The Green Machine, a mobile grocery store, has been delivering fresh produce to residents of Memphis food deserts for more than a year now. But now the group behind the Green Machine has begun crowd-funding to take their mission to the next level with a grocery cooperative storefront for the Vance neighborhood downtown.
That's just one of many ideas recently posted to the new Create Memphis website (memphis.ioby.org) launched last week. The site is powered by Ioby, a crowd-funding site that focuses on public projects and creative place-making. Ioby stands for "in our backyards."
The national company Ioby has had a Memphis presence for about a year now, but until last week, the local site was set up like their other city sites with only serious crowd-funding campaigns that already had plans, budgets, and teams ready to implement the projects. The Hampline, the soon-to-be-constructed, two-way bicycle track from Overton Park to the Shelby Farms Greenline, was funded through the old Memphis Ioby platform.
But Ioby is trying something new with Create Memphis. Anyone with an idea can go to the site, post the idea, and see if it gains any traction. From there, a team of people at Ioby and Livable Memphis will help those ideas that need funding start a crowd-sourced campaign.
"As the [old] Ioby functions, it's a useful tool for people with an idea, a plan, a budget, and a team. But a lot of people have ideas for Memphis that aren't that developed yet, and in fact, they may not be ideas that should even come to fruition," said Erin Barnes, executive director and co-founder of Ioby. "The idea behind Create Memphis is that it is an opportunity for people who have the beginning of an idea or would like to work on addressing a problem in their neighborhood."
Barnes said Create Memphis was partly inspired by the Make Memphis campaign, a Facebook group started by entrepreneur Taylor Berger to generate ideas for improving the city. Ideas are posted to the Make Memphis Facebook page, but many don't have the financial backing to become reality.
"People are always saying, 'Somebody ought to ...' fill-in-the-blank. Well, if it needs to be done, maybe you should do it," said Emily Trenholm, executive director for the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis, the umbrella organization over Livable Memphis.
From the Create Memphis website, anyone can click the "Add an Idea" button. The idea becomes a dot on a map of the city, and others can like your idea or comment. The staff at Ioby or Livable Memphis will help set up crowd-source campaigns for ideas that need support.
"You might say someone should really put a mural on that big blank wall. And then someone might comment, 'You know, I could do that.' And then you can use Ioby to raise a couple hundred dollars," Trenholm said.
Paul Young, administrator of the Shelby County Office of Sustainability, is planning to upload about 200 ideas that were generated through recent Mid-South Regional Greenprint meetings. Those ideas range from bike lanes to community gardens to planting more trees.
"Ioby is going to integrate these ideas into their platform in case someone wants to pick up on one and try to implement it," Young said. "We as government aren't able to do everything, but this allows a way for those recommendations to live on beyond the planning process."
The Create Memphis website is funded by the Hyde Family Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.