Tag Archives: justin moore

Tactical Urbanism’s History Discovered in Google’s Streetview

Ever wish you could get a 360-degree look at what your block looked like before that community garden was planted? Or wish you could give your newer neighbors a glimpse of the overgrown vacant lot that, after years of hard work, has become the pride of the block?

Thanks to Google, you can do just that. Now, when you search for an address using Google Street View, you can toggle back and forth between past and present. Here’s the front of the ioby office in 2013 and in the upper left hand corner you can see it in Aug 2007.
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The Moore family, some of our most prolific ioby Leaders, sent us this incredible series of snapshots.

fcg_2007 fcg_2009 fcg_2013

Capturing the same site in Indianapolis three times between 2007 and 2013, the Google van documented the destruction of an industrial building, the vacant lot left in its wake, and the birth of Fall Creek Gardens. A great example of a crowd-resourced placemaking project, the iconic sunflower mural in this garden was entirely funded by neighbors on ioby.

This is more than just an interesting “before-and-after.” We think that this is a powerful illustration of the restorative and creative power of community investment. We know that crowd-resourcing can have definite, if incremental, impacts on a streetscape. Now we finally have a way to go back and see where we started and how far we’ve come.

Awesome Project: Urban Urge Awards

In her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urban activist Jane Jacobs states, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” Mojdeh Baratloo appreciated this better than most. An architect, professor, community advocate, and urban designer, Baratloo, known affectionately to her peers and students as “Moji”, dedicated her life to helping people understand the built environment, by facilitating collaboration and communication across social boundaries and disciplines alike.


Born in Tehran, Iran, on January 21st 1954, Moji came to the United States to study Architecture at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, where she earned her B.S. and Masters of Architecture in 1978. In 1979, Moji moved to New York City, where she continued to work as both an architect and a founding member of Storefront for Art and Architecture, a nonprofit organization committed to showcasing innovative thinking in art, architecture, and design. She also served on the Architecture and Urban Design faculty at Parsons The New School for Design and at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). Her professional and academic roles led her to establish a global network of colleagues and friends, all culminating in 2004, when Moji founded URGe (Urban Research Group), an interdisciplinary research center focused on better understanding contemporary global cities.


Moji passed in April of 2013 after a long bout with cancer, at the age of just 59 years old. Her students and peer professors, architects, designers, and urbanists all over the world felt a need to memorialize her tremendous impact. Justin Garrett Moore, a professor at Columbia, planner, and community activist, first met Moji, whom he affectionately refers to as his “New York mom” in the late 1990s as a student in her summer Introduction to Architecture course at Columbia University.

“Even in that short six week course, she truly made me see the world differently,” he explained.

One way that Justin and several of Moji’s admirers have continued to celebrate her life is through the creation of the Urban Urge Awards, an awards program established to provide funding to designers and community members to do their own projects, giving both professionals and ordinary people the opportunity to make a real, tangible impact in their cities.

The idea for the Urban Urge Awards was originally conceived by several of Moji’s close colleagues from GSAPP, including Moore, Richard Plunz, Geeta Mehta, Skye Duncan, Dongsei Kim, and Fatou Dieye, Nickie Huang, as well as Moji’s daughter Halleh Baratloo Balch. Using ioby as a platform, they raised over $25,000 to be distributed in four different types of grants. These range from the Urge Awards, a $4,000 grant intended for design and planning and community development professionals to execute a larger-scale project, to the Urge Seed Grants, a $500 award open to anyone under 40 from any disciplinary background. Additionally, the $1,000 Emerge Awards and the $500 Urge School Seed Grants are specifically geared toward students and teachers. There are no specifications for the types of projects that can be entered into the competition—anything from a vacant storefront art installation to an app that directs people to fresh food in their neighborhood will be considered. The Urge Awards are open to people’s ideas and creativity.

What is particularly special about many aspects of the award program, including the vague project design criteria, is that they encompass some of Moji’s most powerful ideas and practices.

Moore explained, “[Moji] would always make conscious efforts to break down the kinds of barriers and structures you find in [large institutional settings] where it’s very controlled. She would have kids from Red Hook critiquing Columbia graduate students on projects. She would do all of these things that were intentionally mixing things that didn’t mix, but should mix.”

Similarly, the grant winners will present their project ideas together, giving people the opportunity to collaborate and exchange with individuals they may not have otherwise interacted with. And this process won’t be reserved for older generations only.

“[Moji] always really believed that a big part of the problem with the way things are in the world is often because not everyone is taught how to make their world, how to make their environment and how to understand it, and that that process should start early,” said Moore.

To encourage young people to take part in the competition, the Emerge Awards are reserved for recent graduates of universities where Moji studied and taught and the Urge School Seed Grants are available to teachers and/or students doing projects in New York City. Both grants are intended to engage a younger audience and involve them in designing their city.

By giving individuals the tools to actualize creative solutions that improve the environments around them, Moji’s legacy continues to have a powerful and lasting impact. Thanks to 67 donors, including 44 New Yorkers and 23 out of towners, the Urban URGe Awards have been entirely fundraised. But the Urban Urge Awards team welcomes your application! The registration deadline for the competition is June 15th and projects are due by July 15th. Best of luck in this amazing competition!

How to Develop Good Citizenship: An Old Lesson

At ioby, we often support emerging leaders with new ideas. And although many ioby projects are innovative, totally fresh ideas or use leading edge technology, many of the concepts of doing ioby work are quite old.

The tools for building community–talking to your neighbors, supporting local businesses, volunteering–haven’t changed much in centuries. Our case in point for today comes from ioby leader Justin Moore (we also awarded him a Hero In Our Backyards Award in 2012 for his work in reimagining vacant space). Together with his mother, Justin started Urban Patch, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit dedicated to making the American inner city better, and they’re starting Mapleton on the North Side of Indianapolis, where his grandfather, Albert Allen Moore worked at the Flanner House.

Below is an except from a brochure on Fundamental Education, circa 1954, developed by the Flanner House, thanks to the digital records at IUPUI.

ioby 2012 Heroes In Our Backyards

Every year, ioby awards the Heroes In Our Backyards awards to those ioby project leaders that exemplify the ioby spirit of community activism. ioby Heroes In Our Backyards are hyper-local, community-based, entrepreneurial and tireless. In 2012, we awarded three groups with this award around the key tool for revitalizing urban centers: reimagining vacant space. The Heroes are Urban Patch in the Fall Creek-Mapleton neighborhood on the north side of Indianapolis, the People’s Garden in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, NY, and the movement of leaders who have activated vacant lots throughout NYC with the support of 596 Acres including the 462 Halsey Street Community Garden, Java Street Garden Collaborative, Myrtle Village Green, One Kin Farm, and A Small Green Patch. Thanks to Good Eye Video for producing this beautiful video.

ioby Heroes Reimagine Vacant Space