Author: Robert Creenan
Buffalo’s rebirth is certainly not going unnoticed by outside organizations. This is particularly good news given that Crossroads Buffalo, a group of 8 community organizations, has been provided grant money from the Boston-based Chorus Foundation. The funding makes Buffalo one of 3 current sites to get such financial support; the other two being Richmond, California, and the state of Alaska.
The Chorus Foundation funds progressive community organizing across the country, with a focus on environmental and racial issues. The foundation is involved with three other collaborations at the moment, which are part of a new area-wide initiative. Richmond, California, Eastern Kentucky, and the state of Alaska. Alaska is working on sustainable practices involving harvesting salmon and saving Inuit homes affected by global warming. Richmond, California is working on lessening its dependence on coal. And Kentucky is working on providing better economic opportunities for the Appalachian communities of the state.
The collective’s mission and scope are unlike anything seen before in Buffalo.
“At the Chorus Foundation, we’ve had the rare privilege of being able to sit down with organizers and campaigners in communities around the country,” said Farhad Ebrahimi, Founder of the Chorus Foundation. “We’ve been incredibly impressed with the work taking place in Buffalo, and are proud to be making a long-term grant making commitment to support that work.”
“Crossroads is about recognizing that humanity cannot survive in our current paradigm of endless carbon consumption and ever more extreme disparities of wealth,” said Aaron Bartley, Executive Director of PUSH Buffalo and a Crossroads partner. “Our community coalition will put Buffalo at the forefront of the movement to create jobs and self-sufficiency through investments in practical solutions like solar energy, weatherization, water management, and urban agriculture.”
Said Sam Magavern, Co-Director of the Partnership for the Public Good, “The Green Development Zone on Buffalo’s West Side is an internationally recognized example of how green housing, energy, and food production can rebuild a blighted neighborhood. The question now is whether we can win the kind of state and local policies that would enable green development zones to blossom throughout the city, region, and state.”
As for Buffalo, the 8 groups in Crossroads at the moment are:
- Coalition for Economic Justice
- Massachusetts Avenue Project
- Open Buffalo
- Partnership for the Public Good
- Public Accountability Initiative
- PUSH Buffalo
- Ujima Theatre Co.
- WASH Project
Each group works on a specific topic pertaining to getting more people into the environmental conversation.
Ujima Theatre and WASH Project are focused on the art integration; the Youth Forum is using music, hip-hop, and poetry to reach youth, the Partnership for the Public Good and the Public Accountability Initiative will be doing research into what practices will work best, the power players, and who benefits now and in the future; the Massachusetts Avenue Project is focused on youth engagement and food justice; and the coalition for economic justice will bring together organized labor.
Right now Crossroads is focusing itself on the NY Renews legislation, a bill that, if passed, would have all of New York State run on 100% clean energy in the next 30 years, along with a 100% healthy family initiative. This includes moving towards community ownership of energy entities and making green jobs accessible to all people. “We’re also dealing with the issues from the Peace Bridge, the 33, and the elevated rates of asthma in the community,” said Franchelle Hart, the executive director of Open Buffalo, one of the Crossroads groups.
“I am very encouraged by the NY Renews alliance and their recognition that energy, the environment, and the economy are so intimately dependent on each other,” Buffalo Common Council Majority Leader David Rivera said today. “I call on our state legislators who represent Buffalo and Western New York to make NY Renews goals for a healthy environment and inclusive economy as laws in New York State.”
“Unpredictable weather, housing stock that is among the oldest in the country, and high utility bills are having a crippling economic impact on working families and the elderly on fixed incomes in our city,” stated Hart. “The Crossroads is about bringing all these stakeholders to the decision making table demanding investments that create economically viable and environmentally safe communities.”
Hart believes that Buffalo can eventually become a nationwide example for renewable energy; given the amount of national attention Buffalo is getting at the moment. “People are looking at PUSH Buffalo and its Green Development Zone as a nationwide model,” Hart said. “Buffalo will be the model for how to create 100% renewable energy and fighting for environmental justice.”
Lead image: Press conference – Partnership for Public Good