me is what this lab is all about, a group of people from different backgrounds coming together and working together on a singular project, each person with their expertise bringing up more questions and then coming up with the answers themselves.

Today we defined what the objectives for the next 10 days will be. Who is going to be doing what. Brainstorming. What things can we add to the project, what things should we take out. Debating. Defining. Clarifying. 2014-11-24 19.31.42

We have Tania, Lucia and Marcos working on the programming of the APP and Questionnaire as well as looking at different options for mapping.
Bris and Daniela are looking at plants as bioindicators/context indicators.
Karla and Alaide researching traditional and DIY soil tests.
Jorge is our chemical genius and he’s preparing everything for our chromatography tests that hopefully we’ll get done on Thursday.

It is a relief to be started, to have our goals set and to know what we are working towards.
Tomorrow we’ll continue with the work we started today, really define what tests we are going to do when we visit a future urban farm on Wednesday with the lovely folks from the Laboratorio Urbano Boca del Rio.

Laboratorio Iberoamericano de Innovación Ciudadana.

Good news this week; Our project “Soil, Food and the City” (“Suelo, Ciudad y Alimento“) was one of ten projects selected from around the world to be developed at the MediaLab Prado Citizen Innovation workshop to be held in Veracruz, Mexico, in November.

The objective of this project is to create a low-cost tool that we can use to evaluate the quality of soil in an urban setting. With this tool we’ll be able to map empty lots in the city which have the potential to be used to grow food, with the end goal of achieving food sovereignty and security.

To create this global picture of urban soil quality we’ll conduct various tests. These tests would be conventially divided into three ‘boxes’ or subsets of tests, each with its peculiarities and advantages. The kits consist of affordable and sufficiently qualitative tests for the assessment of soil properties in urban and peri-urban sites. The complementary nature of each test will help citizens and scientists to gain an overall understanding of soil health and processes.

So if you think you’d be interesting in helping us develop this project, or to learn more about the workshops as a whole check out the collaborators page here.

mediaLab Prado: Laboratorio Iberoamericano de Innovación Ciudadana

This week we’ve sent off a project that we hope will be included in the MediaLab Prado “citizen innovation” workshops that will be held in late November in Veracruz, Mexico.

Our project relates to soil health in urban and peri-urban areas and how ordinary citizens around the world can learn more about their soil, its processes, what it contains, and even how to improve it using open source tools. Click the pic below to read more about the workshop.

We’ll know if we will be on our way to Mexico in the first week of September, so until then, fingers crossed as we tend to the veggie garden!



Citizen science?

Currently there is a huge divide between the “scientific” world and the general public. The responsibility to protect and preserve our natural environment as well as to maintain our food security has been placed in the hands of too few people. And unfortunately it is way to common for these people to have political pressures to act in one way or another, and not always in the best interest of the general public. These figures too often bow down to big businesses and money. You only have to look at how many corruption cases are being held around the world involving political figures or people meant to be representing “our” best interests.

So what about citizen science? This is something that is meant to bridge the gap between politicians, those guys in white labcoats sitting behind a microscope, and you, a citizen of the world. Through citizen science, we can have millions of individuals, trained to observe and record, collecting data from all over the globe. The information gained through citizens world wide looking at what is happening in their backyard creates “study sites” in many more places than would ever be possible by just scientists alone. And it connects us back into a system in which we NEED to take more responsibility.