Organizing

Organizing

Rooted by Our Ancestors, Powered by Our Youth.
A group of PUSH women in front of the US Capitol building demonstrating what it looks like when people gather together for a cause.

Theory of Change

The PUSH Buffalo Organizing team knows that when we organize to build power with real people in our communities, people listen. The Organizing Team works to be rooted by our ancestors and powered by our youth by building leaders to stop the bad and build the new for a just and equitable transition for all of us. We know that climate and housing justice are not separate issues but are rooted in an extractive economy. We strive to focus our campaign attentions at the roots of our crisis so that we can holistically build a regenerative, living economy that is rooted in care, sacredness and joy.  Together we engage in national, state and local campaigns that work to draw down money and power to our people because we know that “if we are not prepared to govern, we are not prepared to win”.

Values Filter

In July of 2019, the PUSH Buffalo Organizing Team held a five-day reflection and strategy retreat. During our time together we identified our collective values and worked to come into alignment on how to best use our values to make decisions within our team. This filter will be our decision making check-in tool when we make decisions on campaigns, projects, events or other important pieces of work within the Organizing team. The intention of this filter is to help to make our work and decision making systems more horizontal and transparent as we move into a practice of collective work and responsibility. As our comrades at Movement Generation so rightfully say, “if we’re not prepared to govern, we’re not prepared to win”.

 

The inspiration for our values filter comes from Movement Generation and their Just Transition framework which articulates a set of values that resources must pass through as we divest from the power and money of the Extractive Economy into the Regenerative Economy we are building together.

 

This filter will change to fit our time, place and conditions throughout the life of the Organizing Team of PUSH Buffalo. This filter also serves as a point of aspiration in our practice together as a team and within the larger organization of PUSH Buffalo–we are constantly growing, changing, learning, practicing and figuring it out.

Seven Generations Principle

  1. Will the decision we are making today create a sustainable world for seven generations forward? Will it reverberate to heal our ancestors seven generations back?
  2. “If it’s not soulful, it’s not strategic”
  3. Does this decision help to create real community power by drawing down money, power and other resources? Does it set us up for structural reforms that will get us closer to our “north stars”?
  4. Does this decision move the needle towards real solutions being more politically realistic? Does it work to expose that the current system does not serve us?
  5. Does this decision help to build or strengthen our movement infrastructure and collective practices of liberation?
  6. Does this decision allow for more space for communities of care, dignity and joy?

Race and Gender Justice

  1. Does this decision center racial and gender justice in a radical and visionary way?
  2. Are we centering the voices and decision making power of people of color, women, queer and trans people? 
  3. Does this decision work to chip away at the culture of white supremacy?
  4. Does this decision get to the roots of oppression? Are we being explicit about race, gender and class? 
  5. Does this decision value all of the types of labor that is involved in it? How will this shift power and create more communities of care? 
  6. What is the impact of this decision? How and who made the decision?

Intention, Purpose & Practice

  1. How will we govern what we win? 
  2. Does this decision work to change practice and policy?
  3. “If we’re not prepared to govern, we’re not prepared to win”
  4. Does this decision center real people as real policy makers? Are grassroots and frontline voices given a seat at the table in a real way?
  5. We can do real research on who has real power
  6. Does this national or state work work to empower local living economies? What is the local impact? 
  7. Does this decision change the narrative and create space for us to struggle on the field of ideology and worldview? Are we challenging dominant narratives and hegemony to create radical possibilities of liberation?

Organic Knowledge & Experience

  1. Does this decision uplift, resource and center the organic knowledge, wisdom, skills and talents of our people? 
  2. Does this decision celebrate the talents and cultures of our peoples? 
  3. Does this decision move forward the solutions being practiced and proposed by frontline and grassroots leaders? 
  4. Does this decision allow for our communities to have choices, a place of practice and an opportunity to learn and grow?

Leadership Development

  1. Does this decision build the power of our organization, our movements and for ourselves?
  2. Does this decision create opportunities for leaders to grow and deepen their skills and political analysis? 
  3. Does this decision create space for our leaders to tell their real stories with deep vulnerability, care and courage? 
  4. Does this decision treat our leaders as whole people and not just numbers?

Healing Justice

  1. We believe that we are worth more than the worst things that we have ever done and that have ever happened to us. We commit to being in a practice of restorative and transformative justice. 
  2. We believe in honoring and holding the trauma of our lived experiences of intersectional oppression. We know that none of us are free until all of us are free, healed and living in our dignity. 
  3. We believe in being rooted in love, trust and unity
  4. We believe that healing is not linear nor should it be done “away” from community. We can and must create possibilities and practices of community care and healing. 
  5. We believe in the power that is created through relationships and that relationships are the DNA of organizing. Relationships can be transformative and create new possibilities. 
  6. We believe that part of liberation and healing justice is the liberation of our radical imaginations. We will work to identify and push away the dominant narratives we are taught about what is possible and move towards what we really need.
Upcoming Organizing Events
Night of Power
Sat, Nov 23 at 5:00 PM

Full Organizing Calendar

PUSH’s Organizing team organizes on the West Side of Buffalo for a more equitable, resilient and just Buffalo for all. We believe that we need to both stop the bad that has been done to our communities while we also dream of and build the new that we need to survive and thrive in a new economy.

PUSH works on two major issues, though they are deeply connected to each other and so much more: Climate and Housing Justice

Organizers

Emily Terrana

Co-Director of Organizing

Emily Terrana is a proud Buffalonian, mother of three and a long-time community organizer and educator. She currently works as PUSH Buffalo’s Co-Director of Organizing where she works to support the work of the Organizing Team in building power with residents of the West Side of Buffalo for a just and equitable transition to a caring, living economy. Emily holds a degree in Women and Gender Studies from Buffalo State College and has had some of her writing published in Selves, Symbols, and Sexualities: An Interactionist Anthology. She also serves on the board of Clean Air Coalition of WNY. Emily has a deeply rooted passion for gender, climate and economic justice and believes that there cannot be liberation for any of us without liberation for all of us.

John Washington

Co-Director of Organizing

John Washington is the Co-Director of Organizing for PUSH Buffalo. Before coming into his work around Social Justice he spent 10 years as a professional debt collector and collection manager working on Credit Card Debt, Student Loan Debt and Pay Day Loan Debt. This gave John a lot of knowledge about how our economy works from the perspective. John became active in the Occupy Movement quitting his job in collections to work toward social and economic justice. Over the past few years John has lead campaigns around Community Reinvestment, Economic Development and Energy Democracy. John is currently working on Housing Justice campaigns that aim to stop displacement from gentrification in the City of Buffalo.

Christian Parra

Field Organizing Manager

 

Christian Parra is PUSH Buffalo’s Field Organizing Manager and Latinx activist. Christian is a talented community organizer, who comes from the Bronx but calls Buffalo home. He has dedicated the past 4 years of his life to community organizing and base-building in order to build real power for real people. Christian’s vision, passion, and tenacity is contagious and they are on display every day when he comes to work. Over the past 3 years, Christian has developed — from scratch — a Street Team Academy, which is a 6-week curriculum with Buffalo’s best organizers teaching over 50 youth the basics of community organizing. From that Academy, the Youth Action Team (ages 15-18) and Street Team (ages 18-23) are selected and spend the year engaged in base-building for climate and housing justice campaigns, as well as voter registration and engagement. Most of the members of these teams are immigrants and refugees, who use their multiple languages and various connections in their communities to engage some of the most disenfranchised peoples in the city and country right now. Because of Christian’s clear vision, radical love, and immense vulnerability, the movement’s (future) leaders have great pride in themselves, their work, and their communities. As Christian would say, “When immigrants and refugees are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” That’s what is happening in the 14213 every day thanks to his efforts.

Geovaira Hernandez

Climate Justice Organizer

I am a Domican Afro-Latinx woman from the Bronx, NY who came to Buffalo in 2013. I started organizing during college, before I knew what organizing was, or even a non-profit or CBO. I hold degrees in Criminal Justice and Higher Education, which I apply into my work to eradicate environmental racism and classism. It took me fleeing all my blood family and my childhood home from many pains to eventually learn about and understand the systems of oppression which led to so much pain and separation. I am a living example of the intersectionalities of environmental racism, and that’s why I do this work. Through PUSH’s popular education, leadership development ladder, and the investment of a couple of individuals who saw so much in me, I now lead our eco- and climate justice work. I work with people to build and fortify local, state and national campaigns for a collective liberation that ensures no one and no thing is poisoned in any way, and that we all have equitable access to the resources necessary to live healthy, joyful and dignified lives… We know what we need where we live.

Street Team

Tyrell Ford

Lead Street Team Organizer

 

Tyrell Ford grew up in Syracuse, NY. He moved to Buffalo to pursue is higher education. He enrolled first at ECC and transferred to Buffalo state college. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 2010. He is a proud father of two boys, that he raises with his lovely wife. Tyrell Currently works for PUSH Buffalo ’19. His past profession included security in some of the city’s top security firms as well as night clubs. Tyrell is currently working with the street team to help them build power in the communities that we live in. Focusing on building relations and getting everyone informed on matters that might affect them.

Leviticus Burrell-Cook

Street Team

Organizers

Emily Terrana

Co-Director of Organizing

Emily Terrana is a proud Buffalonian, mother of three and a long-time community organizer and educator. She currently works as PUSH Buffalo’s Co-Director of Organizing where she works to support the work of the Organizing Team in building power with residents of the West Side of Buffalo for a just and equitable transition to a caring, living economy. Emily holds a degree in Women and Gender Studies from Buffalo State College and has had some of her writing published in Selves, Symbols, and Sexualities: An Interactionist Anthology. She also serves on the board of Clean Air Coalition of WNY. Emily has a deeply rooted passion for gender, climate and economic justice and believes that there cannot be liberation for any of us without liberation for all of us.

John Washington

Co-Director of Organizing

John Washington is the Co-Director of Organizing for PUSH Buffalo. Before coming into his work around Social Justice he spent 10 years as a professional debt collector and collection manager working on Credit Card Debt, Student Loan Debt and Pay Day Loan Debt. This gave John a lot of knowledge about how our economy works from the perspective. John became active in the Occupy Movement quitting his job in collections to work toward social and economic justice. Over the past few years John has lead campaigns around Community Reinvestment, Economic Development and Energy Democracy. John is currently working on Housing Justice campaigns that aim to stop displacement from gentrification in the City of Buffalo.

Geovaira Hernandez

Climate Justice Organizer

Christian Parra

Field Organizing Manager

I am a Domican Afro-Latinx woman from the Bronx, NY who came to Buffalo in 2013. I started organizing during college, before I knew what organizing was, or even a non-profit or CBO. I hold degrees in Criminal Justice and Higher Education, which I apply into my work to eradicate environmental racism and classism. It took me fleeing all my blood family and my childhood home from many pains to eventually learn about and understand the systems of oppression which led to so much pain and separation. I am a living example of the intersectionalities of environmental racism, and that’s why I do this work. Through PUSH’s popular education, leadership development ladder, and the investment of a couple of individuals who saw so much in me, I now lead our eco- and climate justice work. I work with people to build and fortify local, state and national campaigns for a collective liberation that ensures no one and no thing is poisoned in any way, and that we all have equitable access to the resources necessary to live healthy, joyful and dignified lives… We know what we need where we live.

Christian Parra

Field Organizing Manager

Street Team

Leviticus Burrell-Cook

Street Team

History

Organizing is PUSH Buffalo’s oldest department.

Partner Organizations, Past Campaigns, and Resources

Media

$2 Million to Promote Affordable Housing,” The Buffalo News, Mark Sommer, August 9, 2006.

City Homes Feel Ill Wind From Albany,” The Buffalo News, Donn Esmonde, July 21, 2006.

PUSH Puts Famous Face on Eyesores,” The Buffalo News, Mark Sommer, July13, 2006.

Buffalo’s Blight Fight,” The Bond Buyer, Robert Whalen, June 13, 2006.

Study Faults Pataki for Lack of Housing Opportunities,” Mark Johnson, Associated Press, June 8, 2006.

Probe Urged of Bond Sale for Derelict Property,” Mark Sommer, Buffalo News, May 19, 2006.

Fighting Neighborhood Blight,” WGRZ, May 18, 2006.

Activists Push to Meet with Housing Officials,” Mark Sommer, Buffalo News, April 14, 2006.

Here Comes the Neighborhood,” Geoff Kelly, Artvoice, March 23, 2006.

Group Seeks Action on Vacant Homes,” Deidre Williams, Buffalo News, March 24, 2006.

Activists PUSHing State Housing Agency to Take Action On Vacant Properties,” WIVB News, March 23, 2006.

PUSH House Community Clean-up A Success,” Deidre Williams, Buffalo News, January 29,2006.

Group Advocates Urban ‘Homesteading‘,” Brian Meyer, Buffalo News, January 19, 2006.

A Harvard-Educated Native Son Returns to Make a Difference,” Mark Sommer, Buffalo News, January 1,2006.

Community Group Looking for Housing Reform in Buffalo,” WKBW News, November 13, 2005.

“Pushing for a Better Buffalo,” Aron Singer and Christopher Ahearn, Generation Magazine, 1 November, 2005.

City Foreclosure Auction Draws $925,000 in Opening Day Bids,” Brian Meyer, Buffalo News, October 25, 2005.

Out-of-control Neighborhoods Pose Challenge for Next Mayor,” Deidre Williams, Buffalo News, 11 October, 2005.

Auctioning of Properties from City Slumlord Stirs Call for Accountability,” Deidre Williams, Buffalo News, 22 July 2005