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.

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University of South Alabama oil mapping curriculum

January 10th, 2011 by Cesar Harada

University of South Alabama Student mapping the oil spill and stitching the maps

This post was written by Christopher Johnson, a student at South Alabama University that participated in the Grassroots Mapping project in Alabama.

Hello! My name is Christopher Johnson, and I was one of the University of South Alabama (USA) students to participate in the Grassroots Mapping project in Professor Dawn McKinney‘s Computer Science class. It was a bit weird to go outside and do a project, since our majors are all computer-related, but I think in the long run the class was better for it.

Basically we were broken into teams of around six, each team having at least two of each major: CS, IT, and IS (not our actual majors; we were assigned a major for each third of the course, which we rotated). We had to work in teams to stitch together parts of Dauphin Island using Cartagen, among a few other things essential to the Freshman course.

Most of the technical problems came with Cartagen being down for a short period and unusable pictures – the nice sea breeze can be a difficult adversary. Another difficulty was overcoming the challenges we created ourselves, such as arguments within the group and people not showing up for class.

Overall it was a very good learning experience; I was one of those who went to Dauphin Island (taking the pictures was optional), and we had a lot of fun. I’d definitely do it again, given the opportunity, and I recommend that everybody go out there and try to make a difference. It’s more fun than you think, and you can really make a difference in your community!

Grassroots mapping, inflating balloons, University of south Alabama

Post-oil spill observation trip at Bay Jimmy, LA

July 31st, 2010 by Cesar Harada

Hi, Cesar Harada here, first post and first map using the techniques of for LA Bucket Brigade – thanks guys for putting this wonderful DIY technology together. So! In the late morning 22nd of July 2010, Hunter Daniel and myself went to map out of Port Sulphur, on these funky boats :

LABB troops, Seen from the ground, Bay Jimmy LA, After the Oil Spill, 20100722

With 2 boats we took this route (see google map) :

20100722 Grassroot-mapping, Bay Jimmy

I traced this route with my mobile phone Google Nexus One and the fantabulous Open GPS tracker for Android – 4 stars rating!
This is what we could see from the boat, kinda boring :

Seen from the ground, Bay Jimmy LA, After the Oil Spill, 20100722

Soon after I launched a balloon and Hunter a kite out there, kinda exciting :

Seen from the Balloon, Seen from the ground, Bay Jimmy LA, After the Oil Spill, 20100722

we captured nice pictures, here 6 details :

Bay Jimmy, Detail 01, 20100722 Bay Jimmy, Detail 02, 20100722 Bay Jimmy, Detail 03, 20100722 Bay Jimmy, Detail 04, 20100722 Bay Jimmy, Detail 05, 20100722 Bay Jimmy, Detail 06, 20100722

These 6 pictures were made using 270 stills… that was a 12 hours work on photoshop since hugin (an open-source photo mosaic software) didnt do the trick – yet :/ Still working on it to automate the process and spend more time sipping mango juice 🙂
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