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April 27, 2011

Want to take a break from work? Be a part of the crowd sourcing movement and help sort through the 100s of aerial images taken in November of Newark, NJ’s riverfront on MapMill.


The Third Launch.

March 28, 2011

Corey, Ian and Marco creating the Balloon Tail

The third #grassrootsNewark launch is scheduled for Saturday, April 16th at 9:00am. Luckily, our tail for the balloon was made and saved from the second launch.

The Second Launch.

March 20, 2011

As follow up to a November 2010 camera launch, a group of  11 students, professors and community members gathered on Saturday, March 5th for the second installment of Grassroots Newark. The dual purpose of the project is to (1) document the progress of the development of the riverfront park being built along Raymond Boulevard in Newark, NJ and (2) use the space to teach people about grassroots mapping while testing new processes by innovating balloon, kite and camera designs.

Leif with the Balloon.

The group constructed a three-mylar sack balloon with an arch and long tail – modeled similarly to a design used for Gowanus Canal in January. While the sun was out and we had a beautiful day, the wind speeds were too high for a successful launch. Simultaneously, a couple people in the group attempted to fly a kite, but were unable to get it to stay level and high enough for an extended period of time.

Thus, we only accomplished one of the two set goals and ended up having a great time outdoors with our way-too-powerful balloon. (See video of Phil Silva wrangling the balloon).

For next steps, we plan to meet again on April 16th with a new design that can maintain its shape without ripping the mylar while withstanding higher wind speeds. Other learning points to took away, were to (1) start much earlier in the morning when wind speeds are lower, (2) try to have the entire balloon constructed before working in the field, and (3) find additional tasks to keep all volunteers busy throughout the duration of the site work.

The Weather.

March 5, 2011

Fingers crossed that the 20% chance of precipitation turns into a 0% chance. 

The Mapping Week.

March 5, 2011

On Tuesday, March 1st, The Geo Club helped to seal all of the mylar balloons we’ll be using for tomorrows launch. Then, on Thuesday, March 3rd, I had the opportunity to talk to Adriana Young‘s Beirut IFP Course about my experience with grassroots mapping and community mapping. And tomorrow, I have the second Grassroots Newark launch and we’re testing out a new participatory survey created by Svetlana Smashnaya. It’s been a very full and fun week of mapping!

If you’re interested in joining our team tomorrow, feel free to call my cell at 978-302-7908. We’re meeting at 9am on the corner of Van Buren Street and Raymond Boulevard.

The Shopping Cart.

February 14, 2011

The Grassroots Mapping website provides and excellent guide with list of supplies necessary for the start of a new project. For the first Newark launch in Fall 2010 I did most of my shopping in the Hoboken and Jersey City area, however, I have much more prep time for the March launch and decided to do some of the supply gathering on Amazon.

And this is what I found when I searched for mylar sleep sacks – I want this model’s job. I bought four.

The Second Launch.

February 14, 2011

Saturday, March 5th is the set date for the 2nd #grassrootsNewark launch on the Passaic Riverfront. The team will meet on the corner of Raymond Boulevard and Van Buren Street at 9:00 AM. If you have any questions or care to join us, feel free to email me at