2015 Creative Code Fellowship Proposal

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I was recently awarded one of seven Creative Code Fellowships by the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, who are partnering with Stamen Design. Next week, I'll drive across the country from from Brooklyn to San Francisco to embark on the fellowship. My project focuses on Bay Area plants, of which almost none grow on the East Coast. In a new USDA Hardiness Zone, I'm looking forward to getting acquainted with a new set of flora. I'll be posting updates on research, design thinking and process, and implementation along the way.

My proposal is below:

I'm interested in creating a series of visualizations that explore the effects of invasive plant species on Bay Area ecosystems. Focusing on a select number of case studies, I will create a narrative of the struggle between native plants and the invasive plants that are displacing them. I'll extend the exploration of these networks by including affected wildlife populations, waterways, and other resources.

Example case studies:

A) Invasive Atlantic Cordgrass has pushed out much of the native cordgrass and pickleweed in Bay Area wetlands. This shift has led to a decline in the population of the California Clapper Rail, an endangered bird.

B) In San Mateo County, an increase in vehicle and industry emissions has created a more nitrogen-rich soil. Invasive plants such as Italian rye grass flourish in these conditions, and are outcompeting native plants including Dwarf plantain and Indian paintbrush. Consequently, there has been a decrease in the population of the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly.

I plan to visualize the information through diverse means. I will create a map that displays biodiversity data over time, culled from sources such as CalFlora and WHIPPET. This data will be split into layers: natives, invasives, and affected communities. Infoboxes will be used to highlight key points.

I’ll also create more abstract visualizations that emphasize the physical aspects of the communities. One idea is to showcase the colors created by the ecosystems (through plant blooms, etc.) over time using a scatterplot.

D3.js and leaflet.js will be used extensively in the project.


Here are a few early sketches, not included with my proposal, as I was thinking through what these ideas might look like.