FREE | 2018 NZPI Conference: Erin Barnes

Co-Founder and Executive Director, ioby

Before ioby, Erin was an environmental writer with a background in water management. From 2007-2008, she was the environmental editor at Men’s Journal magazine, and was a freelance writer on climate change and other environmental issues. From 2003-2005, she worked as a community organizer and public information officer at the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition in Portland, Oregon.

While completing her Master of Environmental Management in water science, economics, and policy at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, she was a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies scholar in Portuguese. She did field research on socio-economic values of water in Goyena, Nicaragua, and the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon. Her report “Market Values of the Commercial Fishery on the Madeira River: Calculating the Costs of the Santo Antônio and Jirau Dams to Fishermen in Rondônia, Brasil and Pando-Beni, Bolivia” was published in the Tropical Resources Institute Journal in 2007.

Erin also holds a B.A. in English and American Studies from the University of Virginia. Erin lives in Brooklyn and serves on the Board of EcoDistricts and Resource Media, and as an advisor to ArtBridge. The Rockefeller Foundation awarded Erin and her co-founders at ioby the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Technology and Innovation. ​ ​

Presentation ​
Building Cities From the Ground Up ​
Most cities are planned by the few. Top-down plans are written in dense jargon, penultimate drafts are shared with community members at boring meetings, input is solicited but rarely incorporated, community members leave feeling like they had no role in actually shaping their own neighborhoods. It is a sad, oft-cited tragedy of the ‘community engagement process.’
Top-down plans are absolutely critical to providing equity, maintaining public works systems, and financing large-scale projects; however, top-down policies and frameworks will not solve every problem. U.S. communities need and deserve solutions that are created and implemented by residents.
Jane Jacobs famously said "Cities have the capability of creating something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody." But how ‘everybody’ actually gets to create their cities is not always clear. Citizen participation in urban planning and democratic technologies can positively disrupt the typical project delivery process if we encourage them.
People with great ideas to make their communities stronger and more sustainable—new urban farms in food deserts, making streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians of all ages, activating vacant lots—encounter a typical set of barriers to participation. These barriers deflect, delay, or thwart individuals’ civic paths to creating direct meaningful change.
Erin Barnes will share case studies from cities across the United States, where residents lead change by creating, funding and implementing projects. When residents implement their own solutions, they build community participation, neighborhood cohesion and long-term stewardship.
Unlike NIMBYs, who organize to stop something from happening in their own backyards, ioby leaders organize their neighbors to create positive change on their block. Furthermore, the act of participation in civic life binds neighbors together, builds resilience, and gives residents a sense of hope and a belief that change is possible.

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