Tag Archives: buffalo activism

Building An Entrepreneurial Buffalo, Part 2

19 Aug

‘Earlier this week, I wrote about making Buffalo and WNY a more entrepreneurial city and region and questioned whether the importation of innovation was the most effective way to improve our economy.

In many ways, the notion of “imported innovation” is the core tenet of our local economic development strategy.  We strive to identify companies who will move here or we struggle to keep existing companies here, but we do little to help generate innovation and entrepreneurship.

I took a stab at identifying the core issues that hold us back from making Buffalo’s entrepreneurial engine roar once again.

The reason Buffalo struggles to innovate is related to the lack of an innovation community, a self-perpetuating problem.  We lack a thriving community of innovative and energetic entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks.  Sure, there are some, but they are a disconnected group and access to capital to fund their ideas is limited, at best.

So, in essence, the problem set is defined as follows:

  • Lack of leadership on economic development from elected officials
  • A crumb hoarding mentality from wide swaths of our existing business community
  • Lack of capital for innovative small companies
  • Lack of an innovative and networked entrepreneurial community

Well, damn. That’s a big sticky problem, eh? No wonder our elected officials focus on the window dressing, this is a tough problem to tackle.

I think I have the skeleton of a solution, but I’ll need your help to flesh it out. This idea has come from lengthy discussions with a dozen or so young emerging entrepreneurs over the last year or so (our own pocket network effect).  We figured if we want to empower entrepreneurship, we should start by asking others to help us create the vision.

We start with a community wide venture capital investment fund.  One in which we all pay what we can to fund the next wave of companies that will employ our friends, neighbors and our children.  Let’s stop looking for someone else to save us when the answer is right in our own wallets. If our Mayor and civic leaders are disinterested in signing up for the Kiva City program, we’ll take the idea of their program and use it to inspire our own.

Kiva City extends microfinance to small businesses across America. With Kiva City, credit unions or other financial institutions partner at a local level to facilitate the loans, while community groups and civic leaders build awareness among small business owners and refer them to the program.

The basic concept is that not every business idea needs a $500,000-$10,000,000 initial investment.  Most need some seed funding for basic salaries, access to technology and office space, time, mentorship and community.  A good example of what this would look like is a community funded version of Y-Combinator.

Y Combinator does seed funding for startups. Seed funding is the earliest stage of venture funding. It pays your expenses while you’re getting started.

Some companies may need no more than seed funding. Others will go through several rounds. There is no right answer; how much funding you need depends on the kind of company you start.

At Y Combinator, our goal is to get you through the first phase. This usually means: get you to the point where you’ve built something impressive enough to raise money on a larger scale.  We make small investments (rarely more than $20,000) in return for small stakes in the companies we fund (usually 2-10%).

Y Combinator has a novel approach to seed funding: we fund startups in batches. There are two each year, one from January through March and one from June through August. During each cycle we fund multiple startups.

So, we combine the best of two programs to make our own, The Buffalo Fund.

We estimate that we’ll need live/work space and an initial funding stream of $2,000,000 to fund 8-10 companies at a maximum of $20,000 in the first year.  Ideally, we want to raise money from the community, in small denominations.  We want everyone invested in the idea of creating innovation and the companies which will employ the people of our region.  Let’s stop thinking of economic development as a top-down planning mechanism and treat it like a grassroots campaign.  When people are invested in the business community, even at a small scale, they become active participants in the local business environment.  Not pawns in a multi-national corporate game of pleasing distant shareholders.  We begin to think locally, we begin to empower entrepreneurs, we begin to see what’s possible.

We aim to build companies that look beyond the horizon of our own region and export their goods and services to the nation and the world. We’ll utilize our intellectual capital to create our own network effect.

Is it possible to raise $2,000,000 in Western New York through small donations from Joe Six-Pack in Lancaster and Tom Twelve-Pack in Hamburg?  Maybe.  However, we’d need to identify some larger investors who are not part of the existing power structure to provide our own seed funding and provide the mentorship for these budding entrepreneurs.

Each investor, no matter how small, get a weighted vote on which businesses get funded.  There will be a fund manager and a CEO hired who will report to a board of directors elected by the wider membership.  The board will manage the program, provide leadership and advise the membership.  Everyone is eligible for a leadership position as half of the board would rotate each year.  This would be a corporation, not a non-profit.

During the startup phase, we group the entreprenuers together and they hack away at their projects with legal oversight and receive guidance from guest speakers, advisers, and business planners.  We set them up for success by letting them focus on their business idea while giving them the tools to grow the idea.

So, I’ll leave it to you to tell me what you think.  Add to the idea, tell me what we’re missing or what we have right.  We’re walking the idea around town to people we’ve identified as potential partners and seed investors and I’ll post updates as the idea either blossoms or stalls.

It’s time we took control of our economic future, help make it happen.

 

The National Fuel Accountability Coalition

15 Feb

On Tuesday, February 15th at 3 PM, community organizations from across Buffalo will congregate at 92 Franklin Street to announce the formation of the National Fuel Accountability Coalition (NFAC).  NFAC’s mission is to create a community partnership with National Fuel to advance solutions to the high heating bills that plague our region and to increase investment in energy-saving and job-producing projects like housing weatherization and window replacement.

The Coalition’s goal of reducing heating bills and energy usage has been made more urgent by President Obama’s recently proposed cuts to HEAP, which would dramatically reduce the amount of heating assistance to National Fuel customers across the region.

“The problem of high heating bills is one that affects everyone in our region.  There are real solutions to this crisis, but we need a productive dialogue with National Fuel in order to move beyond the status quo, which isn’t working for our communities, whether you’re on the West Side or in West Seneca,” said Bruce McKay of VOICE Buffalo, one of the organization’s leading the Coalition.

“Buffalo is the fourth most expensive place to heat your home, yet CEO David Smith refuses even to talk with the community about solutions like housing weatherization.  We are here to say enough is enough,” said Pastor Jose Claudio of El Nuevo Camino UCC.

Organizational leaders will announce the creation of the Coalition and the launch of a Coalition website, which will include a complaint form for those experiencing problems with National Fuel services.

“David Smith makes $3,500 an hour.  That’s about how much it costs to weatherize a house to reduce bills forever.  We know National Fuel has the capacity to make a positive difference in the community, especially since add a $10 million charge to our bills ever year for conservation purposes.  It’s time for the company to discuss how that money can be better spent,” said Jen Mecozzi, chair of PUSH Buffalo, a member group of NFAC.

The organizations which make up the National Fuel Accountability Coalition are VOICE-Buffalo, PUSH Buffalo, F.A.T.H.E.R.S., The Outsource Center, The Belle Center, Hispanics United of Buffalo, The Coalition for Economic Justice, Millions More Movement – Buffalo Local Action Committee (BLAC), Prisoners Are People Too, Erie County Prisoner’s Rights Coalition, 100 Mighty Men, and  Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Success Story: South Buffalo Education Center

9 Dec

Looking for a reason to believe in Buffalo?  Look no further than the South Buffalo Education Center (SBEC).

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Created in 2002 by County Legislator (now New York State Assemblyman) Mark Schroeder, the SBEC provides General Equivalency Diploma (GED) preparation to out-of-school youth and underemployed or jobless adults.

The SBEC utilizes a Holistic Education curriculum that focuses on the personal as well as academic achievements of out-of-school youth and fosters a sense of responsibility to self and community by creating an “intellectual family” for students who have felt disenfranchised from traditional education.

Dropouts often leave school with significant problems which only grow the longer they are away from school.   Often times, the student just needs someone to provide the emotional support to start the program. “The students just need someone to help them find the way,” says Stacey Watson, Executive Director of SBEC, “Once they get on track, they run with it.  They’re hungry for success and we’ve designed a curriculum which serves the holistic emotional needs of the student, not just the basics.”

Since its inception in 2002, SBEC has graduated 683 students from what has proven to be the most successful GED program in New York State. For several years, they have lead the state in GED accreditation rates with 73% of the students being placed into college. SBEC also offers computer classes and vocational training – all at no cost to the student.

SBEC students are provided with a multitude of programs designed to fit the individual needs of at-risk populations. In addition to New York State Certified Adult Education Instructors in both computers and GED Preparation, the clients are also supported on-site by a New York State Certified Teacher and Career Advisor, a Department of Social Services Site Supervisor, an Erie Community College Mentor and a SBEC Graduate Mentor.

Pre-collegiate courses are offered on-site by Erie Community College to provide preparation for college entrance exams. Personalized employment services include career planning, resume and professionalism workshops as well as job search assistance. Students participate in various seminars including nutrition training, volunteering basics and financial management and through our additional human service partners are connected to mental health and primary health care providers.

The organization receives the overwhelming majority of its funding from private sources, but their doors are always open to any student who walks in the door.

“Stacey Watson is a leader and a visionary. She has created an open and welcoming environment that provides a safety net for people in need. Buffalo is lucky to have her working on their behalf,” said Assemblyman Schroeder. “This program is one of the things I am most proud of, we’re truly giving people a chance at a better life”

South Buffalo Education Center
2234 Seneca Street
Buffalo, New York 14213
(716) 826-1785 Phone
(716) 826-0138 Fax

TED Talks Worth Watching

10 Jun

The annual TED conference is an event where people from various disciplines get together to share knowledge and ideas.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

Last month it was announced that local event planner and overall awesome person Susan Cope had successfully applied to host a TEDx (Independently Organized) event in Buffalo this fall.  As the planning continues and we get closer to the actual event, I’ll post some of my favorite TED presentations and help you get in the mood for an awesome event.

At a point in our national and global history where we face transformational economic and cultural challenges, we need to fundamentally change our consumption patterns, the way we interact and launch a foundational change in our practical wisdom.  These talks tell us why and how.

Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he’s drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas.  If you don’t know what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is, here ya go:

It is roughly the size of Texas, containing approximately 3.5 million tons of trash.  Shoes, toys, bags, pacifiers, wrappers, toothbrushes, and bottles too numerous to count are only part of what can be found in this accidental dump floating midway between Hawaii and San Francisco.

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TEDx in Buffalo

7 May

What is TED?

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.  Since then its scope has become ever broader.  Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, this year’s TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.

What is TEDx?

TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” The program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.

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In short, it’s kind of a big deal.  It’s an opportunity for people to come together, share inspiring ideas and grow an audience around a cause, innovation, or technology.  The TEDTalks website is filled with fantastic discussions about education, humanity, science, beauty, government, logic, religion and our environment.

Susan Lynn Cope, professional event planner and overall awesome person has decided to lead the effort to bring a TEDx event to Buffalo.  She has been asking for input on her website and she just submitted the licensing application for the TEDx event earlier this week.

Andy Warhol once said “They say that time changes things, but you have to actually change them yourself.”  Buffalo, NY was a city born from the railways, trading and industrial revolution.  During the Queen City’s golden age, historic icons such as Mark Twain, Grover Cleveland and Fredrick Law Olmsted all made their mark and have left historic legacies for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

With the passing of time and the relocation of major industries overseas, Buffalo has seen a rapid decline in population. This city now has one of the highest percentages of vacant houses among major US cities.   I was recently moved by a documentary, “Requiem for Detroit,” by director Julien Temple.  Temple tracks Detroit’s past, present and future.  His description of the urban decay within Detroit is “a slow-motion Katrina that has had many more victims.”

The parallels between Detroit and Buffalo were unnerving and shocking to me.  Both cities, once thriving metropolises, are now hemorrhaging citizens while at the same time gaining artists and social pioneers that are repurposing the abandoned urban spaces and creatively uniting together.

Buffalo is a petri dish in which we are germinating ideas which respond to local socioeconomic problems.  These innovative responses to poverty, hunger, inequality, massive economic disinvestment and deindustrialization will become our major contribution to the national knowledge economy.

Within the region, we find hundreds of people, organizations and companies designing those very responses and struggling to find a platform from which to broadcast about them.  TEDx Buffalo can be that event and serves as a milestone on our long, dark journey towards enlightenment in this city and region.

Leave a comment here or on Susan’s website and demonstrate your support for this event.  This isn’t telling America about Buffalo, this is telling ourselves that we have the skills and willingness to create solutions and implement them.

Buffalo Expat Network

6 Apr

In 1996, I moved away from Buffalo.  I wasn’t filled with some malevolent feeling to towards the city of my youth, it was just time to leave and build a future for myself…it’s what young people tend to do after college. In the ensuing years, I lived in Shreveport, Boston, Chicago and traveled to five continents.  I served in the military, found a career, got married and came home for the holidays to visit family and friends.  I was never opposed to moving home, I just never actively planned to do so.

In 2005, I moved back to Buffalo after a near ten year hiatus.  My company posted a job opening in Buffalo and they were struggling to find someone to take it.  I was offered the opportunity to move home for two years on a consulting gig and I took it.  My intent was to come home for a few years, live cheap, save money and move back to Chicago to take another step forward professionally.  However, a funny thing happened on the way to the opera…

In 2010, I celebrate being home for five years.  I’ve bought a house (two, actually), spent wonderful time with my family, reconnected with old friends, had two children with my wife (also a Buffalo repatriate) and maintained my career.  I’ve also gotten very active in local politics, policy and media.  Living in Buffalo certainly provides challenges and certain limitations on professional advancement, but the tradeoff (for me) has been well worth it.

After moving home, I became an evangelist for the city.  I got involved very early with Marti Gorman and the Buffalo Old Home Week initiative to recruit other Buffalo Expatriates back to Buffalo.  It was my feeling that Buffalo is the Ireland of America, a place which churns out a teeming mass of former residents to populate other, more current places.  In other words, a place people love to be from.

We spent the better part of three years working with a team of dedicated locals who were interested in recruiting these people back to Buffalo.  We threw annual celebrations including real estate tours, career fairs, parades, cocktail parties and special events to dispel the notion that Buffalo was a snowy backwater opposed to progress and that it was actually a wonderful place to live, work and play.  Over time, I felt as if we were acting like the Spartan cheerleaders of SNL fame and that our efforts were not really appreciated.  So, I stepped back from the effort and decided to stop selling people on why I loved it here.  And after three years of dealing with local politicians, development officials, and business leaders, I wasn’t exactly sure I loved it here as much as I said I did.

Since the end of my involvement with Citybration (nee Buffalo Old Home Week and Buffalo Homecoming), my efforts have turned towards creating an environment in which fundamental change is possible.  Taking on editorial responsibilities at this site, getting active in local politics, starting a business, becoming an advocate for local technology firms, joining non-profit boards, working to create micro-finance organizations for local entrepreneurs, and generally trying to move the ball forward in this town.  Part of my effort was to incorporate the resources, knowledge and potential business partnerships from former Buffalonians who haven’t yet moved home.  To find ways to expand markets for local entrepreneurs and grow a distributed pool of capital and mentors to assist startup businesses.

Why do I share all of this seemingly extraneous information with you?

Because of the Buffalo Expat Network.

I had heard of the fledgling organization on Facebook and considered them modern day Gastarbeiters looking to send money home from their adventures so we might have a few extra rubles with which to buy new shoes.  “Look Da!  Uncle Sasha has again sent us money with which we can buy milk!”  I was invited to join them for a community outreach party after speaking with one of the organizers on the phone.  He was pleasant, well-intentioned and genuinely interested in what was happening in Buffalo.  However, I was dismissive of the concept and didn’t make much of an effort to go to yet another meeting at which people would tell me how they intended to join the revolution.  I’ve been to dozens of those…

So, why was I so dismissive of a group of people who just wanted to help?  I don’t know.

Maybe it’s because I decided to take a risk and move home and I don’t want advice and pity from those who aren’t willing to do the same.  I’ve grown tired of people who don’t live here telling me (on this site and others) how we should do things.  My attitude has gotten entrenched on this, perhaps it’s a shell-shocked foxhole mentality which comes from fighting off FAIL for five years.   I don’t really want some strategist from hundreds of miles away telling me that my tactics aren’t right.  That if he/she were here, they would be doing it differently.  I actually got angry thinking that some condescending tool like Dave Steele would be giving me advice from his loft in Chicago.

And then, I read the comment section on a Buffalo News article on the Buffalo Expat Network.  And I felt dirty.  Was I really one of those people?

I started to wonder if I’ve changed and if I am slowly becoming as entrenched and short-sighted as the leaders I work so hard to fight.  Maybe I have and maybe these people have something to offer us.  Maybe we should take some time to consider different perspectives and realize that not everyone has the capacity or capability to move back to Buffalo.  Maybe they still love it like we do and we should engage them to help us effect change.  Maybe we shouldn’t immediately imagine them as monied gasterbaiters planning the future for the downtrodden back home.

Maybe it’s time to take a step back and assess the progress made over the past few years, which has been minimal at best.  Maybe we need to call in reinforcements.  Maybe being open to the input of expats will make it more likely that they eventually move home and help us fight the battle on the ground.  Maybe I’ll stop being such a dick.  So, my ears are open and I’m willing to give this a shot.  Maybe I’ll even listen to what Dave Steele has to say…

Nah, every man has his limits.  Fuck that guy.

Demand LGBT Employment Rights Today

18 Mar

The Bilerico Project, an affiliate of our friend Nate Strang at Buffawhat.com, is participating in a blogswarm to get the word out for the community to call Nancy Pelosi and ask her to move the Employee Non Discrimination Act (HR 3017) to a floor vote.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, first introduced in 1994, would prohibit job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But LGBT people have never been able to achieve the enactment of the bill, known by the acronym of “ENDA”.

Last year, the Administration’s highest ranking gay official, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, indicated that ENDA was highest priority on the LGBT civil rights agenda.

If we can get ENDA enacted and signed into law, it is only a matter of time before all the rest happens,” he said. “It is the keystone that holds up the whole bunch, and so we need to focus our energies and attention there.”

Hearings were held last Fall in the House and in the Senate to demonstrate the need for the bill, and testimony was heard on the severe unemployment, underemployment and harassment experienced by LGBT workers. Witnesses testified to the scientific studies demonstrating this.

What can YOU do?

Please call Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965. Ask that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HR 3017, move to a vote.

Please be polite, but firm.

After you call, please tell us how the call went by clicking here. If you get a busy signal or hang up, let us know that too. If you want more information on Speaker Pelosi’s position on ENDA as stated by her office, you can find it here. Let’s work together to let Speaker Pelosi know that we want action now!

You can also call your local Congressional Representative and ask where they stand on the issue.

Rep. Brian Higgins 202-225-3306 and 716-852-3501

Rep. Louise Slaughter 202-225-3615 and 716-853-5813

Rep. Chris Lee 202-225-5265 and 716-634-2324

Cleveland and Buffalo

21 Feb

As a city, what can we learn from Cleveland?  Certainly, Cleveland and Buffalo share many of the same obstacles to progress and neither city is a shining example of success in the new entrepreneurial economy.  However, Cleveland’s business community and municipal governments have begun to embrace a spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity that Buffalo should seek to emulate.  There are dozens of projects underway in the Cleveland metropolitan region that can serve as inspiration as Buffalo seeks to claw out from forty years of economic stagnation and population decline.

I’ll highlight two of those efforts in this post, I hope you’ll check them out because efforts are underway to create similar enterprises here in Buffalo.

The first organization is the Cleveland Civic Innovation Lab.

The Civic Innovation Lab supports “community entrepreneurship” and innovation by providing mentoring and funding of up to $30,000 for civic, social and business start-ups that contribute to economic revitalization of struggling economies.

One of the most difficult parts of starting a business for any entrepreneur is finding that small bit of seed capital to get things going. Civic Innovation Lab provides that funding as well as the critical mentoring and guidance that early stage companies desperately need.

The Lab’s unique model provides a combination of start-up funds with volunteer mentorship from local business and civic leaders who are part of the local 22-member mentorship panel. Lab mentors volunteer to work one-on-one with the funded entrepreneurs to provide business advice, coaching, connections and momentum to their early stage endeavors.

It’s a holistic approach to business development which goes beyond the scope of services offered through organizations like SCORE Buffalo or the Small Business Development Center at Buffalo State College.  The mentors and advisory panel of Civic Innovation Lab represent a broad cross section of the community including leaders in business, arts, media, and education.

The goal of the organization is to help create businesses which sustainably improve the living standards in the City of Cleveland.  They look for ideas which utilize the assets of the city, specifically ideas grounded in the principles of social entrepreneurship.  Meaning that business which help foster social change and return a societal impact as well as a fiscal return are likely to receive funding.

So far, Civic Innovation Lab has helped create 52 companies in the Cleveland with a small investment of $1.5MM of private sector capital.  Several of these companies are documented in some pretty shaky video here, but the details of these startups are interesting and cool.  These are the building blocks of a sustainable economic development strategy focused on development of local business rather than the recruitment of business from other localities.

A few success stories include the FreshForkMarket, District of Design, The Seed Factory, Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park, and Sustainable Community Associates.

I am leading a local effort to create a similar venture here in Buffalo and I’ll have some updates on the project soon.

The other project of note is called JumpStart Cleveland.

From the website:

JumpStart is a nationally recognized venture development organization that accelerates the progress of high potential, early-stage businesses. Through the depth of its entrepreneurial team and breadth of its high value resources, JumpStart improves client success in achieving the milestones and raising the follow-on capital necessary to create wealth. In doing so, JumpStart strives to create a more prosperous future for Northeast Ohio.

JumpStart strives, through its activities, to create a thriving entrepreneurial economy of prosperous companies and citizens in Northeast Ohio. It guides smart, motivated, high potential entrepreneurs to turn their disruptive, innovative ideas into plans, their plans into operating businesses, and their businesses into rapidly growing ventures.

Essentially, a community-wide venture fund similar in description to what I wrote about a few months ago.

I’d posit that we need to build our own network effect. No longer should we look to the local “business leaders” for handouts and capital. We rebuild our culture of innovation from the ashes of closed steel mills and shuttered auto factories. Looking to ourselves to fund a new wave of innovation, a rising tide of locals who want to build a better future for themselves and their neighbors. To give this city back the entrepreneurial roar that was heard around the world at the turn of the last century.

We start with a community wide venture capital investment fund. One in which we all pay what we can to fund the next wave of companies that will employ our friends, neighbors and our children. Let’s stop looking for someone else to save us when the answer is right in our own wallets.

JumpStart Cleveland is doing just that.  They have combined the power of their existing business community, public funds and resources, local foundations and individual donors to create a hub of knowledge and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs with big ideas.

Representatives from JumpStart Cleveland presented during the Investor and Entrerpreneur Forum at Citybration 2009.  Following that presentation, an effort to organize a similar effort in Buffalo was put in motion.  I’m hoping to connect with the organizers shortly for an interview.

Hope for the Homeless Food Drive: NOW

16 Dec

A “Hope for the Homeless Food Drive” is being held this week:

To anyone who doesn’t know me, my name is Casey O’Brien. I’m a junior at Williamsville East High School, and after some recent conversations and reflections, my friend Cindy, my sister Maeve, and I have decided to start our first food drive.

Imagine a Christmas or holiday season where you’re living on the streets. Where you don’t have a family buying you presents or sharing their happiness with you. So many of us do not realize how lucky we are. The fact that you’re even reading this right now means that you’re luckier than a lot of the people in Buffalo. These people are forced out on the freezing cold streets for who knows how long, without anyone to share their holidays with, and without anyone to care about them. Homeless shelters rarely have enough room to feed and take care of everyone in need.

Our mission is to raise as much food, money, and overall support and awareness as possible this season. So on December 18th-20th, 2009, we will begin collecting. You can donate at any of the three Zetti’s pizza and pasta locations: on Main Street in the University Plaza, on Maple Road by UB North, or on Transit next to Shogun.

In terms of what to donate, we are taking canned food and other nonperishables. Once we’ve cleared it with our schools, we will begin to go around the school and collect donations.

Right now, we need to find ways to broadcast this event in order to get as much publicity as possible in order to get our message and mission across to Buffalo. Anyone who thinks a parent, or a business may be able to help is welcome to call me. Also, when the dates arrive to collect everything and bring it down to the shelters, we will most likely need a couple of drivers to help us out in transporting the donations. As I said, more updates will come within the next couple of days.

If you’d prefer to make a monetary donation, please shoot me an email and I’ll get you in touch with the right people. In the alternative, you can join the Facebook Group here. It’s a great time of year for a good cause.

Michael Gainer Back In At Buffalo ReUse

20 Oct

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The Board of Directors of Buffalo ReUse announced this evening that Michael Gainer has accepted a position with the organization as the Program Director.

The responsibilities of the position of Program Director were agreed by the Board and are as follows:

Program Director, Buffalo ReUse:

  • Provides monthly deconstruction and salvage report, and program status. This is to include what jobs have been completed, in-progress, signed and prospects. All jobs discussed are to include estimated costs and revenue expected.
  • Directs field operations for deconstruction and salvage activities.
  • Coordinates subcontracted services such as utility cuts, asbestos surveys, abatements, excavators and other as needed.
  • Follows up on job leads, responsible for job estimates and providing estimates for financial review prior to contract execution.
  • Directs staff training of deconstruction and salvage activities.
  • Coordinate safety and environmental compliance training for staff members.
  • Pursue funding opportunities.
  • Instrumental in strategic development and implementation of existing and future community programs. Member of the Strategic Community Development Committee.

Michael’s effective hire date is 10/19/09.

This brings to a close a summer of discontent at ReUse which included Gainer’s unexpected firing, the ascension of Harvey Garrett to Interim Executive Director, membership actions, the resignation of Harvey Garrett as Interim Executive Director, the election of a completely new Board of Directors, and the re-hiring of Michael Gainer to do what he does best; focus on deconstruction, training and evangelizing.  The Board is putting in place a new staff structure and policies to manage operations, financial records, and legal compliance.

Buffalo ReUse has its work cut out for it over the next several months as they work to earn back the confidence of the local foundational community and other grant makers, but these appear to have been growing pains for a vital and dynamic organization which fills such a critical need in the City of Buffalo.