By Erin Barnes, CEO and Co-Founder, Ioby  

As ioby’s CEO and Co-Founder, TFN member Erin Barnes has led ioby’s strategic planning, governance, and fundraising for the last 11 years. In addition to her role at ioby, Erin is board chair of Resource Media and an Obama Foundation Fellow.

Recently, Erin shared a personal essay on her own experience dealing with a crisis on Medium. We know so many of our members are dealing with the many fronts of the Covid-19 virus and Erin’s message really spoke to us about the big impact small things can have on someone experiencing a crisis or traumatic event.

“Many Americans are already socially isolated, and the physical distancing that we need to do as a society to prevent the spread of coronavirus will exacerbate loneliness, anxiety and despair. In the last 48 hours, I have read a bunch of important pieces about the importance of mutual aid, social solidarity, and social connectedness.

And as I was brainstorming what we as community members, as nonprofit leaders, and as a society ought to do to take care of each other during this crisis, what came to mind for me immediately is what I needed during a personal crisis.

First, a little context. From about 2010 to 2016, as ioby grew and my job became more national, I spent more of my life in everyone else’s neighborhood instead of my own. I became what I thought was more self-reliant, but what was actually socially disconnected. I came to rely on apps for everything that used to just be called favors. A ride home from the airport? I no longer called friends; I used Lyft. Pick up something last minute at the store for me? Nah, I’ll just use Amazon Prime. Walk my dog? A dog-walking service. Help me put together some IKEA furniture? Taskrabbit. Instead of asking for someone to water my plants while I’m out of town, I even built a self-watering irrigation system for my fire escape kale. I convinced myself that I had optimized my life because I didn’t depend on anyone else.

In 2016, just three months after I moved into a new apartment building, my dad was hospitalized after having a seizure and quickly diagnosed with a fast-growing brain cancer. He had surgery to remove the cancer two days before the 2016 election. He died three weeks after Inauguration Day in 2017.”

Read the rest of her essay here.

About the Author

Erin Barnes is CEO and Co-Founder of ioby. She is also the board chair of Resource Media and an Obama Foundation Fellow.

Prior to 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 as Board chair of Resource Media. The Rockefeller Foundation awarded Erin and her co-founders Brandon Whitney and Cassie Flynn at ioby the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Technology and Innovation. In April 2018, Erin was selected to join the inaugural class of Obama Fellows, recognized by President and Mrs. Obama for ioby’s work in leading the next wave of civic innovation in America.

Privacy Preference Center