“Community organizing is the life blood of PUSH Buffalo.” Well if that’s still true, a vampire came out of nowhere and bit PUSH Buffalo on its neck, almost sucking it dry.
We detailed why PUSH’s newer ‘community’ or Buffalo based campaigns are trash in other posts. And, we’ll keep talking about it. To sum it up, they’ve been lying to the city of Buffalo and the movement, and they’re fake. We heard that they are hiring a new Organizing Director. What is an Organizing Director? What do they do? But, what is community organizing?
According to Encyclopedia Britannica community organizing is a; “method of engaging and empowering people with the purpose of increasing the influence of groups historically underrepresented in policies and decision making that affect their lives.” According to Wikipedia community organizing; “is a process where people who live in proximity to each other come together into an organization that acts in their shared self-interest.” So, a community organizer is one who is responsible or takes on the duties to organize winning community or neighborhood based campaigns. An Organizing Director is one who manages a staff of community organizers to carry out the goal of creating a winning, community or neighborhood based winning campaign.
In order to organize a downtrodden community or disadvantaged group of people with the same self interest of building better conditions for each other, there must first be trust. At one point in time, PUSH was able to develop trust, trust between the organizer, the one doing the facilitating and the affected or targeted community. PUSH had this at one point, but things started to happen over a few years that caused the West Side of Buffalo community, and even neighborhoods across the city of Buffalo to distrust them. As time went on, they were able to make money off of their national image built off of the backs of their tireless community organizers and dedicated membership. The Senior Management staff at PUSH found out that they could make money off of the community, without really doing the hard work to actually organize the community. “People know what they want, where they live.” This toxic attitude towards the community that the new, corporate, non-profit industrial complex version of PUSH Buffalo has adopted in the past few years has harmed their ability to gain new members and excite new energy through the West Side of Buffalo youth. Nobody trusts them anymore, and PUSH doesn’t seem to care. Just as long as the grant money and donations keep rolling in.
Enter Micalea Shapiro-Shellaby. She will be the new Organizing Director at PUSH starting in one month. As of sometime in April 2021 of this writing. Shapiro-Shellaby is no stranger to the Buffalo non-profit movement scene. She started out helping to organize the original front that PUSH Buffalo was set up as, and went on to work for organizations like the Coalition for Economic Justice being an Organizing Director. She was also a board member of PUSH Buffalo, so she should have first hand, insider knowledge on what PUSH was actually set up as, and what it has now become. She relocated to Portland Oregon nearly seven years ago and is coming back to take this job. The Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), is an organization that “imagines a Buffalo and Western New York where good jobs, healthy communities, and engaged residents are the norm. Over the coming years, CEJ will help transform our local economy by winning campaigns and spearheading movement-building projects to build an inclusive middle class. We will advance economic justice by building power to raise standards for workers and communities while deepening partnerships, especially with organizations based in communities of color. As a result low-income and working class communities will achieve real pathways into jobs that sustain their families.” While working there, we presume that she believed in, and worked tirelessly to put the values of worker justice at the basis of CEJ’s mission into all of their community based campaigns. The CEJ website says that it is “KICKING ASS FOR THE WORKING CLASS.” When or if she comes to PUSH Buffalo as the new Organizing Director, will she apply that same past work ethic and vision into her new job, or will it be an escalation further into PUSH’s descent into the non-profit industrial complex? Will she be “kicking ass for the working class” former and current employees of PUSH Buffalo? Only time will tell, but we’ll be watching. People of color on the West Side and in Buffalo don’t trust PUSH anymore. PUSH lost clout, lost members, and lost the community. Will Ms. Shapiro-Shellaby come back to Buffalo to help make things different, different for PUSH members and PUSH employees, or will she become another poverty pimp? Make sure you call or email her and ask her to make sure.