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Thriving Earth Exchange Project Milestones

Thriving Earth Exchange projects enhance community capacity to use science and connect science to society. Each project is both a laboratory and example of community science – learning and showing how to build strong collaborations between scientists and community leaders and how to design and execute projects that leverage science to make a positive local impact. Thriving Earth has launched over 40 projects, from a Denver-based project where low-income neighborhoods reduced their exposure to air pollution and to an Afghanistan-based project where scientists and villagers are working together to integrate climate science into traditional farming practice.

From being part of these 40 projects, doing extensive research on what works and what doesn’t, and applying an iterative process of agile development, we’ve created a set of milestones for Community Science. Think of them as steps that guide you through a project from the first exploration of how science and community priorities connect to a completed project with concrete, impactful deliverables.  Each milestone builds on the step before it and prepares you for the next milestone.

Couple of notes about the milestones:

  • They are living milestones – we will continue to refine and update them as we learn more and hear more. We welcome your ideas and feedback
  • They are meant to be shared and adapted. Please do acknowledge Thriving Earth when you reuse them.
  • Thriving Earth project liaisons will use these milestones as they work with project, so they give you a preview into the things you’ll hear from us.
  • You are VERY welcome to use the milestones yourself, independently of Thriving Earth. If you do, we’d love your feedback.
  • The milestones cover more than the mechanics of a project – they also touch on the practices that can help build productive relationships, especially when working with people from very different backgrounds. We’ve found attention to the relationships is as much a part of success as attention to the work.

Thriving Earth Exchange and Thriving Earth projects are part of a movement that brings us together to improve and protect the people we love and the things we treasure, in the places we live work and play.  Go forth and do good!





Milestones: Key Outcomes

1. Community Context: Thriving Earth Exchange Project Liaison (the person who represents Thriving Earth and is initiating the relationship with the community on behalf of Thriving Earth) understands the community and its priorities, strengths, and weaknesses.

2. Connecting to Earth and Space Science: Community representative (the person(s) who represent(s) the community) understands the nature of Thriving Earth and ESS and what they could achieve by working with a volunteer Earth or space scientist.

3. Outlining a Project: Thriving Earth project liaisons and community leaders agree on a project that uses Earth and space science to advance a community priority.

4. Write a Project Description and Confirm Community Buy-In : A project description that describes the project scope, expected outcomes, and scientific partner role.



Milestones: Key Outcomes

1. Find Volunteer Scientists: Thriving Earth staff have identified relevant ESS scientists and find the appropriate and willing scientific partner(s).

2. Form a Project Team: We understand the overall scope of project and agree to work together. We understand the skills and motivations each team member brings to the projects, and feel ready to define roles based on those skills and motivations. We also understand the organizational capacity we can draw on and bring to the table.

3. Refine the Project: The project scope is refined based on the skills and attributes that members of the team bring to the table.




Milestones: Key Outcomes

1. Define Outputs: Both the scientist and the community will be able to clearly describe the project’s outputs(s), how they will be used, and who will use them.  All projects need to include a Thriving Earth deliverable as well, which is described in more detail below and in Share Step 1.

2. Identify Resources: The team has the resources they need – time, data, tools, lab equipment, and money – to produce the outputs.

3. Plan: Everyone on the project team has a month-by-month (or week-by-week) understanding of what the team will accomplish.

4. Check-Ins: You have a schedule and method for checking in regularly about the progress of the project.

5. Prototype and Refine: A prototype is developed (A draft version, outline, model, or preview of the final output that you can build (relatively) easily and quickly. Feedback from the actual users is received. A plan is developed to improve the prototype based on the feedback.

6. Finalize Outputs: The final output for the project has been completed. It has been delivered to its end users in a final and usable format. Your team can point to a concrete community impact from the work of you team.

7. Wrap Up & Next Steps: The team celebrates their success and thinks about possible next steps.

A. Project Challenges – Refine
An Optional On-Demand Milestone After recognizing a challenge with the project workplan or structure, the scientific and community leads have discussed the issue and decided on a mutually agreed-upon solution.

B. Reflect and Adjust
An Optional On-Demand Milestone The scientist and community lead are either working well together and are eager to continue as they were with the project, or they have identified important concerns or needs for the team and they addressed them.

C. Community Science Connect – A Forum for Advancing Community Science
An Optional On-Demand Milestone The scientist is connected to a larger network of scientists who are also working on with communities and interacts with people in that network to get ideas, ask for advice, and even offer their advice to other scientists.




Milestones: Key Outcomes

1. Share a Project Summary and Output: Together, the scientific and community leads have prepared a summary of the project outputs, impacts and methods that allows others to learn from the project and/or apply its outputs.

2. Team Recognition: Everyone in the project is credited professionally for their work on the project.

3. Feedback: Both the scientific partner(s) and the community lead(s) have spoken to their TEX project liaison and provided feedback on what worked well in the project, what didn’t, and how Thriving Earth can improve.

A. Contact Your Local Representative
An Optional On-Demand Milestone A government official understands the concrete community impact of your Thriving Earth Project and how science contributed to that impact.


If you use the Thriving Earth Exchange Project Milestones in your own work, please tell us about it.
Your community science project could be featured on the Thriving Earth website!

Questions? Email us!