In the first weeks after the BP oil disaster — what would become the largest oil spill in U.S. history — concerned residents came together with weather balloons, rigged with digital cameras, to document the extent of the damage to the beaches and wetlands, fisheries and wildlife. Photos and the resulting maps we created with our “community satellites” showed the damage and the scale of the disaster, and would go on to be shared with media around the world.
In the wake of the spill, we began to question how we could use this success as a model to help redistribute power, by making science something that anyone could access — where people with different forms of expertise are recognized for the value of lived experience and local know-how. We envisioned a network in which people down the block or on the other side of the world could work together on solutions, learning from each other’s experiences. It was through these ideals that Public Lab and our community science movement were born.
We're committed to building a healthier and more equitable world, and we're proud of the work we've accomplished in the past decade with our diverse network of partners and friends around the globe. Throughout the year, we'll be sharing stories from some of these community members on this special anniversary page — a look back at the work we've done together, and a look forward to the many tasks ahead. We encourage you to share your own Public Lab memories with us on social media using the hashtag #PL10.
To support and recognize the incredible work that has been accomplished by the community, please consider making a monthly gift of $10. Your contribution will support the infrastructure, partnerships, and movement building that make community science a valuable tool for those most impacted by environmental pollution.