The Data Refuge project isn't just about making trustworthy copies of data. It's also a hub for storytelling about how that data is used to keep people and places safe and healthy on our changing planet.

Some stories are crafted at Data Rescue events. They employ a variety of narrative forms and media formats to document data rescue events and their many volunteers. They also explore the surprising variety of uses that local communities make of public, federal environmental and climate data--from climate adaptation, to emergency management, to individuals’ “lifehacks:” resilient responses to our changing planet.

In partnership with universities, city and town halls, and a range of health advocacy groups, this project shows how everyday people in the United States and across the world use climate and environmental data to lead productive, meaningful lives.

In support of this important part of Data Refuge, we've created these Storytelling Tools:

Portraits of Data Rescuers
Portraits of Data Rescuers provide snapshots of the people volunteer their time and energy to attend a Data
Rescue event. This portrait template was first developed at #DataRescuePhilly, has since been adopted by
other Data Rescue events. Click through to check out these three portraits which might provide models for yours. 

Field Notes
Field notes aggregate a Data Rescue event’s hashtags to record what’s happening in the data rescue event.
Here’s a typical Data Rescue event Field Note to check out and use/adapt as you like.. You can also easily write Field Notes after a Data Rescue

Three Stories in Our Town
“Three Stories” create local partners who talk about their use of open federal environmental and climate data
and how it keeps them, their assets, and their communities safe and healthy. This project has now launched
in Philadelphia, and we are actively inviting its adoption by other cities and towns. The template is being
distributed via organizers of past and future Data Rescue events (some 30 total), via the Urban
Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), and more. We began by surveying city workers who use climate
and/or environmental data in their work. We wanted to know what data they needed to do their work. We used this survey which has also circulated widely via the Union of Concerned Scientists. It helps us to prioritize especially valuable data to rescue. 

With the survey results from our cities and towns, we can also do research to understand the work that the data does locally. In this first phase, you might develop three stories that consider:

  • How does federal climate and environmental data inform the work of one city worker?
  • Preserve one local landmark?
  • Address one local health concern?

In Philadelphia, our "three stories" feature the work of a regional rail train conductor whose route is often flooded, especially in the extreme rains our region increasingly experiences. Our second story features historic Fort Mifflin, extremely prone to flooding. A third looks at how childhood asthma sufferers (a problem especially acute in our area) rely on federal air quality

Contact to tell us about the stories you're writing! We would be delighted to feature them on the blog, and we hope you will continue to work with us to advocate together for the importance of open federal data in our communities.

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