Plena, an Afro-Puerto Rican musical genre, is in many ways part of the beating heart of the barrio of Santurce, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“After [Hurricane Maria] passed,” Mariana Reyes Angleró said, “the first community meeting that we had was to try to figure out how to do an inventory of houses that were destroyed and people that needed help. That meeting ended with plena music. It is not only for celebration, it is for life in general. You can hear it at a funeral, or every baseball game or Christmas parties or whatever. So it is a kind of soundtrack for this community’s activism.”
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.
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!
We’ve come a long way as an ioby community in the last decade. We’ve opened up offices in Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Memphis; served thousands of neighbors as they organized their communities; and raised nearly $10 million from everyday people like you. We’re so pleased to announce an exciting new chapter as we open our first-ever office in Cincinnati.
As we shared in our Phase 0 process, we’ve spent quite a bit of time learning from and being in community with Cincinnatians. “Cincinnati’s civic infrastructure is strong and getting stronger,” our colleague David, Director of City Partnerships, shared after wrapping up his time in Cincinnati to learn from our neighbors there. “There’s a large and growing community of people and organizations who are hard at work, delivering timely and powerful resources to neighborhood leaders, artists, and placemakers.” All across the seven hills, neighbors are full of creative ideas to make positive change. We’re so excited to join Cincinnati’s vibrant civic community and be a part of the good works that neighbors are getting done!
In the coming months, we’ll have more to share with you as we roll out new events and programs in Cincinnati (all online, for now). But right now, we wanted to introduce you to Leslie Rich—our very first City Action Strategist in the Queen City. Read on to get to know her better. We can’t wait to start working with you, Cincinnati.
We hope you’re able to find some peace in the midst of these challenging times.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen so many everyday people all across the country organize to support their neighbors and care for front-line medical workers in their community. It’s been heartening to see these generous acts of care, and we hope they’ve lifted your spirits too. As more and more neighbors continue to step up to take action we wanted to share a new opportunity to support COVID-19 response efforts in your own community.
It’s nearly impossible to talk about Queens without evoking that perhaps overused, but true, aphorism that Queens is the crossroads of the world. Over half of Queens’ population speaks a mother tongue other than English—over 130 languages—and it even holds an entry in Guinness for “most ethnically diverse urban area on the planet.”
“My parents migrated [from the Philippines] before I was born,” Cecilia Lim, a 20-year resident of Queens, says. “There’s a big Filipino community in Woodside, and I love getting to hear Tagalog almost every day, and hear all the other languages, and see people practicing their cultural ways of living: the way they dress, the food they prepare and offer to the community.”
Here amidst the hustle and bustle of this vast metropolis-within-a-metropolis, beneath the click-clack of the subway and the clamor of people, is where Cecilia thinks a key part of the solution to the climate crisis lives.
This past year has been incredible for our neighbors and for ioby. To date, thousands of neighbors have raised over $7 million to make positive change across the country, and brought to life hundreds of projects that make our neighborhoods more sustainable, more just, and more awesome. They show that there’s great power in the simple act of coming together to confront a common problem. In overcoming differences and challenges, our neighbors are forging a new, more inclusive future with ioby. That’s nothing short of transformative. As 2019 comes to a close, we wanted to take a look back and celebrate all the incredible work our communities did together. Check out our 2019 Giving Report to see the story of the neighborhood, of kindling the flame of our democracy, and of getting good done.
By some measures Cleveland has one of the most expensive transit fares in the country. Even so, in 2015 the Regional Transit Authority—the agency in charge of Cleveland’s public transit system—proposed a 25-cent fare hike along with a 1.3% reduction in service. It was the latest in a series of tightening squeezes on riders to plug a yearslong decline in public funding for the system. “Since 2005 our transit fares have doubled while bus service has been cut by over 25%,” Chris Stocking, the treasurer and co-founder of Clevelanders for Public Transit, said. “Clevelanders are paying more and more for less and less service. We basically just said enough is enough.”
Around the same time of the fare hike proposal, funding for a collaborative that had been advocating for public transit alongside a slate of other environmental justice issues had run dry. That left a potential gap just as riders needed advocates most. So Chris and a group of volunteers decided to step up to keep fighting for public transit, bringing to life Clevelanders for Public Transit (CPT).
It’s still September but we’re ready to say that this was one of our best years yet in Cleveland. Really! All across the city, neighbors proved what we’ve long known—when you set out to get good done, Clevelanders are ready to lend you a hand.
Earlier this year we launched three crowdfunding matches—the Common Ground match with support from The Cleveland Foundation and Neighborhood Connections, the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Match Fund with support from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, and the Racial Equity Matching Fund with support from Neighborhood Connections. With ioby’s match fund opportunities, resident donations on ioby.org are matched dollar for dollar, helping to grow neighbor’s impact even further. We closed out all three matches last month, and all told neighbors have crowdfunded over $180,000 together to fight for racial justice, bring art and cultural opportunities to the neighborhood, bridge divides to strengthen our communities, and grow our movement for positive civic change.