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The Future is Fiction: Playful Future-Thinking About Climate Change with FutureCoast

February 4, 2014

A Chronofact from FutureCoast.

A Chronofact from FutureCoast.

Sometime in the near future(s), something will go awry with the voicemail system sending messages spiraling back through time, a phenomenon that is being referred to as “chronofall.” These messages take the form of small, elegant crystalline structures referred to as “chronofacts” that can be decoded to reveal a taste of life in the future. But these chronofacts aren’t just coming from “the” future: chronofacts carry voicemails from the cloud of all possible futures: happy futures, bleak futures, unimaginable futures. A new project called FutureCoast and its “Coaster” enthusiasts seek to collect as many chronofacts as possible, with the goal of cataloging and organizing them into coherent glimpses of the possible futures awaiting us. And when the next big chronofall happens in February, they’re going to need your help.

FutureCoast, set to launch on February 5th, 2014, is the latest project by veteran game designer Ken Eklund. Like its predecessors World Without Oil and Ed Zed Omega, FutureCoast aims to open the doors wide to a new kind of conversation about the world we live in. This time, the subject is one of the most polarizing topics, the kind of thing you don’t usually want to bring up in mixed political company: climate change and one of its key indicators, rising sea levels.

Climate change, its effect on polar ice, and rising sea levels are topics that spawn impassioned opinions and difficult discussions from many different scientific and political angles. The heart of the FutureCoast design seeks to create a playful, inclusive common ground where information and idea sharing happens, where everyone’s thoughts about the future have a place, and where a meaningful dialog and a common ground can be created to replace the animosity that these topics can evoke.

The project is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation to Columbia University’s Polar Partnership. Eklund dates the idea of FutureCoast back to a conversation with Dr. Stephanie Pfirman, Professor of Environmental Science at Columbia, in 2009. Dr. Pfirman, interested in the idea of World Without Oil, wondered what a climate change game look like, and Eklund began working on prospective ideas for a WWO-like game that would encourage conversation about climate change and rising sea levels. FutureCoast was accepted into the NSF grant, and work on the project began in earnest in 2011.

FutureCoast‘s structure is almost “retro” in its conception, elegant in its simplicity yet with the potential for powerful collaborative storytelling to take place. The premise of the overarching story hinges on voicemails that filter to our present from the near or distant future(s) that can be decoded, collected, and shared. FutureCoast invites its audience to pluck their personal vision from among all the possible futures and share it in a voicemail. The audience will also be able to create playlists – mix tapes, Eklund playfully calls them, and officially named “Timestreams” – by choosing amongst the voicemails and piecing them together into a kind of narrative of the future. Through FutureCoast, players have the ability to both create the future and to curate it in meaningful ways.

Sara Thacher, producer on FutureCoast and one of the creators of San Francisco’s interactive experience The Jejune Institute, explains the narrative focus on voicemail messages:

"What excited me was…doing this kind of collaborative storytelling but narrowing how you contribute, lowering the bar as much as possible so that you could contribute in a really specific way. That’s an easy step to take. You know what a voicemail sounds like, you know how to use a phone, and the act of calling on the phone sets you up in the mode to record a voicemail, so it’s an automatic getting into character."

To anchor the FutureCoast narrative in the real world, Eklund and Thacher came up with the idea of chronofacts, physical representations of the future voicemails leaking into our present. They teamed up artist Debbie Palmer with designer and artificer Haley Moore to create the chronofacts. The result of their work is a beautiful object of elegant curves, delicate etchings and crystalline transparency that encapsulates visually the idea of the ethereal cloud of possible futures into which FutureCoast taps.

“I think the chronofacts do a great job of saying, ‘Hey, it’s the future calling.’ Visually, they are very intriguing,” says Eklund.

Recently, chronofacts have been recovered by FutureCoast characters (Coasters) such as Sam Robertson, played by Ed Zed Omega veteran Tara Borman. Sam, a college student doing an independent study project, has made several videos about tracking and recovering chronofacts during the chronofalls. When the February chronofall arrives, the FutureCoast audience will have an opportunity to recover chronofacts as well. Players will be able to locate chronofacts through geocaching.

“We do have an ambitious plan regarding the geocaching of the chronofacts and the recovery thereof,” Eklund says.

Other characters have been making appearances as the February 5th launch day nears. Several characters such as Billy Dan, a Coaster from Texas, and Alex, who runs the FutureCoast Tumblr, have posted videos to the FutureCoast YouTube channel. Coaster Shelly keeps up the FutureCoast blog. Coaster Finch has a podcast about the project that is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and through the RSS feed.

With the grant coming from the National Science Foundation, science education has a prominent place in FutureCoast. Involving high school and college students is a goal, and the team has developed a lesson plan for high school teachers to use, even making the geocaching element of FutureCoast part of a classroom activity.

Once a chronofact has been recovered from its geocache, it can be decoded through the serial number etched onto it. Coasters who find a chronofact can upload a picture of it, and the FutureCoast team will decode it and publish the voicemails attached to it. But not all the voicemails will come from chronofacts. Players are encouraged to create their own voicemails and post them by calling the FutureCoast hotline: 1-321-7FCOAST (1-321-732-6278).

Players can leave these voicemails as their future selves, or they can create a character who exists in their idea of the future. This narrative mechanism is interesting in that through their voicemails, players create two characters in one action: the person who speaks in the voicemail, and the listener on the other end of the line for whom they are leaving the voicemail. Combining the imaginative power of audio and the creativity of a future-thinking audience could potentially result in moments of potent short-form storytelling. Many compelling voicemails from different futures have already been posted to the website. The voicemails will also be available for listening at Soundcloud.

The voicemails received from players are moderated only to ensure that they are appropriate for a general audience and to add visual cues and titles and make them browsable by theme or time period. Players can also assist in adding tags to their voicemails. The hotline is active, and people can leave voicemails right now. Once the latest version of the website becomes active on February 5th, players will be able to choose to receive a text message that will alert them when their voicemail has been moderated and posted to the website.

In addition to creating voicemails, players will be able to create Timestreams – playlists of voicemails that they believe fit together in the same theme, or the same future, or whatever criteria makes sense to the individual.

How are these mysterious chronofalls detected, and how do we know where the chronofacts will appear? Once the early Coasters figured out what the chronofacts represented, they tapped into the voicemail system of North America so that they could detect when the chronofalls happened by looking at the pattern of broken cell phone calls that result during a chronofall. They can also zero in on the coordinates of the chronofacts using this detection method. Although most of the chronofacts have been discovered in the U.S. and Canada, recently a chronofact was recovered in Beirut, decoding to a voicemail from the year 2045, which reveals an ominous conversation about war in Sudan and water investments that could result in “tens of millions” for the caller and his friend. It’s possible that chronofact recoveries may also happen in the UK at some point.

Underpinning the playful design of FutureCoast is Eklund’s concept of authentic fiction. Authentic fiction, he says, has to do with the relationship between the gamemaster and the player, what powers of narration granted to the player, and the question of what the gamemaster and the player are trying to create together.

“You’re trying to create this world together that is, indeed, authentic – that has this ring of authenticity to it, even though it might be wildly fictional,” Eklund says. “The fiction part is kind of a term for a playful world that you’re creating together, and a playful process.”

FutureCoast’s whimsical fiction of virtual time wormholes and recovered chronofacts finds its voice of authenticity in the personal stories of all the future voicemails.IMG_2264

“Especially with the medium of voicemails,” Thacher says, “making a voicemail that sounds authentic – you’re not reporting at the thousand-mile view. You’re in a very personal space, speaking from what’s nearby. The personal nature of what the possibilities of climate change mean – this is an opportunity for those to really come out.”

The beauty of FutureCoast is that no possible future is excluded. Whether a player is skeptical about the current scientific findings of climate change or whether they adhere stringently to theories of global warming, their personal story of the future will find its place in FutureCoast. It is a safe space for discussions and ideas where players can engage in collaborative worldbuilding. This collaborative space, Eklund maintains, is where a compelling authenticity can be created.

“We saw in World Without Oil, there’s this additive process where people would go, ‘You know, you’re right, that would happen in an oil crisis,'” Eklund said, speaking of the way that the sharing of ideas about the future could result in a meaningful discussion of future possibilities. He described it as an “organic exploration” of ideas. “We’re looking for black swans. We’re looking for people who have an insight about the future. We want to have a place where they can, without fear of being laughed at or scorned, playfully present that idea.”

“FutureCoast is really saying, in a world where there are many different views on climate change from both a political and a science basis, it’s a hard topic to have a meaningful conversation about, especially with someone who has a different view on the subject,” Thacher adds. “By saying, ‘These [voicemails] are from the cloud of possible futures,’ everybody gets a voice, the future is not certain. It’s saying both ‘science is important’ but also ‘we don’t know’. Science gives us a way to peer into the future, but there are still many possibilities.”

Further, Thacher maintains, science doesn’t really address what will happen to people on a personal level through the future changes that it projects. FutureCoast brings climate change into each player’s personal narrative, asking, as World Without Oil asked, “How will this future affect you, personally?” Unlike World Without Oil, where the initial narrative described one future for players to respond to, FutureCoast provides a structure where the uncertain future – that cloud of all possible futures – can become a vessel for a player’s personal expression, their story, their ideas of what the future will be like.

In August of 2013, Eklund participated in a ScienceOnline discussion about Climate Communication, where he concluded, “A personal story is much more compelling than any amount of data […] – someone who is actually acting upon the data.”

“I think FutureCoast is going to take climate change out of the silo where we think about it as being the sort of weather that we live in, and its going to integrate it into the things our lives are made out of,” Eklund speculates. “Voicemails aren’t about weather. They’re about the weather and cars, houses, eco-systems. There’s an influence that climate has on these things: food, water, migrations of people.”

“I think that there are a lot of people who want to have an invitation to say something about climate change,” Eklund says. “And I think this is the opportunity. It is this sort of creative challenge – you say it, but you say it in your future voice.”

A lot of the polarization about climate change, Eklund believes, comes from an idea that there is only one future, and that the argument is over who is right and who is wrong about what that future is going to look like. “Philosophically speaking, there is not one future,” he says. “There is a cloud of possible futures, and the decisions that we make will influence the future we actually live in.”

Storytelling, narrative, and gameplay can help us develop better future-thinking abilities. “Life is not getting any easier in terms of seeing where the future is going to take us,” Eklund says. “There’s this idea that we’re running into these problems that we could have foreseen if only we had better sorts of future-thinking. The aspect of “future-thinking” in FutureCoast is really an experiment: is there a playful and fun way that we can develop better future-thinking muscles in our brain?”

He goes on to say, “The future is fiction. Scientists can see trends happening, but they do not know. Nobody knows. And there’s a role that narrative can play in our ability to think successfully about the future. There’s a role games can play in being a place where people can come together and not be polarized.”

Where the conversation about climate change can quickly fall into a holding pattern, Eklund proposes that it is important to change the dialog. “One of the changes we’re making is that we’re trying to get the dialog away from being a discussion that other people are having to a discussion that you are a part of. This is a way for you to raise your voice and to say something based upon the way you see tings. What is the future that you see?”

Quick Facts and Links:
What: FutureCoast, a game about climate change, rising seas, and the cloud of possible futures.
When: February 5th, 2014
How: Call the FutureCoast hotline, 1-321-7FCOAST (1-321-732-6278), to leave a voicemail from your future, or visit the FutureCoast website to listen to voicemails from the future(s) and create your own playlist of voicemails to share with others.

Other Links:
The FutureCoast YouTube channel
The FutureCoast Twitter
FutureCoast blog
FutureCoat Tumblr
FutureCoast on Soundcloud
FutureCoast Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS


Ed Zed Omega: A Serious Game Visualizing New Approaches to Education

August 17, 2012

“There’s this expression, “zed omega.” It means “so over.” When you go zed omega, you are done.”
–Ed Zed Omega Revealed 

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When it comes to public or private education, everyone has an experience, everyone has a story, and everyone has an opinion. The internet is rife with pointed discussions about the problems in education, and full of suggestions on how to solve them. While education issues vary broadly from state to state and nation to nation, they share at least one commonality: solutions tend to be easy to propose but difficult to implement. Education reform is an ongoing conversation amongst government officials, educators, and the public, and conversations between these groups are often politically charged and riddled with miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Andi McDaniel and Ken Eklund have brought something new to the conversation about education with their freshly-launched project, Ed Zed Omega. The project focuses on a set of voices that often gets lost in the cacophony that pervades the education discussion: the voices of those most directly affected by our education systems, the people currently subject to the state of “being educated.” Ed Zed Omega features the stories of six fictional teens who have decided that they are done with education, and that they’re not going back. Their guidance counselor, Mary Johnson, has convinced them to use the time they would have spent in school to complete one more assignment, exploring solutions to the problems they perceive in education. Ed Zed Omega launched on August 15, 2012 and will run through November 15, 2012 to follow their journey.

Several people and organizations are involved in the creation of Ed Zed Omega. The Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) put out a call to producers working on innovative storytelling through their Localore initiative. Ken Eklund and Andi McDaniel were matched up through Localore to create a proposal for one of ten projects to be featured by AIR/Localore. The project is funded through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPC) and presented by Twin Cities Public Television (TPT).

Eklund is no stranger to interactive narratives and serious games. In 2007, he created World Without Oil, the award-winning alternate reality game that jump-started a conversation about a near-future crisis where oil was in short supply. McDaniel is an interactive media producer for TPT, and her work in photography, print, radio and video span a wide range of topics and themes. When the pair first got together to start discussing their proposal, they didn’t know that the focus would be education. However, TPT had historically done programming for kids and parents, as well as several documentaries on education. The subject of the high school dropout rate came up – 1.2 million kids dropping out of school every year for myriad reasons – and Eklund and McDaniel recognized the narrative power of teens who have disengaged with the education system. They envisioned the Zed Omegas, teens who feel let down by education and who want to try something different. They call it “dropping out loud.”

Ed Zed Omega focuses on the specific stories of six teens. Edwina, Nicole, Xavier, Lizabeth, Clare and Jeremy each have a different reason for wanting to drop out of high school and go their own way. They call themselves the Zed Omegas – totally done with high school and reluctant to re-enter the education system as the summer draws to a close. Their guidance counselor, Mary Johnson, identified them as “at risk” teens and, rather than trying to convince them they are wrong to drop out, she is trying to re-engage them with a self-directed study on education. She is aided by homeschooled teen Nora Rose Melendy, along with Alan Greye and Zephyr Yilmaz who keep the Ed Zed Omega website up and running. August 15 is the day they don’t return from their summer vacations, and when their exploration of education begins.

The Ed Zed Omega audience can interact with these teens and their support system through a wide variety of social media while following along with their progress in addressing the problems of education and as they deal with the consequences of dropping out of school. The audience is invited to influence and become part of the Ed Zed Omega story through sharing their thoughts, opinions, and experiences with the Zed Omegas. The game’s website makes it easy to follow the story using a Tumblr format with snapshots of character activity across the social media landscape.

Often, the response to teens expressing a wish to drop out is patronizing or diminishing. You don’t want to do that. You’ll ruin your life. You don’t have a future without an education. You’re too young to make this decision. These responses ignore completely the problems and circumstances hundreds of thousands of teens in schools across the U.S. face on a daily basis. These problems include harassment and bullying, poverty, disability, boredom and lack of a challenging curriculum, or the need to care for family members: problems that often seem solvable only by disconnecting from traditional schooling.  Rather than looking at “dropping out” as a negative action, through the narrative of these teens the Ed Zed Omega project proposes to create a space where it is safe for teens to question the education imperatives that they face and to perhaps create a vision of a better education system. Ed Zed Omega invites teens, educators, parents, legislators, and the public to examine education systems that have developed a deep-rooted conflict between the student and the procedure of learning. The story seeks to explore a traditional education system that has grown so large and so mechanical that individual instruction has been put aside in favor of institutional organization, leaving little room to accommodate the personal circumstances of many children and teens.

“We want to be hearing from kids, to tell the stories that might not otherwise be told,” Eklund said, as I listened to him discuss Ed Zed Omega with McDaniel in a phone interview last week.

“We don’t have an agenda,” McDaniel added. “It’s not about talking kids out of dropping out. We want to hear about what’s wrong, and we want to hear about what’s right.”

McDaniel explained that, to her, the number of kids dropping out every year is not nearly as haunting as the number of kids that might still attend school but are disengaged from their learning environment. McDaniel sees the premise of a promising, bright student spending years not being engaged in their learning environment as incredibly sad.

I learned from Eklund and McDaniel that they did not develop Ed Zed Omega‘s characters: rather, the characters emerged from the actors and actresses selected to play the assorted roles in the story world. The casting call for Ed Zed Omega brought out 40 participants who were asked to take video cameras and interview each other about their education experiences. Everyone who showed up had a story to share about their experience with education. Listening to those stories resonated with Eklund and McDaniel. “We came away feeling like we were on to something, that we had a finger on the pulse of something.”

Once the choice was made of who would represent the Zed Omegas, Eklund and McDaniel gave the cast free reign to create a character that they could embody through social media. The cast members seem to draw heavily on their own high school experiences, which are not far behind them. The team expressed a hope that the authenticity of these six voices will lead to a strong conversation, as well as making a connection to teens who currently aren’t engaged with their education systems.

As for the story itself, I asked the team how much of the story was scripted and how much of it would grow organically. Eklund responded with a quote from Lawrence of Arabia: “Nothing is written.” The power of this game, Eklund explained, comes from being authentic. “There’s a reason we’ve given the young people we’ve hired so much power over their characters. We don’t want to make judgments. We don’t want to impose our point of view onto their reality. We have to pay attention to the great stuff coming to us . . . embrace it . . . run with it . . . celebrate it.”

I also had a unique opportunity to speak with the characters directly, as a small taste of the highly personalized gameplay created for the coming weeks. From my perspective, a significant part of the power of interactive projects like this comes through the ability to directly address and be addressed by the heroes of the story. It was thrilling to suddenly find myself connected to these teens who had done what in my mind is a very brave thing, saying, we want something more for ourselves. The education system had failed them in some way, and they gave themselves permission to get out, to search for and hope to find another solution.

With that in mind, when the team introduced Ed Zed Omega to the people at TPT, they decided to bring the characters to two meetings about the project as a way to give a tangible example of how it would work and what the characters were trying to express. Clare attended a small meeting, and Jeremy and Nicole attended a larger meeting. The voices and presence of these fictional characters sparked an intense and powerful conversation among the people in the meeting as they responded to the characters and their reasons for dropping out.

“We were astounded at how well they did play these characters but more importantly how much of a conversation steroid it was to have these fictional characters present and how readily these groups completely embraced a fiction as if it was real, down to one person suggesting that Jeremy reach out to her writer friends and gave him their contact information!” McDaniel said.

The initial reaction to the teens’ expressed intent to drop out was the predictable one. The groups “essentially tried to talk the teens out of it. There was a general tone of ‘you’re naive and you shouldn’t be dropping out of school.'” But once the teens left, the conversation about education continued unchecked. “We didn’t have to say anything or monitor the conversation,” Eklund said. “The feeling we had tapped into – to have that happen just by bringing these two characters in – was so powerful.”

The Ed Zed Omega team decided to apply for a grant that would allow them to do more on-the-ground engagement in Minnesota, possibly taking the teens to local high schools to speak with both educators and other teens, as well as creating a safe space for teens to speak out about their perceptions of education. The Zed Omegas themselves serve as a conversational catalyst, a way to draw in multiple viewpoints about various areas of education, what’s working, what’s not working, and what might be done to improve or enhance the experience of learning for those teens who might otherwise have disengaged.

“This is a narrative that makes the process really easy for people,” Eklund said. “This subject can be emotionally charged – if parents have children who are struggling, they want to know more. If they get it from a fictional character, so much the better – they can play with this narrative in a serious way.” He noted that the challenge now is to find ways to evoke that powerful reaction online and to make the experience accessible not just to people who know alternate reality games, but to people who can be deeply affected by the stories that come to them through these characters.

My conversation with characters Xavier and Clare was short but thrilling. I found it easy to relate to both of them, to engage with the fiction and treat them as being completely real. Their voices are authentic – their reality is easy to embrace.

Clare is bright and bubbly and quick to speak. She is thoroughly enthusiastic when talking about her goals and aspirations and no less enthusiastic when she speaks of the Zed Omegas and their semester of self-directed study. She loves acting and is currently torn between a career in film or on Broadway. We chatted for a moment about the tv series “Smash” (a show about the creation and casting of a musical headed for Broadway).

Xavier is a quiet but intense young man who plainly feels a strong responsibility to his younger siblings and to future generations. He hopes to play professional basketball someday and feels frustrated with a high school curriculum that feels largely irrelevant to his goals and needs.

One of the first projects that counselor Mary Johnson gave the Zed Omegas was to write a letter about education to a celebrity of their choice. Xavier chose Denzel Washington, who has previously worked on a series of public service announcements for the Boys and Girls Club of America aimed at decreasing the dropout rate among teens. Clare chose actress Emma Stone, who herself dropped out of high school to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles. I asked them if they had received any answers to their letters. “Not yet,” Clare said brightly. “But, hopefully!”

Xavier and Clare each expressed what they hoped to accomplish through their self-study projects on education.

Clare said, “I’m still unsure about dropping out. I want to, but I’m still open to other people’s ideas about how we can change my own personal education experience.”

“I just want to reach as many kids as we can,” Xavier said, “reach out to the next generation. I’m doing this for my little brothers. I’m just trying to show people the experience of the drop out, and the options you do have as a young man or woman. There’s more to the world than what we’ve been told.”

Just speaking with these characters made me a believer in the power of Ed Zed Omega. I confess that I’m eager to follow all of the conversations these characters will bring to the surface. I can’t wait to see what they discover about themselves as well as about education over the next two months. The fact that everyone has a story to tell about their experience – or maybe even lack of experience – with education seems to indicate that this is a conversation which has been waiting for its time.

Join the Ed Zed Omega conversation by checking out the Ed Zed Omega website, and watch The Zed Omegas on YouTube.


Cease the Grease in the Double Bayou Watershed!

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Chicken spiders?
Grease monsters?

Has Double Bayou been invaded by greasy, oily creepy-crawlies? Not to worry - it’s just the Galveston Bay Foundation’s education and outreach campaign, “Cease the Grease,” which will be now implemented in Double Bayou!

Although our Watershed Protection Plan is not yet complete, we are already thinking about the implementation of measures that will help improve and protect Double Bayou’s stream water quality. Providing stakeholders with resources such as new workshops and outreach programs right away is a big part of our goals as the WPP moves toward completion.

The “Cease the Grease” campaign seeks to inform its audience about the dangers to the environment of improper disposal of fats, oil, and grease (FOG). It may seem easy and harmless to pour the grease from your cooking pots down the drain. However, when FOG enters the pipes, it can cause clogs in the sewer system, which leads to sanitary sewer overflows, which in turn release harmful bacteria into our waterways. It can also mean costly repairs for
property owners. 

“Cease the Grease” will also provide information to the community on how to properly dispose of FOG: Put it in a container and throw it away, or take used cooking oil to a designated recycling station.

Once active, will become a core part of the outreach program, providing information and resources to the community, such as a cooking oil recycling map. 
“Cease the Grease” was developed and implemented by the Dallas Water Utilities and has successfully reduced the monthly occurrence of sanitary sewer overflows there.

How can you get involved in “Cease the Grease?”

The local Galveston Bay community has been instrumental in directing the course of the “Cease the Grease” program here, by participating in workgroups, sharing and promoting new ideas for outreach and education, and passing the message on to friends, co-workers, and neighbors. To become a partner in the “Cease the Grease” program, or to find out about workgroups and other activities in the area, contact Neally Rhea (nrhea@ or Charlene Bohanon (

You’ll be hearing more from us about “Cease the Grease” as implementation continues. In the meantime, remember: Cease the Grease in the Double Bayou watershed!


Double Bayou WPP: Management Measure Spotlight
The Galeston Bay Action Network

In order to help protect Galveston Bay, into which Double Bayou flows, the Galveston Bay Foundation established the Galveston Bay Action Network, an interactive tool through which citizens can report incidents of water pollution in and around Galveston Bay, including its tributaries.

Chemical spills, illegal boat discharges (dumping of untreated human waste), waste dumping, and other activities can pollute water, cause damage to the environment, and upset the delicate ecosystems of the bay. Through GBAN, citizens can “be the eyes on the bay” and alert authorities to deliberate or accidental pollution. According to GBF’s GBAN site, GBAN “is designed to act as a bridge between citizens who care for the safety and health of the Bay and the authorities who can help enforce those qualities.” Reports filed through the interactive system are sent directly to the correct authorities.

To file a report, citizens can go to the website: There, they can click the button marked “Log in to file a report.” From there, they can log in as a one-time guest, or create an account. Once logged in, they can click the “Report Pollution” button and fill out the report form.

To be effective, reports should include the following information:
Correct location
Smells, colors and textures of substance
Area of land or water that substance covers
Name or identification of any vehicle, vessel, or building
Type/quantity of animals involved
Potential source, if known

The report may optionally include contact info and photos or video. Examples can be found in the section called “Writing a report.”

A map and a list are also available for viewing other pollution reports (click on the map and then one of the pins marking the location of an incident). Examples of types of incidents include: discolored water, fish kills, septic systems, trash and debris, abandoned vessels, pet waste, storm drains, chemicals, oil or sheen, and algal blooms.

Any questions or comments to the Galveston Bay Action Network web application can be directed to Sarah Gossett at or 281-332-3381 extension 217.