Greetings from Jeremy from Birmingham, UK

Hi Everyone, I’ve been lurking around the edges transformap for over a year now, so it’s probably about time I introduced myself. I’m a lecturer at the University of Birmingham in theological ethics - most of my current research is concerned with environmental ethics, and more specifically how religious communities are responding to climate change. Along the way I’ve developed an appreciation for data visualisation and have been creating data sets of community sustainability groups in the UK as a way of highlighting the really tremendous things that are happenning to mitigate climate change on the level of individual communities which tend to be invisible to policymakers and the general public. You can have a look at some of the data sets I’ve put together on the zenodo repository ( My work with community groups generally takes the form of participatory research, so I’ve been working to develop a platform that groups like transition, permaculture, etc. can use as a “staging area” to manage web-maps of their network and which can then be imported to openstreetmaps and served onto projects like transformap. We’re currently setting up an instance of cartodb on some University of Birmingham servers that will be used for these purposes. You can read a bit more about this project here:

There are a range of areas where I think I might be able to help. I have experience with DevOps (former career), data analysis (using R mostly) and GIS (mostly QGIS and command line tools) and am actively working to raise funds to develop projects like transformaps. My own politics are strongly oriented towards crowdsourcing, open source, etc. and so I’m also actively looking for ways to use academic research to highlight ways that new federated and open-source technologies can serve as a space for the common good, and I’m enough of an activist that I tend to have links to a number of environmental grassroots groups in the UK and networks.

I’ll look forward to reading more on the forums in the weeks and months to come and hopefully pitching in on this project a bit. Things have really come quite a long way since I first had a look around about 2 years ago and I’m excited to see how transformap can continue to be a force for good!

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Greetings Jeremy,

it is a pleasure welcoming you aboard. What you are writing resonates deeply with the transformaps idea in many ways. I see your map mostly features data in Scotland. Five of the datasets used are probably the ones in Zenodo. The two layers community_land and community_energy, of which the latter is disable by default due to a high amount of points, do they represent communit land trusts and forms of local energy production, both related to specific legal forms and/or networks? Also, which licenses do apply to these two layers, when the other ones are CC BY SA or CC BY NC?

What I was also wondering while reflecting the depth of the three paragraphs above, was if you had CC education material prepared for mapping workshops and documented the process itself in an open form somewhere? As you see we are moving in many directions at the same time, why only slowly an ecosystem emerges from the early experiments. If you wanted to add another challenging layer to your research, I am left to suggest you wrapped your head around the different taxonomies for us and how we relate between them. We’re only beginning to explore this space.

Thanks Jon for the kind greeting. I’m also glad to hear that my description seems to have some symmetry with the other work underway here.

To get towards your questions re: the data, that map on Carto does indeed have most of the data-sets which are stored on Zenodo on it. Generally, since these data sets are all open-licensed, I try to deposit them in as many accessible places as possible in hopes of maximizing interest from other researchers.

My work to date has been primarily in Scotland, and I’ve found that data collection tends to be done best in conversation with practitioners on the ground, so I have been happy to keep things to that national context. I am working with a range of other groups to get other groups on the map as well, in Scotland, England and Wales.

One of the distinctives of this project in slight contrast to other social scientists in the UK is that I am working directly with practitioner groups to generate the data and have an ongoing relationship with one or more people within the group with the intention of allowing them to keep the data up to date. It is worth noting that we now have our own instance of Carto installed on some virtual servers at the University of Birmingham. You can give this a look here: The goal is to use Carto as a staging area for groups to keep things updated, and then we will push data out from there on a periodic basis to repositories such as zenodo and also to OpenStreetMaps as appropriate. If there are people involved in transformap that would like to play around with our Carto server a bit, I’d be happy to set up accounts on the system, just get in touch.

I’ve been in tentative conversation with the OSM imports and tagging groups via the mailing lists and have gotten mixed reactions to the idea of putting these groups on the map. Generally, there seemed to be some uneasiness with the idea of some more “emhemeral” groups as amenities on OSM, say for transition groups. Asset-based groups like community orchards, or community land cooperatives aren’t a problem, it’s just a matter of generating an accurate shapefile and updating OSM. For the most part, however, I’m interested in a mildly programmatic solution which can make this process bi-directional, reviewing and re-importing edits made in OSM using the excellent tools Mapbox is developing: and or perhaps a tool like, or Then exporting data carefully from the Carto database to OSM as it is changed as well.

I’d be very curious to hear how you’ve been storing data for transformap - is it all stored exclusively in OSM or are you also working with some staging or an augmented OSM postgresql replicant somewhere?

The taxonomies question is a hard one, and also, it seems to me, this may not be able to transcend local languages and cultures in all cases. I’ve even had some trouble identifying consistent symmetries between Scotland and England! I’ll be very glad to continue to listen and participate in the conversation on this front as things develop. I’m also assembling a working group in the UK made up of group participants to discuss “metadata”. My goal was to get the carto server up and running first and let them play around for some months and then open up a conversation about how to taxonomize that work. Generally, I see the issue of taxonomy as a long term research question and am eager to see more of how you are surmounting those challenges without essentialising the groups or fragmeting into a million categories here.

As for the workshops, I’m very much making this up as I go along, working of course with the excellent work that has already been done by others on World Cafe, Open Space Technology, etc. I plan to write up a green paper for the Scottish government later in the summer documenting “best practices” that we’ve discovered together and if the workshops do evolve into a sort of consistent and replicable pattern, I’ll definitely also document and deposit under open license in a repository (or many!).

I’ll be happy to keep folks in the loop on all these fronts, and am very open to questions if you have any.

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