Tag Archives: boston

A first look at our new partnership with the City of Boston!

Do you know about “third spaces?” Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you certainly do. If we think of our homes as our first space, and our workplace as our second space, then a third space is anywhere else we regularly spend time and that’s part of the fabric of our neighborhood: community centers, barber shops, libraries, parks, cafes, and even sidewalks are all good examples.

Third spaces are where most ioby projects take place. Soon, we hope a lot more of them will be starting up in Boston, where we’re embarking on a new partnership with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) to bring ioby to community-based organizations and residents with awesome ideas for their neighborhoods’ third spaces.

Continue reading A first look at our new partnership with the City of Boston!

Community Science with Public Lab

We are very proud to announce ioby’s newest partnership with the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science. Community groups in Boston, New Orleans and Brooklyn use Public’s Lab’s innovative, open source DIY tools to monitor environmental issues.

Circuit-hp-bannerWhether tracking chemical emissions from refineries, teaching kids about civic responsibility via kite mapping, or monitoring progress on efforts to remove invasive species, Public Lab contributors work to create healthier, more engaged communities using fun, simple techniques. Using everyday items–like handheld digital cameras, kites and string–Public Lab members re-imagine environmental monitoring tools, taking science out of its ivory tower and making it an accessible part of everyday life. With Public Lab, people leverage the brain power and experience of thousands of contributors around the world to create results in their own backyards.

Click here to see the projects.

The official press release from Public Laboratory follows:

JANUARY 15, 2014

Public Lab and ioby Partner to Launch Neighborhood Environmental Health Projects

New Orleans, LA — The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science today announced a partnership with crowdfunding non-profit IOBY to host a series of locally focused environmentally themed crowdfunding campaigns. The five projects span several Public Lab regions from Massachusetts to Louisiana, and range from educational initiatives to pollution monitoring projects.

Local level, site-specific projects are the core of Public Lab’s collaborative community, many members of which come together around specific environmental threats such as landfills, chemical spills, or polluted urban waterways. This innovative partnership structure between the two non-profits organizations heralds further, fruitful collaborations.

The partner page, titled “Community Science with Public Lab” features five flagship projects: http://publiclab.org/ioby

Mystic River Open Water: Mystic River Open Water is building an open-source, DIY water quality monitoring network. (Don Blair, Massachusetts)

Refinery Flare Monitoring: We are constructing observation stations to monitor refinery flares continuously and remotely. They will provide an inexpensive, easy to construct, and reliable remote flare observation station that provides usable data. (This project relates to the newly-announced Knight Foundation-funded Homebrew Sensing Project) (Dan Beavers, Louisiana)

Put the People in the Picture: Barataria Wetlands Co-Monitoring: As attention fades from the BP disaster, residents who depend on the Barataria Bay marshes need to monitor their wetlands. Your contribution empowers communities to monitor the impacts of BP’s oil. (Scott Eustis, Louisiana)

Gowanus Low Altitude Mapping: Gowanus Low Altitude Mapping (GLAM) is a volunteer-driven initiative to create detailed aerial photos of the Superfund-designated Gowanus Canal, using cameras and balloons. (Gowanus Canal Conservancy, New York)

Parts and Crafts at Somerville Public Schools: Nine 5-week courses, including: Intro to Computer Science, DIY Environmental Monitoring, and Intro to Electronics. (Parts and Crafts, Massachusetts)
These projects provide a window into some of the most vibrant independent place-based research in the Public Lab network, revealing environmental issues of high priority to local residents — issues which government or industry have often overlooked.

Contact Public Lab: Becki Chall, becki@publiclab.org | p: 504-358-0647 f: 504-324-0401

About Public Lab

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab) is a community — supported by a 501(c)3 non-profit — which develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible Do-It-Yourself techniques, Public Lab creates a collaborative network of practitioners who actively re-imagine the human relationship with the environment.

The core Public Lab program is focused on “civic science” in which we research open source hardware and software tools and methods to generate knowledge and share data about community environmental health. Our goal is to increase the ability of underserved communities to identify, redress, remediate, and create awareness and accountability around environmental concerns. Public Lab achieves this by providing online and offline training, education and support, and by focusing on locally-relevant outcomes that emphasize human capacity and understanding.

Since its founding during the 2010 BP oil disaster, Public Lab has launched a series of community-driven environmental technology projects, using a collaborative open source development process to rapidly innovate affordable tools to respond to and understand environmental threats.

About ioby

ioby is a crowd-resourcing platform for citizen-led neighborhood projects. Our name is derived from the opposite of NIMBY. We have a mission to deepen civic engagement in cities by connecting individuals directly to community-led, neighbor-funded environmental projects in their neighborhoods.

ioby connects change with resources. It enables all of us to invest in change—then see (and live with) the return on our investment. There are everyday neighbors taking small steps—bringing strength, open space, fresh food and greenery into our backyards.

Join ioby at EcoDistricts. Discount code for ioby community.

ioby is a proud community partner of the 2013 EcoDistricts Summit – the premier event for urban leaders to learn about cutting edge projects and thought leadership in green buildings, smart infrastructure and community action. Coming to Boston November 12-14, the Summit program features has great educational sessions, a block party and tours of Boston’s emerging ecodistricts. For friends of ioby, EcoDistricts is offering a generous 10% discount on Summit registration. Hurry! This discount ends October 18.

Click here to register. Use the discount code: IOBYSUMMIT13 in all capital letters.

Awesome Project: Chain Reaction

Boston, 2050: Diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods are critical parts of a bicycle throughway that traverses the entire city, thriving bike shops are staples of every community, and bike racks are proudly featured outside of every business across the region.

Thanks to a group of high school students in Beantown, this future is not so far-fetched. Chain Reaction, an initiative of Bikes Not Bombs and one of ioby’s first projects outside of New York City, is grounded in the notion that the future of social justice in Boston lies in a comprehensive, citywide bicycle infrastructure.

Since 1984, Bikes Not Bombs has been training and employing local high school students to refurbish old bicycles and send them to high-need communities, both at home in Boston and abroad. The Jamaica Plain, or more commonly referred to as “J.P.,” neighborhood of Boston has long been the focal point of Bikes Not Bombs’ operations and public programs. With a bike shop that offers repairs and services, and educational programs for youth and other members of the community, the organization has become a fixture in the neighborhood.


Bikes Not Bombs’ Youth Development Specialist and Grant Writer, Sarah Braunstein, chatted with ioby last week to discuss how Chain Reaction got its start. “We’re driven by youth,” said Braunstein. “They’re the ones who were motivated to say, ‘How can we take what we do in J.P. and take it out to more people?’”

Braunstein knew that scaling up community outreach programs in J.P. to include neighborhoods citywide would take resources beyond the relatively small reach of a single organization. She recalls wondering how to open up retail bike shops in high-need neighborhoods—low-income areas of Boston that lack adequate bicycle infrastructure—with the limited resources available to them as a nonprofit. In particular, Braunstein remembered asking the group, “How do we get space for free?”

Neil Leifer, who Braunstein lauds as an “almost full-time volunteer,” helped secure a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Boston earlier this year. Thanks in part to his proactive outreach to Clubs across the city, Chain Reaction has been able to open up shop in neighborhoods far beyond the borders of Jamaica Plain. Since starting up the initiative in March, six clubs across the city have taken an interest in bringing Bikes Not Bombs’ youth employees into their communities.

For a few days each week, Braunstein and a team of youth employees—all in high school, all ages 16 and 17, and all alumni of other Bikes Not Bombs programs—come to a Boys and Girls Club and offer their bike repair services to members of the community. “They do all the work, all the mechanics, and all the exchanging of money,” said Braunstein. “I’m really just there to supervise or help out if they need me.” As they work, the team also teaches repair skills to local kids and residents.

Braunstein and her group have found that they have stumbled upon a demand for youth-driven bicycle infrastructure that is far beyond their wildest expectations. “We’re at our second club now,” Braunstein told ioby. In these neighborhoods, there are “basically no bike shops, so we’re totally bombarded with work. The first club we worked at already wants us to come back.”

She continued, “There are youth in these neighborhoods who haven’t been reached because there hasn’t been a program that has worked with their type of knowledge acquisition.” Braunstein added that the youth she has encountered at these clubs “are focused, excited, and reliable. We are offering an opportunity to work with their hands.”

Chain Reaction was born out of a simple hypothesis. Braunstein and her team of teenaged bicycle entrepreneurs believed that a common assumption—that people in lower-income neighborhoods don’t bike or don’t want to bike—is simply not true. Indeed, said Braunstein, Chain Reaction’s mission is predicated on a theory that the problem “is just that there’s a lack of access.”

“On its own,” continued Braunstein, “the bike is an affordable mode of transportation and it makes a lot of sense for these neighborhoods.” For families and individual who struggle to make ends meet, the bike is an inexpensive and low-maintenance transit alternative to driving, and even public transportation. The success of the initiative in the month or so since its launch indicates that Braunstein’s reasoning may in fact be justified.

“The communities’ responses have been amazing. Every possible reason for someone coming to us has happened,” she told us proudly. “This is the beginning of something bigger.”

Just one month into its life, Chain Reaction is already living up to its name. The project is pushing bicycle activism to the limit, showing us all that there is profound power in pairing wheels with pure, unadulterated passion.

You can give to Chain Reaction on ioby by clicking here: https://www.ioby.org/project/chain-reaction.