Meet Sara Weinreb, the creator of IMBY, “a virtual community center for people who give a shit about co-creating a more just and equitable future.”
We recently had the chance to chat with Sara about why she started IMBY, what goes down in their home on Geneva, and some of her top tips for fellow community leaders.
In this convo, you’ll learn about...
- The weekly IMBY “Pep Rally”
- Why it’s better to build ‘with’ members
- The importance of patience!
Ok let’s jump in! (note: we’ve edited some of the conversation for brevity and clarity’s sake!) ⬇️
Ok, let’s start with the basics: what is IMBY?
IMBY is a virtual community center for people who give a shit about co-creating a more just and equitable future. Our members include entrepreneurs starting businesses, individuals making change in their community, activists, and more. I think about IMBY as a place to learn, to soak up knowledge, and to connect deeply to others doing the same — not just another membership program with a long to-do list. As an anti-capitalist space focused on rest, recharging, and nourishment, our focus is less on productivity than BEING.
Why did you start the community?
I created IMBY because I felt like Instagram was a dumpster fire and wanted a space to go much deeper and build true relationships with folks on the internet. So I think of IMBY’s space as a place to be social off social media; a comfortable place for uncomfortable conversations.
When I think of IMBY, I think of a real life community center — one where you can learn about new topics from interesting events and speakers, a space where you run into new and old friends, a humble gathering point for community action and interaction.
What are the most active rooms in your Geneva home?
Our "wellbeing center," "circular community," and "activism & equity work" rooms are often popping! In our "wellbeing center" we share how we are working on nourishing and taking care of ourselves. Our "activism & equity work" room is where we post articles and discuss topics we are exploring regarding social justice, liberation, equity, community care, and beyond. And our "circular community" room is a space where we can ask for help or offer support, barter, and take care of one another. Oh, and everyone loves the "food, drink, and herbs" room where we share recipes and delicious sustenance too!
What's one thing about the IMBY community that's surprised you this past year?
I have been surprised and delighted by the fact that our members really tend to our community. Even though I am the “founder” of the space, we are truly building it together. They support one another, share feedback and ideas, host events, and genuinely care. It’s been beautiful to watch unfold.
Does IMBY have any unique rituals or traditions?
Every Monday we hold an (optional!) Community Pep Rally in our virtual lounge to kick off our week together! We share what we’re excited about for the week and what we can use support around. We started doing these Pep Rallies when members expressed interest in building deeper relationships with one another and spending more (virtual) time together.
If you could invite any person, dead or alive, into IMBY for a week, who would it be?
adrienne maree brown is the first person to pop into my head. They are such an inspiration to me in terms of their approach to building more just futures and systems change. Their book Emergent Strategy radically expanded my worldview and understanding of how to approach this work. Plus, they are an excellent meme curator — what more could you want from a community member?!
What's one piece of advice you'd give to someone just starting out building a community like yours?
Have patience. It’s the most annoying and most genuine advice I can give (and I am giving it to myself, too!) but when you’re creating and cultivating a community that relies on trust, vulnerability, and creating inclusive spaces, it truly takes time to unfold. Build opportunities for people to make meaningful connections which builds trust. Ask for feedback, and be open to integrating it. And remember this isn’t about you — you’re one person, one member of the community, with a unique perspective, lived experience, learning style, support needs, and more. Learn from others, ask for help (we have a community steering committee, for example!) and be open to all perspectives. Allow the space to evolve as it’s meant to instead of forcing it to be your vision.
Why'd you choose to build IMBY on Geneva instead of somewhere else?
Well, IMBY is a virtual community center, so off the bat, I was in love with the fact that it was called your “home” and has “rooms.” It was precisely how I had envisioned! But I also loved the different types of rooms as most platforms only had chat OR forum OR video, etc. I love the design of Geneva, and it just feels warm and welcoming, not cold and overly business-y, which is the vibe I was going for. It felt like a soft place to land, which is what I say about IMBY!
Alright, last question: If someone wants to join IMBY, where should they go?
You can learn all about IMBY and the membership on our website. It has a ton of details around what actually happens in the community and how our membership works (it’s a self-selecting sliding scale with monthly fees from $15-$75/mo!)