As the founder of the Fruit Belt McCarley/Gardens Housing Task Force, again we have been put in a position to defend our community.
Don’t mess with the Fruit Belt; don’t hustle the community; and, don’t believe the hype. The positive actions out of the Fruit Belt have been from many individuals, and not just one person. What I am communicating is that the Fruit Belt has been central to the change we are seeing in our city. That change is because of citizen engagement due to being sick and tired of being sick and tired – of being dismissed, disregarded and disrespected.
This is not to diminish the efforts of other city neighborhoods for we in the Fruit Belt have seen how our colleagues in Black Rock, Broadway Fillmore, Hertel, Masten Park, Hamlin Park, Elmwood Village, etc., have all stood up for enforcement of the Green Code, protections against gentrification, efforts toward historic preservation, sidewalk maintenance including snow removal, parking relief, traffic calming, etc. We have been at the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Common Council and have heard the pleas from residents to just be able to live lawfully in peace.
The Fruit Belt commends those citizens for standing up for their rights and holding their representatives accountable. But the Fruit Belt has had an exceptional experience. Our experience has been over several decades of demolitions, degradation, extraction of resources and all brought in a Trojan Horse from government to outside organizations with the message “we are doing this for you.” The government, “tearing down your community will make Buffalo better.” From outside organizations, “we know what is best for you” – so we are tired. We are especially tired of the hustle.
We continued to build our power through block clubs, homeowners, and later added, tenant Councils, and other forms of either formal or informal organizations. Our census tract population diminished to just a little over 2,000; leaders aged out; few new people moved in. But special outside interests continued to come into our community for their own personal gain – not to live, but to develop, and any possible benefit announced for the community resulted into empty promises. We are fed up with the deception and are compelled to take back control.