Kingdom come is coming, in small yet invasive ways...

Follow along with us as each week we meet for service to those in our neighborhood, common meals, study of Jesus' teachings and how to live them, as well as Sabbath worship at the Buffalo Vineyard City Church .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Green" Code

The city of Buffalo is currently going though it's first rewrite of it's zoning code in 60 years.  It has titled the new code it's developing, the "Green Code".  However, as we've gone through the process of its development, I've been left wondering what color this code really is...

Is it Mayor Brown's "Brown" Code, because of it's failure to really include innovative opportunities for greening a city filled with brown fields?

Or is it the "White" Code, because it is being shaped primarily by input from affluent white folks (in a minority majority city, nonetheless)?

Either way we want to let city hall know that they have to work harder to address these issues.  Last week we sent out a flyer to folks throughout the community to make sure the land use plan for the West Side neighborhood took into consideration the unique people of the West Side, and the unique opportunities the neighborhood represents.  We called for three basic things:
  • Food Production: In cities where many of the West Side's immigrants came from, food production is an integral part of the "urban fabric".  Also many of these immigrants are looking to supplement their income by selling food, so safe commercial production of produce, poultry, and fish needs to be allowed.
  • Pocket Parks: Parents lament over and over about the lack of playgrounds on the West Side (not one exists on the Upper West Side - not even at schools!)  Kids play in the streets, and we need the city to identify vacant lots (that it already owns!) to build safe play spaces for people to stay active in.
  • Air & Water Quality: The smells from the sewage treatment plant, and diesel fumes from I-190 & the Peace Bridge are something the neighbors are sick off, literally (45% of West Side residents suffer from asthma).  Environmental buffers to prevent sewage from reaching our waterways and clean the air around our highways need to be established.
Many responded to the flyer and flooded the inboxes of city planners!  So far city hall has been responsive.  The lead planner for the West Side has promised to include these economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable initiatives in their plan, and the city's senior planner has contacted our church about getting more input from the community. 

The reason for the lack of input from refugees, the poor, and disenfranchised on the West Side are many and complex.  But we feel called, as people who do have the ear of city hall, to advocate for those that don't.  Our neighbors contribute so much to the West Side neighborhood that makes it a unique and exciting place to live, the least we can contribute is our voice and efforts to protect that.  

May we all contribute what we can to make our communities places worth protecting!

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