Last night, ioby’s cofounders — Brandon Whitney, Cassie Flynn and Erin Barnes — were awarded the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal in a new category, New Technology and Innovation.
To ioby, the Jane Jacobs Medal is a huge honor for a number of reasons. First of all, it is very humbling to be counted among great giants in our city — like Ron Shiffman, Rosanne Haggerty and Carl Skelton — who have dedicated their lives to making NYC neighborhoods great places for all New Yorkers, as well as ridiculously important past medalists without whom this city would be very different: Omar Freilla, founder of Green Worker Cooperatives, Peggy Shepard executive director of WE ACT, Alexie Torres-Fleming from YMPJ, Barry Benepe, founder of the Greenmarkets, Damaris Reyes, executive director of Good Old Lower East Side, Richard Kahan, from Urban Assembly, Robert Hammond and Joshua David, cofounders of the High Line, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers from the Central Park Conservancy, Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal, Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, and Janette Sadik-Khan, the transformational head of NYC Department of Transportation.
Second, Jane Jacobs, her work and her legacy is very much a part of the ioby spirit. Fiercely concerned with the people who make up cities, their role in political participation and planning and their value in the everyday ballet of the city, Jane Jacobs (de)paved the way for a platform like ioby to exist and thrive.
And finally, Jane herself was, compared to the urban planners, real estate owners, developers and architects, not expert. She was criticized for being unscholarly and challenged experts in urban planning. One of ioby’s founding principles is that people who live in a community know what’s best for the neighborhood. ioby’s role is that of a platform for leaders to bring attention to their work in urban neighborhoods — however expert or nonexpert those leaders may be. Sure, many ioby projects are led by professional urban planners or professors of urban planning or practitioners in architecture or design , and many are not. In fact, most ioby projects are led by a person who has lived in a neighborhood for many years and sees the need for positive change. And that’s as expert as you need to be to lead a project on ioby.
So, outside of being one of the greatest thinkers on urban spaces, urban planning and sociology that the world has ever seen, we would also like to call Jane Jacobs an early ioby project leader and count her among our Backyard Blazers and Heroes in Our Backyards.
Thanks to Edwin Torres, Dr. Judith Rodin, the Rockefeller Foundation, MAS, the ioby Board of Directors, funders, project leaders and donors who have been the lifeblood of our work since the very beginning.