“Who got some gas? Who got that greeny green!?” If you live at the community level aka the hood, this is code word for; “Who got some good weed?”
For years PUSH Buffalo has been selling the idea that they have a formula for energy democracy and sustainability with their busted “net zero” house, fairy-tale workforce development program, nonfunctioning solar on School 77, strung-out home weatherization program, and more. All of these false solutions have morphed into justification for PUSH’s current ‘climate justice’ work. PUSH Green
, what we are talking about here, started out as a forward-thinking vision by PUSH co-founder Eric Walker to bring energy democracy and efficiency to the hood. PUSH Green is a community based organization (CBO) that is supposed to connect homeowners with weatherization services (by local contractors) and funding (by New York State). Unfortunately, like so much that has happened at this tragic organization, chasing after grant dollars and power has turned PUSH Green into a bullshit program that does not help poor people or People of Color at all.
Today, PUSH Green is another prop, another false solution smokescreen that is used by the people who run it today to front for social justice and get more grant dollars by giving hope to (mostly white) people with climate anxiety. They create false narratives, manufacture lies, and take photo ops to mislead funders into thinking that they are actually on the front lines of climate justice. Clarke Gocker, PUSH Policy and Strategy Director (who we wrote about previously) is one manager running the PUSH Green show, but we already know he has no idea what he is doing
and only cares about preserving his hide. Other members of PUSH’s Senior Management Team use PUSH Green for grant writing purposes, pushing lies and false narratives for the purposes of getting more money, but not actually connecting people in need with the weatherization services they need.
There is so much to be said about PUSH Green and we plan on getting into the weeds in the future, but here are the Top 6 Ways that PUSH Green in a False Solution to get us all started:
PUSH Green’s track record of weatherizing homes, especially for People of Color in the poor areas that need it the most, is terrible. If you look online at the public numbers for PUSH Green weatherizations, they always say 500. PUSH Green has the ability to provide HOMEOWNERS ONLY (no tenants!) with around $10,000 to $15,000 to weatherize a house, but if the cost to weatherize the house is more or less than that range, the program doesn’t work without alternative financing, so no weatherization happens. The thing is, there are successful CBOs that serve poor people, combine energy efficiency for all with homeownership programs, and provide other services. It shouldn’t be a big deal to do this, but when you’re frontin’ for social justice, providing real services that help people is not the goal: accumulating money and power while leaving everyone else behind is more important.
PUSH Green benefits white people in the suburbs and leaves People of Color in the Hood behind. You may think that PUSH Green is serving residents of the City of Buffalo, but its 3 staff members are responsible for covering a 5-county service area (think about how impossible that is)! If you have decent credit (like white people living in the suburbs often do), you can take advantage of PUSH Green by financing any additional costs in various ways, such as by using a credit card or asking a family member. Many white people have been connected to PUSH Green services by big green (white) environmentalist groups like Sierra Club. But if you are poor, don’t have access to credit or family wealth, and your house weatherization costs don’t fit within the program’s $10-$15k budget, then you are not a fit and your house does not get weatherized. Many people on the West Side and other parts of the City of Buffalo have fallen through PUSH Green’s service cracks because of the financial barriers to entry.
PUSH Green staff are paid and gaslighted to tell poor, housing-insecure people that there is support and money for home weatherization services that don’t exist. Why has PUSH Green kept such a low level of employees in recent years? It’s what you do when your shit doesn’t work! It’s twisted how PUSH bosses gaslight PUSH Green staff that they have a viable product to provide for people in need, send them out into communities and events to spread the (fake) word, and give them the challenge of making people interested in something that doesn’t work. Not only are most homeowners not a fit for the program, but those who do qualify must wait a long time. They wait on white contractors, who are busy completing better-paying construction and weatherization work for wealthier people before they get to the PUSH Green charity jobs.
Many former PUSH Green employees, especially People of Color, resigned or were fired because they had ideas of how the program could work, but the bosses didn’t listen or care. For a period of time, there were a lot of folks (way more than 3!) working for PUSH Green with a lot of energy: they wanted to run PUSH Green as a co-op, ramp up commercial building weatherizations, and much more. They knew from first-hand experience what was going wrong, but PUSH higher-ups did not listen to them, fired them, and/or drove them out of the organization instead. The Black employees of PUSH Green in particular have never been given the authority to actually implement PUSH Green in a way that could lead to it being functional and working for the hood.
Clarke Gocker PUSH’s ‘Policy and Strategy’ Director has been running the PUSH Green show for most of its existence, and like we explained before, he has no idea what he is doing. PUSH Green needs to be run like a business to be successful, but Clarke Gocker doesn’t understand or care about that as long as it exists and validates PUSH’s climate justice organizing, and in turn the climate justice organizing validates it. Think about it: the lie that PUSH Green actually works is used to sell the climate justice organizing to social justice funders, and the climate justice organizing sells PUSH Green to government energy agency funders like NYSERDA. Talk about frontin’ for social justice while spreading more climate justice false solutions! No one, especially the planet and frontline communities, have time for this bullshit.
PUSH GREEN DOES NOT GET PEOPLE JOBS. If you read the millions of dollars worth of grants that fund PUSH Buffalo, you will hear that PUSH Green weatherizations get jobs for community members in the PUSH Hiring Hall (more on that workforce bullshit later). But really, PUSH GREEN DOES NOT GET PEOPLE JOBS. There are three people that work on staff for PUSH Green, and on the rare occasion that they actually get a weatherization job, the work is farmed out to white contractors. This is so messed up because there are Black contractors in Buffalo and there are former PUSH employees who made plans to create their own contracting company with Hiring Hall workers. Unfortunately, PUSH higher-ups, led by Aaron Bartley and Clarke Gocker, used their white power and killed all plans to make PUSH Green a viable job and wealth creation vehicle for the community.
Who got the gas? Who got the greeny green? PUSH Green sure doesn’t! They don’t have any good energy efficiency programs or good gas that works for poor people. Unfortunately their gas supply is running out, unless you’re talking about a big utility company like National Fuel Gas who we all know makes a lot of green off of poor folks living in Erie County’s black, brown, and white communities. PUSH Buffalo via janky grant writing for PUSH Green energy efficiency initiatives makes a lot of green in the form of grant dollars to do absolutely nothing for the communities they say they serve.
More on this in later posts. In the meantime, call up PUSH Green and ask how many weatherizations they have done in the City of Buffalo over the years. Is it still 500?