“This is a collective vision of a more just and vibrant Buffalo,” said Partnership for the Public Good Deputy Director Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, as the group unveiled its 2018 Community Agenda in a festive event at the Merriweather Library.
“Over 276 community groups, ranging from block clubs to social service agencies, from theaters to environmental advocates, have come together to identify the top ten policy actions that state and local governments can take in the coming year to build a better region,” Ó Súilleabháin explained.
Each fall PPG leads a democratic process among its partners to determine the Community Agenda for the coming year. This year’s Agenda addresses topics such as ensuring non-discriminatory and affordable housing, improving public transit, limiting the use of solitary confinement, legalizing marijuana, ending lead poisoning, and certifying Buffalo as a “welcoming city.”
In nine years of creating and supporting a Community Agenda, PPG partners have seen many of their goals realized, on issues such as paid family leave, raising the age of criminal responsibility, creating Buffalo’s first community land trust, and increasing minimum wage.
“Engaging in local and state policy arenas gives us the opportunity to directly influence the decisions that affect our communities most,” said Sarah Wooton, PPG Policy Analyst. “Our Community Agenda process encourages collaboration between community groups across the region. They voice their top policy priorities for the next twelve months, and we move to advance those priorities as a collective—with the voices of those directly impacted at the forefront.”
The Community Agenda was announced to the community at an event opened by local performance artist, Brian Jay, who offered a moving excerpt from Free Fred Brown!, an Ujima Theater Company Just Transition play. The event closed with a powerful original piece by poet Jillian Hanesworth. Speakers included Jerome Wright from Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, India Walton from Open Buffalo, Andrew Marcum from the Center for Self Advocacy, Fidèle Menavanza from the Elder Center for Law and Justice, Katie Pieri from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and more.
PPG and its partners will be visiting with elected leaders in the coming months to review the Agenda with them and ask for their support. The ten planks are titled:
1. Reform Solitary Confinement in Erie County
2. Expand Community Policing, Increase and Improve Police Training, and Reduce Arrests in the City of Buffalo
3. Ensure Fair and Affordable Housing in Erie County
4. Certify Buffalo and Erie County as Welcoming Communities and Create Comprehensive Language Access Plans
- Establish an Accessible Office of the New York State Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities in the City of Buffalo
6. Invest in the Fruit Belt Neighborhood
7. Make the NFTA Work for Western New York
- Pass the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act and End Arrests for Low-Level Marijuana Possession in Buffalo
- Ensure that Banks most notably: KeyBank, Five Star, Evans, Bank of America and Northwest Fulfill Billion-Dollar Community Benefits Agreements with Western New York
- End Lead Poisoning of Buffalo’s Most Vulnerable Citizens
The full text of each plank is available at PPG’s web site, www.ppgbuffalo.org.
Assembly Member Sean Ryan said: “The Partnership for the Public Good is once again leading the way in setting a bold progressive agenda for 2018. From criminal justice reform, to investing in public transportation and neighborhood redevelopment, to tackling the lead crisis in our communities, PPG's list of priorities for the coming year addresses many of the most pressing issues facing Buffalo and Western New York. I look forward to working with PPG in the coming year to advance this important agenda. Likewise, i agree with Councilman Rivera that more needs to be done to engage the Latino Community”
Common Council Member David Rivera said: “As a local lawmaker, I look forward to the annual Community Agenda to hear what policies are important to Buffalo and Erie County. I know these issues come straight from the neighborhoods and I thank PPG for providing space to assist residents and organizations turn their concerns into solutions. I am hopeful in 2018 we can continue to strengthen the partnership between neighborhoods and government to solve these policy issues's while working better to include Buffalo's Latino community in the process, especially in Banking".