All posts by ioby

Brooklyn, Be Mine? The Bushwick Co-op

With February 14th in mind, ExchangeMyPhone has written this Valentine series for Ioby highlighting a handful of people and organizations that perform labors of love for the borough’s wellbeing. ExchangeMyPhone is a website for anyone to sell (or recycle) their old phones and their blog is full of local, and global, green innovation stories.

The Bushwick Co-Op: It isn’t easy being green

In neighborhoods like Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Park Slope food co-ops are well established and doing great things to supply their communities with fresh, locally grown food.  But in other, less affluent Brooklyn neighborhoods these types of organizations are struggling to get off the ground, or perhaps better said, struggling to break ground.  As of 2009, this is just the lesson a small group of Bushwick community members has learned first hand.  But with much enthusiasm, and even more dedication, the organization has moved into its third year more determined than ever to prove that local, affordable access to food is not an unrealistic expectation.  

As the group says on their website, they are currently more of a buying club than a proper co-op but hope to be relocating into a permanent storefront later this year.  The Buying Club for now acts as a foundation to bolster fiscal support (a small percentage of profits go towards co-op operations) and build a foundation of members so that the storefront will be a sustainable and fully functional fixture in the community.  The Bushwick Co-Op Buying Club is currently providing 150 member households with organic food at wholesale prices.  These individuals are part of a tight knit group and dedicate four hours every four weeks to the operations of the organization; placing orders, making food deliveries, fundraising, recruiting new members, and contributing new ideas at their monthly meetings.  

The Bushwick Co-Op purchases their products from four primary sources: the Brooklyn Roasting Company (that provides delicious, locally roasted coffee beans), Cayuga Pure Organics (an upstate grain farm), the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (where hormone-free meat and dairy products are purchased) and Abner Lapp’s Clearview Farm.  Personal relationships with the food sources are a priority for the Bushwich Co-op and the Sourcing Committee takes this very seriously.  They even spent a recent weekend with Abner Lapp and his family in Pennsylvania! All members had a wonderful time lending a hand with the milking, seeing the free-range chickens run about in their natural habitat, and enjoying the best raw dairy and the freshest meat in the farm’s pastoral setting.  They even returned bearing Amish potatoes chips, which, needless to say, sold out immediately. 

Brooklyn, Be Mine? A Guest Blog Series from ExchangeMyPhone

With February 14th in mind, ExchangeMyPhone has written this Valentine series for ioby highlighting a handful of people and organizations that perform labors of love for the borough’s wellbeing. ExchangeMyPhone is a website for anyone to sell (or recycle) their old phones and their blog is full of local, and global, green innovation stories.

What’s Cookin' in Brooklyn

Like many fresh-out-of-school twenty-somethings Chrissy’s friends didn’t know their way around a kitchen. “It was shocking to me” the Brooklyn transplant says, “that there are people who don't known cooking basics, and I wanted to help them learn without it costing an arm and a leg or using complicated terminology, techniques, and ingredients.”
And so, Chrissy’s Cooking Club was born, the newbie non-profit that focuses on cooking from scratch with locally farmed food to show people how to use the produce available in their neighborhood and demystify the terrors of the kitchen.
These days you can often find Chrissy at the Bushwick Farmer’s market or the Campus High School, where she does live cooking demos and sells full-portioned meals to the public.  Seeing her or her volunteers whip up something delicious on the spot takes all the intimidation out of cooking, and whenever possible they let people get their hands in on the process too.  “To me,” says Chrissy, “It's always better when someone can experience how easy it is to cook than to have me just stand around extolling the nutritional virtues of a dish.” Though she was never formally trained as a chef, Chrissy learned the traditions of nutrition from her mother and, fittingly enough, her biggest audience seems to be mothers who visit the market each week to copy down the recipe and make that dish for their families. “My greatest pleasure comes from them,” says Chrissy. “That’s my true love! Knowing that I can make a difference in something as fundamental as what people choose to eat and feed their family.”

Right now, the Cooking Club is looking forward to the spring (and all the fresh produce!) as well as hunting for spaces to host cooking workshops.  “Our demand in 2011 was just so astonishing I am hoping we can get more volunteers, programs, and workshops in the upcoming year.
If you're interested in helping out as a volunteer, making a donation, or have a place they could host a workshops, please contact Chrissy directly at .

Awesome Project: The Mudtrails of Manhattan

A thirty-minute subway ride from downtown Manhattan, at the very northern end of the island in Washington Heights, is Highbridge Park. Like most New York City neighborhoods, Washington Heights has its fair share of bodegas, barbershops, and restaurants. But Highbridge Park’s crowning glory, Ft. George Hill, makes this neighborhood different. A rugged mass rising directly to the right of the subway exit, the hill is home to the only mountain bike trails in Manhattan—winding, two-foot wide paths through a forest, over knotted logs, up and down mossy boulders, and beyond what you thought you knew about New York City’s parks.
Before Highbridge Park was a mountain-biker favorite, it was a mess. The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), a non-profit that evaluated the condition of the park in 2005, noted that it had been “a refuge for drug dealing, prostitution, and illegal dumping.” The joint efforts of the Regional Trails Program, the New York City Mountain Bike Association (NYCMTB), and IMBA resulted in the park’s transformation, removing several truckloads of trash and over 1,200 hypodermic needles during the process.
None of this would have been possible without the advocacy efforts of IMBA, the co-founders of the NYCMTB, Dawson Smith and Jamie Bogner, and Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists (CLIMB). The combined activism of these groups convinced the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to allow the trails to be built, marking the first time since 1991 that bikes were allowed off-road in the city’s parks. The design included some beginner trails, a number of intermediate and advanced trails, and a BMX dirt jump course.
The amount of advanced trails outweighs beginner trails, however, leaving less options for novice riders to practice the sport. The only other two mountain bike parks in New York, each of which offer more beginner trails, are located far away from Manhattan. Creating more trails and improving existing ones in Highbridge Park could make cycling—especially mountain biking—more accessible in New York City.
Dawson Smith, 44, co-founder of NYCMTB and one of the original advocates for trails in Highbridge Park in 2005, is currently heading a project to do just that. “There are a lot of mountain bikers in the city, actually,” said Smith. “The funny thing is that the majority of them leave the city to go ride. We want to give them the option to ride for long periods of time in the city that they would get from riding areas outside of the city.”
But Highbridge Park is a long way away from reaching its full potential. The area is littered with beer cans, plastic bags, coffee cups, graffiti, construction tarps from a nearby work site, and enough broken glass to make any cyclist cringe. This trash is often discarded when pedestrians forgo the sidewalk at the edge of the park for a more direct route between Dyckman St, Ft. George Hill, and Ft. George Ave. What’s more, the frequent of passage of people through the bike park has contributed to the erosion of the hill and a deterioration of the trails that the NYCMTB fought so hard to create just eight years ago.
Thankfully, the NYCMTB is only $1,610 away from being able to actively engage both the park and the community by building new trails. These trails will offer more beginner-level courses for young New Yorkers looking to start mountain biking, while the more advanced courses will continue to challenge more experienced riders and provide serious aerobic activity. NYCMTB will also offer instructional courses teaching the basics of mountain biking and the importance of exercise to local youth. “There’s a lot of interest from the kids, as well as parents,” added Smith. “We want it to be a local place that kids can go and enjoy programs where they can spend a small portion of their day just exercising.” This comes at a time when childhood obesity across the U.S. is at an all time high.
Encouraging kids to be more active is important, but this project is about more than just biking. It’s about instilling an interest in park stewardship in the local youth groups that will help build the trails. Working alongside professionals, these kids will learn erosion control techniques and will be proud of the park that they built with their own hands.
The story of Highbridge Park, albeit incomplete, is a point of pride for neighborhood residents who are used to seeing the park as a haven for crime, not for recreation. “People are happy to know that there’s a positive use going on in this section of the park,” notes Smith. “All it needs is some positive to drive out the negative.” The group is currently awaiting approval of the course design and for proper funding to break ground. You can help here.

Meet Vision. Meet David Bragdon.

David Bragdon, Director of Long Term Planning and Sustainability for the City of New York, talks about the importance of big visions and small actors in his native NYC, and moving beyond regulatory convention to promote the common good.

I’m from New York City. I was born in New York Hospital and lived there until I was about five years old. Then we moved to Chelsea and I lived there until I was twelve.
Then I went away for 39 years. I came back in the fall of 2010. Now I live on the edge of Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn.
As a little kid, Central Park was a big part of my life. We lived between First and Second Avenue, but we would walk to the park just about every day. It was a feature of most afternoons of my life.
It’s hard to find a spot in New York City that’s overlooked by other people. But every individual has a different experience of a common space. You can have multiple experiences of a singular place.
My sentimental favorite spot in the city isn’t really a spot. It’s the ride between Whitehall Street and St. George on the ferry because of the air, the wind, the water, and the view of all the different surrounding shorelines and skylines. It’s a combination of what the natural setting is and what the built environment is.
I’ve always just been interested in how things move around. My dad would take me to school on the 2nd avenue bus and we kept a journal listing every bus we rode. Every single day we would write down which bus it was. It was the same route but we would write down the number of the bus. We had pages and pages. I’ve always been interested in how cities work.
New York has a history of bold visionary plans. The Dutch had a plan for a global trading network in the 16th and 17th centuries. Or you think about the commissioner’s plan for the grid network in the early 19th century. Then there were Robert Moses’ plans in the mid-twentieth century. And a lot of different smaller project plans: Forest Hills, Lincoln Center, and others.
New York’s success is a combination of these big intentional projects and lots random factors — the organic forms of growth that come from individuals.
I see my job as defining those bigger visions—investing in the larger long term infrastructure needs of the city—and simultaneously fostering an atmosphere where the smaller, organic stuff happens a block at a time. That is, enabling people to do the stuff that really makes the city great
So how do we as a government enable that to happen? The levers aren’t in our hands. It’s really up to the ingenuity and initiative of the people who live here.
I think that one recipe for change is to unleash a lot of individual as well as collective random genius and innovation. That really can just come out of nowhere. For individuals, the first steps are to figure out what you’re interested in and what needs to get done.
Traditionally, the government regulates stuff and funds stuff. The government builds stuff and taxes stuff. This influence over all of these things is immediate and direct. You regulate some things, and you don’t regulate others. If you fund roads and you don’t fund subways this is what you get. If you tax consumption, you get less consumption. If you tax saving, you get less saving.
To me, the challenge now in government is about how to look past this. How do you supplement the traditional things that government does — regulation and taxation and funding — and think about how can government also be a convener and a coach? How can the government be an inspiration in terms of its personal behaviors or development practices or lifestyle? How do you work with other people to make good things happen? This is different from a purely regulatory approach that just prevents bad things from happening. Regulation is really important, you have to keep doing that, but if you want to do more than just prevent bad things form happening, you have to do more than regulate…you have to help cause good things to happen.
Livability is about professional opportunities, and being able to support yourself and have a good career. But also, using the fruits of that to have a really vibrant cultural environment and good public services. And the ability to get around. The feeling of safety on the streets. It includes some connection to nature as well.
I like to walk. I mean, I’m a big transit rider too, but I like to be able to walk places. I’m just a city kid I guess. I’m not a nature boy at all, even though I can appreciate that. I’ve probably slept outside maybe two or three times in my life.
Environmentalism is actually an extension of being a good neighbor. Environmental stewardship that springs from somebody caring about their immediate surroundings is a very important motivator. You try to expand the concentric rings form there, like, ‘Oh okay I care about my block,’ well ultimately you have to care about the glaciers melting. But starting by caring about your block is a more meaningful place to start rather than some abstraction.
There’s this myth that says ‘Oh, New Yorkers don’t care about nature or the environment.’ I just think that they probably define it somewhat differently. But I think that there’s actually a very strong sentiment here. There is a core of people that are really dedicated on those issues. I’ve been inspired — having been back in New York for the last six months — by just how widespread the commitment to natural restoration and environmental stewardship is in the densest city in the country. There are people who are very dedicated to nature and to restoration, and to water quality, things that people would have thought of was sort of beyond hope, twenty or thirty years ago.
There’s currently a lot of vocal backlash about biking. I think there are real challenges to biking in New York, particularly because of the way the streets are designed to the 20th century standard. But I actually think underlying all of that there is a lot of potential for biking here. I don’t know if it will ever be the 35% road share of Copenhagen, but, you know, we’re a relatively dense city, a lot of the city has a grid system, and it’s fairly flat. We have a fairly vigorous population that does a lot of walking. New York is far more conducive to biking than most people realize. If it were safer and more accessible to the average person, I think we would be surprised at how much rider-ship there would be. But I think we have to give it a chance, and we have to really, really work at it.
Another part of my vision is about the restoration of some of the natural function of the Gowanus creek. The restoration of and connection to rivers, and inlets and creeks, is a very compelling vision to me.
I wake up before my alarm goes off. It’s just the energy of New York, I think. Looking at the skyline or looking at the river. I just find it a very motivating. There’s something about having been born here and having been a kid here, and just feeling like it’s a really important place. It’s really one of a kind. It’s hard to talk about without resorting to clichés. But it’s true if you can do something here…if you can change things here, there’s a national or international implication for whatever lessons could be learned. That’s probably some variation of that Frank Sinatra song — trying to state it without plagiarism, or without rhyming.



Video for Volunteers 101 – Feb 28, 2012 register now!


Video is something everyone can use as a tool to create social change. Video for Volunteers 101 is designed to get you started creating video content that you can use to build awareness, raise funds and tell the world all about the great work you’ve undertaken. We’ll cover basic concepts of video creation, guidelines for planning your video, the fundamentals of shooting and strategies for editing your piece. Our goal is to put the power of video in your hands.
Training is done in partnership with ioby and Good Eye Video. Good Eye Video is a video production company for non-profits. They produce, educate and strategize with organizations trying to tell their stories. They believe in the radical idea that every human being has a story that can change the world. They believe video can make it happen. ioby thinks they’re right.  RSVP here, please.


Seeking New Old Computers for ioby Staff

This sad looking iMac G4 (reminiscent of the Pixar lamp) has provided ioby with many a Word Document, but the time has come for this computer to be put out to pasture. We are seeking mild-mannered, young to middle-aged professional computers willing to work with the ioby staff and our four new interns. We are patient, somewhat clean, and willing to eat and drink far away from any donated electronics. No cats. Mouse Friendly.

By providing ioby your old electronics you are not only keeping your computer out of the e-waste stream, but generously giving an intern the chance to blog, tweet, facebook, and, most importantly, file data/advocate for change.

​Give us a call at 917-464-4515 or email if you've got an old computer you'd like to donate.

Micro-Funding Platform Teams up with Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation to stimulate green projects at NYC Community Development Corporations


January 23, 2012
For Immediate Release


Erin Barnes
Executive Director,
917-464-4515 x2 o
203-606-7710 c

Betsy MacLean
Director of Community Development
Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation
718-647-2800 x107

Micro-Funding Platform Teams up with Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation to stimulate green projects at NYC Community Development Corporations

A New Farm in Cypress Hills/East New York and Gowanus Green Wayfinding Project
Take the Lead in Initiating Crowd-Funding Match

New York, NY – ioby, the only online micro-funding platform designed to promote civic environmental projects in cities, announces a new match campaign for all projects led by Community Development Corporations (CDCs) in NYC.  Deutsche Bank is the first leading global investment bank to support by providing a matching grant to stimulate green projects at NYC Community Development Corporations.    

“Any New Yorker can post their project on ioby, but we have a special interest in supporting the ideas and initiatives of New Yorkers in neighborhoods that have a greater burden of environmental problems and fewer resources to address them,” says Erin Barnes, executive director and co-founder of ioby. “With Deutsche Bank’s match for CDC-led projects, we have a special opportunity to work with an existing infrastructure in neighborhoods like this.”

In New York City, CDCs are not-for-profits that work to address problems of social, economic, and physical distress in the low and moderate-income communities in which they are based. Their fundamental mission is to build community leadership and empower low-income people to take charge of their future.

“CDCs bring a comprehensive point of view to neighborhood development, and in many neighborhoods, they are playing a leading role engaging their constituents in local environmental issues,” says Sam Marks, Vice President, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.  “We were compelled by the notion that ioby could provide a platform to allow CDCs to take advantage of grassroots crowd-resourcing for block-level sustainability projects aligned with their broader community visions.”

Leading off this match campaign are two innovative projects. First, the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC), as part of their community-wide sustainability initiative, Cypress Hills Verde, is raising $5,940 for an urban farm in the East New York/Cypress Hills neighborhood of Brooklyn. The project – Pollos Del Pueblo – will transform an overgrown, City-owned vacant lot into a community resource with a chicken coop, a chicken run, storage shed and community compost station.

“East New York/Cypress Hills is a food desert. Fresh, nutritious food is hard, if not impossible to come by out here. The result is a devastating health crisis where a third of adults are obese and 19% have diabetes. Additionally, more than half of residents live below the poverty line, unemployment is a high 19% and more than 80% of students qualify for free lunch,” says Betsy MacLean, Director of Community Development, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation. “At the same time, demand for fresh, nutritious, affordable food is overwhelming – community members desperately want more healthy, affordable choices — for themselves and their families. In a recent survey, we found that more than half of residents said that they would like to grow their own food if they could. This project and grassroots fundraising campaign offer the opportunity to take a real blight on the community – one of many vacant, overgrown lots – and transform it into a site for exciting, important community building AND expanded access to fresh food – including organic eggs!”

The second project in this pilot program is a partnership between Living City Block Gowanus and the Gowanus Community Development Corporation. Together, the groups will host a series of charettes and design contests to create the best wayfinding signs for visitors and residents of the Gowanus neighborhood. The signs will lead pedestrians, cyclists and car traffic to various green infrastructure sites in the area, such as bike racks, solar panels, bioswales and micro-wind turbines.

“Gowanus has a special culture of its own, and the community should play a role in creating and designating the interest spots of the neighborhood,” says Llewelyn Wells, president and founder, Living City Block. “Since the entire process of the project is about citizen engagement, the fundraising for it will be, too.”

Crowdfunding has become an effective way for small organizations and individuals to raise timely cash from their social networks. ioby pools small donations of thousands of micro-donors so far fully funding nearly 100 projects in all five boroughs. The average donation is $35 and the average project budget is $1,200. Most ioby micro-donors live within two miles of the project they are supporting.

“After finding matching campaigns to be a very effective way for us to support the work of ioby’s project leaders, we couldn’t be happier about this initiative,” says Brandon Whitney, COO and co-founder of ioby. “Matches embolden project leaders and micro-donors alike.”

On, any New Yorker can post their project idea, connect with top social media sites, raise tax-deductible donations, organize volunteer workdays and share ideas in a likeminded community. Projects on ioby include safe cycling improvements, urban farms, classroom field trips, community gardens and compost initiatives, urban chickening and beekeeping, parks conservation, water conservation, trash cleanups, waterfront, lake and beach restoration, small-scale solar and wind and more. 

See Deutsche Bank-matched projects here.
If you have an environmental project for NYC, apply to post your project today.
Hablamos español. Contáctenos a 917-464-4515.






Team 365 Kickoff Party, Jan 31st

For those of you who haven't heard, Team 365 is a powerful new club at ioby of people who give one dollar a day to the Team 365 Fund. Then, we use the fund to leverage more donations. This means that your donation works twice as hard, both going straight to projects and becoming a useful tool to bring in more donations. Details on how that works are here.

But, what we really want to tell you about now is our upcoming kickoff party for the 2012 Team 365. On Tuesday, January 31 from 7-9pm, we'll be getting together for a special party in the backroom at Jimmy's No 43. We want to hear from you about what you want from Team 365, what you want to learn about ioby's work and how you want to be involved in the environmental grassroots. Every member can join us for the party, and bring a friend. 

RSVP here!

Super Commuters: America’s Growing Workforce

Firefighters, vagabonds, bus buddies. Just a few names given to the new wave of people who spend more than an hour and a half traveling to and from work every day, the national average being 50 minutes. These new super commuters have increased over 95% since 1990, and the number only seems to be rising.

About 3.5 million people in the United States are termed “extreme” or “super”  commuters. That is one in six people who spend one month a year commuting. This has become a growing national trend as Americans are forced to take jobs further away from home. This drastic increase may be attributed to the recession. People may be less selective about where a job is located, so long as they have one. Dual-income households are also continuing to fuel the trend. It is rare that a married couple will find a job in the same location, one spouse having to settle for a longer commute.

While major metropolitan centers, such as Los Angeles and New York, help to provide jobs for millions of people, high housing prices make it increasingly hard for people to afford to live where they work. This forces people to move away from cities and into the “exurbs”–the suburbs of suburbs. This is especially true for the immediate suburbs of major metropolitan centers such as Los Angeles and New York.

People endure these extreme commutes day to day because they feel it is worth it. The long commute into the city is viewed as a trade off for something better, whether it be a bigger house, a higher paying salary, or a better school district for their children. According to USA Today, residents will literally get on the freeway and drive away from areas, such as Los Angeles, until they find a house with a mortgage payment that they can afford. This is termed “driving until you qualify.” It is not uncommon to see price differences more than 50% between housing near major metropolitan enters and that in the exurbs.

Today, the distance traveled by many extreme commuters even has them traveling through several weather zones–”from Pennsylvania resort towns in the Poconos to midtown Manhattan,” states USA Today. An increasing number of people not only travel through different weather zones, but use multiple modes of transportation to do so. Nick Paumgarten of The New Yorker spent a day in the life of an extreme commuter. Tracking the commute of Judy Rossi, a legal attorney working in Manhattan, he found that her commute totals 6 ½ hours a day. Leaving work at 5:30 P.M, and arriving home at approximately eight-forty, her trip home consists of “a subway ride on the E train to Pennsylvania Station (seventeen minutes), a New Jersey Transit train to Secaucus (eleven minutes), and a transfer there to a train that heads northwest to the end of the line, in Port Jervis, New York (two hours). From there, she drives across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania (thirty minutes).”

Some proponents of extreme commuting suggest that quality of life may also increase in the exurbs. Large lawns, fresh air, better schools, and lower crime rates are just some of the perks that may be offered to those living outside a city. While it may be worth the travel time for some of the perks the exurbs have to offer, it also comes with its downsides. The most obvious being the the length of the commute itself; the more time spent en route, the less time spent at home.

Studies show that commuters are on average much less satisfied than noncommuters. According to Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer of the University of Zurich’s Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, “a commuter who travels one hour, one way, would have to make 40% more than his current salary to be as fully satisfied with his life as a noncommuter. Commuting is stress that does not pay enough."

Whether it is an increase of people on the roads, a decrease in carpooling, or a lack of public transit, congestion is only getting worse in extent, intensity, and duration. While more mass transit, instead of freeways, may help to alleviate congestion, it may only serve to increase the number of extreme commuters. According to Alan Pisarski, a transportation consultant and author of Commuting in America III, building more roads or extending mass transit, essentially making long distance travel more accessible, will only entice more commuters to move further away from cities. “The real change,” Pisarski says, “will be when companies build away from metropolitan centers.” However, with the cost of housing in metro areas only rising, it is likely that the number of extreme commuters will continue to grow as more workers decide to hit the highways.

By: Mary Flannelly

Special Gifts for that Special Someone

Not everyone is fun to buy gifts for. There's always that one person who has everything. And then there's that other person who never seems to want anything. 

For these difficult loved ones, why not give the gift of stronger and more sustainable neighborhoods?

Now on ioby, you have two gift options for these special someones.

Give an ioby Giving Card

The ioby Giving Card is the perfect gift for all your socially-conscious, environmentally-friendly, non-material, bicycling, composting friends. You buy a card for $10, $25 or $50 and your loved one can pick the project of his or her choice.

Designed by local New Yorkers, ioby Giving Cards are a beautifully crafted gift that allows the recipient to apply the value of the card to the project of his or her choice.

Buy Giving Cards now.


Make a Donation to a Project in Honor of Someone

Sometimes giving is personal. Maybe you want to make a donation to the playground where your nephew plays or to the street trees on the block where your grandma grew up.

Not a problem. Just pick the project that's meaningful to that special someone in your life. Then, download and print from one of four ioby gift cards by clicking the pictures below.

Permie CardFarmy CardBikey Card

Parky Card