Make Boston Greener with IOBY

Bikes Not Bombs Chain Reaction GroupBikes Not Bombs just launched Chain Reaction, the city’s first student-run mobile repair shop, using ioby.

Is there a patch of grass in your neighborhood that’s just begging to be a community garden? Or an unsightly concrete slab that, with a little love, could absolutely serve as a basketball court? Every day we encounter urban spaces with potential and opportunities to make our city a greener, healthier places to live. The hard part, of course, is going from beyond having an idea to actually making it happen. That’s where ioby (In Our Back Yard — or the opposite of NIMBY) comes in.

Ioby is a website that works a lot like Kickstarter, in that it enables people to create and fund environmentally minded projects in their neighborhoods. The site has been up and running with great results in New York City for the past few years, and today it’s going national. Which means that if that project has been lingering in the back of your mind, you no longer have an excuse. Go online, create a page, and start the fundraising process to make it a reality.

Ioby got a head start in Boston last month, working with the phenomenal organization Bikes Not Bombs (BNB) to help launch Chain Reaction, the city’s first youth-run, after-school mobile bike shop and training program. Ioby has helped BNB scale its services beyond their Jamaica Plain headquarters and reach kids citywide. BNB is now partnering several Boys and Girls clubs around Boston, and a few days a week, they bring high school students (all BNB program alums) to work on bike repairs. Many of the neighborhoods they work in don’t have any reliable bike shops, so there’s a high demand for their services, and the kids in turn get an important skill set, a chance to earn money, and a sense of accomplishment.

“We are so excited about going national because we feel like we’ve created a web platform that is designed just for the next generation of environmental leaders,” says Erin Barnes, a cofounder of ioby. “The BNB project Chain Reaction totally exemplifies this. It’s youth-led, youth-implemented, on-the-ground work that’s addresses environmental and social justice issues at once, but the funds are raised online and the successes are shared online.”

Chain Reaction is still looking for donations, and now that ioby is national, you’ll be able to find, fund, and volunteer for more deserving projects like it in backyards throughout Boston. Or better yet, you can start one yourself.