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).
Davidica Little Spotted Horse is clear-eyed about the challenges that her community on the Pine Ridge Reservation faces.
“Our county is the second poorest county in the United States. We have an 80% unemployment rate here, and I can honestly tell you that if you went into any other town and 80% of people lost their jobs, it would mean chaos,” Davidica, a member of the Oglala Lakota, said. “Our reservation is something like two million acres in size, so it’s a really big reservation, but we don’t have very many resources like gas stations or stores.”
Those challenges often hit young people the hardest—the community endures a teen suicide rate a whopping four times higher than the national average. But, she says, “I totally know that our people and our kids are super resilient and smart. They have hope. We all have an amazing love for the reservation, and for our territory and for our people. Most of the kids here don’t want to leave. They want to raise their children here, because what we do have is a thriving culture, tradition, family ties, the connections that make community.”
Matt Kelly is a freelance journalist based in the Finger Lakes of New York. The steppes of Grand Staircase-Escalante are pretty far from home–over 2,000 miles, to be exact. And yet, it’s completely natural that he’s there. But he’s also a citizen scientist–a passionate amateur ecologist.
That’s how his ioby project got started.
“I had reached out to a researcher named Joe Wilson because he had published some really interesting work,” Matt said. After going back and forth about a story that Matt was working on, Joe sent one more email. “He says, ‘Hey, take a look at this map,’ which shows the number of bee species on the east coast versus just in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. And they’re roughly the same,” Matt said. 660 species in the Monument, 770 in the entire Eastern United States and Canada.
Lifelong friends Sheila Barksdale-Gordon and Dionne Grayman tapped into Brownsville’s strength and pride when they organized We Run Brownsville, a womens’ running group aimed at developing healthy habits–like going for group runs, stretching together, and sharing tips. But they’re so much more than a running club. “It’s more of a sisterhood, it’s more a place where women feel safe and feel confident take ownership of their own health,” says Sheila.
As they develop a support network within the running club, they’ve found that women are able to leverage that as they go out and advocate for their community; attending government meetings, and making sure that their voices are heard.
The Ohio City Bicycle Co-op has been an anchor for Cleveland’s biking community for years, maybe even before they had a physical space, or even a name. Jim Sheehan, the Co-op’s Executive Director, has been involved with Co-op since it was an informal group of bike lovers who got together with a cool idea back in 1995.
“We did an earn-a-bike program and got hooked on teaching a kid to ride and keep their bike running, and they’re happy and smiling and you can go on to the next one,” Jim says. The program was a huge hit, and since then, the Co-op has grown significantly. They moved into a donated storefront in 2002, and then into a “little shack on the river,” along the Cuyahoga, before their community of bikers outgrew the space. In 2010, they moved into their current location on Columbus Road; a 16,000 square foot former industrial building that happens to sit across the street from their very first shop, a reminder of just how much they’ve grown. Looking to offer still more to their community, Jim and the OCBC recently wrapped up their first ioby crowdfunding project, and fundraised over $8,000 to replace workshop equipment and offer even more high-quality workshops.
For the past three summers, every day that it looks like it might rain on a day that she teaches at Borland Garden in Pittsburgh, Emily Carlson talks to the weather and asks for it hold back the rain until two o’clock. That’s when the kids at Art in the Garden, a youth summer program in the garden, go home for the day. Without any shelter in the garden, programming has been at the whim of the weather, though they’ve been lucky. “Every single day for the past three summers it has worked except for one day,” Emily says. “But that feels like a lot to ask the weather, and it feels stressful to me, so we’d really like to have a structure built.”
When you make a deposit in a TimeBank, you won’t have to worry about whether it’ll lose value over time. You won’t have to worry about bank robbers, or sky-high interest rates. That’s because the only things a TimeBank holds is time, and the tremendous promise of an alternative way of valuing work, community, and each other.
“Time banking is about thinking about our communities and our economy a little differently,” says Alice Bagley, Unity in Our Community (UOC) TimeBank’s coordinator. “Our money economy only tends to highly value certain kinds of work, and places very little value on things like checking in on our senior neighbors, or the wisdom that people with different experiences might have, or the important work of community building through things like game nights. But we also know that if those things all went away tomorrow then we would no longer have functioning communities.” Continue reading Awesome Project: Detroit’s Unity in Our Community TimeBank→