Tag Archives: tactical urbanism

Ten Year Stories: Roundhouse Revival

ioby was founded in 2008 in order to make it easier for local leaders to gain the funding, knowledge, and resources needed to make positive change on a local level. For the past ten years we’ve worked alongside more than 1,600 passionate, committed community leaders and have watched as small projects have turned into larger initiatives and collaborations have become movements.

In the coming months, we’re taking a look back at the past ten years, and tell some of our favorite stories of positive neighborhood change. We want to know: what kind of things can start with a conversation, a neighborhood meeting, a few dollars raised?

This month, Roy Barnes tells us about how Memphis is rallying together to save a historic coliseum from being demolished, and creating new memories and community along the wayContinue reading Ten Year Stories: Roundhouse Revival

4 ways to make crosswalks (better) in your neighborhood

Want to make more crosswalks on the streets in your neighborhood? Or make the ones you have better? Here’s a bit of background on what makes streets so great (and not so great) and how you can make crossing them easier, safer, and more fun where you live.

Continue reading 4 ways to make crosswalks (better) in your neighborhood

Double your impact for Memphis neighborhoods at MEMFix! (and Online)

Calling all Memphians, neighbors,  and friends who care about making a difference for Memphis neighborhoods:  the big day is almost upon us! Tomorrow, Saturday, April 11, from 11am to 4pm, the Pinch district in Memphis comes alive with the latest manifestation of beloved community event series MEMFix. And we’ll be there loud and proud, to celebrate the seventy, yes, seventy – Memphis ioby campaigns currently running as part of our MemMatch challenge. Want us to throw some more awesome numbers at you? Don’t mind if we do:

Total raised to date:  $98,043

Number of MemMatch campaigns already fully funded:  10

Largest amount raised so far for a MemMatch campaign: $11,105 for  Trinity Playground Revitalization

So come find us tomorrow at our pop-up storefront at 358 N. Main Street. We’ll be there with Liveable Memphis and Sweet Potato Baby. Expect games, sweet treats, a book signing  by Tactical Urbanism author Mike Lydon, and the chance to learn about some really cool projects coming down the pipeline in your neighborhood.

Here’s   the best part: All donations given at MEMFix or online until  April  15 will be doubled, thanks to the match!  To whet your appetite, read a little bit below about four of the inspiring MemMatch projects.

 

Strengthening Memphis communities by improving public basketball courts

When Daniel Peterson was a junior in high school living in Putnam County, New York, the middle school in his town renovated its basketball court. No big deal – just your average renovation. But it changed Peterson’s life. His school team, “perennial losers,” as Peterson puts it, had within three years of the renovation started sending kids to play in college. He started practicing by himself every night – getting to know the cops, who always kicked him off at midnight – and soon found himself playing Division 1  in college. Fast-forward a few years and a few careers, and he was stepping into a new role as senior coordinator for health and fitness initiatives for the Memphis Grizzlies. Today, he’s the director of an organization called Project Backboard, which strengthens communities by improving courts. The game has never left him. And it all started with that renovation back in Putnam County. “Having those courts renovated really changed the trajectory of my life,” says Peterson.

A Memphian now, Peterson is focused on making as many improvements as he can to as many public Memphis courts as possible. Even something as minor as painting posts and covering graffiti makes a difference. “My feeling is that if you add minor improvements that draw people out of their cars and off their bikes and out of the house and into the parks, then you start getting that social interaction that strengthens community ties.”

There are 51 public courts in Memphis parks, only 13 of which are striped. Most of them are in pretty bad shape. Peterson is raising money right now to get to 15-20 of those that need stripes, and to replace backboards where possible. Striping and painting an entire court takes only $150, which means that with the current one-for-one match offer, $75 of your cash will go a long, long way. Click here to learn more about the campaign.

 

Memphis churches coming together to save the bees… and to serve survivors of prostitution and trafficking

Last year, Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Memphis found itself with a massive bee problem on its hands. The church’s bell tower, it turned out, was teeming with tens of thousands of the little guys. But instead of calling the exterminator, Calvary did something remarkable: they put out a call to other churches in the area, and set to work on finding a new home for the hive. That’s how the “bee garden” at the Church of the Annunciation, in Cordova, was born. The bees now make their home here, on a gorgeous nature trail near a meditation garden and a very special spot that the church calls the Stations of the Cross. The Church of the Annunciation offered the land for free; they simply wanted “to be good stewards of the land,” as Amanda Jemison, director of operations at All Saints Presbyterian, puts it.

Jemison got involved in the project early on. She was particularly excited to learn that the honey produced by the project would be sold locally, and that proceeds would be donated to Lives Worth Saving (LWS), a prostitution intervention program in Memphis. For her, that made the honey that much sweeter. Her reaction to the first honey harvest? “Amazing! I just finished my jar. It was delicious. It’s local honey that’s contributing to a dream and a mission that I just believe in so fully.”

Now Jemison is helping to lead the charge to raise the funds to another three apiaries in the bee garden, which will make five, total. The original two hives produced twenty pounds of honey in their first go-round; the second big harvest will take place in September, and is expected to produce 95 pounds of honey. Click here to help make that possible!

 

Bringing bats back to Buntyn  (Late breaking: This project is now FULLY FUNDED, although donations are still being accepted!)

When Shannon Langellier, Vice President of the East Buntyn Historic District Neighborhood Association, heard about ioby’s MEMmatch challenge, she put out a call to community members, asking how they thought the neighborhood could best be improved. And a very interesting suggestion came in from Caroline Carrico, who works at the local natural history museum. We need more bats, Carrico said. And more homes for bats.

Some of the best insect-eaters around, bats are critical to ecosystems, especially in areas where mosquito-borne illnesses are a problem. That includes Memphis, which is starting to see more and more West Nile virus. And bats are equally critical for their top-notch pollinating skills; organic gardeners love them.

But Carrico was right – bats had all but left the neighborhood of Buntyn. “I’ve lived here 30 years,” explains Langellier, “and it was not uncommon to see bats and chimney swifts around. At twilight, you could go out and see them fluttering around and such. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a bat anywhere in our area. I haven’t seen any in years and years. And you don’t realize it until someone points out that they’re gone!”

The money that Langellier and her partners are raising now will go toward the construction and installation – with the help of experts from the local nature center – of ten bat houses and one chimney swift tower in the neighborhood. So here’s to healthier gardens and fewer skeeters next year! Click here to learn more.

 

New rock garden and rotating art exhibit coming to an empty Soulsville lot  (Late breaking: This project is now FULLY FUNDED,  although donations are still being accepted!)

At the corner of Mississippi and Mclemore, in Soulsville, Memphis, is an empty lot about to get a serious makeover. It’s a high traffic corner (the Stax Museum and Stax Music Academy are both nearby) in a very walkable part of town, and residents often sit and hang out amidst the remains of the building that was demolished across the street. Lori Robertson, VP of the neighborhood association, wants to build an inspiring and permanent space where residents can gather. There’s a fabulous “I love Soulsville” mural in place in the empty lot already, and all it needs now, says Robertson and her team, is the attention of some Memphian creatives.

Robertson’s hope for the art garden? To “create a little happy in Soulsville,” she says. She and her team are raising money now to turn the lot into a rock garden, which will serve as a canvass on which local artists will create their own public works. The exhibition will change – if all goes according to plan – every two or three months.

“My husband and I have this personal mantra that we try to live by,” says Robertson, in explaining why she loves her corner of Memphis. “It says ‘live in the vision, not in your circumstances.’ And I feel like the residents of Soulsville truly believe in that. Despite that Soulsville is part of an inner city neighborhood, they focus heavily on the opportunities. What can we do to make sure that Soulsville grows into something greater than what people may see it as today?” To learn more, click here.

ICYMI John Bela, Tactical Urbanism, City Government & the Role of Citizens

Tactical urbanism projects serve the public good, from making it safer for families in Memphis to cross a busy street to giving bus riders in Lithonia a more enjoyable commute. In case you missed it, John Bela’s piece in Next City last week gave a fantastic look at how cities like San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia are incorporating some of the tenets of tactical urbanism into their capital programs. Here at ioby, we’ve been following this trend with keen interest, and have been particularly inspired by local government support for inspiring citizen-led projects in the City of Memphis and Shelby County.

Tommy Pacello, Director of the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team in Memphis, says that the city is interested in taking up the role of tactician in placemaking projects. “What we have seen in Memphis is local government embracing the idea of testing ideas before they invest in them,” say Pacello. “From re-tooling intersections to be more responsive to the needs of pedestrians to temporary road diets that slow down traffic while prototyping new bicycle infrastructure. The city is using inexpensive materials, typically just paint and plastic bollards, to allow the public to engage with the proposed improvements before they become permanent.”

Pacello points to two examples that illustrate the city’s approach to iterative placemaking. At an intersection in South Memphis that sees heavy pedestrian traffic, the city used paint and plastic bollards to temporarily enhance a highly trafficked intersection with a better crosswalk and bump-outs. Then, after a year of studying the effects of the treatment, the city is planning to make the improvements permanent. In Downtown Memphis, the City used similarly inexpensive materials to test a road diet – complete with protected bike lanes and additional pedestrian space – on Riverside Drive. Now the City is measuring community response for a year and plans to make permanent improvements based on community feedback.

ruth flag

In acting as a tactician, Memphis has established itself as a leader among cities looking to incorporate design thinking into its approach to problem solving. At the same time, citizens in Memphis have demonstrated the same level of commitment to taking a measured, incremental approach to public space transformation.

Back in 2010, neighbors in Binghampton – a neighborhood that suffered from severe disinvestment after the construction of I-40 cut right through the heart of it – came together to reimagine Broad Avenue, the community’s historic main street thoroughfare. Inspired by the Better Block method, the community planned “New Face for an Old Broad,” a two-day intervention followed by a series of many more small, low-risk projects meant to help neighbors, businesses, and government imagine this stretch of Broad Avenue as a thriving commercial corridor. They painted protected bike lanes, staged pop-ups in vacant storefronts, and invited musicians and artists to provide cultural programming. The event was a tremendous success, and heralded $2.5 million in private investment in the next year alone. Four years later, the commercial district boasted 95% occupancy and a total of nearly $40 million in private investment.

The city, inspired by this citizen-led movement, worked with local cycling advocates, businesses, and the team at Livable Memphis to raise the funds to make that bike lane on Broad Avenue permanent. This two-way protected bike lane is part of what is now known as the Hampline, and the majority of it was paid for by a combination of federal, state, city, and private funds. But in late 2013, when the team behind the Hampline realized that they were about $70,000 short of meeting their target, they turned to neighbors on ioby for support. Later that year, the team had raised enough in citizen philanthropy to begin the timely installation of the bike lane.

Bela poses a series of questions often posed by those who are skeptical of government involvement in guerrilla interventions:

But what happens when city bureaucracies and private developers adopt the tactics of guerilla artists. Do they lose their potency and radical potential? Do they actually result in more resilient and just neighborhoods? Can tactical urbanism catalyze institutional change?

Bela outlines concerns that skeptics have voiced about the public sector turning to tactical urbanism. Namely, some are worried about governments that are increasingly relying on private partners to supply the resources, while communities have always relied on government to ensure the equitable distribution of public resources. This messaging problem poses some challenges for proponents of tactical urbanism, which is founded in principles of equity and the importance of broad civic engagement.

At ioby, we believe that an important role of government is to facilitate and encourage citizen-led interventions in neighborhoods with histories of disinvestment. Municipal government is uniquely positioned to create a permitting and regulatory environment that is favorable to the tactical urbanist, and eliminate barriers to would-be leaders in priority neighborhoods.

Based on nearly five years of working with more than 750 leaders, we’ve learned a few things about the psyche of the self-starting urbanist. Specifically we have found that people with great ideas to improve their neighborhoods are put off by two significant barriers: First, a lack of confidence, bred by a limited knowledge of permitting procedures and a fear being penalized for staging a public space intervention; and second, a lack of timely, right-sized funding.

ioby’s crowd-resourcing platform funnels capital from the neighborhood – financial, social, and in-kind – to citizen-led projects. ioby offers neighborhood leaders the tools and guidance that they need to bring their ideas to life. Still, even equipped with resources and support, onerous and intimidating permitting requirements are roadblocks that prevent leaders in underinvested neighborhoods from taking on tactical urbanism projects.

A year into our partnership with Memphis, we are excited to build on this innovative way that we have worked with government to support tactical urbanists. Right now, ioby is working with the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability to find ways to find, encourage, and support Memphians looking to make their neighborhoods stronger and more livable. Together, we hope to build a system that will integrate ioby’s crowd-resourcing platform into a neighborhood visioning process.

tactical_urbanism_top_down_bottom_up
Thanks to StreetPlans for this useful graphic about the Top Down, Bottom Up cycle of citizen and government interactions in tactical urbanism.

As communities work with the Office of Sustainability and their partners to develop long-term goals for their neighborhoods, ioby will equip them with fundraising and organizing tools they need to take on shorter-term projects toward their visions. If successful, city and county government will be able to keep an eye on these initiatives taking form, deploy resources where needed, and expedite approvals where possible. Through our partnership, ioby hopes to facilitate the “measure, test, refine” model made famous by pioneers like Bela.

As they aim to encourage tacticians engaging in iterative placemaking, cities like Memphis could reorient their procedures and policies to accommodate leaders in neighborhoods where obstacles to civic participation are most significant. To sum our reply to Bela’s questions, the involvement of city government does not threaten the integrity of the tactical urbanism movement. In fact, we boldly suggest that with the right kind of thoughtful public investment and policy adjustment, governments can grow and diversify the legions of tacticians that are taking root in cities across the country.

 

Tactical Urbanism’s History Discovered in Google’s Streetview

Ever wish you could get a 360-degree look at what your block looked like before that community garden was planted? Or wish you could give your newer neighbors a glimpse of the overgrown vacant lot that, after years of hard work, has become the pride of the block?

Thanks to Google, you can do just that. Now, when you search for an address using Google Street View, you can toggle back and forth between past and present. Here’s the front of the ioby office in 2013 and in the upper left hand corner you can see it in Aug 2007.
Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.17.13 PM
The Moore family, some of our most prolific ioby Leaders, sent us this incredible series of snapshots.

fcg_2007 fcg_2009 fcg_2013

Capturing the same site in Indianapolis three times between 2007 and 2013, the Google van documented the destruction of an industrial building, the vacant lot left in its wake, and the birth of Fall Creek Gardens. A great example of a crowd-resourced placemaking project, the iconic sunflower mural in this garden was entirely funded by neighbors on ioby.

This is more than just an interesting “before-and-after.” We think that this is a powerful illustration of the restorative and creative power of community investment. We know that crowd-resourcing can have definite, if incremental, impacts on a streetscape. Now we finally have a way to go back and see where we started and how far we’ve come.

Etiquette Guide to DIO Neighborhood Projects in Memphis

Hey Memphis! Have an idea on Create Memphis, but unsure of how to take the next step? Here are two quick and easy guides to help you get started. We are very grateful to Mike Lydon and Tony Garcia of StreetPlans, John Paul Shaffer, Sarah Newstok and Ellen Roberds of Livable Memphis, and staff at the Office of Community Affairs and the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team for their contributions to creating these documents. Enjoy, share and please send feedback to memphis@ioby.org

You can download the two guides separately, or together as one PDF. Your choice.

City of Memphis Supports Community-Led Creative Placemaking as a Neighborhood Revitalization Tool

January 22, 2014
For Immediate Release

Media Contact
Erin Barnes
ioby Executive Director
917-464-4515 x2
347-891-1846
erin@ioby.org

ioby launches digital tool to support citizen actions
“in their own backyards”
CITY OF MEMPHIS SUPPORTS COMMUNITY-LED CREATIVE PLACEMAKING AS A NEIGHBORHOOD REVITALIZATION TOOL

MEMPHIS, TN – ioby.org/Memphis officially launches today to support citizen-led neighbor-funded projects to make Memphis neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable. Run by the nonprofit organization ioby (pronounced eye-OH-be), the digital platform allows anyone to share their idea for their own community and raise tax-deductible donations and recruit local volunteers. So far, the ioby platform has been used by community groups in 96 cities across the U.S., fully funding more nearly 300 projects with citizen philanthropy.
Since ioby was founded, the organization has supported the activation of more than 65 vacant lots. More than 70 ioby leaders have created a new system of food production and distribution. In the last three years, ioby projects have cleaned, cleared, protected, opened, activated and stewarded more than 14,000 acres. People of color lead most projects on ioby, and women and girls make up more than 70% of all ioby leaders.

ioby.org/Memphis launches today with new ideas to eliminate blight, to increase access to healthy foods and to prototype new tech tools for education and enjoying Memphis’s extraordinary greenways. One project – Memphis Civic Solar – aims to install solar panels on thirty municipal buildings, one of the largest municipal solar projects in the nation.

“Like so many U.S. cities, many neighborhoods in the Memphis urban core suffer from a lack of economic vitality. Addressing blight and crime, attracting small businesses and incentivizing revitalization doesn’t have to wait for intervention by government or by a large company,” says Mayor A C Wharton. “Individuals and neighborhoods have always and must continue to play a critical role in revitalizing Memphis, and I want local government to work with them to make this happen.”

ioby’s name is derived from the opposite of NIMBY, or in our backyards. ioby supports citizen-led, neighbor-funded projects that make stronger, more sustainable neighborhoods. ioby is for people who say, “Yes! I want to make some positive change in my neighborhood!”

“One of ioby’s founding principles is that residents of a community know what’s best for the neighborhood. They have that bundle of information about the built environment and the social fabric that make them best equipped to create, implement and steward local solutions,” says Erin Barnes, ioby co-founder and Executive Director. “The success of our partnership with Memphis will rely on ingenuity and sweat equity of Memphis’s neighborhood leaders.”

Most ioby projects focus on food, transit, public health, public art, the environment, schools, citizen science, tactical urbanism, placemaking, local sharing economies and work wherever neighbors are working together for change. ioby.org/Memphis launches today with 11 new projects for South Memphis, Klondike / Smokey City, Vollintine Evergreen, the Carnes School Neighborhood, Frayser, The Heights, Whitehaven and Downtown.

“Being the on-the-ground partner with ioby on this project supports our mission of developing and redeveloping healthy, vibrant, and economically sustainable communities,” says Emily Trenholm, executive director of Community Development Council of Greater Memphis. “Through our Livable Memphis program we interact with neighborhood leaders from throughout the city, and we look forward to helping bring some of their great ideas to fruition.”

Before ioby’s official launch in Memphis, the platform supported the fundraising campaign of the Hampline, the innovative two-way, signalized protected bike lane along Broad Avenue that raised $78,000 from more than 600 Memphians that live near or in the Binghamton neighborhood.

“For us the greatest value from the ioby campaign was the public awareness building and support,” says Pat Brown, Broad Avenue business owner and one of the leaders of the Hampline ioby campaign. “It will pay longer term dividends beyond the $75k+ that we raised.”

Memphians interested in starting a project in their neighborhood can do so by following links on ioby.org/Memphis, and are encouraged to attend the ioby Recipes for Change Conference: Crowd-Resourcing For / By Memphis the week of February 24 in Memphis. Details about the conference can be found on ioby.org/Memphis.

A list of all new projects on ioby.org/Memphis and short descriptions follow.

###

ioby.org/Memphis Project Descriptions

Project #1: The Hampline
Location: Binghamton, Memphis
https://ioby.org/project/hampline

PROJECT:
In October 2013, Livable Memphis came to ioby, turning to their neighbors to raise the remaining five percent of their $4.5 million budget for the Hampline. Raising over $75,000 using ioby’s crowd-resourcing platform, the team at Livable Memphis—led by Sara Newstok—oversaw the first successful crowd-funding campaign for civic infrastructure in history.

Designed to be a safe active transit route, the Hampline is a two-mile, on-road/multi-use trail designed for all levels of experience in walking and biking. It will showcase best practices with regards to protected cycle tracks: green lanes. By linking the western terminus of the Shelby Farms Greenline with the existing trail network within Overton Park, the Hampline is the essential link for the growing on-road and multi-use system in east Memphis and beyond with the on-road bicycle network west of Overton Park toward the River. NYC has a few similar cycle tracks, as does Montreal and Vancouver, B.C. But nothing surpasses the build that is schedule to take place linking Overton Park with Broad Avenue and the Greenline.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

Memphis has positioned itself as an example of best practices and innovation for bike lanes in the United States. The City of Memphis is one of six cities to participate in Bikes Belong’s Green Lane Project specifically due to this innovative project. The Hampline features two miles of public art murals and sculptures, an amphitheater and numerous art galleries, this bicycle and walking track is located in the Binghampton Community (“The Hamp”) and links Overton Park and the Shelby Farms Greenline via a state of the art, two-way protected cycle track.

In addition to adding vital connectivity to the growing bicycle network across the Memphis region, the Hampline will provide residents and visitors with safe access to facilities and amenities in the Binghampton neighborhood including the five neighborhood schools, Tillman MPD Precinct Station, Howze Park, Lester Community Center, Benjamin Hooks Public Library, spiritual and medical facilities, the Arts District, and the amenities located within Overton Park.

CONTACT: Sara Studdard, studdardsara@gmail.com, 901-356-2090

Project #2: Roots Memphis Farm Academy
Location: 1471 E Brooks Rd, Memphis 38116 (Whitehaven)
https://ioby.org/project/roots-memphis-farm-academy

PROJECT:

Mary Phillipps and her team at the Roots Memphis Farm Academy are growing the local food economy in Memphis from the ground up. Recognizing a strong and growing demand for locally grown food in their city, Roots Memphis Farm Academy is incubating local producers of sustainably grown food and connecting them to markets.
In July 2013, the Roots Memphis Farm Academy launched a post-secondary alternative education tract, consisting of 15 weeks of business management classes, and 15 weeks of sustainable farming classes. After students have successfully completed their academic course work, they lease land from Roots Memphis, during which time they receive ongoing assistance, including tool share, labor share, and other technical assistance and consultation. This incubation period is designed to allow students to develop necessary hands-on skills in a low-risk environment. The first incubation period will begin in March 2014.
The Roots Memphis team is also working with local lenders and investors to develop a partnership through which the Farm Academy will produce qualified applicants for financing. They are also partnering with local government to provide graduates with parcels of land for low-cost purchase upon graduation.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

Roots Memphis looks to make small farming ventures successful profitable in order to increase farmers’ access to capital.
Developing a robust economy for small farms is particularly important in Memphis, where unemployment is at a staggering 10%. The unemployment rate is even higher for minorities and those without a college degree. Small farm ownership has an important legacy in the region tied to economic self-determination, boasting original champions such as famed civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Given the city’s harsh economic climate, the Roots Memphis Farm Academy looks to transition local food producers in Memphis from non-profit or community-based models to models that can provide sustainable incomes for farmers and economic resilience for regions.

CONTACT: Mary Phillipps, mary@rootsmemphis.org, 901-326-5878

Project #3: Memphis Civic Solar
Location: Citywide, Memphis
https://ioby.org/project/memphis-civic-solar

PROJECT:

Memphis Bioworks is launching Memphis Civic Solar, a project for the City of Memphis that will install 1.5 Megawatts of solar energy spread across 30 different municipal buildings (50 kilowatts each) in neighborhoods throughout Memphis. When completed, Civic Solar will be one of the largest municipal solar projects in the nation, positioning Memphis as a national leader in sustainability and creating positive and measurable environmental, economic and social benefits for the citizens of Memphis.
Kirk Williamson and his fundraising team at Memphis Bioworks are using ioby’s crowd-resourcing platform to raise $49,900, or a little more than 1% of the overall budget, as seed capital to launch the project. The seed money will ensure that the project meets engineering, design and utility deadlines and brings solar energy to Memphis in way that is impactful and inspiring. While the launch is set for the spring of 2014, utility agreements must be allocated prior to launching Civic Solar, which could mean that the project launches at a later date. After the initial seed capital is raised, the overall project will become self-funding and sustainable and will not utilize any taxpayer money.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

Memphis Bioworks, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing Memphis’s bioscience sector, has determined that Memphis’s abundant solar resource is on par with parts of Florida and Texas. With the most sunny days in Tennessee (approximately 214), Memphis is a perfect place to produce solar energy.

A large-scale municipal solar project in Memphis will create positive and measurable environmental, economic and social benefits. These benefits include employing 45-50 Memphians, generating enough clean energy to power approximately 200 homes each year, and providing educational opportunities in the community centers and libraries on which solar panels are installed.

CONTACT: Kirk Williamson, 901-866-1461, kwilliamson@memphisbioworks.org

Project #4: Neighborhood History Project – South Memphis
Location: 590 Jennette Place, Memphis 38126 (South Memphis)
https://ioby.org/project/neighborhood-history-project-south-memphis

BACKGROUND:
Many kids in South Memphis are unaware of their neighborhood’s rich history as a music capital and an important site in the struggle for civil rights. Amy Moritz and her team at the Center for Transforming Communities aim to help the neighborhood’s younger generation to reclaim and carry on South Memphis’ positive legacy on the national landscape. By allowing them to build on the memories, experience and wisdom of their elders, the Neighborhood History Project will ensure that the kids leave their own, very important legacy on their neighborhood and beyond.

PROJECT:

The South Memphis Shalom Zone, an offshoot of the Center for Transforming Communities, is teaming up with Crossroads to Freedom at Rhodes College to train youth archivists from South Memphis to interview the elders in their neighborhood. Over an eight-week summer program, college interns with the Crossroads project will mentor high school students. While on the Rhodes campus, youth will learn interviewing techniques that will allow them to discover positive memories and valuable wisdom from their neighborhood elders.

The youth will get hands on experience with video, audio, lighting, editing and other technology skills needed to capture oral histories in South Memphis and store the interviews in the crossroadstofreedom.org archive. At the end of the summer, the youth will present the highlights of the oral histories and what they have learned back to the community.
This project was piloted successfully during the summer of 2013, with about 100 community members in attendance for the kids’ end-of-summer presentation. For 2014, the Neighborhood History Project of the South Memphis Shalom Zone will be inviting the youth to come back from summer 2013 and serve as additional mentors and role models to the 2014 youth. In addition, the returning youth will have a second day each week at Rhodes to get even more hands on experience with editing and archiving the video interviews.

CONTACT: Amy Moritz, 901-324-3005, amy@ctcmidsouth.org

Project #5: Neighborhood History Project – ‘The Heights’
Location: 3476 Summer Ave., Memphis 38112 (Highland Heights and Mitchell Heights)
https://ioby.org/project/neighborhood-history-project-heights

PROJECT:

The Corners of Highland Heights Community of Shalom, an offshoot of the Center for Transforming Communities, is teaming up with Crossroads to Freedom at Rhodes College to train youth archivists the ‘Heights’ and Treadwell Middle School to interview the elders in their neighborhood. Over an eight-week summer program, high school students will be mentored by college interns with the Crossroads project. While on the Rhodes campus, youth will learn interviewing techniques that will allow them to discover positive memories and valuable wisdom from their neighborhood elders.
The youth will get hands on experience with video, audio, lighting, editing and other technology skills needed to capture oral histories in the Heights and store the interviews in the crossroadstofreedom.org archive. At the end of the summer, the youth will present the highlights of the oral histories and what they have learned back to the community.

This project was piloted successfully during the summer of 2013, with every participating child asking to come back again for the summer of 2014. For 2014, the Neighborhood History Project of the Heights and Treadwell will be inviting these youth to come back from summer 2013 and serve as mentors and role models to the 2014 youth. In addition, these returning youth will have a second day each week at Rhodes to get even more hands on experience with editing and archiving the video interviews.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

The neighborhoods surrounding Treadwell schools are today affectionately referred to as ‘the Heights’. (Most end with this word in their name: Highland Heights, Mitchell Heights, Brinkley Heights, etc.). The conflation of these diverse neighborhoods into one symbolic reference, the Heights, springs from a growing collective passion and neighbors’ active work to be a unified community.
Treadwell is at the center of most great stories that are told about this community. Assembling and collecting these great memories from the past are vital to the new and vibrant future emerging for this special collection of united neighborhoods.

CONTACT: Amy Moritz, 901-324-3005, amy@ctcmidsouth.org

Project #6: Mid-South Greenways: My Greenway App
Location: Memphis, Citywide
https://ioby.org/project/mid-south-greenways-my-greenway-app

BACKGROUND:

Way-finding signage is sparse in the region and can be very expensive to erect. A smart phone application that is free for download and allows users out on the trails to make connections between local assets is a more cost-effective option.

Current statistics indicate that there is a significant market for smart phone applications in the Mid-South. Regional studies have determined that local smart phone ownership is higher than the national average and is on the rise. Based on a 2012 Obsidian PR and Research Dynamics poll, 66% of Shelby County residents own a smart phone, up 6% from the previous year, and surpassing the Pew research Center’s national ownership rate of 56%.

PROJECT:
Tara Wohlgemuth and the Mid-South Greenways team are helping pedestrians and cyclists navigate Memphis’ many parks and trails more easily. In 2011, Mid-South Greenways digitally mapped the region’s growing number of greenways in a format optimized for desktop viewing.

Mid-South Greenways and their partners at Hieroglyph Creative Co. are now developing a smartphone for seamless navigation of the region’s parks and trails. With this app, cyclists and pedestrians can pull out their smart phone and access information regarding the parks, trails, and destinations that are closest to them. This will include routes and distances to travel safely compelling to user to continue his experience. Users will become more familiar with existing green infrastructure and will also be able to determine where the missing connections should be made.

With the knowledge in their pockets of where these existing facilities are, they will be more likely to frequent them. The app has the potential to significantly improve access and use of existing parks and greenways, thereby influencing general public health, rates of active transportation, and the environmental impact of the build environment.

CONTACT: Tara Wohlgemuth, midsouthgreenways@gmail.com, (901) 590-9590

Project #7: The Whitney Elementary School Sustainability Project
Location: 1219 Whitney Road, Memphis 38127 (Frayser)
https://ioby.org/project/whitney-elementary-school-sustainability-project

BACKGROUND:

Located in Frayser, a low-income neighborhood, the Whitney Elementary School community faces a multitude of challenges. Being classified as a “failed school,” Whitney was taken over by the state of Tennessee in an effort to raise student achievement and overall performance. The staff has an overwhelming desire to make their school and community cleaner and greener. The purpose of this project is to provide the school with someone on site to coordinate a move towards sustainability in a concrete manner. Clean Memphis has worked closely with Whitney Elementary in the past and the interest is present, but the manpower is not. This project seeks to change that.

PROJECT:

Janet Boscarino and the team at Clean Memphis are raising money on ioby’s crowd-resourcing platform to hire an environmental coordinator at Whitney Elementary School in Frayser.

Working closely with the Clean Memphis education team and the school community, this intern will employ a bottom-up approach to sustainability that is designed to meet the unique challenges faced by the students, families, faculty, and staff at Whitney Elementary. The bulk of the work for this project can be broken down into two categories: implementing sustainability practices for the school community and providing environmental education across grades and content areas.

In being present at the school on a bi-weekly basis, this environmental coordinator will be able to establish and monitor student “green teams” that will gather the contents of recycling bins from classrooms and weigh and document it.
In addition, these students will work to promote conservation of energy and water through poster contests and various inter-class competitions

CONTACT: Janet Boscarino, 901-412-7524, janet@cleanmemphis.org

Project #8: 2014 New Garden Campaign
Location: Citywide, Memphis
https://ioby.org/project/2014-new-garden-campaign

PROJECT:

Led by Chris Peterson, GrowMemphis is using ioby’s crowd-resourcing platform to fund tools and training for neighborhood residents who want to create and sustain community gardens or urban farms in their neighborhoods.

As part of its annual process, GrowMemphis is soliciting applications from neighborhood residents and institutions, prioritizing them based on need and community leadership, and offering selected groups all of the tools, supplies, and infrastructure they need to get started. After receiving this initial support, each new partner garden goes through GrowMemphis’s “Community Gardening 101” training, which helps new gardeners feel comfortable with organic horticulture. More importantly, this training prepares gardeners to do the community work that makes a community garden successful.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

Community gardening projects address a variety of community issues in creative ways, and the impact of each garden is unique to the neighborhood in which it is found. These projects not only eliminate vacant, blighted property and provide healthy, fresh food to neighborhood residents, but they also build community pride and create a safe space for community building. As neighborhoods engage in these projects, it is the hope of Clean Memphis that the gardens become a tool for broader community engagement around issues of environmental injustice, food insecurity, crime, and poverty. Clean Memphis knows that community gardens cannot fully solve these problems, but they can serve as the catalyst for residents to take back ownership of their communities.

CONTACT: Chris Peterson, 901-552-4298, chris@growmemphis.org

Project #9: Carnes School Learning Garden
Location: Vacant lot at 916 J.W. Williams Avenue
https://ioby.org/project/carnes-school-learning-garden

BACKGROUND:

Carnes Elementary School, a magnet school whose curriculum is focused on Environmental Science, sits in a neighborhood that is devoid of greenery. Without access to safe, vibrant open spaces, children in the neighborhood have trouble understanding what they hear and read about in their environmental science classes.

PROJECT:

Memphians Mary Baker, Steve Barlow, Beth Flanagan, Janet Boscarino, and Ray Brown are leading a campaign to transform a vacant lot across the street from Carnes Elementary School into a beautiful garden and outdoor classroom. The team believes that this garden will provide the neighborhood with much-needed vibrant, open space and supplement the school’s environmental science instruction.

The lot, located at 916 J.W. Williams, is only 40 feet wide and 92 feet deep and the soil is hard packed and dry from many years of neglect. The demolition and disposal of a dilapidated home left a large depression in the center of the lot, and damaged the surrounding terrain. Its uneven surface is studded with half-buried pieces of brick and concrete.

The team, which includes an architect, a planner, and an attorney, plan to convert this lot into a tiny, balanced ecosystem where the students can observe the relationships between plants, insects, birds, and other animals in a natural environment. We believe that the children of Carnes Elementary will love learning about the environment in this garden.

The team would like to begin by February 15, 2014 and complete the garden by June 15th. This schedule will permit them to repair and restore the damaged terrain, build the walks and fence, plant native trees, build raised and other planting beds.

CONTACT: Mary Baker, marybaker476@yahoo.com, 901-725-7277

Project #10: A Better You
Location: 943 Vollintine, Memphis 38107 (Klondike-Smokey City)
https://ioby.org/project/better-you

BACKGROUND:

The mission of the Klondike Smokey City CDC is to improve the economic health of the North Memphis Community through community, workforce and family development programs.

The median household income in the neighborhood is $18,357, which is less than half of the Memphis media and about one third of the Shelby County median. About 43% of Klondike Smokey City households are living in poverty.

PROJECT:

The Klondike Smokey City CDC is using ioby’s crowd-resourcing platform to raise funds to provide Klondike and Smokey City with extended learning opportunities and to maintain their current level of services. Specifically, the CDC will offer classes in community gardening, computer literacy, financial literacy, and healthy lifestyles.

The CDC’s goals are to catalyze revitalization and economic growth to North Memphis, to help neighbors establish and maintain a high quality of life, and to help restore the historical status of the Klondike and Smokey City communities.

CONTACT: Quincey Morris, ms.qgm@att.net, (901) 527-1966

Project #11: iPads for Afterschool Learning in Vollintine Evergreen
Location: 1548 Jackson Ave., Memphis 38107 (Vollintine Evergreen)
https://ioby.org/project/ipads-afterschool-learning-vollintine-evergreen

BACKGROUND:

The Vollintine Evergreen Community Association (VECA) has an after school program to serve the youth in the neighborhood. The program focuses on mathematics, reading and social skills.

The community challenges that the after school program addresses are two-fold. First, the program is designed for young people in the neighborhood so that they can have a place to go after school. The second problem is that the mathematics and reading achievement of the young people is below the state and national average.

PROJECT:

The Vollintine Evergreen Community Association (VECA) is raising funds on ioby’s crowd-resourcing platform to fund iPads for the neighborhood’s afterschool program. The purpose of this project is to provide a positive environment for children to go after school where they can enhance their education in a fun way. On an average day at the Vollintine Evergreen after school, the youth group has 15 attendees. VECA is asking for one iPad for each student at their current level of attendance.

CONTACT: Sam Powers, sampow@gmail.com, (205) 383-6519

Tactical Urbanism Sparks Ideas at CNU21

ioby was very happy to participate at CNU 21 in Salt Lake City this May. In addition, to running a pop-up idea café (that also provided new urbanists with much needed caffeine), we were part of an innovative 202 on tactical urbanism with Mike Lydon, principal at StreetPlans, Tommy Pacello with the Memphis Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, Ian Wolfe Ross, City Design Collective, and Jason Roberts, founder of the Better Block.

Tactical Urbanism, similar to Lighter Quicker Cheaper, is a concept that hits to the core of ioby’s work. Small-scale or short-term demonstration projects can be implemented quickly, or temporarily, on a small budget, but work to transform the community’s understanding of public space.

An example is the 78th Street Play Street, that, using a Department of Transportation Play Street permit was temporarily opened for play and closed to car traffic three summers in row, and is now designated a permanent playground.

Easy wins are an important way to ensure participation in what can often be a slow and grueling public process. Moreover, small-scale projects remind residents that they have the ability to make change in their communities, a key part of civic engagement.

And in fact, the scale of ioby projects is often small. Projects are either short-term demonstrations or small-scale neighborhood projects (see above section on tactical urbanism). While some may be quick to dismiss small projects, we believe small projects play an important role. They provide an opportunity for quick results and easy feel good wins, which are incredibly important for a community that is fatigued with a legacy of hopelessness and skepticism, as is exactly the case in Miami, or Detroit, or possibly your home town.

In addition, because with ioby people contribute relatively small donations and volunteer for just a few hours, there is a feeling that change can happen, without herculean effort. An important reminder for all of us changemakers out there.