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.”
New York City resident Danielle Bagley absolutely loves living in the neighborhood of Washington Heights and Inwood (WHIN) in Uptown Manhattan. “I like to describe it as ‘lively,’” she says, and that’s why she feels connected to it. “You always have folks out on the sidewalk, chatting or listening to music; in the summertime, people are out playing games. It’s quite beautiful. There are lots of great community art projects. There’s an Audubon bird mural project. You can walk around and see murals [of different birds] that people have created.”
New York City resident Dominique recalls the early days after George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, when she and her friends Hannah and Stephanie were looking for ways to help the Black community. Like much of the nation, they were grappling with feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration that arose in response to the murder of Floyd, as well as the countless others who came before him.
From serving up hot meals to writing cookbooks and everything in between, Brooklyn resident AD knows the ins and outs of their local restaurant community. As a former barista, bartender, and server, and a current activist and hospitality consultant, their roots run deep in the industry. “I’m pretty entrenched in the restaurant community here in Brooklyn,” they say.
On Saturday mornings, Abi Gildea makes her way to 50 50 Liberty Avenue in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood. Any other day of the week, her route would lead her to an empty parking lot. But on Saturdays, the area transforms into a bustling market filled with dozens and dozens of local vendors. From vegetables to prepared foods to home goods and everything in between, Bloomfield Saturday Market is a place for people to enjoy a taste of Pittsburgh. And Abi is the woman behind the market’s magic.
Sister Marie Benzing smiles as she recalls the most recent graduation ceremony from La Casa Guadalupana, a family literacy program based in Detroit. “They were so proud, you know. They were each in their car, in the parking lot with their families, and Lourdes called their names. They got out of their car and walked up. She put their certificate on the corner of the table and then backed away. They took their certificate and all the horns were honking. It was so cool.” In the middle of a year that brought so many challenges to their community, the graduation was an occasion truly worth celebrating.
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.
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!
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.
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).