‘Now what?’

Fresh from their graduate studies, the three co-founders of ioby were excited to change the world. Or at least make it a more beautiful place to live.

But when they moved to New York City, they were dismayed. ‘Green’ initiatives seemed within the purview of the wealthy and educated. This segment had high-minded goals and resources—but no real plan for change. Instead, real change—the kind that watches over streets, sidewalks, trees and tiny urban farms—slipped under the radar. That kind of small, everyday change wasn’t branded ‘green’ at all—by anyone. It was invisible.

“We know people care about the environment, but their most prominent option is to purchase something. Buying a table or a new light bulb leaves a lot of people thinking, ‘Now what?’ They are hungry to get their hands dirty,” says ioby co-founder Erin Barnes.

Going local

That’s when Erin, Brandon Whitney and Cassie Flynn teamed up and took action. Having studied water conservation, climate change and community resources at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the three friends knew that the face of change could be powerful and actionable, meaningful and, most importantly, local.

They prepared to accomplish real change—not in a rainforest, or an ocean. Instead, their focus is on bringing sunlight, open space, fresh food and greenery “in our backyards.”

And so: ioby was born. ioby connects people and money to site-based projects. All of these projects are conceived, designed, and run by neighbors—which ensures community buy-in, long-term caretakers and daily reminders of what’s been achieved.

Successful projects are then magnified, so they can benefit other neighborhoods—and the positive impact can ripple throughout the city. ioby is about having a stake in the game, engaging with others while you do so, and seeing and living with the end result.

Erin, Brandon and Cassie are still intent on changing the world. One block at a time.


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