OEDP works with data producers, collectors, and users to look more deeply into how participatory environmental governance can be leveraged to work better on behalf of people across the data spectrum. We believe that access to usable data and information can help people better situate themselves in governance conversations, especially those where scientific data are required (i.e. in regulatory decisions). We also center the contextual information that allows data to make sense to communities – through the experiences they’ve lived and the stories that they tell.
To develop each Opportunity Brief, we work with small groups (7-15 people) in facilitated convenings that we call “Brain Trusts.” These convenings create curated collisions amongst people that may be working on similar issues from different perspectives or that when paired together could create new sparks for the space of environmental governance. Participants from our past Trusts have included community data stewards running their own open platforms, staff from state and federal government, technology-minded folks working with water infrastructure policy, amongst others. Each Brain Trust is a relatively short meeting (an hour and a half to two hours) and participants are involved in review and further iterations of the recommendations that are developed during the Trust.
Closely related to a policy brief, we use opportunity briefs to highlight the myriad places of potential for data and information, participatory governance, and closer collaborations to provide ideas towards change. The recommendations in our opportunity briefs are invitations into a solution space. Each opportunity brief has important nuggets of advice for policy and government, but also speak to audiences (e.g. designers, researchers) who might take identified opportunities and use them as a starting point for pilots or prototypes.
In future cycles, OEDP plans to look a step beyond opportunities in the environmental data space through convening “design trusts.” An important part of pointing to places of opportunity in environmental governance is to show what it looks like when we get there. Working with designers, writers, and other multimedia creators, we will use the Opportunity Brief as a starting point to create stories that can show us what different environmental futures look like. These future narratives will illustrate where and how environmental data and governance shows up in the policies that affect our lives, in the health of our communities and bodies, in our work and in our play.