As we’ve been shouting from the rooftops for a while now, ioby is opening in two new cities—Cleveland and Detroit—and we’re doing it (drum roll please)… this week!
Many months of research and interviews have shown us that these cities are especially likely to use and benefit from ioby’s platform and services for citizen-led change, so we’re thrilled to be opening our doors there, and quite excited to see what develops.
We’re equally excited about the new Action Strategists we’ve hired to staff these new locations: Indigo Bishop of Cleveland and Rhiannon Chester and Joe Rashid of Detroit. They all finished the ioby onboarding process in our Brooklyn office last week, and are now back at home and getting down to business. In their respective cities, each staffer will be in charge of connecting local civic leaders and grassroots organizations with ioby’s online and offline tools and resources—and with each other—to help support neighbor-led improvements made block by block.
Please put your hands together and join us in welcoming…
After devoting nearly a decade of her life to a variety of community engagement efforts, a tragic event catalyzed Indigo into thinking even more critically and intentionally about her native Cleveland. “Tamir Rice was shot at the same rec center where I grew up playing sports,” she says. “It’s one thing to know about injustice intellectually, but this one hit my heart, not just my head. I am a proud auntie to three young black boys, and I need the world to be a better place for them—and for all kids—to come up in.”
Indigo has a BA in sociology and an MS in social administration, community, and social development (respectively) from Case Western Reserve University, and has worked as a community outreach coordinator; program manager and development consultant; and community engagement specialist for several local organizations. Throughout, her mission has been to bring out the best in people and help them connect and take action.
“It’s like Cleveland has all the right ingredients,” she explains. “Great green spaces, great libraries, awesome people doing great things… But they haven’t yet been combined in the right way to make a delicious meal. The stories people hear about Cleveland are often not too good, so I’m excited to start using ioby’s national platform to tell the stories of our amazing leaders and projects. I want people to see Cleveland in a different way—including some Clevelanders!”
Rhiannon was born and raised in Detroit, where she says resilience, pride, and joie de vivre characterize the citizenry. She was introduced to civil rights activism as a teenager and has since dedicated her career to working for affordable, high-quality, public education in Detroit; immigrant rights; affirmative action; LGBT youth; marriage equality; economic justice; and ending workplace discrimination.
Before getting her master’s in social justice from Marygrove College, Rhiannon earned a BFA in photography from Wayne State University. “I decided early on that I wanted my art to have a message,” she says. “Combining art and social justice is a way to have a conversation about hard topics.”
Reflecting on her passion for community development and the path that’s brought her here, Rhiannon explains, “From a young age, I’ve seen what inequality looks like. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve acquired a language for it. And now, with ioby, I’m better able than ever to help people identify change and make moves that can combat the inequalities they face. I really look forward to seeing more Detroiters not waiting for anyone else to solve our issues.” She laughs. “I want to see what we come up with when left to our own devices.”
“There’s a never-quit attitude about Detroit that I love and fit into,” Joe says. “But there are tough issues here. You can either choose to work hard on them and invest the time in securing a better future for the city, or you can leave. I’m not going to leave.”
Joe grew up in a family of activists whose Detroit roots go back 150 years; to date, he’s called 10 of the area’s zip codes home. Joe founded the Detroit Parks Coalition to strengthen community engagement in the city’s green spaces; worked to educate residents about the social, environmental, and economic issues surrounding the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project; and has helped to amplify local voices in planning for the future of the Brightmoor neighborhood, where the presence of hundreds of vacant lots is spurring sweeping development.
Joe became intrigued with ioby when we contacted him as part of our “Phase 0” research on Detroit. “I liked that ioby was about not coming into a city blind and hiring some random people,” he says. “They want to get it right the first time, instead of taking a shot in the dark. That impressed me.” Joe says his ultimate goal and ioby’s are the same: “To hear people’s visions and help connect them with the resources they need to make that reality.”
Have a great idea for your neighborhood in Cleveland, Detroit, or anywhere else? Our staff is eager to help!