We’re so excited to welcome Brooke Harris to the ioby team as our new Detroit Action Strategist alongside Joe! Brooke is a lifelong doer, and has been making waves in a host of different ways.Continue reading Meet Brooke, our new Detroit Action Strategist!
As our beloved colleague Indigo moves on from her role at ioby, we’re excited to welcome Dawn Arrington as our new Cleveland Action Strategist! She brings her own big shoes to the role, and has no shortage of big ideas for her city. Service is in Dawn’s DNA and she’s ready to get to work.
“My mom, my step dad, my father, his twin brother, my uncle, and several cousins all served in the military in one capacity or another,” she says. “I don’t think everyone needs to serve that way, but I do believe that we all have a duty as residents of a place to maintain and contribute to it. That was instilled in me at an early age.” It’s an ethic that she’s stuck to throughout her life. Continue reading Meet Dawn, our new Cleveland Action Strategist!
This spring has brought huge and exciting changes for us here at ioby. First, we brought on five awesome new staff members at our home base in Brooklyn, and seriously ramped up work in Memphis. And now we’re thrilled to announce that (thanks to funding from the Kresge Foundation) we’re laying the groundwork for a brand-new set of partnerships to support neighbor-led projects in Detroit!
But we’re not just rushing in headlong with our New York model, or even our Memphis model; Detroit’s unique set of challenges and opportunities mean that a one-size-fits-all approach would be a big mistake. It’s ioby policy to make sure we’re adding to, not duplicating, the work that’s already being done and that means we spend a lot of time in the getting-to-know-you phase.
“It’s always better to come in informed,” says David Weinberger, our brand new, first-ever City Partnerships Director. “In Memphis, we learned a great deal about the city during our research phase, and we’ve been wildly successful there. It’s really important that we fully understand the civic landscape in Detroit before we try to provide anything of value to any leader in that city. We take a contextual approach to working intentionally inside a city. We don’t want to be an organization that jumps in and jumps out.”
To that end, David’s work as he explores Detroit (and all partner cities to follow) will rest on three important pillars:
- Extensive research on the existing civic landscape, we call this “phase zero” research
- Careful synthesizing of the data and network knowledge collected, and only then:
- Creation of a Detroit-tailored ioby model.
And what does all this phase zero research look like? Let’s just say that David has a semi-permanent hands-free headset-shaped dent in the top of his hair from talking on the phone so much. So far, he’s managed to interview more than 70 Detroit-based community leaders in the two short months since he took on his new role. He’s talking to folks in community-development organizations, churches, business improvement districts, small start-up grassroots organizations, government, philanthropy, you name it.
“It’s a city that’s in constant transition,” says David of Detroit. “It’s an incredibly dynamic place, which makes it harder to get your bearings. So what I’m really interested in doing is learning more about the networks of civic leaders and organizations that exist before we start to stake out our place in the city’s civic landscape.”
We think all the up-front time David’s investing in getting to know Detroit is a bit of a unique approach. “I’d say that our holistic approach to understanding a city and where can add value to citizen leaders is novel on its own,” says David, “but also the way we support citizen leaders is novel. It’s why I wanted to work with ioby, and something I’m excited to see stay consistent, even as we grow.”
Creating a new model for each new city sounds like quite a challenge, right? Naturally, we looked far and wide to find the best person to lead our City Partnerships – and it turned out that he was right under our nose. Formerly ioby’s Leader Success Strategist and Partnership Manager, David has a background in transportation policy and a major thing for cities (his current obsession is Pittsburgh). He grew up in a suburb of New York, and didn’t realize until he moved to the city for college how much he’d wanted a stronger sense of place. “When I moved to New York, I immediately found comfort in my neighbors,” he says, “and I found power in contributing to civic life in my neighborhood. I want to give that to everybody. I love the idea of lowering barriers to getting involved.”
Interested to learn more? Stay tuned – up next in city partnerships news are Pittsburgh, Atlanta, DC, Cleveland, LA, and then – who knows? Oh, the places we’ll go.
We are thrilled to announce the arrival of FIVE new ioby team members here in our Brooklyn HQ!
Spring is here and we’re gearing up for a huge year at ioby as we overhaul our online platform, launch an exciting batch of new partnerships, and do our groundwork for outreach in several more cities. As our new team gets settled, we’d like to take a moment to introduce them!
A writer and former non-profit program director/ Indie Brooklyn bookstore manager, Maryam comes to ioby from the heart of the NYC literary world, but our ethos is hardly foreign to her. ioby caught her eye while she was working at The Asian American Writers’ Workshop, a literary non-profit that services communities of color in the outer boroughs. “ioby was always within our orbit,” Maryam explains, “and I was always really interested because they were working on small scale interventions and also have a fantastic success rate with communities of color and low income communities. I think it’s incredibly important to tap into the needs of communities while employing restraint, because ultimately those that live in the neighborhood know their neighborhood best.”
Under her bed, Maryam keeps a collection of unfinished written vignettes, which she peeks through regularly in her free time. They’re portraits of inanimate objects, mostly foods, and haven’t settled into any particular genre, yet. On weekends she can be found running loops in Prospect Park’s interior, sleeping through a low-budget dystopian film, or hanging out with her niece. When the mood strikes, she ventures into creative recycling, collaging with unsolicited mail, glass waste, and those pesky clam-shell take out containers.
David Palmer knows computers, and he knows software, and he’s insatiably curious. Lucky for us, he’s here to sick that curiosity on our website and platform.
David’s goal? To make ioby’s website a fun and functional space, to spark ioby community members’ curiosity, and to see if he can break some sort of new tech ground in the process. He’s looking to create something no one’s seen before. Something, he explains “that is as enticing to people encountering ioby or crowd resourcing for the first time as it is captivating to folks interested in technology that enriches our world.”
What his LinkedIn profile won’t tell you is that David is also a singer, guitarist, and songwriter. One of his fondest early memories is of making up songs during long car trips with his family – a tradition he keeps alive and well today, by composing kids’ songs with his own son, Donovan. He wants his songs to invite listeners to experience a world in which children are no less powerful or autonomous than the rest of us. When he’s not jamming with Donovan, working in his community garden, or biking with his family, David can be found singing with the University Glee Club of NYC. A freshman in the all-male group, he’s already plotting his first big ask: that their director of music assign the choir David’s favorite choral piece, Ubi Caritas Et Amor, an ancient Gregorian plainchant melody.
Christina’s got both feet on the pavement, and she’s ready to go. She’s sold off her car, packed up her marketing experience, and joined us from the gorgeous mountains of Phoenix, Arizona – and she couldn’t be more excited to start calling Brooklyn home. In fact, please immediately direct her (seriously) to your favorite local restaurant or hole-in-the-wall antique shop. She loves good food and flea markets – “neat little old things” – and she’s all ears. Has city boots, will travel.
She’s also a born ioby-er. Back in Arizona these past few years, Christina had very organically found herself dabbling in exactly the type of community building that’s our bread and butter. “I’d lived in the same neighborhood for 15 years,” she explains, “and until the last couple years, we all drove into our driveways and into our garages and never really said anything to each other. We’d lived by these people for over a decade.” So Christina and her sisters decided they were going to get to know the neighbors, starting with a series of community block parties. Street games, a basketball hoop, cards, a little BBQ. Nothing crazy. Everyone would watch the sun go down, and just chat. But it really brought the neighborhood together, and got Christina fired up to do more.
In her free time, Christina loves to read, jog through Prospect Park, and cook. Her sister jokes that if you think you don’t have a meal in the fridge, you should invite Christina over. She also does a lot of collecting of art supplies, and is thinking about starting to maybe also use them. Maybe. What’ll she make first? Probably a mess, she says.
A yogi, meditator, theater buff and social justice nerd, Kerry comes to us from the intersection of the arts and social impact worlds. With over ten years in the cultural sector, Kerry is always thinking about how local projects – especially in the arts – can move hearts and minds towards connection and empathy. He sees the creative process as a container for social engagement. A place where the ideas we hold about each other can intersect and transform.
Prior to ioby, Kerry led operations at BRIC, managing various projects that led to the opening of BRIC House in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn. Kerry is eager to bring that experience to ioby. In particular, he is excited to dive into ioby’s non-hierarchical approach to organizational management, and to figure out how transparency, equity, and inclusion can scale up as the organization grows.
Outside of work, Kerry is usually at a performance, doing yoga, or in a meditation workshop. His environmental obsession is waste, all kinds of waste (yup, even that kind). Kerry has been known to sort (okay, re-sort) his housemates’ trash for recyclables and to hack his toilet to reduce water flow, with mixed results. He’s stoked for the city’s experiment in curbside composting to hit Prospect Heights, where he lives. Meantime, he’s considering smuggling his food scraps into work to add to the Bokashi compost bins in ioby’s Brooklyn Creative League office, in Gowanus. Waste zero is the future, and the future starts now!
Only one of our own could look down at a 15-foot rectangle of neglected land on superfunded banks of the Gowanus Canal, and think: opportunity. Which is why it’s probably a good thing that Katie Lorah has come to ioby. “I live in Gowanus,” says Katie, “and I walk across the Third Street Bridge all the time. It has these vacant, weird pieces of grassy land underneath it. They’re tiny and fenced off, but it would be awesome to open them up somehow to get people a little closer to the water. I always look at them when I walk across the bridge and think: I want to go down there!”
Katie’s background is in non-profits and urban planning — she’s led communications for Friends of the High Line, and has worked on coastal resiliency for the NYC Parks Department. She knows the power of a well-told story, and can’t wait to get out there and start hearing from all corners of our community. “Storytelling is really central to this organization,” Katie explains. “Each project has a great story, and I want to make sure they all get told.”
When she’s not dreaming up ways to turn superfund sites into community spaces, Katie’s often headed out of the city in search of good hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, and the like. She once hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, and she is still a pretty fast walker. She can also make a respectable camping stove out of a beer can.