Tag Archives: new orleans

AWESOME PROJECT: Youth Bike Rodeos in New Orleans

If you ask Kaitlin Joerger about the work she does for New Orleans cycling advocacy group Bike Easy, she’ll play it down, tell you she’s just a volunteer who comes in on Fridays, just doing data entry, just doing the “busywork” that the nonprofit’s staff doesn’t have time for. Then she’ll tell you how wonderful the organization is, and what they’re cooking up next.

bike easy kids rodeo

Well, Bike Easy is a wonderful organization (more in a second), and they are cooking up a very cool Youth Bike Rodeo workshop series for this spring and summer (more in a second), but it seems important to first take a moment to celebrate the behind-the-scenes workhorses of community activism. The Kaitlin Joergers of the ioby community.

Joerger initially got involved with Bike Easy because she’d just moved to New Orleans to town and was working entirely from home. Her office of one, though, was not cutting it. “I bike a lot and I enjoy biking, and also I needed to have some more human contact in my week,” she says. “I’d come from DC, and their biking situation has gone crazy. I think in the time I lived there, they put in over 50 miles of bike lanes. I’ve always been interested in transportation policy, so I contacted this organization called Ride New Orleans, which is an advocacy group, and met with a leader there, and she told me to talk to the director of Bike Easy. She said they were always looking for volunteers. So I started working with them, and they’re fun people.”

A patent examiner by trade, Joerger is nothing if not detail-oriented. She recently spent an entire decade of her career focused solely on the tiny pieces of machinery that move printer paper from the stack down into the printer itself. “Everything under the sun is patented,” Joerger says, “so we have a very subdivided office. I used to work on a very small area: paper feeding and delivery, so literally any piece of paper that was moved from a stack of paper in a printer, off of the stack and into the printer. That’s all I would look at, and I did that for about ten years.”

Only when pressed will she admit that that kind of work ethic and capacity for attention to detail could, possibly, be of huge value to the nonprofit where she’s “just” the data-entry volunteer who comes in Fridays. “I mean, there’s only two people who are on staff at Bike Easy,” she says, “and a lot of the time it’s just all the little things that they just don’t have time for. So that’s where I as a volunteer can come in and I’ll go and help enter new members into their giant member database and clear out old members who aren’t involved anymore, and fix email addresses. Which is just something that if you’re working for a nonprofit with a staff of two, you don’t have time for all that busywork. But I like that kind of stuff.

The golden moment of community activism, isn’t it? When what needs getting done – the thing no one has time for – is exactly the kind of thing the new volunteer happens to like to work on?

Okay, now let’s talk about Bike Easy’s awesome new project and ioby campaign:

In the two years since she arrived, Joerger has watched the New Orleans cycling community start to take root in the city. “It’s definitely growing,” she says. “Our streets are not that great in terms of potholes and such, but basically Bike Easy does a great job of advocating for bike lanes. Kind of anytime there’s a street project going on – a re-pavement or whatever – Bike Easy will advocate for getting bike lanes put in on major thoroughfares, so it’s getting a lot more connected via the bike lane system, which is great. It’s grown immensely since I’ve been here.”

Since these resources are so new, though, lots of kids whose parents don’t bike are now growing up in a city where cycling will increasingly be an option. Joerger and her teammates want to ensure that, in the absence of parents who can teach them the rules of the road, kids are getting the road-prep they need to keep them safe. “We want to make sure we educate the kids who are just starting to bike but may not have anyone to teach them,” says Joerger.

Enter Youth Bike Rodeos: playful workshops run by Bike Easy, in partnership with New Orleans charter schools. Think relay races, games, and obstacle courses that aim to teach good bike safety and preparedness. Bike Easy recently ran two experimental rodeos, which were a huge success on all fronts. The kids showed up in droves and loved them so much that lots more charter schools signed on to participate in a next round. Ten more schools are lined up for rodeos this spring and summer.

Everything’s in place – but there’s just one problem. There aren’t enough bikes to go around. “A lot of kids show up to the workshops but don’t have a bike,” says Joerger, “and so then they have to share with the kids who do, and it doesn’t work out as well as if we had our own fleet of bikes that are all the same and we know they’re well maintained.”

So Joerger and her team are raising the money they need to buy a fleet of 15 bikes and 30 helmets through a local bike shop, which has already agreed to give the nonprofit a good discount. If you’d like to donate to help outfit some burgeoning New Orleans cyclists, click here, and rest assured that the new Bike Easy fleet will be put to excellent use in the coming years – the team has big plans to expand the program, reaching more and more schools as New Orleans becomes ever more bike-friendly.

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.