A century ago, Buffalo, the terminus of the Erie Canal and located 20 miles south of Niagara Falls, was one of the wealthiest cities in the US. Once the nation’s eighth-most-populous city, Buffalo has suffered from decades of deindustrialization. In the past decade, however, a Buffalo revival took hold. This webinar, which took place on March 20, 2020, just days after the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns in the US began, tells a story about community building and organizing to build a more democratic economy in Buffalo.
To begin, this webinar features an interview of the Hon. April Baskin, Erie County Legislature Chair. Baskin, the youngest ever in that role, is a Nickel City native who has made supporting community development a cornerstone of her tenure in office.
Following the interview, NPQ’s Steve Dubb moderates a panel of three Buffalo leaders:
- Andrew Delmonte is director of cooperative development of People United for Sustainable Housing, better known as PUSH Buffalo, a membership-based nonprofit that advances economic, racial and environmental justice, where he manages PUSH’s “Cooperation Buffalo” worker co-op initiative.
- Bob Doyle is community development director of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI), a nonprofit that operates a market that provides space for the area’s immigrant community business owners to nurture their food and retail businesses.
- India Walton is a cofounder and executive director of the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, which provides permanently affordable housing in a neighborhood where the threat of displacement looms as a nearby university medical campus expands.
This webinar explores:
- How Buffalo-based community groups are having to pivot to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The range of economic “tools” available to build wealth in low-income communities and communities of color—including business incubation, social enterprise, and worker-co-ops.
- How to organize a community land trust to stave off displacement amid gentrification pressures.
- How to leverage community organizing and community-based economic development to achieve policy change.
- How community groups balance community organizing with the exigencies of community development.
- How long-term policy advocacy has changed the economic playing field in Buffalo.