Category Archives: Uncategorized

Erin Barnes: Reflecting on this moment, and starting in our own backyards

Dear neighbors, 

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? 

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How to perform a needs assessment for your community during COVID-19

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!

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What is mutual aid? How do you start a mutual aid project in your community?

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. 

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Ways to Donate to COVID-19 Response and Relief Projects

Taking a look at the news, and in our communities around us, there’s no doubt that there are lots of clouds overhead. But there are also lots and lots of silver lining—and they’re helping to lighting up the sky with hope! We’re so inspired by the heartwarming stories of people who are giving their time and resources to uplift others. Students are translating COVID-19 information, people are hosting birthday parades, and robotics teams are helping kids stay active. Each story is different, but their message is the same: we’re all in this together. People are looking for ways to help, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Many project leaders are turning to crowdfunding to finance the great work they’re doing and to help fund and provide support to each other in the wake of COVID-19. If you’re looking to make a difference by donating to a grassroots effort, ioby is a great place to start! We rounded up a few places to give you a head start in exploring, and supporting, neighbors that are making a difference in neighborhoods across the country. 

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We’re opening a new office in Cincinnati!

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.

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3 crowdfunding projects that honor Black History Month, plus 3 tips to start your own project!

As we celebrate Black History Month this February at ioby, we want to celebrate the fact that Black History is a living history. It’s something to look back on to learn from and take pride in, but it’s also something that lives today—something to build on and to grow. Something that’s happening right now! Our neighbors are showing us the way to do that. 

This year, we want to lift up the incredible work that neighbors are doing to honor Black history, celebrate Black culture and Black people, and fight back against anti-black racism. We’ve highlighted a few projects that are working to strengthen bonds in their neighborhoods and that are moving us all toward a more just world. Many of them are still crowdfunding, too! If you’re feeling inspired, we’ve also pulled together a few of our best tips for starting your own project that fights for racial justice.

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Giving Report 2019: The year in positive change

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.

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5 Art Therapy Project Ideas To Make Art With Heart

Art therapy is about giving your mental health a boost, while working on a craft. Creative work often helps folks relax and destress, and gain insight into their own lives. Engaging in an art therapy project in a group can give your community the chance to express ideas or access feelings that might not be easy to talk about, or may not be front and center in your regular lives. Starting an art therapy project not only allows your community to work together creatively, it can also help you build a stronger, healthier community.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is essentially classic therapy mixed with a form of visual art. Art therapists are often trained, credentialed therapists who use creative work to help people heal and learn more about themselves. It can be a powerful way of digging deeper, and reflecting on what our minds are telling us.

But even if you aren’t a trained art therapist or aren’t working with one, you can still start an art therapy project to bring the benefits to your neighborhood! Projects that engage people in creative expression can be an accessible way to work through emotional struggles, learn useful skills, and work toward a new future. What’s more, health—and mental health—doesn’t just happen in a doctor’s office or a therapy session. It happens all around us, with the people we interact with every day, and there are lots of ways you can work with your community to boost health. 

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