Grassroots Mapping is a series of participatory mapping projects involving communities in cartographic dispute. Seeking to invert the traditional power structure of cartography, the grassroots mappers used helium balloons and kites to loft their own “community satellites” made with inexpensive digital cameras.

Grassroots Mapping the Gulf Oil Spill

May 5th, 2010 by Jeffrey Warren

Hi, all – Oliver Yeh and I are down in New Orleans now trying to meet up with local organizers to begin an independent, grassroots ground-truthing/mapping of the spill.

To be clear – we’re not trying to duplicate the satellite imagery or the flyover data (though we’re helping to coordinate some of the flyovers and trying to make sure the data is publicly accessible). We believe it’s possible for citizens to use balloons, kites, and other simple and inexpensive tools to produce their own documentation of the spill… and that such imagery will be essential for environmental and legal reasons in coming years.

To learn more, check out our organization page in the Grassroots Mapping wiki.

Please, if you’re involved in the response, and live near the spill, call me at 415 508 6769, email me at, and tell us where to come to help you document what’s going on!

To join in the discussion or make contact with us, the mailing list is a great place to start.

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