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Everyday day growing cultures: connecting communities through data

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Presentation SURF Research and Innovation Event 2013 …

Presentation SURF Research and Innovation Event 2013
February 28, The Hague University of Applied Sciences

Farida Vis is Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester.


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  • 1. Everyday day growing cultures: connectingcommunities through data Farida Vis Research Fellow, Information School University of Sheffield @flygirltwo
  • 2. Everyday GrowingCultures in the North ofEngland: participation,citizenship and localeconomies.Farida Vis (PI – Sheffield)Peter Jackson (CoI – Sheffield)Andrew Miles (CoI – Manchester)ErinmaOchu (CoI – Manchester) + Steven Flower (ODM)Yana Manyukhina (RA – Leeds) Ric Roberts (ODM)Ian Humphrey (RA – Sheffield) Caroline Ward (SN/BBC)
  • 3. Bringing together two ‘communities’ inManchester and Sheffield – who to focus on?Growing communities Open data communities• plot holders; allotment • open data activists; societies; those waiting for developers; local plots; allotment governing government; data bodies journalists• Local organisations • Central government (DCLG) • Local organisations• Others (AAA/Diggers)NB –> digital transformation through vacant lot mapping?
  • 4. UK’s open data portal for government data
  • 5. What’s it all about?• Help people understand how government works• How policies are made• In one place – searchable• Easier for people to make decisions • Making suggestion about government policies –based ondetailed information• Hear more about the Government’s Transparency agenda
  • 6. Easier for people to make decisions?!
  • 7. Open data project from Kirklees Council and Thumbprint Co- operative, funded by NESTAs Make It Local programme
  • 8. But what happens when the funding runs out?
  • 9. Allotment (publics): an open data and data driven journalism perspective Farida Vis and Yana Manyukhina University of Sheffield and Leicester | Open Data Manchesterf.vis@sheffield.ac.uk @flygirltwo
  • 10. What is an allotment?Small piece of land rented from the council for the cultivation of fruit andvegetables for home consumption. Sign a tenancy agreement every year. Since the Allotments Act of 1908 a standard allotment is ‘10 rods’. Rods are also called poles or perches. 10 rod = 250 sqm.
  • 11. Allotment data as ‘really useful’ dataPeople care about growing vegetables
  • 12. Project overviewNot funded (huge advantage) – multiple (experimental) methods used From the beginning strong engagement outside academia
  • 13. Allotments Act of 1908: Clause 23 ensures that councils provide allotments. It takessix citizens. Responsibility of local government. If sites sold money can only be spenton allotments.
  • 14. Threat to the Allotments ActSpring 2011, the Department for Communities and Local Government issued apublic consultation on 1294 Statutory Duties pertaining to local authorities topossibly reduce their number.These duties included Section 23 of the 1908 Allotments Act, which ensures localauthorities provide allotments, causing some newspapers to suggest that ‘TheGood Life’ was now under threat.Bewilderingly difficult survey to find and fill out. Engagement?The Act remained unchanged however in the summer the governmentannounced that of the 6,103 responses received nearly half contained acomment on the Allotments Act.
  • 15. Huge waiting lists: big demand, tiny supplyIn 1940s: 1.4 million allotment plots in the UK. Now: 200,000. Cycles of popularity. What do you do when everyone wants one again?Waiting list crisis (our local site): 12 years ago, waiting list was 2 months.Now: 15 years. Lots of people with children want to grow food with them.Transition Town West Kirby (TTWK), Margaret CampbellGrow Your Own | Land Share initiative | guerrilla gardening | alleyway gardensRecent changes – rent increases, water rates, tenancy agreements
  • 16. Sources of information on allotments in UKNational Society for Allotments and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) – official bodyAllotment Regeneration Initiative (ARI) – officialbody, policy documents, mentors and adviceTransition Town West Kirby (TTWK) – waiting listsPerennial problem: good allotment data. Difficult to get anoverview of what is going on at local/national level.Evidenced based policy making on allotments difficult
  • 17. Collecting data = time consuming (mainly not available). Not precise Location data doesn’t tell you very much
  • 18. Mapping plots in Manchester – AMAS (incomplete) + Trafford(open data of allotment locations released by the council)
  • 19. Allotment data: focus on unreliable waiting list data (difficult to collect & track)New maps using TTWK FOI data: http://www.transitiontownwestkirby.org.uk/ Enriching existing data
  • 20. Allotment data: difficult to collect & track (focus on unreliable waiting list data)New maps using TTWK FOI data: http://www.transitiontownwestkirby.org.uk/
  • 21. New data (through FOI) –From all UK councils.Tenancy agreementsChanges | consultationsCost of hiring a plot(past, current, future)Cost of water useDiscountsCost of waste removal
  • 22. New data obtained through FOI: rent, water charges, discounts, tenancy agreementshttp://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/farida_vis_and_yana_manyukhinaStories in the data | data driven journalism
  • 23. Data displayed on interactive map – How did your council compare?
  • 24. Mainstream media interest: about growing vegetables, not open data
  • 25. Strong interest from the horticultural and allotment communities
  • 26. Responses to the projectOSM community in West Midlands http://blog.mappa-mercia.org/2012/01/west-midlands-allotments.html
  • 27. Strong interest from the open data and policy communities Problem with truly engaging with participants/end users: methods participant / hobbyist open data activist / ex allotment committee / ...
  • 28. ‘The allotment data work struck a chord with the workshop as it is a prime example ofuseful data concerning a topic that genuinely engages the public’ Full report: http://www.w3.org/2012/06/pmod/report
  • 29. Quite a few responses via email. For example (on old measurements):… The Rod was phased out as a legal unit of measurement as part of a ten-yearmetrication process that began in May 1965 but metrication has often beenignored and, in many instances, imperial measurements prevail: roads aremeasured in miles and yards; we measure our height in feet and inches andweight in stones and pounds; and it is difficult to change football goal posts from8 yards x 8 feet to their metric equivalent. Some measurements changed fromimperial to metric and back again: farms have reverted from Hectares to Acresand office rents from £x per square metre to £y per square foot. Sometimes weuse even older measurements: the length of a cricket pitch between stumps is 1chain (22 yards) horse races are run over furlongs (220 yards); and, onepeculiarity, railway bridges have a metal plaque on the side of their brick or stonearches stating x miles and y chains from Victoria, Waterloo, etc. Now, I work inmetric units every day but, in some cases, old measurements are nottransferable: 10 square rods means something, 253Your research into Allotments is not complete: it concentrates on Councilscharges and waiting lists. It does not include anything about their history; thereis no reference to Rods, Poles and Perches.
  • 30. Who has / will give you the data? Central Government Local Government Allotment Officers Allotment Associations Allotment secretaries Plotholders
  • 31. Everyday GrowingCultures in the North ofEngland:participation, citizenshipand local economies.Farida Vis (PI – Sheffield)Peter Jackson (CoI – Sheffield)Andrew Miles (CoI – Manchester)ErinmaOchu (CoI – Manchester) + Steven Flower (ODM)Yana Manyukhina (RA – Leeds) Ric Roberts (ODM)Ian Humphrey (RA – Sheffield) Caroline Ward (SN/BBC)
  • 32. Bringing together two ‘communities’ inManchester and Sheffield – who to focus on?Growing communities Open data communities• plot holders; allotment • open data activists; societies; those waiting for developers; local plots; allotment governing government; data bodies journalists• Local organisations • Central government (DCLG) • Local organisations• Others (AAA/Diggers)NB –> digital transformation through vacant lot mapping?
  • 33. Very limited dataTrafford allotments mapped: http://bobop.co.uk/posts/10-Trafford-Open-Data-Maps
  • 34. Commonalities: ideas of knowledge sharing, collaboration,‘the commons’: shared digital/land accessible resources.• What does digital engagement and transformation look like within these communities? (main question)• How can these communities further the national open data agenda so that it benefits citizens?• How can a more widely adopted and enacted open data strategy benefit local economies?• If unsuccessful in these aspects, what might open data’s unintended consequences look like?• How can we think of forms of resistance, mobilisation of local histories and heritage identities?• How can we rethink received ideas of participation and enacting citizenship in light of these?
  • 35. Data collection/Methods/Outputs/Engagement• Updating UK allotment dataset Threat to Act -> release useful data• Mapping workshops + tours (mapping vacant lots)• Grow Your Own Data Hackday(s)• Short film (made by Squirrel Nation/BBC)• Website including toolkit MadLab Hack/makers space
  • 36. For critical consideration• What’s with all the mapping? Neo-cartography+activism• Defining ‘community’: ‘In contrast a focus on the role of sociality in the production of Cittaslow‘places’ indicates how social relationships or ‘bonds’ are implicated in the forms of individual and collective human agency and creativity through which the social and material elements of urban contexts are constituted’ (Pink, 2008: 185 – our emphasis)• Community-based participatory research: a guide to ethical principles and practice – role of power (ethical principles: mutual respect; equality and inclusion; democratic participation; active learning; making a difference; collective action; personal integrity) (see http://www.dur.ac.uk/beacon/socialjustice/ethics_consultation/)
  • 37. Reflecting on pastallotment datamapping GIS OSM Open Government Data Camp: Eurohack Google More mapping: Fusion OSM community respond to Tables Allotment Data NB - Free volunteer mapping Look no maps - >
  • 38. Easier for people to make decisions?!
  • 39. Project website (under construction) #growingcultureshttp://everydaygrowingcultures.org/Allotment data website (in need of TLC – covered in weeds)http://allotmentdata.org/ |@allotmentdataFarida Vis | f.vis@sheffield.ac.uk |@flygirltwoAndrew Miles - @AGMcatErinmaOchu - @erinmaochuSteven Flower - @stevieflowRic Roberts - @RicRobertsCaroline Ward - @noveltyshoe