June 11, 2019
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5 more community service ideas—from starting a time bank to beautifying your neighborhood

Have a community service idea for your neighborhood? Share it with ioby. They can help you get it off the ground. Photo of volunteers in Fort Meade, Maryland, by Emily Cowman

Editor’s note: Yesterday we kicked off the week by sharing five ways you can launch a creative community service project in your neighborhood. Today, here are five more ideas from the community project experts at ioby.

1. Idea: Start a time bank

Example: Unity in Our Community TimeBank, Detroit

The community service idea: Time banks offer neighbors a way to “bank” their time and expertise to help each other get things done—without exchanging money. Spend one hour doing something for someone in your community; earn one “time dollar” for your bank account; spend your time dollar having someone do something for you; repeat!

How ioby helped: The leaders of this Michigan time bank raised nearly $3,000 on ioby to fund staff time for planning events, matching members’ needs with other members’ skills, and conducting community outreach, among other efforts.

Learn more from this video: How to Start a Time Bank Where You Live!

2. Idea: Spruce up a dreary neighborhood corner

Example: Lake Avenue Railroad Bridge Beautification

The community service idea: The underpass of Cleveland’s Lake Road Railroad Bridge is a major link to Edgewater Park—but years of neglect gave it a grimy look that discouraged pedestrians and bicyclists from using it. Local leaders decided to beautify the area and invite more usage by clearing trash from the underpass, power washing its walls, and painting a mural where its big blank concrete expanse used to be.

How ioby helped: Project leaders raised over $5,700 on ioby to rent a power washer, buy painting supplies, and supply snacks and food to volunteers, among the other costs of preparing and installing the mural.

3. Idea: Host a community phone bank

Example: Amplify and Track City Service Requests with a Community 311 Phone Bank

The community service idea: Phone banking makes it easy for residents to voice their concerns about neighborhood issues by establishing regular meetings where neighbors can socialize, make calls to 311, and track responses from the city over time. Memphis leader Michalyn Easter set up her phone banking group in three weeks. Within the first few months, they reported a 98 percent success rate of responsive action by the city.

How ioby helped: Michalyn raised over $1,700 on ioby for her project Friends of Chelsea Greenline Advocacy Group. But the phone bank is an almost no-cost effort: 311 is free to use, and her group meets in community spaces like libraries that don’t charge a fee. If group members can take turns supplying a box of donuts or bags of chips at the monthly meet-ups, that’s more icing on the cake.

4. Idea: Welcome new refugee neighbors

Example: The Cleveland Refugee Bike Project

The community service idea: Physical mobility is a building block of economic mobility. Many recent immigrants to the US, especially refugees, face life in car-centric cities where no no car means lost opportunities. Ohio resident Tim Kovach started a project to help newly settling refugees take a bicycling safety course and get their own bike and cycling accessories so they can get on the road to the next chapter of their lives.

How ioby helped: Tim raised over $13,500 on ioby to buy locks, helmets, and refurbished bikes for 100 refugees, as well as pay other costs of running the program.

5. Idea: Tactical urbanism to keep our streets safe

Example: St. Luke’s Pointe Traffic Calming

The community service idea: Every day, speeding cars needlessly endanger kids’ lives as they walk to school. In her years as a crossing guard in Cleveland’s Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood, Lucille White witnessed far too many close calls—and helped save innumerable children from injury or death at the hands of careless drivers. Finally, Lucille decided to ask her neighbors for help, and organized a meeting with local students, parents, and council people to discuss and implement solutions to this troubling problem.

How ioby helped: Lucille raised over $800 on ioby for traffic cones, roll-out speed bumps, sidewalk chalk, and other tools to improve street safety in her neighborhood the DIY way.

Read about another great tactical urbanism idea: How to Capture and Report Sneckdowns.

Itching to enact your own community service idea? Tell us your fun and creative way to make positive change in your neighborhood! We can help you get it off the ground.

This article was first published on ioby’s blog.

Noah Lumbantobing ioby

Noah Lumbantobing

Noah Lumbantobing supports communications and storytelling work at ioby, helping to let people in on the poorly kept secret of community-led decision making for change–through crowdfunding! He is passionate about racial justice and collective agency, and is excited about the ways he can contribute to that everyday through ioby. He comes to ioby after previously working at the NYC Mayor's Office of Strategic Partnerships, supporting government, philanthropic, and private sector partnerships that advance the public good.

Noah holds a B.A. in Politics and Government from the University of Puget Sound. Originally an Oregonian and Indonesian, he spends a lot of time shuttling around the world meeting old friends, making new ones, and eating plenty of good food. When he can stay put he enjoys shell fishing, visual design, and geeking out over urban planning and local governments.