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Special Report: Making Buffalo Our City

 

In the last century, Buffalo, New York was a booming industrial town fueled by a falls and people from all over the planet. But most of the wealth concentrated at the top, and at the end it mostly moved out. It looks as if people and investment may be coming back, but will the wealth be more equitably shared? Grassroots activists are determined that this time will be different, and they’re not just hoping or lobbying for a change – they’re looking very closely at government.

 


“I have a shoot-for-the-moon kind of attitude,” said Walton, a three-year Fruit Belt resident who works for Open Buffalo, a force behind the land trust idea. “We have our vision and plan for the future.”


 

Push Buffalo (John Washington, Harper Bishop, Asim Johnson, Rahwa Ghirmatizion, Luz Velez, Geovaira Hernandez): The mission of PUSH Buffalo is to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality, affordable housing; to expand local hiring opportunities; and to advance economic and environmental justice in Buffalo.

 

Our City Buffalo: OUR CITY is a broad coalition of people in Buffalo who have come together to create a policy platform that benefits people over profits. The platform is organized into nine main areas that include affordable housing, community policing, immigration, public education, transportation, frontline arts, food and health equity, energy democracy, and cooperative ownership and community control of resources.

 

 

Luz Velez

Luz has been a community social worker and substance abuse counselor since 1987, starting such programs as Hispanics United of Buffalo’s Senior Services and some of the first HIV and AIDS services in Buffalo and WNY during the crisis in the 1980’s and 90’s. Luz uses her powerful voice to uplift the stories of people in our communities who are so often ignored and erased, always in English and Spanish, every chance she gets to make real and lasting change on every level. Wherever she goes Luz quietly commands attention with her raging hot truth, deep empathy, solidarity that’s rooted in her bones and her sparkly silver cane.

 

India Walton 

India is the executive director of the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust. She is a native and lifelong resident of the “city she loves,” Buffalo, N.Y. She is the proud mother of four awesome sons. Walton graduated from Buffalo Public Schools, Erie Community College and is pursuing a master’s degree in nursing leadership and informatics. Her toolkit having been enriched by AFL- CIO organizer training, Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo Training, and Open Buffalo’s Emerging Leaders program, Walton has grown into a fierce advocate for labor and community. In recent years, Walton has worked diligently with the Community First Alliance and a broad coalition of partners in Buffalo’s historic Fruit Belt neighborhood to establish a community land trust and negotiate a community benefits agreement with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

 

Vanessa Glushefski

Vanessa is a Certified Public Account and an attorney. She moved to Buffalo over ten years and fell in love with the region and its potential. Vanessa is deeply committed to fairness, accuracy, and justice. In December of 2018, Vanessa was appointed Deputy Comptroller for Buffalo. When then-comptroller, Mark Schroeder, resigned to take a position in Albany, she stepped in as acting comptroller, and sought support of the Buffalo Common Council for the formal appointment to this position.

 

Kathryn Franco

With a decade of experience in Buffalo’s non-profit arena, working in the realm of HIV/AIDS, with youth, for LGBTQ+ communities of color, and policy and research, Kathryn is passionate about creating a Buffalo that is built and thrives for all of its residents. Lived experience and the opportunity to work with various communities has given Kathryn the insight and experience to meet people where they are and to respect that they are experts in their own lives. Because of this, Kathryn wholeheartedly believes in community at the center of decisions around policy making, as those closest to the issues know how to resolve them.

 

Larry Scott

Larry is a member of the Buffalo Board of Education. He has been a parent activist in the district for the past 5 years. He lives in North Buffalo and was one of the founders of a parent group called the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization (BPTO). Larry is a proud, involved father of two boys at public school #81 and a baseball coach for North Park Youth Baseball League. He is a school psychologist in a neighboring school district, currently working as an Alternative to Suspension Specialist with middle school youth.

 

Rachel Dominguez

Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization Executive Committee Member.

 

Whitney Crispell

Community Activist & Larry Scott’s Campaign Manager.

 

Jennifer Connor

Director/Co-Founder of Justice for Migrant Families Western NY.


 

 

From Laura: Renewable energy, racist redlining, and now possibly a renaissance. The people of Buffalo, New York have seen a lot.

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