When it comes to something as large and as opaque as a city’s stormwater management system, municipalities often struggle to create pathways for meaningful public participation. Particularly for agencies with small staffs and budgets, municipalities can find it difficult to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s requirement that every municipality with a combined sewer overflow (CSO) permit include a public participation process in the execution of its Long Term Control Plan. Facing competing priorities and urgent deadlines, agencies are hard pressed to find the time and resources to support substantial resident involvement in the implementation of a stormwater management plan and the development of large capital projects.

At the same time, residents in New Jersey and around the country are acutely aware of the need for stormwater management in their neighborhoods and on their properties, and are already starting to devise solutions. In many cases, powerful stormwater solutions can be as simple as neighbors deciding to disconnect their downspouts and install rain barrels. Some community groups have decided to plant rain gardens in vacant lots, while others have “depaved” their driveways. In Jersey City, the administration of PS5 worked with ioby to raise more than $6,000 for a catchment system on the school’s roof. Nearby, Sustainable Jersey City raised close to $4,600 for a rain garden with robust arts and educational elements.

Volunteers plant a rain garden to capture stormwater near the Gowanus Canal. Learn more about this project at https://www.ioby.org/project/greening-upslope-gowanus-reducing-stormwater-run.

By increasing the capacities of residents to fund and create these small-scale interventions, ioby offers a flexible and innovative supplement to the high-level, capital-intensive work that mayors’ offices and stormwater regulators are doing to make their cities more resilient. Leveraging our suite of crowd-resourcing services and tools, ioby is creating a national community of leaders who design, fund and implement green infrastructure solutions in their own neighborhoods.

Brooklyn kids learn how to create stormwater garden modules at their school. Learn more at: https://www.ioby.org/project/stormwater-garden-modules-education.

When residents, community-based organizations, and small businesses come together to fund and build local green infrastructure projects, they produce resilience dividends that extend far beyond gallons of captured or diverted stormwater. To be successful, crowdfunding campaigns on ioby require dozens of neighbors to serve as volunteers and donors, all working toward a common goal. The very act of participating in this community-driven effort bolsters the neighborhood’s community and social resilience, as neighbors learn about each other’s assets and vulnerabilities in the process. To help these groups be successful in using ioby to fund and implement their projects, ioby offers free one-on-one grassroots fundraising coaching, frequent crowdfunding trainings, and access to experts in green infrastructure project delivery through our Action Corps

The kinds of small-scale projects that are funded on ioby’s platform move the needle on public participation in stormwater management, contribute to the city’s Long Term Control Plan, and improve community resilience in the process. If you work for a municipality or stormwater regulator and are interested in working with ioby to enable, inspire, and fund resident-led green infrastructure projects in your city, contact David Weinberger at david@ioby.org. If you are a resident or community-based organization with a green infrastructure project and a funding need, go to ioby.org/idea to get started on your ioby campaign page.

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