How to turn neighborhoods into local hubs of resilience during tough political times

Three places showing how to make the transition from domination and resource extraction to regeneration and interdependence.

Think of it as a silver lining to the gathering dark clouds. We live in an era of extraordinary disruption, from the serial crises of a changing climate to the wrenching shifts of a globalized economy. But in that disruption lies the potential for positive transformation.

Addressing climate change requires adapting to the impacts that are already here—heat waves, droughts, superstorms and more—while preventing and mitigating future impacts. Taking these challenges seriously calls for radical changes in the way we live. It calls us to zero out our carbon emissions, and to rethink the systems that shape our lives, including the economy, food and power. It calls us to fundamentally transition from a world of domination and extraction to a world of regeneration, resilience, and interdependence.

It’s a tall order, no doubt, but that transition is already underway. In our work with movement builders on the front lines of the transition, we’ve identified two key guideposts—connectedness and equity—that point us toward the world we want.

Winning political power, especially in this political moment, is critical for communities at the intersection of poverty and pollution,” says APEN Action executive director Miya Yoshitani. “If we are going to win back our democracy from the hands of corporations, and win the powerful vision we have for living local economies, we need to invest in organizing the power of the people and the polls in all our neighborhoods.

When communities are fully engaged in problem-solving, they come up with holistic solutions that address complex, interlocking challenges. The following YES! magazine article tells the stories of three such neighborhoods: Sunset Park in Brooklyn, New York; Buffalo, New York; and Richmond, California. Each story is dependent on the work of local non-profits.

In Brooklyn, it’s UPROSE; an intergenerational, multi-racial, nationally-recognized, women of color led, grassroots organization that promotes sustainability and resiliency through community organizing, education, leadership development and cultural/artistic expression in Brooklyn.

In Buffalo, it’s PUSH Buffalo. People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo) is a local membership-based community organization fighting to make affordable housing a reality on Buffalo’s West Side. PUSH was founded by Aaron Bartley and Eric Walker in 2005. Its mission is to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality, affordable housing, expand local hiring opportunities and to advance economic justice in Buffalo.

PUSH Buffalo was established to:

  • Create strong neighborhoods with quality affordable housing;
  • Decrease the rate of housing abandonment by reclaiming empty houses from neglectful public and private owners and redeveloping them for occupancy by low-income residents; and
  • Develop neighborhood leaders capable of gaining community control over the development process and planning for the future of the neighborhood.

In Richmond, California, a coalition of local nonprofits, including the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and the Richmond Progressive Alliance are working with Cooperation Richmond.

Cooperation Richmond builds community controlled wealth through worker-owned and community-owned cooperative businesses and enterprises by and for low-income communities and communities of color in Richmond whose wealth has been extracted. They encourage, incubate and facilitate the launch and successful operation of diverse cooperative enterprises in Richmond operated by local residents, especially those of us coming from legacies of systemic marginalization and barred opportunity.

Photo credit: PUSH Buffalo

See full YES! magazine article by Taj James and Rosa González.

See UPROSE website.

See PUSH Buffalo website.

See Cooperation Richmond website.

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