Now that the dust has settled, we all got some much needed rest and the final close out paperwork is just about finalized, here are the top ten highlights from the Community Based Science for Action Conference.
- New Orleans!
What better city to host the Community Based Science for Action Conference! GCM has an exciting project nearby in Plaquemines Parish and co-hosts Public Lab and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade both have offices there. With great food, music and culture; it was never a dull moment.
2. The Toxic Tour of Myrtle Grove and Woodpark
Going all of the way to New Orleans without visiting our project partners in Plaquemines Parish would have been a huge disservice to all in attendance. These communities are living on the fenceline of a large coal export terminal and have been plagued with fine coal dust covering their homes, decks and backyards. Many of the residents all shared a similar story of moving out to the Louisiana bayou for a peaceful retirement. Now they’re golden years are filled with relentless Environmental Justice activism. Hearing their stories being shared with fellow activists, community organizers and even some folks from the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting was no less than inspiring.
3. Keynote Speakers, Hilton Kelley and Gen. Honore
Two Environmental Justice leaders lending inspirational stories of their own challenges and success, what a better way to kick off each day of the Conference!
4. All of the great new monitoring tools & techniques!
What happens when you bring a bunch of community scientist together? Well, for starters, they bring all of their monitoring tools to demo! We had Buckets, Mini Vols, FLIR cameras, Kites and a plethora of gadgets from the Public Lab community. This provided an amazing opportunity to learn about the pros and cons of each as well as learn which ones would work best in each individual community. Community monitoring tools have come a long way and there’s still room for improvement. We’re doing our best to make sure all of the presentations are available online, so if you missed it, check here to see if we’ve got it.
5. Wendy Colonna
We’re building a movement here and all strong social movements need music. Wendy kept us going!
6. The Hosts and Volunteers!
With the community based monitoring expertise of Global Community Monitor, the local knowledge of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and the resourcefulness of Public Lab the Community Based Science for Action Conference was no less than amazing. This was by far a powerhouse trio and without the support from all three organizations, the Conference just wouldn’t have been the same. Similarly, without the help from our volunteers, we’d probably still be trying to set up the place. Three cheers for the volunteers who kept that show running!
7. The Networking Opportunities
Where can a resident from San Antonio, Texas get more information about a community led fight against a diesel emitting railyard from the community member leading one in Kansas City? Well, the Community Based Science for Action Conference helped to connect those folks. This conference provided an invaluable opportunity for residents living on the fenceline of heavy industrial pollution to connect with one another and share their own experiences. What can a fact sheet do for my community? Do you know anyone at EPA Region 2? Can you help me organize my community? How the heck can I use social media for fundraising? All of these conversations were facilitated by the Community Based Science for Action Conference and that’s pretty rad!
8. The Venue and Accommodations
The Old U.S. Mint was perfectly located in New Orleans’ French Quarter, and who doesn’t need a beignets break in between sessions? The layout worked well, the auditorium was perfect for large sessions and there was plenty of room for one on one conversations. Similarly, the Hyatt was a great place to recharge at the end of the day. The plush pillows, multiple restaurants and gathering places, AND that breakfast buffet was delicious!!
9. Happy Hour at the Maison
Open bar, tasty New Orleans appetizers and live music? Yes, please!
10. The Attendees!
Even the best of the best planned conferences mean nothing without a wide range of attendees. The scholarship assistance ensured that no one was turned away for lack of funds, which is crucial in getting community leaders there. This movement is going to take people power and by the looks of it, we’ve got a pretty phenomenal bunch. If it weren’t for the attendees, us hosts would have gotten pretty lonely. So, thanks for coming out, thanks for your support and thanks for sharing your expertise!