Vizzing for Social Good

Last week we finally had our first Viz For Social Good Amsterdam local chapter meetup and it was, well at least I though, fantastic! The positive energy, feedback and the crowd that lingered behind makes me believe that I was not the only person that felt this way.

The event:

The event was wonderful, if I do say so myself. This was the first local chapter installment of Viz for Social Good in Amsterdam and was run in conjunction with Data Plus Women NL. We ran a mini hackathon, which also included a training session for those who are new to Tableau.

We started with an introduction to the Viz for Social Good project as a whole, Chloe’s inspiration and how this community project has grown from a one woman operation to an award winning venture with its own board and chapter leaders in APAC, EMEA and North America, all centered around people harnessing the power of data visualization for social change. We then introduced the charity and explained how to take part in the project, all outlined here, if you are interested.

The charity we worked with for this small hackathon, was Kiron, a Berlin based NGO that helps refugees get a better education, with the aim of making them more ready for the job market and increasing integration (click here to find out more about Kiron).

The one lesson that stood out to me from the last mini hackathons, was that, while we encourage people with all levels of data viz skills (and all tools) to come along and take part, sometime, we forget that, that range of level of skill also means, there will be some attendees, who are new to Tableau. As a data community advocate, I decided, it was time to do something about this, and so we would also have a training session.

The training:

I happened to mention in our Data Plus Women planning, that I would like to have a Tableau training session as part of this hackathon. Not realizing that the angel that is Rachel Costa, would come and completely blow all of my expectations out of the water. I was thinking, quick demo, show them how to make a few charts, but Rachel, she had bigger and better plans.

Rachel used the Kiron data, to create a nice simple data viz. She then used the hour or so that we had for the hackathon, to walk our three newbies to Tableau, how to make each chart and bring them together into a dashboard. I love this, because, well at least I hope, while those not so new at Tableau were able to chat and throw ideas around, those that were new, also were able to come out of the session with a real tangible result. I am so warmed by the thought that this event really was able to provide a platform for anyone at any level of data viz, to take part in a project like Viz for Social Good and have everyone feel like they can be involved and useful.

My thoughts:

While what we do to help different NGOs can be a game changer for the NGO, what I found really important here was the community fostering. Some people can make fantastic data visualization with what seems like very little effort and no pushing. In our session the skill levels ranged from Alteryx Ace and Iron Viz finalists all the way to data viz newbies. I am not one of those people that find it so easy to create a stunning viz and so I find it very important to surround myself with driven people, who I can learn from, who encourage me and push me to be better at what I do. By bringing all these people and skill levels together, by helping people find this community of like minds, I hope we will inspire more people to want to help out our Viz For Social Good cause.

If I’m honest, the excitement and collaboration of the data viz community was something I have been missing since moving to The Netherlands (aside from when I went to the Tableau Conference Europe). This event, is the first time that I felt this community, this #datafam feeling here in Amsterdam, and I really hope that this is something we can grow!

My advice for future VfSG social vizzing session holders:

1. Relax, you’re doing something awesome, for an institution that helps people less fortunate and for a community of eager data visualizers. Nothing needs to be perfect, having a good time and making people feel welcome, engaged. Sparking an interest is what matters here.

2. If you can have a hands on training session, I would highly recommend it!

3. If it’s your first session, keep the event small. 20 people or less. And keep the setting informal.

4. Reach out. Any one of your VfSG board members and local chapter leaders will be more than happy to lend a helping hand, or moral support or answer any questions you may have.

Closing thoughts:

This event would not have been possible without the fantastic team I work with at Data Plus Women NL. I could not organize this without Emma Pavan, and Rachel Costa completely transformed the event with her Tableau training session. Maryse Monen did a great job of getting the event seen on twitter. Our ground crew Jess, Aline and Chris did a great job.

I hope that with this mini hackathon, we got a few more people on board on the #VizForSocialGood project and I hope to see some submissions pop up on twitter soon. The deadline for the Kiron project is not until July the 31st, so we have plenty of time to continue to help out with this worthy cause!


For last week’s #MakeoverMonday the topic was land used for the production a single gram of protein for different food types. While my mission to try a new Tableau feature continues, I chose transparent charts this week, which, at least I think, is befitting to the topic, as this data visualization aims to create some transparency in what the real cost of our food is.

The environment is a very prevalent issue on my mind. Admittedly I’m not the biggest advocate, but I try to do my part. It is for this reason that I found this topic so interesting. But of course, the fact that over 68% of land usage goes to the rearing of cattle, lead me to other questions, such as, what is the usage of other resources, like water, and how does this relate to what we actually pay for our produce?

What I saw, by comparing a few different data set, all from, is that, of the food produces measured, beef has the lowest value for money. It also uses the highest amount of land for the production of one single gram of protein. In addition to this, it has one of the highest usage of water for the production of that one gram of protein, this probably also has to do with the irrigation of the fields that the cows graze on. So, not only does beef cost the most from our wallets, it also has an extremely high cost to the planet. For the meat lovers, pork and chicken are more sustainable, while fruit and vegetables may use up quite a bit more water, all in all, they are a more earth friendly option.

Transparency – of course, I chose the simplest of simple new Tableau tricks for this week. And once I figured out where to click, it really was super simple. It’s just a matter of selecting the chart you’d like to make transparent, right licking, selecting the format options from the data pane, selecting the pain bucket and changing the worksheet colour to ‘None’. And now you have a chart with your image as the background!


And of course, here is the viz if you would like to explore. Clicking on the image will take you to the Tableau Public Link.

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 22.36.50

Happy Holidays!

Testing… Testing … 1 2 3 …

So, it’s been quite some time since my last blog post and A LOT has changed!

In March I finished my journey through the Data School, and my my, what a journey it was. I can’t even explain how much I learned about data viz and about myself. If ever you feel like you want a change in your life or to grow into data viz, I can not recommend joining The Data School at The Information Lab enough.

I’ve since moved back to The Netherlands after 12 years and am crazy happy to be near my family again. I’ve started a position at adidas and I’m loving it, except that they have decided to drop Tableau.

So, I’m on a mission to keep on top of my Tableau game, which, quite frankly is lacking right now. The plan, is to help organize the local chapters of Viz for Social Good and Tiny Tableau Talks in Amsterdam. On the smaller scale and to keep learning, I’ll try to take part in Makeover Monday more, so I can attempt to keep up with all the great new features Tableau has and to try to build charts I haven’t made before.

To kick off the new regime, here is the MM I did last week. Since I haven’t been able to use the new features in Tableau much, here is my first go at a stepped line chart 🙂


Social Good

Putting the ‘Social’ in #VizforSocialGood

cropped and filtered

A little while ago, I gave a talk at the Tiny Tableau Talks organised by Emma Kosh. Here I had the opportunity to share with other Tableau users my appreciation for the Tableau community and the projects that I have taken part in that mean the most to me. I talked about Chloe Tseng’s #VizforSocialGood project and  the Tableau Public #VizforSocialGood vs. Hacking Open Data Initiative hackathon, for which I was the the lead of Team Climate Change.

I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback I received and the questions and interest around the Data School and the #VizforSocialGood project. By far the best question was from Alina Cristea, who essentially asked me, if people meet up to work on the project together. My answer to this was, ‘not yet, but we most definitely should!’

So I chatted to Chloe and set about planning an evening where people could get together and put the ‘Social’ into #VizforsocialGood. And what a success it was! A team of attendees of the Tableau User Group and members of the Data School came together on a Tuesday evening to put their vizzing skills to good use, helping a London based project called May Project Gardens. The project  aims to educate and empower young people to be healthy, entrepreneurial and grow their communities. An idea I can fully get behind! Our part was to visualise survey data on how participants felt about the programs they put on.

Here is the viz I submitted for the #VizforSoacialGood project: #VfSG MPG.png

Huge, HUGE thank you to Tom Brown and The Information Lab for hosting and for sponsoring out pizza! It wouldn’t be any kind of Tableau get together without pizza!

Also thank you to Tableau Public, who gave us some freebies… which I forgot and will bring to the next event…. Fingers crossed there will be another session, that people enjoyed the social vizzing and the vizzing to help as much as I did.

And just before I say goodbye, check out some of the other fantastic entries by my fellow Data Schoolers (click the thumbnails for links to the vizzes):

Anna Noble:


Pablo Saenz de Tejada:


Nicco Cirone:


In case you’d like any more information on the things I’ve covered:

Bump Charts

How to make a bump chart in Tableau (with a side of politics)


Finished product


Recently the Netherlands held their general elections. This was a tense time of year for me, having watched the UK vote to leave the EU and seeing Trump become president. Maybe I’m a bit of a hippie or an idealist, but I am not very much a fan of the current popular xenophobic opinions. Sure, the world is going through some uncertain times, but wouldn’t it be better if we just worked together?

I thought I’d have a look to see how the political climate has changed in The Netherlands over time. The results I found still a little alarming, the, what some may call the “racist” PVV party, has gone up in rankings, but luckily, has not reached the top!

Enough of that, it’s time to viz. So what I wanted to do with my viz, was see how each of the political parties ranked over the years. I got my data from the almighty Wikipedia. They have a page for each election year, showing how many seats each party has won. I copied and pasted these into an excel file. Simples!

Now to make the bump chart:

  1. Bring the measure (or dimensions) you want to splits your ranks by (in my case the year) to columns as a discrete field.
  2. Bring the field containing the members you want to rank to colours. In my case this is the ‘Party’.

steps 1 and 2

  1. To apply the ranking, you will need to create a calculated field for the measure you want to rank. To do this I’ve used the Rank Unique function.


Step 3

  1. Bring this new rank field to the rows shelf. This will look a little messy to start with.
  2. You now need to change the ‘Compute Using’ to your dimension of choice, which for me is ‘Party’. In case you aren’t sure how to do this, click on the triangle on the right-hand side of your rank pill and select, compute using, then your field.

step 4

  1. Almost there! To create the “bumps” you will need to make this a dual axis chart and change one of your marks to a circle. Done!


step 6

  1. Format etc. to your liking!

See the final viz here!

#VizForSocialGood: UNICEF Refugee Crisis

I wish I could be the person who can actually fix the world, but I’m not. I’m not a world leader and my voice is not the loudest. What I can do, is make vizzes. I can play my tiny part by helping to inform people on the issues that affect our world.

It was my personal New Year’s resolution to make more vizzes on issues that are important to me and have more meaning. Mostly really so I can learn more about them. But as luck would have it I stumbled upon a post on twitter from @TableauPublic encouraging people to join the conversation on what their #DataResolutions were. So naturally I joined the conversation and almost instantly got contacted by @datachloe who told me about her #VizForSocialGood project (find out more at!

The first project I participated in was on a data set provided by UNICEF, describing the flow of refugees from 2005 to 2015. Here is my attempt at putting together a viz about it.

dashboard-imageClicking on the image will take you to the viz.

I hope to continue contributing to this project while getting better at finding and telling stories with data and most of all opening eyes to issues that affect our world, our planet and our people.