Organizing the Neighborhood for Justice: Projects that sustain the present

As our nation continues to reckon with a 400 year legacy of racism, you might be surfacing and grappling with some of your own feelings, and coming to a place of action. Maybe you’ve participated in a protest, supported local Black-owned businesses, or contributed to a bail fund. These are all important ways we can center our Black neighbors and show that Black Lives Matter, and we know our work won’t end when the headlines fade. 

Anti-Black racism in America isn’t new, and it’s clear that it continues to this day in stark terms. Many American policies are deeply rooted in racist ideology and as a result have perpetuated racist beliefs and outcomes. This systemic racism affects all aspects of life for Black Americans. Extending far beyond the criminal justice system, it results in income inequality; disproportionately high Black maternal death rates; discrimination in the housing market; chronic stress from the psychological effects of racism; and much, much more. 

Today, we’re talking about sustaining the fight for racial justice in the present, and we’re also highlighting some recent ioby projects that are doing just that. (By the way, some of them are currently fundraising, so you might consider donating to help them achieve their goals.) This is the second piece of our three-part series on fighting for Black lives, so check out our previous post about why it’s important to honor Black history and movements in our past, then stay tuned for our final installment about building a racially just and equitable future for us all.

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Organizing the Neighborhood for Justice: Black History Projects That Honor the Past

Every day since the June 25th murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, demonstrators around the world have been taking to the streets to demand that Black Lives Matter. (Recent studies say that the movement may be the largest ever in US history!) The protests are reigniting a long-overdue reckoning with anti-black racism, and we’re heartened to see so many neighbors across the country showing up. 

We know that fighting for Black lives is an ongoing, multifaceted process. Each and every step we take is important, but our work isn’t done when our projects are complete. Instead, we need to be committed to a continuous, systemic approach to our fight for racial justice. Anti-racism is not a moment; it’s a movement.

So today, we’re sharing the first in a three-part blog series to offer a few examples of what a fight for Black lives might look like in your community. We pulled together powerful examples of Black-led projects on ioby that are, in their own way, fighting for a world where Black Lives Matter. 

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A bittersweet farewell to our dear David Weinberger

ioby friends, we have some bittersweet news to share with you: after eight years, today is our beloved colleague David Weinberger’s last day with us at ioby. We know, we almost can’t believe it either! 

For many of us in the ioby community, when you hear the word “ioby,” David’s smiling face is one of the very first things you think of. Whether you know him as a cheerleader and supporter of your project from back in his days as Community Manager, or whether you’re a friend of ioby in local government or a fellow nonprofit who’s worked with him on a new collaboration, you know that David’s excitement for positive civic change easily lights up a room.

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Awesome Project: BlackSpace Urbanist Collective

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. 

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ioby’s journey towards racial justice: Anti-racist hiring practices

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.

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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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How to fundraise for your grassroots group or nonprofit during COVID-19

Hey, neighbor! We just wanted to say, we see you and we see the hard work you’re doing. We see you adjusting to a new way of life. We see you stepping up and serving your communities. And we see your work to ensure that your homes, your families, and your neighborhoods are safe and healthy in the midst of the changes brought on by COVID-19.

Since COVID-19 has altered the way we interact with one another, we know that many of you may be looking for ways to continue (or expand!) the great work your group or nonprofit is already doing. We’re here to share with you: all it takes is a little thoughtfulness and creativity! We’ve got a few suggestions of some small, social-distancing-friendly changes you can make to your community project, as well as some examples of ioby leaders who have used crowdfunding to pivot their fundraising strategy. 

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We’ve raised $10 million! Here’s a snapshot of what that looks like.

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!

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A note from Erin and Jamie

Dear friends, 

Together, we’ve had front row seats to ioby’s founding and evolution. Many critical moments have changed the course of ioby’s history, none so much as ioby co-founder Brandon Whitney’s contributions. 

From the very beginning, Brandon was laser focused on building an organizational culture that fit our mission. One of the most important pieces of ioby culture that Brandon created was ioby’s Whole Person Policy, which states:

Each staff member, intern, volunteer, partner, and board member brings with them a rich variety of experiences, values, hopes, inspirations, stories, and challenges. By honoring that we are “whole people,” and by drawing on our individual qualities, we are better equipped to help others succeed.
And so:  We will honor the diversity within our team, and respect all individuals as equal members of a collegial community and as people with lives outside ioby. We will nurture our whole selves through pursuit of our own passions, knowledge sharing, fun, and active involvement in our communities.

Brandon, understanding that ioby was combining two worlds—grassroots activism and tech startup—both notorious for staff burnout, saw that this was a potential recipe for disaster. And so, he drew on the work of Parker Palmer and created this policy.

It has resulted in some of the most beautiful things at ioby, including a community of staff who share mutual love and respect for one another. 

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