Public Lab Research note

The story of a DIY poem

by cindy_excites | July 09, 2014 11:14 09 Jul 11:14 | #10667 | #10667

cindy_excites was awarded the Empiricism Barnstar by Shannon for their work in this research note.

I never got to the deliver this 'poem'/recital because the event at the Design Museum was cancelled but I thought I'd share it with you all:

The story I will share with you tonight

some of you might know.

But none of you have heard it

in quite this way before



walking down the Broadway

yes, the famous one in New York,

I came across Allan Andre

He has a stand in

union square

"Poetry while you wait"

and so we did


We told him of our story

of Public Lab

of the beginnings

and the oil spill

and the flares

the balloons

the cameras

and of course,

the spectral signatures



And so we waited

with every key stroke

to the music of his typewriter

and so he wrote



(a micro-epic)

there is no time. we have to act-

as fluids drain into a basin and the pouring

vessel is called "empty". we haven't gone anywhere-

our feet are still covered in oily puss

and our lungs still working to digest soot.

there is no one "responsible", so everyone

must take on the cleanup. there are no more

legends left to tell ourselves, no power

other than our own- so this "God" who has

plowed "His" hands into the flesh of others

must be seen in his true light, as rapist,

and the Created must take the Creator's place.

whatever forces our puritan ancestors worshipped

were not the Creator anyway and worked against

Creation with a diligence we can only hope to

emulate now that we're working on the other


  • allan andre (.net)

nyc 10/11/13_"


-let's take a moment to imbibe allan's poem-


So what sort of story,

you might ask,

could inspire such a poem?

or raise 166%

more than was pledged for?


From the Kickstater page:

"_We're hitting the beaches and hitching boat rides to make aerial images of the gulf oil spill's effects using cameras attached to balloons and kites. We are a group of citizens and activist mappers who are documenting the effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast with a set of novel DIY tools -- we send inexpensive cameras up in helium balloons and kites, and take aerial photos from up to 1500 ft.

The data we're gathering will be vital in both the environmental assessment and response, as well as in the years of litigation following the spill. All the imagery we capture is released into the public domain and is free to use or redistribute. See our Flickr photo pool for more of the incredible imagery volunteers are bringing in. We need support to keep a supply of helium, and to pay for gas, kites, cameras, and protective gear for our volunteers._"


And this is how it began

a crisis,

a call for action,

a coming together of hearts and minds

and hands


It didn't stop there

the quest

for justice,

for environmental health awareness,

for civic action,

and for self-assertion,

has given birth to a convergence

of opportunity with ingenuity.


The Public Lab community

is Open,




curious minds

creative hands

all collaborating

and the result

is a growing merge

of experimental prototypes,

linked to open source software

in a platform that blurs time, space, and context


but more than that,

it has weaved a network,

of inspired local groups,

kindled hopes that

as Hagit has said it,

"connects my work to a wider political and social context, rendering it part of a global movement for environmental and civil rights"


This is not a sales pitch

but the story of what happens

when people come together

in heart and soul…

As I often say

"There is evidence that it is through the bottom-up envisioning and devising of methods and through the creation, re-purposing, and use of technologies, that some people are taking a lead applying their civic capacities into scientific research initiatives that challenge and/or question the state of things to address issues of concern to them. As Eymund Diegel put it, these efforts provide the granularity and nuance that renders them inclusive of local issues, knowledges, politics, and sustainable solutions."


Inspiratioanal, aspirational - thanks for posting this.

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