In preparing for our presentation at PopTech on neighborhood resilience, we decided to take a small sample of three ioby projects to find out how participating in ioby projects makes neighborhoods more cohesive.
Small actions—donating $40 or volunteering on a weekend—are opportunities for participation with a relatively low barrier to entry. In addition, because ioby projects tend to be small scale or short term, a participant is likely to see the positive impact of her own contribution fairly quickly. We believe these small actions and easy opportunities for participation can be a gateway drug for civic engagement. This is why we believe local participation is a key element, if not a backbone, of any definition of resilience that accounts for social systems.
It’s not a statistically significant sample; n is only 37, but it does suggest some trends. What we found out was that most people who responded had already been a little bit involved in the project before the project became an ioby project. And that 40% of people became more involved after donating or volunteering for the first. That is to say that their first action—what ever it was—was a gateway drug to deeper involvement.
And 95% of respondents felt a deeper connection of some kind to their community, including a whopping 21% who felt like they are an important part of their community after participating.
Every single respondent feels more connected to their neighbors in some way—recognizing their faces, saying hello, knowing their names, feeling more comfortable chatting with them—after participating in the project. A few people wrote in saying even that they felt safer in the neighborhood after participating.
Which begs, “Is this neighborhood resilience?” Is knowing your neighbors names resilient? Does feeling more attached to your community make the neighborhood stronger?
That’s what we would like to find out, with your help. Because of the nature of our work with active and involved citizens, ioby has tremendous potential to contribute meaningful data to these questions. We would like to expand our data collection and tracking to include a variety of possible key indicators of resilience at the neighborhood scale, including indicators similar to what we’ve shown here. But we’re going to need your help making our data useful to others in this emerging field, and we’re going to need support to make it robust. Please join us along the way.