Ideas in action: Reasons to start with what you already know and love

In the last week, ioby has received a massive influx of ideas for neighborhood change from across the country. We are seeing firsthand, right now, that Americans are hungry to be a part of something positive.

Are you feeling called to start an ioby project in your neighborhood? What if you’re feel energized, but at a loss as to where to start? In conceiving of their own awesome projects, many of the highly successful ioby leaders we see in action tend to hew to this old advice from civic rights leader Howard Thurman:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it,

because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”



Do it because you love butterflies and gardens

Say WHAT? Don’t ask what the world needs? How selfish is that? But look at Naomi Montalvo, for example. She teaches pre-K at Juan Pablo Duarte school #28, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where she’s recently started the most popular pre-K gardening club we’ve ever heard of. When she opened the doors, over 100 kids showed up to join; that’s over an eighth of the entire school population! The kids are learning how to create pollinator gardens that nourish the bees, butterflies, and other critters we need to keep our ecosystems running. They’re getting connected to green spaces in ways they haven’t before.

“Our kids live in an urban environment,” says Montalvo of the school’s population, “and that’s the kind of environment I grew up in. And there was no one really teaching us about nature; we didn’t have those opportunities. So now that I enjoy gardening, and I see what a pleasure it is and how much of a difference we can make in our environment, I want to share that with our students. They’re really excited. Even the faculty are excited.”

What makes the club so popular with the kids? We’re willing to bet that it’s Montalvo’s own passion for her hobby. She loves this stuff with all her heart, and it shows. Was the school’s lack of a pollinator garden club the absolute most dire, pressing need at Juan Pablo Duarte? Did it come up at every faculty meeting last year? Probably not. Has it enriched the school community and opened kids’ eyes in ways that amazed everyone? You bet. Was it exactly the right project for Montalvo to bring to life? YES YES YES.


sheffield-high-girls-soccer-team memphis

Do it because you love soccer

Or look at Jamie Naylor, co-owner with her husband of Celtic Crossing Irish Pub and Bar, in Memphis. Her passion for soccer runs so deep that it led her to her husband, her job, her loyal soccer community, and now her ioby project – through which she’s helping to spearhead a local school’s first ever girls’ soccer team. In choosing to focus on what she already knows best and loves most, Naylor has scored a major goal. She racked up allies and funding in no time, and was off and running.

“We being husband and wife owning the bar,” says Naylor, “when you come to Celtic, it’s a very kind of neighborhood family environment. My husband and I have two children – a nine month old and an almost four year old. All of our regular customers are seeing them grow up. So they know that we’re passionate about soccer, we’re passionate about Memphis, about our neighborhood, and that we do a lot for the community, and so we wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important to us.”


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Do it because you love street art

Or how about Karen Golightly, a photographer who is so passionate about street art and graffiti that she was able to lure 70 of the world’s best street artists (sweet sweet video clip of it here) to come to Memphis and create a massive mural covering a third of a mile!

“They really are the most uncensored voices of a city,” says Golightly of the graffiti writers she so deeply reveres. Clearly, her collaborating artists and donors alike felt and responded to that reverence: they SHOWED UP and they joined the conversation, in a big way. The mural couldn’t have been a bigger success.


How about you?

So. Now the really fun part. What makes YOU come alive? When your friends think of what they appreciate so much about you, what hobby or talent or quirky passion of yours comes to their minds? What’s the thing that – when you talk about it with neighbors – makes their eyes light up? Makes them ask questions?

You know what it is. Will you share it with us? We’d love nothing more than to help you share that passion with your community.