local communities

People in local geographic areas may need help communicating with each other in order to collaborate in building and sustaining healthy communities. Grassroots action at any level - neighborhoods, towns, or cities - can help improve local services, welcome newcomers, and develop cultural, economic and political capital.

My Friend Martin

Please donate to the Richard Family Fund.

Martin Richard died Monday, killed by bombs hidden at the Boston Marathon. He was 8. He was my friend.

 

 

Many people have come to know Martin through this picture, shared by a teacher of his at Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester where he was a student. They’ve come to know his poignant poster which pleads for peace. They’ve come to know his toothy, goofy grin. He was too young for braces. He was too young to die.

I first met Martin when he was a toddler. We'd not been there five minutes before his older brother bonked him on the head with a basketball. Not maliciously, but curiously, as if to see what would happen. As the eldest of three brothers, I understood, since I also saw younger siblings as interesting experiments. Behold, science in action! Martin blinked, screwed up his face as if to cry, hesitated, and laughed instead. Hypothesis validated: Martin was awesome.

Boston

trigger warning for intense imagery

Here's what we know:

At 2:50 PM two explosions occurred along on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Police later detonated a third device further down the street.

Beyond the presence of As of 6 PM, two people are dead, and nearly 90 injured, according to the Boston Globe. At Civic, we have been following along through both broadcast and social media, including the Globe's liveblog and Completure's News Scanner.

Building peace with technology in Sudan and Cyprus

Civic Media Lunch Liveblog: Helena Puig LarrauriApril 11, 2012 


Blue Nile State, Sudan

Helena Puig Larrauri is a freelance peacebuilding consultant whose clients include the Open Society Foundation, Mercy Corps and UNDP. She visited the Center for Civic Media to talk about two projects she is working on that explore the use of technology in peacebuilding, in Cyprus and Sudan. 

How to make phone services fast and easy to design

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We've reached the alpha stage of the design interface of Call to Action, a platform that will allow community groups to design and host phone-based services. I wrote last year about why enabling community groups and individuals to design these services is important, and about the New Day New Standard project that inspired us to build Call to Action.

Right now Call to Action is a front-end design tool that allows you to visualize a voice tree via a drag and drop interface. I'd love you all to play around with it and tell us how we can improve it.

81 Ways Humanitarian Aid has Become Participatory

Update: I've since posted my full thesis and a short summary of it.

My Media Lab Master's thesis argues that information and communication technologies, and particularly the web, have expanded the range of ways the public can help in times of crisis, even (or especially) if we're nowhere near said crisis. Or, to be more formal about it, participatory aid is mutual, peer-to-peer aid mediated or powered by information and communication technology. We're building a platform to help coordinate participatory aid projects, but first, I wanted to share some examples.

Helping a Community Find Stories in Their Data

My Data Mural work has led me into a new area - actually helping community groups find the stories they want to tell in their raw data.  Until now, all my data therapy work has focused on how to present the data-driven stories more creatively.  This post shares some of the techniques I'm trying out.

Civic crowdfunding at #SXSWi 2013 - liveblog

SXSW2013

This week I spoke on a panel at SXSW Interactive on civic crowdfunding, titled "Can crowdfunding save local government budgets (SXSW 2013)?" Here's a liveblog of the talk, by Helena Puig Larrauri and Leah Jones.

Panelists: Eric Engelman - advisor for Mayor of San Diego
Story Bellows - co-director of Mayor’s office of new urban mechanics in Philadelphia
Rodrigo Davies - researcher at MIT and advisor for Spacehive
Jordan Raynor - Co-founder of @citizinvestor

Food Rescue: Designing a Tech Solution for Somerville

This is the second in a series of posts about how technology can help food rescue and food security.  I am collaborating with community groups in Somerville, MA; trying to extend and enhance existing food rescue programs. Click here to read the first, a tech overview.

The Case for Informal Visualization

Data visualization is all over the place. On the hype curve, we’re clearly up in the area of inflated expectations. If you listen to the reporting, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking dataviz is going to bring world peace! I’m writing to beat the drum in favor of more informal presentations.  You can tell better data stories, and engage your audience more, by creating less formal data presentations.

Some Examples

What do I mean by "informal visualization"?  To start, toss out your computer, printer and graph paper. Pull our your crayons, big paper, tape, and your imagination.

From top-left, clockwise: 

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