ioby works nationwide; through the magic of the internet and good old-fashioned phones, we are able to provide support to anyone in the United States with a great idea to bring more good to their neighborhood. We also have staff on the ground in Pittsburgh, Memphis, Detroit, and Cleveland–our City Action Strategists. They’re especially tuned into the cities they live in, are experts at supporting neighbors organize and fundraise online, and help residents turn great ideas into great community projects. Get to know our team!
Since the launch of our Racial Justice Toolkit this past spring, we’ve posted several stories about racial justice work from the perspectives of some of our favorite Cleveland-based activists. Why Cleveland? Well…
Like many ioby Leaders, Samaria Rice didn’t always think of herself as an activist. Until a few years ago, she was a busy single mom, taking care of her kids and studying to start a career in real estate in her native Cleveland. “I was living in a bubble,” she says.
Then, on November 22, 2014, Ms. Rice’s 12-year-old son Tamir was shot and killed by Cleveland police while playing with a pellet gun outside the Cudell Recreation Center.
Racial justice work is hard.
There are many good approaches to addressing the historical and systemic injustices faced by people of color, but they all involve difficult tasks. Whether you’re bringing community agriculture back to a marginalized neighborhood, facilitating a multicultural public art project, mounting a national educational campaign, or any other initiative, there will be personalities, logistics, and budgets to deal with. There will be difficult conservations, delays, and disappointments. Sometimes, there will be burnout.
“It’s never too late to act. There’s always time to make your voice heard and to do something, even if it’s a small thing—especially if it’s a small thing. That’s the best place to start.”
— Indigo Bishop, ioby Cleveland Action Strategist, in ioby’s new Racial Justice Toolkit
Fifty years ago today, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Commemorations are taking place across the country to honor his vision and achievements, from panel discussions to walking tours to the symbolic ringing of church bells. The anniversary of Dr. King’s tragic death can serve to remind us of how real the challenges to racial equity movements can be.
Dawn Glasco, a Community Engagement Coordinator who works with children, has lived on East 76th street, Cleveland, for the past 10 years. And right outside her window, across the street from her home, all those years, had sat a large vacant lot — run down, overgrown with tall grass that the city wasn’t mowing, and littered with trash. A couple of years ago, Glasco started to feel ready to do something about it, summoned her courage, and began going door to door, asking neighbors if they’d join a group effort to beautify the street and turn the lot into an outdoor classroom. She also called the city, asked them to come and mow, and got permission to improve the lot. Glasco’s neighbors were receptive, and so was the city. For her, a door had opened.
Since ioby launched in New York City in 2009, we have been a hyperlocal organization, on a mission to support neighborhood leaders and residents making positive change happen where they live. In 2012 we went national, with the idea that we could extend our services to people all over the country who have great ideas. And that’s the model that we use now – anyone from anywhere in the US can use our platform and services. However, we’ve found that we can make the most positive impact when we work closely with people and organizations who have deep local roots. In order to stay hyperlocal, we need to grow hyperlocally.
In 2014 we began working in Memphis, first partnering with the Mayor’s Office and local organizations, then hiring a Memphis-based community organizer with a long history of neighborhood leadership who could connect with change-making Memphians on a face-to-face, day-to-day basis. It was so effective to have someone on the ground that we realized this type of expansion was ioby’s future.
Now, we’re thrilled to be partnering with more local leaders around the country to bring ioby’s resources to four new cities in 2016: Detroit, Cleveland, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh. This week, we’ll tell you how we arrived at these four, and why we’re super excited to be setting up shop in each.
[ioby project Graffiti Garages at Spang Mountain]
With generous funding from the Saint Luke’s Foundation, we’ll be opening our doors in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood on March 14!
We were inspired to begin work in Cleveland by ioby board member Evelyn Burnett, Vice President of Economic Opportunity for Cleveland’s Neighborhood Progress. Evelyn’s organization does incredibly valuable work and she and her team have been instrumental in introducing us to the city and its neighborhoods.
So, how do we choose the cities we focus on, and why Cleveland? We want to work in cities that show a need for the kinds of resources we provide, but more importantly, we look for cities that have an existing “ecosystem” of citizen-led action focusing on positive change. To put it mildly, there is a lot of this happening in Cleveland. We’re incredibly impressed by the work of groups like Ohio Homecoming and organizers like Alonzo Mitchell who are working on building positive movements and promoting investment — capital, social, and civic — in Ohio communities. In short, Cleveland is changing for the better and we think ioby’s tools and resources can be valuable in the hands of people who care about this amazing city.
For the short term, we’re going to focus on the Buckeye neighborhood, a community that has faced many challenges, but has shown incredible energy and promise. One of our favorite initiatives, Sidewalks of Buckeye, shows us that the neighborhood is home to an active arts scene, a committed—though loosely-connected—group of grassroots leaders, and many residents who are interested in pedestrian improvements along the main thoroughfare.
[ioby project GardenWalk Cleveland]
We have equal enthusiasm for our excellent partners Neighborhood Connections (a small-grants program of the Cleveland Foundation), and City Repair (a program of Neighborhood Connections). ioby has hosted several grassroots crowdfunding trainings for Neighborhood Connections leaders and has supported a cohort of projects led by their grantees—all with great results.
To prepare for our rollout in Cleveland, ioby’s City Partnerships Director David Weinberger is beginning to have conversations with over 20 community leaders and will lead two workshops there in January. “We need to do this kind of hands-on research to prepare for ramping up work in a new city,” he explains. “We talk to people about what projects they’re working on, how neighbors are connecting to those projects, and see where we can be most helpful in filling in the gaps.”
Cleveland, we can’t wait to work together to bring positive change to your neighborhoods!
What you can do
-If you’re a Clevelander with a great idea for your neighborhood or your city, you don’t have to wait! Tell us your idea today and we’ll help get you started fundraising.
– With vital support from the Saint Luke’s Foundation, we’re hiring a Cleveland Action Strategist to help launch our HQ there—starting in March—and work to recruit and serve community leaders. You can help us by spreading the word to any great Clevelanders you know!
– We want to hit the ground running come March, so we’ll be hosting a series of webinars meant to inspire new ioby leaders in Cleveland to start projects, starting now! Click here for more info, days and times, and to RSVP.
Those of us in the northeast are currently bracing for Winter Storm Juno, which is slated to pummel us tonight and into tomorrow. But even if you’re not facing a blinding blizzard, late January is still a perfect time to hunker down with a cup of hot cocoa and catch up on your reading.
To this end, we’re very pleased to drop our latest resource guide to getting good done tonight. The ioby Getting Good Done Guides illustrates five projects any community can accomplish together in five steps.
This one is all about the unique opportunities winter affords for cool communal involvement; it’s called In The Cold. Where else can you learn how to build an all-season outdoor pavilion, throw a successful winter event in your community garden, and harness snow to help your city make improvements to pedestrian infrastructure?
That’s right: nowhere.
We recommend letting it download while you mix up your cocoa, then enjoying both from the comfort of a warm set of flannel pj’s.
We’re always grateful to the esteemed contributors who make our guides possible, and to our readers, who send us actionable feedback and heartening stories about their experiences. Please keep your messages coming!
Please stay safe during the storm, too. There will be a great need for snow-person building later this week!