Travel Log: Buffalo
Sister Richelle Friedman, PBVM
October 22, 2018
Excitement always mounts inside ‘The Bus’ as we pull up for a town hall, rally, press conference or lobby visit. Hospitality always awaits us. Parishioners at St. Joseph University Parish in Buffalo, NY invited us to come early for a delicious, amazing supper. After supper we arrived at the church to be warmly welcomed by 400 strong who came out on a work night to participate in the town hall. Representative Brian Higgins, the congressman for the Buffalo area, welcomed the Sisters and affirmed the parish for their justice work.
The goal of the Nuns on the Bus town halls is to demonstrate who receives benefits from the Republican-passed 2017 Tax Law, and who loses the most if the programs Republicans propose cutting (to pay for the tax law) materializes. At the town hall, we visualized for the audience who benefits and who loses starkly: revealing that wealthy individuals and corporations overwhelmingly benefit, while the lowest income bracket would fall even farther behind. Participants were then invited to engage in conversation on two questions: 1) how do the tax cuts impact Buffalo, and 2) what are some solutions?
Buffalo is among the poorest cities in the country. Among the problems identified here were segregation and growing isolation, lack of affordable housing, education especially for poor children, transportation, increase in crime and hunger. The solutions included the need to become politically involved, build relationships across neighborhoods, support legislators that are working on behalf of the people, and use the media to communicate priorities.
So many expressed an appreciation for the quality of the conversations they engaged in at the town hall. The evening culminated in the much-anticipated opportunity to sign the bus. The stories we hear and the people we meet at each stop figuratively join us on the bus for the remainder of the tour.