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We have to work together to improve the Fruit Belt

I recently attended a Community Benefit Agreement meeting at the Moot Senior Center – a building centered in the surrounding soil avenue of mouth-watering fruits: Grape, Orange, Peach and Lemon streets, not edible, but metaphorically tasteful and delighting to the senses of any candid observer.

While at the meeting, I couldn’t help but notice one man who was attempting to infest the soon-to-be ripe fruits of the Fruit Belt by furthering the distance between institutional expansion, the CBA and citizen participation.

This man was a pastor from a local church in the Fruit Belt. He interrupted multiple times and tactfully created a wave of emotional dissidence. A tall fella, who referred to himself as a “community guerrilla fighter,” shook his head in disgust. We locked eyes and both instantly knew why the pastor was doing this. Churches are subsidized by the bank, meaning that his church has an economic and macro-social incentive to see gentrification seeded in the soil of the Fruit Belt. Unable to purchase the crowd’s sympathetic approval with his rhetoric, the pastor stormed out of the meeting in dramatic fashion.

We must not be distracted by pseudo-secularism, misled by corporatists who pretend to have the best interests of the Fruit Belt at heart or hoodwinked by Erie County legislators. We need not fight each other, but establish a strong coalition that will please everyone at the table of the authentic CBA.

Lewuga Benson

Tonawanda