Tag Archives: detroit

Meet our City Action Strategists

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!

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How they did it: Two Detroit projects draw on ioby resources to succeed

ioby is a community crowdfunding platform. In the past 10 years, we’ve helped more than 1,500 local leaders raise over $4.5 million to improve their neighborhoods.

But as proud as we are of these numbers, there’s much more to ioby than fundraising.

ioby is also a connector, an advocate, and an information hub. We offer leaders free guides, webinars, events, and more to help them build successful campaigns and win lasting positive change where they live. On and offline, we build connections that increase accountability and get things done. In the face of daunting bureaucracy, we can help you surmount roadblocks. We’re even known to chip in with yard work on occasion!

Continue reading How they did it: Two Detroit projects draw on ioby resources to succeed

AWESOME PROJECT: MuslimARC is coming home to Detroit

When Namira Islam had just finished law school and taken the bar exam four years ago, she paused for breath, and went online to check in with her friends and communities. She had thought about the ways in which she’d felt discriminated against during her life – both as a Bangladeshi immigrant in America, and as a non-Arab in the Muslim community – and found herself drawn to the dialogue on exclusion happening on Twitter.

Continue reading AWESOME PROJECT: MuslimARC is coming home to Detroit

AWESOME PROJECT: Creating a multi-generational green space in Bagley, Detroit

Samoy Smith grew up in Detroit, with a Jamaica-born mother who wasn’t comfortable letting her venture far from the family’s tight-knit Jamaican community. It wasn’t until a school friend invited Smith to her church’s youth group one weekend, during middle school, that she really saw just how fulfilling it could be to build one’s own diverse “chosen family,” to accept invitations from neighbors and then extend them right back out to the next person.

Continue reading AWESOME PROJECT: Creating a multi-generational green space in Bagley, Detroit

Three great youth music programs we love

Love music? Love working with young people? Interested in organizing a music program for youth in your community, but not sure what it could look like?

You’ve come to the right place. Over the years, we’ve worked with many leaders who have started creative initiatives in their communities that get young people involved in music, often in conjunction with something else engaging like the outdoors, visual arts, or technology. They’re all different,  but they all have some common threads (such as, we’ll just say it, being awesome).

Continue reading Three great youth music programs we love

Our new City Partnerships Director, David Weinberger, gets to know Detroit

This spring has brought huge and exciting changes for us here at ioby. First, we brought on  five awesome new staff members    at our home base in Brooklyn, and seriously ramped up work in Memphis. And now we’re thrilled to announce that (thanks to funding from the Kresge Foundation) we’re laying the groundwork for a brand-new set of partnerships to support neighbor-led projects in Detroit!

But we’re not just rushing in headlong with our New York model, or even our Memphis model; Detroit’s unique set of challenges and opportunities mean that a one-size-fits-all approach would be a big mistake. It’s ioby policy to make sure we’re adding to, not duplicating, the work that’s already being done and that means we spend a lot of time in the getting-to-know-you phase.

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“It’s always better to come in informed,” says David Weinberger, our brand new, first-ever City Partnerships Director. “In Memphis, we learned a great deal about the city during our research phase, and we’ve been wildly successful there. It’s really important that we fully understand the civic landscape in Detroit before we try to provide anything of value to any leader in that city. We take a contextual approach to working intentionally inside a city. We don’t want to be an organization that jumps in and jumps out.”

To that end, David’s work as he explores Detroit (and all partner cities to follow) will rest on three important pillars:

  1. Extensive research on the existing civic landscape, we call this “phase zero” research
  2. Careful synthesizing of the data and network knowledge collected, and only then:
  3. Creation of a Detroit-tailored ioby model.

And what does all this phase zero research look like? Let’s just say that David has a semi-permanent hands-free headset-shaped dent in the top of his hair from talking on the phone so much. So far, he’s managed to interview more than 70 Detroit-based community leaders in the two short months since he took on his new role. He’s talking to folks in community-development organizations, churches, business improvement districts, small start-up grassroots organizations, government, philanthropy, you name it.

“It’s a city that’s in constant transition,” says David of Detroit. “It’s an incredibly dynamic place, which makes it harder to get your bearings. So what I’m really interested in doing is learning more about the networks of civic leaders and organizations that exist before we start to stake out our place in the city’s civic landscape.”

We think all the up-front time David’s investing in getting to know Detroit is a bit of a unique approach. “I’d say that our holistic approach to understanding a city and where can add value to citizen leaders is novel on its own,” says David, “but also the way we support citizen leaders is novel. It’s why I wanted to work with ioby, and something I’m excited to see stay consistent, even as we grow.”

Creating a new model for each new city sounds like quite a challenge, right? Naturally, we looked far and wide to find the best person to lead our City Partnerships – and it turned out that he was right under our nose. Formerly ioby’s Leader Success Strategist and Partnership Manager, David has a background in transportation policy and a major thing for cities (his current obsession is Pittsburgh). He grew up in a suburb of New York, and didn’t realize until he moved to the city for college how much he’d wanted a stronger sense of place. “When I moved to New York, I immediately found comfort in my neighbors,” he says, “and I found power in contributing to civic life in my neighborhood. I want to give that to everybody. I love the idea of lowering barriers to getting involved.”

Interested to learn more? Stay tuned – up next in city partnerships news are Pittsburgh, Atlanta, DC, Cleveland, LA, and then – who knows? Oh, the places we’ll go.

Comeback Cities: Detroit & Miami

We were privileged to have ioby’s own Karja Hansen take part in the inaugural Placemaking Leadership Council, convened by Project for Public Spaces, so that ioby could spend some time in America’s leading current comeback city, Detroit, as an inspiration for ioby’s work in Miami.

The Leadership Council was an incredible 2.5 day working group of 300 “zealous nuts” from all walks of life and profession, who believe that creating place is integral to creating community and value. And we had Detroit as not only our backdrop, but also as our living classroom. Motor City. Paris of The Midwest. Red Town. The D. Whatever you call it, we’re quite taken with it.

Detroit is a city with a surprising amount in common with Miami. Built in different eras, the cities nonetheless share both a structure and, to some degree, a culture. Not a culture of geography or population – though there is more than you would think. There is a culture of perseverance, of stick-to-it-ness, as well as stick-it-to-the-man-ness, for sure. And now, a culture of innovation that has only minimal regard for The Way Things Are and The Way Things Are Done.

Miami is often mistaken with the rest of South Florida as being incredibly sprawled out, which yes–it is around the edges, but not nearly so much as the rest of Florida, or the Southeast Region. And it retains much of its historic neighborhood centers. Nor did Miami’s population bleed out into the suburbs. Detroit’s did, leaving the city empty. Things may not be perfect here, but at least it’s inhabited.

And the car. Yes, the car has left just as much of an indelible mark on Miami as it has on the world famous Motor City. What the automobile has wrought on our community that is the most profound, hard to recognize, and hard to repair. Just as important as the physical structure of the street–pavement, buildings, trees, etc–is the activity on the street, the collisions of people which lead to conversations rather than the collision of cars which leads to critical conditions. It is these conditions from which people recoil in fear, until they are isolated from and anonymous to each other, no longer seeing and treating each other as neighbors, rather as strangers.

Detroit is far from dead, it is absolutely ripe with opportunity. Without an active citizenry opportunity is very hard to take advantage of. It’s uncommon to have the right combination of both opportunity and an active citizenry. But that great combination is what has given rise to such an explosive positive shift in Detroit’s center city and neighborhoods, and it is that same combination that we see in Miami. It is people coming together over a common hope and vision for their neighborhoods and seizing opportunity to effect positive change.

Neighborhoods have always been made by the neighbors: the residents, local businesses, and those who choose to spend time there. In Miami, we’re making neighbors, and hope we can lend a hand in making Miami’s neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable.