Empowering a community with the Google Summer of Code

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Malin Sandström describes how a new project made a difference in her community.

Posted by Malin Sandström, Community Engagement Officer at INCF (International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility) 

The author (Malin Sandström, right) with a colleague (Chris Fitzpatrick, middle) and a 2016 student (Devin Bayly, left) in the Google Summer of Code program.
The author (Malin Sandström, right) with a colleague (Chris Fitzpatrick, middle) and a 2016 student (Devin Bayly, left) in the Google Summer of Code program. Photo by Ylva Lillberg, INCF.

This summer, just above 1300 students have spent their time writing open source code for projects from over 200 mentoring organizations, within a program called “Google Summer of Code” that is run and sponsored by Google. I work for one of those 200 organizations. I have been involved in recruiting mentors and projects for us since 2013, and in charge of managing our participation since 2015. This is a fantastic program that has been of much value to us as an organization, and very enjoyable to work with for me personally.

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What is the role of an online community during a crisis?

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Over the last several days, Fellow Elisha Wood-Charlson has reflected on the role of a community manager during a national emergency.

Posted by Elisha Wood-Charlson, Data/Research Communications Program Manager for the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology

"#AntarcticLog 13, August 31, 2017" by Karen Romano on Instagram
#AntarcticLog 13, August 31, 2017” by Karen Romano Young, Instagram: @antarcticlog

28 August 2017

As the devastation of Hurricane Harvey continues to cripple the metropolis of Houston, Texas, I feel helpless, but also grateful. Grateful that a community – networked online – allows a person to quickly report they are safe with a single tweet saying they have found sanctuary outside the flood zone.

As a fledging scientific community manager working to find solutions to our community’s research challenges in the age of big data, I was not prepared for the feeling of helplessness that came when Hurricane Harvey hit the University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) where Professor Brett Baker and his lab call home. While I have a personal connection to the Baker lab, after hosting several Baker lab members for a community workshop just last summer, I realized I had lost connection to the physical places behind the online community.

Now, those people very same people are unsure if they have homes or a science lab left. A press release from UT News on 27 August confirmed that several buildings experienced roof failures. Brett’s twitter update – “I just hope the plastic we put over it [lab equipment] all stay[ed] in place!”

But what happens next? What is the role of an online community during a crisis?

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Choose Development! chooses Trellis: starting a new online community

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Marsha Lucas describes the process of creating a new online community with Trellis.

Posted by Marsha Lucas, Publications and Communications Coordinator at the Society for Developmental Biology

Blue egg shell on the ground
Hatched” by Kaarina Dillabough under CC BY-SA 2.0

This year the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB) decided to create an online community for their Choose Development! summer research program. Choose Development! matches undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to labs of SDB members for 10 weeks of summer research. Fellows are spread out in labs across the country and only meet in person at the SDB annual meeting the following summer.

A Trellis group offered a way for fellows to connect with each other well before the SDB annual meeting. It also provided a platform to fulfill one of the program’s major goals: to provide long-term mentoring of fellows and help them navigate a path towards graduate school.

The AAAS Community Engagement Fellowship provided so many tools to make this Trellis group a success. Below are a few key points I’ve picked up that were critical in getting our online community off the ground.

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Considering Community: The Connect-Align-Produce network model for social-impact networks

Posted by Lou Woodley, Community Engagement Director – Trellis and Program Director – AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program

This post originally appeared on Social in silico.

Cartoon with arrows pointing from human face to human face
How many people in your network are connected to others in the network? Image credit: Jurgen Appelo on Flickr

For regular online communities, such as those hosted by an organisation, we looked at the four stage model of the community lifecycle described in Rich Millington’s “Buzzing Communities”. Last week, we considered a different type of community – a social-impact network where the emphasis is on group members working together for a social good. In “Connecting to Change the World”, the authors discuss three different stages of a social-impact network – and how it’s possible to transition between them. Let’s consider this connect-align-produce model.

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Considering Community: What’s a social-impact network?

Posted by Lou Woodley, Community Engagement Director – Trellis and Program Director – AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program

This post originally appeared on Social in silico.

What’s a social-impact network?

This week I’ve been reading “Connecting to change the world” by Peter Plastrik, Madeleine Taylor and John Cleveland. It’s a focused, practical guide to building a very specific type of community – a social-impact network.

Whereas the word community has now been adopted for somewhat ambiguous use in a wide variety of scenarios involving groups of people, a social-impact network has a clear definition. It’s a collection of collaborators who are working together in some way to address a complex social issue.

Social-impact networks are self-organising – with decision-making distributed across the networks and with a structure that may change rapidly (such as the formation or closure of working groups).

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Community Organizing Lessons for Science Community Managers

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Melissa Varga identifies ways that community management is a model of community organizing.

Posted by Melissa Varga, Outreach Associate and Online Community Manager at Union of Concerned Scientists 

South Dunedin community art project. Organised by Malcam Trust Wilkie Road, South Dunedin.
South Dunedin community art project” by Paul Allen under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Following the 2016 election, we saw a huge increase in interest and engagement from  scientists around the country who wanted to get more involved in advocacy, policy, and public engagement. At the Union of Concerned Scientists, we saw a record influx in the number of Science Network members, as well as high levels of engagement around advocacy actions—not just opportunities from our organization, but rallies and letters organized by other groups as well. In light of this I’ve been thinking a lot about the overlap between scientist engagement and community management, and how organizing skills are important for both. Building off of CEFP Fellow Rosanna Volchok’s blog post, here are a few more ways that community management is a model of community organizing.

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Leadership: The Art and Skill of Mobilizing One’s Community to Action

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, in part one of a collaborative two part series, Fellow Rosanna Volchok shares her thoughts on the similarities between community engagement and community organizing, as well as the importance of recognizing leadership skills in community managers.

Posted by Rosanna Volchok, Manager, Network Engagement at the New York Academy of Sciences

Flock of Ducks Flying Overhead
Flock of Ducks Flying Overhead” by Don DeBold under CC BY 2.0

When one thinks about fast-paced work, community engagement may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But ask the Fellows in the CEF Program and I am certain that many (if not most) would agree that effective community managers must be both agile and adaptable to change. The beauty, then, of the CEFP is that it provides those of us working in scientific community engagement with the space and time to reflect upon our roles. These meditations, in turn, allow us to define what it is that makes our work both unique and important to the communities we represent. In reflecting on my own role, I keep coming back to this idea that community management can be viewed–and perhaps should be viewed–as another model of community organizing. Blame my background in public service and advocacy, but I’m inclined to think that us Fellows are all community organizers no matter the title listed on our business cards.

That said, if we want to make the distinction between community management and community organizing (and many do), drawing parallels between these two fields has helped me to understand the critical role that leadership plays in my day-to-day work. Cultivating the art and skill of leadership is essential to mobilizing one’s community to action.

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The Value of #Welcome, part 2: How to prepare 40 new community members for an unconference

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Stefanie Butland follows up on her earlier pieces about welcoming community members and running an unconference with more specific advice.

Posted by Stefanie Butland, Community Manager at rOpenSci, – Open Tools for Open Research

I’ve raved about the value of extending a personalized welcome to new community members and I recently shared six tips for running a successful hackathon-flavoured unconference. Building on these, I’d like to share the specific approach and (free!) tools I used to help prepare new rOpenSci community members to be productive at our unconference. My approach was inspired directly by our AAAS CEFP training in community engagement. Specifically, 1) one mentor said that the most successful conference they ever ran involved having one-to-one meetings with all participants prior to the event, and 2) prior to our in-person AAAS-CEFP training, we completed an intake questionnaire that forced us to consider things like “what do you hope to get out of this” and “what do you hope to contribute”.

Continue reading The Value of #Welcome, part 2: How to prepare 40 new community members for an unconference

Six tips for running a successful unconference

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Stefanie Butland shares tips for fostering in-person relationships in an online community with an annual “unconference”.

Posted by Stefanie Butland, Community Manager at rOpenSci, – Open Tools for Open Research

rOpenSci unconference attendees
Attendees at the May 2017 rOpenSci unconference. Photo credit: Nistara Randhawa

In May 2017, I helped run a wildly successful “unconference” that had a huge positive impact on the community I serve. rOpenSci is a non-profit initiative enabling open and reproducible research by creating technical infrastructure in the form of staff- and community-contributed software tools in the R programming language that lower barriers to working with scientific data sources on the web, and creating social infrastructure through a welcoming and diverse community of software users and developers. Our 4th annual unconference brought together 70 people to hack on projects they dreamed up and to give them opportunities to meet and work together in person. One third of the participants had attended before, and two thirds were first-timers, selected from an open call for applications. We paid all costs up front for anyone who requested this in order to lower barriers to participation.

It’s called an “unconference” because there is no schedule set before the event – participants discuss project ideas online in advance and projects are selected by participant-voting at the start. I’m sharing some tips here on how to do this well for this particular flavour of unconference.

Continue reading Six tips for running a successful unconference

How do I become a “community-whatsit”?

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Malin Sandström discusses her path to defining her community manager career.

Posted by Malin Sandström, Community Engagement Officer at INCF (International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility) 

Magnifying glass highlighting the word "Jobs" in a newspaper
Job Listings” by www.flazingo.com under CC BY-SA 2.0

“Don’t worry about understanding everything at once, NOBODY has the right background for this” said my MSc thesis supervisor, a dozen or so years ago. Then, the advice applied to mathematical modeling of the biochemical networks involved in learning and memory, an area that came with heaps of dense academic papers peppered with acronyms and incomprehensibly condensed descriptions of experimental protocols. Now, that advice applies equally well to community management, an area of expertise I did not even know existed in science until a few years ago.

Continue reading How do I become a “community-whatsit”?