Register for “Unblight”: A community unconference on housing data, August 14-15

An image of a vacant lot in the Bronx. Sign design by Partner & Partners, printing by SmartSign. Photo by 596 Acres.

Vacant lot in the Bronx, labelled with parcel identifying info and agency that has jurisdiction over the land by the 596 Acres’ NYC Community Land Access Project. Graphic design by Partner & Partners, printing by SmartSign. Image credit: 596 Acres.

Earlier this year, we asked you in a survey, what topics you would like to discuss at a national community unconference on housing and property data and many of you responded with tremendous interest and several suggestions.

We received some great feedback from more than 50 housing and property data experts and enthusiasts from all over the country. These included folks who are working hard to transform city-owned vacant land into shared community spaces, and others who have built open housing data tools for vacant lots and added them to toolkits for local advocacy organizations.

Your response to our survey helped us gauge potential participants’ availability and  enabled us to choose a date for the Unblight Unconference.

We’re now happy to announce that Sunlight Foundation together with the Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ) at Mercer University will be hosting Unblight: a national community unconference on housing and property data on August 14-15 in Macon, Ga.

Unblight will bring together community advocates, technologists, journalists, policy makers and students interested in exchanging ideas and sharing lessons about combating blight and repurposing abandoned parts of our cities.

To register for the Unblight unconference and more information, please visit the registration page.

WHAT: Unblight Unconference

WHERE: Mercer University, Macon, GA

WHEN: August 14-15

Unblight will be an unstructured conference where participants will determine the agenda by proposing session ideas or topics of housing issues they care about the most. We will then complete the agenda on the day of (based on the ideas submitted by the participants).

One of the top themes that emerged in the responses to our survey was that the public wants to be part of the efforts aimed at fixing the blight problem and other housing-related issues. Other top issues included abandoned lots, public engagement, mapping and visualization, foreclosure prevention, policy and housing data collection

Sunlight Foundation is inspired by the concept of empowering people to use publicly available open government data such as housing data to find solutions to real-life problems such as blight. The Center for Collaborative Journalism, a unique partnership between Mercer University, the Telegraph and Georgia Public Radio is committed to transforming Macon through innovative reporting and solution driven journalism.

Together, Sunlight and CCJ will bring together experts, practitioners and affected communities to share experiences and collaborate on how to access existing housing data, crowdsource information, develop innovative tools, utilize legal remedies, encourage citizen engagement, advance journalistic reporting and other resources to help reverse the effects of blight, vacant lots and other housing ailments in neighborhoods across the nation.

Partners and sponsors

We are also reaching out to organizations who are interested in either becoming participating partners or sponsors for the unconference. As a participating partner, you will be helping out with promotion and publicity of the event to your networks. And as a sponsor, your assistance in dollar amount will help ensure that the conference runs smoothly. In return, we will receive acknowledgement for your support. Let us know in either the comments or the email below. Please see this sponsorship and partnership document on more information on how you can help.


Also, if you would like to come to the unconference and need a little help getting there, we may be able to offer some limited scholarship opportunities to help with travel and accommodation costs. Apply for an Unblight Unconference here.

You can also email us at

Don’t forget to share with your networks on Twitter using #UnblightUnconf