Harper Bishop, Deputy Director of Movement Building
(Thursday, August 15, 2019)
Time and again it has been the radical political imagination of grassroots leaders from marginalized communities armed with the truth of their lived experience who have confronted oppressive systems through building collective power that allows for community-controlled systems to take root. Communities across the country — like Buffalo, New York, Springfield, Massachusetts, and Jackson, Mississippi — are organizing for a New Economy that centers people on the front lines of environmental degradation and economic disenfranchisement (byproducts of a capitalist system that prioritizes profit motive above all else). The New Economy movement has become a cornerstone to building sustainable local living and loving economies, where it is recognized that the people closest to the problems have the best solutions — a belief that we live by at PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) Buffalo, the organization of which I recently became deputy director of movement building.
PUSH Buffalo was founded in 2005 when the organization’s co-founders and community members began going door-to-door in the city of Buffalo’s West Side to talk to people about changes they’d like to see in their neighborhood. PUSH Buffalo began living into the mission “to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality, affordable housing; expand local hiring opportunities; and advance economic and environmental justice in Buffalo” once surveying and addressing the issues within their community. The responses from the community were consistently about vacant buildings and empty lots that caused unsafe conditions for neighborhood residents; and contributed to blight. Additionally, people talked about unaffordable heating bills that inevitably led to gas shutoffs in the coldest months of the year in a city known for its harsh winters. PUSH Buffalo’s origin story alone affirms that community organizing is instrumental in defining bottom-up solutions and, in the instance of PUSH, defining organizational priorities of housing, climate, and energy, as well as the interconnectedness of the issues which have been woven together to create a foundation for a new community-controlled economy on Buffalo’s West Side.
Read the full article here: Community-Controlled Economies Drive Systems Change (BALLE Views)