Every day since the June 25th murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, demonstrators around the world have been taking to the streets to demand that Black Lives Matter. (Recent studies say that the movement may be the largest ever in US history!) The protests are reigniting a long-overdue reckoning with anti-black racism, and we’re heartened to see so many neighbors across the country showing up.
We know that fighting for Black lives is an ongoing, multifaceted process. Each and every step we take is important, but our work isn’t done when our projects are complete. Instead, we need to be committed to a continuous, systemic approach to our fight for racial justice. Anti-racism is not a moment; it’s a movement.
So today, we’re sharing the first in a three-part blog series to offer a few examples of what a fight for Black lives might look like in your community. We pulled together powerful examples of Black-led projects on ioby that are, in their own way, fighting for a world where Black Lives Matter.
ioby friends, we have some bittersweet news to share with you: after eight years, today is our beloved colleague David Weinberger’s last day with us at ioby. We know, we almost can’t believe it either!
For many of us in the ioby community, when you hear the word “ioby,” David’s smiling face is one of the very first things you think of. Whether you know him as a cheerleader and supporter of your project from back in his days as Community Manager, or whether you’re a friend of ioby in local government or a fellow nonprofit who’s worked with him on a new collaboration, you know that David’s excitement for positive civic change easily lights up a room.
The idea for the BlackSpace Urbanist Collective first emerged in 2015 at the Black in Design Conference at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. “The conference was about Black urbanism and looking at it from the perspective of architects, artists, urban planners, and other designers,” Emma said. It’s a perspective that was, and still is, often overlooked in the mainstream urbanist world despite a long history of racist systems and actions, from the urban renewal and highway projects that devastated Black communities in the 20th century to the contemporary processes of development and gentrification. Naturally, it struck a chord. “We wanted to continue having the conversation after the conference, so we started having brunch,” Emma said.
In its first few years of existence, those brunches were an informal communal extension of the conference for the Black designers and planners who craved it. “When I look back,” Emma said, “a lot of that time was about unlearning and sort of unpacking a lot of the things that were happening in our professions and the toxicity that we inherited through our institutional jobs, our education.” Having been educated in, and often working in, predominantly white places, the opportunity to do that work was significant for BlackSpace’s members.
Racial equity is a core value to us at ioby. It shows up in our work in lots of different ways, both formal and informal, and we’re continuously learning, adapting, and adjusting our anti-racist practice. As we continue to grow, we want to invite you to join us—to keep us accountable, but also to take something away from our learnings, just as we’ve grown from learning from others.
I can’t describe how meaningful it is to be an Obama Fellow and learn from President and Mrs. Obama in these tumultuous times. The protests in support of the movement for Black lives have been incredibly inspiring, even as the state repression that follows is horrifying. It’s laid bare the brutality of our racist system, but it’s also reminded many of us that racism permeates deeper than our police and criminal justice system; we see it in our housing, our parks, our schools, our neighborhoods, and our healthcare system.
With this national uprising in mind it was a tremendous honor to be able to ask Mrs. Obama last week the question that is most on my mind right now, and perhaps on many of yours, too: How can we use this moment when so many of our eyes are wide open to fight for racial justice in all aspects of our lives?
Are you looking for a way to help your neighbors, but not sure where to begin? Figuring out what your community needs might sound like an intimidating task, but it doesn’t have to be–we promise! At ioby, we believe in the power of everyday folks (just like you) doing small things to create big change. That’s why we’re here to support you at every step along the way!
Recently, we interviewed some ioby neighbor leaders about how they organized for change in response to COVID-19—check out the full webinar here—and they had valuable insights to share. We’ve incorporated some of their lessons into three different approaches you can take to determine what your community needs right now. While all of these are important parts of the process, any of them makes a great first step!
Hey, neighbor! We just wanted to say, we see you and we see the hard work you’re doing.We see you adjusting to a new way of life. We see you stepping up and serving your communities. And we see your work to ensure that your homes, your families, and your neighborhoods are safe and healthy in the midst of the changes brought on by COVID-19.
Since COVID-19 has altered the way we interact with one another, we know that many of you may be looking for ways to continue (or expand!) the great work your group or nonprofit is already doing. We’re here to share with you: all it takes is a little thoughtfulness and creativity! We’ve got a few suggestions of some small, social-distancing-friendly changes you can make to your community project, as well as some examples of ioby leaders who have used crowdfunding to pivot their fundraising strategy.
Today, we want to celebrate those special neighbors. You know who we’re talking about. In fact, you’re probably one of them! They’re the changemakers. The movers and shakers. The unofficial mayors of the block. Got an issue in the neighborhood? They know what to do, and they’re ready to help.
They’re the everyday folks who’ve raised over $10 million dollars on ioby to make positive change, and they’re just getting started! That’s right–neighbors like you have raised over $10,000,000 on ioby.
That’s a lot of zeros! We’re so incredibly excited to celebrate this milestone with you today, and we’re even more excited to see what you will get done next. We rounded up below just a few of the campaigns that brought us to $10 million dollars. Check them out, then, start your own project!
Even though the spread of COVID-19 has slowed in some parts of the country, the crisis is far from over. Some states are seeing a rise in cases, and we’re all facing challenges as we adapt to a new way of life. Whether we are able to stay healthy depends on several factors, including access to public health information, the availability of medical care, and the quality of the food we’re eating. The reality is that many of our neighbors, particularly in underserved communities, are unable to access the resources they need to take care of themselves and their families.
In times of crisis, we know that our neighbors are some of the most reliable folks we can turn to for help. As we continue to face multiple challenges, neighbors are stepping up all across the country to lend a hand—and a familiar face. How will you step up to give your neighbors a boost? We’ve rounded up a few examples of how ioby leaders are organizing for change right now. Get inspired, then, start your own project!
Here are some ways that changemakers like you are making an impact:
It’s no secret that much of life as we know it has been altered by COVID-19. But even in the midst of uncertainty, one thing has remained the same: our neighbors’ commitment to supporting one another. We’re inspired by the powerful stories of people just like you who are putting together care packages, writing letters to fight isolation, organizing mutual aid to support each other, and finding other ways to share their strengths when and where they can. They show that even in these times, we’ll need to rely on one another more than ever before.
So, how might you do that? With many of our original plans and projects on hold, how do we continue to offer care and strengthen our communities? You’re an expert on your own neighborhood, and you probably know best what kind of support your neighbors need. But one powerful and uniquely suited way to keep an eye out for one another is to start a mutual aid project.