The Origin Story

The Origin Story

My wife, Jillian, and I are risk takers. What I mean by that is that we have the tendency to make big decisions quickly. We’re not being naive or flippant. We just don’t let ourselves get hung up on the big costs when we know we’re supposed to take a certain path.

That’s a part of how we found ourselves selling our house in a middle class neighborhood to move to a lower-income neighborhood called Easytown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Long story short, we had both been made aware of the needs in this area and decided we had to do something about it. The decision took all of two weeks to make.

But what? What could we offer? We didn’t know the answer to that question but we did know how to make relationships. So we started there.

Although we stuck out, we were welcomed in with kindness and generosity. Fast forward a few years, we’ve truly felt loved by our neighbors. We’ve hosted a wedding, attended a funeral, celebrated birthday parties together, had neighborhood cookouts, received Christmas gifts, and mourned losses. Our girls play with neighbor kids and overall we feel more and more a part of the community.

One tangible need we observed is how many empty and overgrown lots there are. An overgrown lot is much more likely to get large amounts of trash dumped on it. The grass keeps growing, then, the city tries to maintain it only for their tractor to break down from running over the large trash (yeah, that happened across the street). Despite their best efforts, the blighted lots begin to be forgotten. This may not seem like a big deal, but it helps perpetuate a cycle of poverty and low housing values for these lower income areas. We’d wanted to do something about it for a long time.

Well, one day Jillian got a text from me while I was at a lawn equipment store asking if she was ok with me buying not only the new weed eater I went to get, but also a commercial grade blower and a zero-turn lawn mower so that we could start taking care of overgrown lots in our area. Basically, I took the expected expense for that day and multiplied it by ten. She said, and I quote, “Go for it, babe!”

That day I mowed our entire block, most of which we don’t own and is vacant and overgrown. I had an absolute blast. While I was mowing, I noticed one of my neighbors started picking up trash on the same lot. We were serving our community together. In my joyful stupor, I had a simple question go through my mind. It was this: “How can I do this on a larger scale?” The wheels started turning and that's when the idea of a company that would provide on-demand lawn care that gave back to help revitalize low income areas began.

From the very first time I started pitching Block, I have always said that we’d give a portion of our revenue back to underserved areas to see them revitalized for the community and I don’t have any plans to change that. That’s why every time you get your yard mowed with Block, we set aside a small portion to give back. To restore value. To restore dignity.

That's why we like to say that Block was founded on the idea that technology has the ability to change lives.

Grow grass, grow.

Matthew Armstrong

CEO & Co-Founder, Block