After 13 years, Buffalo First Inc. is saying goodbye.
When we began as a coalition of local businesses committed to preserving a strong community-controlled economy in 2006, phrases like "buy local" and "localism" were not "trendy" or politically popular. Now, business districts, consumers, producers, and government in Buffalo and across the US are building power and writing policy around these principles.
We know these principles are not new. "Buy local" has its roots in the "buy black" movement of the Civil Righta era. Cooperatives, resilient self-sustaining communities, and mutual aid have been necessary strategies in communities of color and for marginalized folx who have been intentionally excluded from the mainstream economy for over a century.
So long as economic injustice exists, this work continues. You will find us standing with advocates of a local living economy including PUSH Buffalo, Open Buffalo, Massachusetts Avenue Project, F.B. Community Land Trust, Partnership for the Public Good, Coalition for Economic Justice, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, and many others.
Several of Buffalo First's former staff and board have taken up the cause of democratizing wealth and community control by launching Cooperation Buffalo, which provides technical assistance, education, and nonextractive financing to start and grow worker-owned cooperatives in low income Buffalo neighborhoods.
It is with deep gratitude and humility that we announce this transition. To every Buffalo First member, volunteer, director, and employee, thank you for standing with us and each other to demand that we have an economy that works for all, not just the few.
We leave you with some parting words from longtime Buffalo First President and member, Kelly Maurer: Remembering Kelly Maurer, 2016.