Tag Archives: garden

Organizing the Neighborhood for Justice: Building the future

Right now, we are living in a pivotal moment in our nation’s racial trajectory, and the whole country is paying attention to the Black Lives Matter movement’s call to action. From small backyard gatherings to busy city streets, people everywhere are standing in solidarity with Black lives. They’re listening, they’re learning, and they’re fighting positive change that will move us all toward a more racially just society.

We know that we have a long way to go until we get to justice, but we know that achieving racial justice is possible. It will take neighbor leaders like you uniting to celebrate and honor Black history, stand against racism and fight for justice in the present, and look toward the future with hope. 

So today, we’re sharing the stories of several ioby projects that are exploring what a just future might look like, and investing in their communities as they chart a path to that future. We hope you’ll be as inspired by these changemakers as we are! This is the final piece of a three-part series on fighting for Black lives; be sure to check out our previous posts about honoring Black lives of the past and sustaining the fight in the present.

Continue reading Organizing the Neighborhood for Justice: Building the future

How they did it: Two Detroit projects draw on ioby resources to succeed

ioby is a community crowdfunding platform. In the past 10 years, we’ve helped more than 1,500 local leaders raise over $4.5 million to improve their neighborhoods.

But as proud as we are of these numbers, there’s much more to ioby than fundraising.

ioby is also a connector, an advocate, and an information hub. We offer leaders free guides, webinars, events, and more to help them build successful campaigns and win lasting positive change where they live. On and offline, we build connections that increase accountability and get things done. In the face of daunting bureaucracy, we can help you surmount roadblocks. We’re even known to chip in with yard work on occasion!

Continue reading How they did it: Two Detroit projects draw on ioby resources to succeed

How to turn a vacant lot into a community garden: A primer

In December, we posted about ways to find out who owns vacant lots in your neighborhood. One reason we thought ioby readers might be interested in this topic is that so many of you lead the charge to turn vacant lots into active amenities like community gardens. So cool!

The first step in this endeavor is usually to find out who owns the land you’re eyeing, which can take some digging. Below, we outline the next steps many ioby Leaders have told us they’ve taken to turn the empty lot on their block into a flourishing green oasis.

Continue reading How to turn a vacant lot into a community garden: A primer

“Whose land is this?” How to find out who owns vacant lots in your neighborhood

If you walk around any city or town in America, you’ll see them. If you have one in your neighborhood, you’ve certainly wondered how it came to be there. If you’re like many in our ioby community, you imagine all the great things you could do with it.

Why, it’s the ubiquitous vacant lot!

Continue reading “Whose land is this?” How to find out who owns vacant lots in your neighborhood

AWESOME PROJECT: Help fund repairs for a beloved community garden in the Bronx

Sometimes a community garden just needs a little extra TLC, and this is one of those times for the Bryant Hill Community Garden, in the Bronx. One of only two community gardens in the South Bronx, and an easy 5 minute walk away for half of all Hunts Point residents – whose neighborhood is a food desert with asthma-triggering air quality – it’s desperately needed, and brimming with potential. Unfortunately, its vegetation and stone pathways, battered by years of rainstorms, are also brimming with debris.

Continue reading AWESOME PROJECT: Help fund repairs for a beloved community garden in the Bronx

AWESOME PROJECT: This amazing children’s garden in Delray, Florida has a banana forest. Believe it.

Shelly Zacks, preschool teacher-turned community garden activist, grew up unplugged and outdoors, roaming the wild green spaces of her hometown, Delray, FL. That’s how it was for all her friends. “I didn’t have air conditioning when I was a little girl,” she explains, “so we were cooler outside than inside. And we had the best time being outside. We could feel that freedom of being away and separate.”


That freedom is no less developmentally critical for children now, and yet is rarely available to kids growing up today in Delray. Technology has hit, of course, bringing with it the Nature Deficit Disorder epidemic that’s plaguing our nation. Add to that the fact that many parents fear it’s not safe to send their children out alone, and then add to that the fact that green spaces in Delray are shrinking rapidly. “The building and construction has really hit hard in our town in Delray Beach,” says Zacks. “Thirty years ago there was absolutely zero downtown. It was dead. Now we have this vibrant downtown, but nobody’s planning for the kids. They’re all planning for their dollars right now.”

That’s why she’s creating the Delray Beach Children’s Garden – a gorgeous, two-plot parcel of land donated by St Paul’s Episcopal Church, and now a haven where kids can explore, escape, dig, plant, hide, climb, learn, and become the environmental stewards they’ll need to be. Zacks knows they’ll take to it like champs; she gardened with her students for 40 years, and she’s seen it a million times. “Preschoolers are little worker bees,” she says, “and they don’t care how hard the project is. They will do it. They’ll dig to China if you let them. If you have a hose, they’ll come with their watering cans and they won’t stop. And they absolutely love it! The younger they are the better, because they’re closer to the earth, and they’ve been less spoiled by screen time. If you start them young, they’re sensory beings and whenever you teach to the senses, it becomes a part of them.”

Delray garden planting


The project broke ground in January, and we’re here to tell you: this is not just your average children’s garden. This is the garden you wish you’d had as a kid. No surprise, given that local kids helped design it!

Imagine: a winding labyrinth made of raised bed veggie planters. A medicinal section (ginger and aloe are already planted – medicinal plantain, echinacea, calendula, capsicum, comfrey and borage are on the way soon). A “sunflower house,” a huge mulch pile for digging, an aquaponics permaculture system in which fish and plants sustain each other. And that’s not the half of it.

The real show-stopper is the banana forest. Yes, banana forest. It’s an idea Zacks picked up in Alexandria, Virginia, while scouting for concepts at a kids’ garden there. “It was the attraction of the garden,” says Zacks. “You could only see the color of the kids’ clothes moving through the banana plants. You couldn’t see their faces. It was a feeling of being completely surrounded and immersed in a forest experience. They can hide. They can see through the leaves and see out, but they feel like no one can see them.” Banana trees grow incredibly quickly, creating a lush, dense forest to get lost in.

“That’s a preschool thing,” explains Zacks. “Being seen and hiding and coming back out again and being seen.” It’s all about the discovery that we are embodied human beings, she says. That we are, in other words, real. “They’re exploring the idea of something being gone but coming back again. The experience of not being and then being again.”

Delray Garden Kid

Will this garden make enough of a difference? Is it worth the huge amount of love and labor that Zacks and her peers have poured into it? “I don’t believe that I can change the world in a year or even ten or twenty years,” she explains. “But I can make little ripples. It’s really gratifying to make a change in South Florida, where change is very slow.” Didn’t someone smart once say that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?

If you want to create a children’s garden in YOUR neighborhood, or if you have other awesome ideas about how to make your town greener, safer, and more fun, let us help! Tell us your awesome idea right here. We’re here to help you get started today.

Pssst… IN OTHER ioby   NEWS: Come Hike the Heights with us on June 6!

Recipe for Change Video: How to Start a Time Bank

 Time banks are an amazing way for communities to share using time instead of money as currency.  The time bank movement is helping neighbors all over the country shift us away from economies based on consumption to economies based on relationships.

The concept is simple:

1. You spend 1 hour doing something for someone in your community

2. You earn one “time dollar” that goes into the time bank.

3. You spend your time dollar having someone do something for you and then

4. Repeat!

In this video, we present some simple tips and steps to starting a time bank in your own neighborhood.

This video was produced by Good Eye Video, in partnership with ioby and The Center for a New American Dream.

New Dream’s Get2Gether Neighborhood Challenge  (happening right now!) encourages neighbors from all over the U.S. to start new ways of sharing to build and transform communities, and timebanks are a great way   to start!

Visit our Vimeo page for more great videos on making change in your neighborhood.



This Saturday: Celebrate spring at Chenchita’s Community Garden, Harlem

It takes a village to raise an urban garden, and Chenchita’s Community Garden up in Harlem is no exception. Season after season, they partner up with not only dozens of local residents, but also a network of awesome local organizations, including Five Borough Farm, Urban Innovations and the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, Harlem Grown, Total Equity Now, the Oberia Dempsey Center, the New York Public LibrarybookBgone, Word Up! Community Book Shop, and Def Poetry Jam.


So many good citizens are pitching in to help make the garden a gorgeous, restorative community center and outdoor classroom. But this weekend, the garden’s organizers just want everyone to come out, kick back, get a little sunshine, celebrate, and get excited for the harvests soon to come.

This Saturday, come one and come all to Madison Ave and East 112th street, 11am to 4pm, for a big old celebration. Expect a poetry reading from Urban Innovations artists, some mural-painting, the installation of a brand new Little Free Library (lumber donated by the DOT, books donated by the NYPL), and lots of merrymaking.

What is there to celebrate? Well, last year was a green year for the garden in the other sense of the word, too. We’re talking about moolah. Organizers earned a Citizen’s Committee grant, as part of the Love Your Block initiative, to beautify the garden. And we at ioby are proud to have been a part of the picture, too; Chenchita’s organizers raised money via ioby for a new shed/classroom (the old one had warped and broken down over the winter), easily blowing past their goal of $780 to $962 given. The new shed is in the works; check it out this Saturday.

“The idea is to connect people to the garden and have a celebration for getting the grants, for getting all this funding, for all the projects that we’re going to bring back. It’s springtime, it’s Earth Day,” says Stephanie Wong-You, one of the garden’s community organizers, and Coordinator of Community support at Job Path.

One of the things Wong-You loves most about Chenchita’s is the openness it inspires. Some community gardens, she says, can seem private, or inaccessible. Not this one. “The main organizers there, Angela and Pamela,” says Wong-You, “they’re incredibly dedicated and incredibly welcoming. Anybody passing through is welcome to join or to volunteer or try some mulberries in the summertime. Every time I visit there are always people passing by and asking where Angela is.”

And since locals really feel a part of the garden, they contribute. “A lot of the local stores will donate cardboard boxes and vegetable scraps for the compost,” explains Wong-You. “People will tie things to the fence, or just stop by when the see Angela and drop off compost. Everyone who passes by waves to whoever’s in the garden.”

So grab your compost scraps and come on out this Saturday. Looks to be 64 degrees and sunny!