Between the Niagara River and Route 266 in Tonawanda, New York sits the blocky red hulk of the Huntley Generating Station. For most of a century it brought the power to a series of major industrial customers that gave the town and the region much if its economic life. And a robust life it was.
Until it wasn’t. Like many towns throughout the American rust belt, Tonawanda is fully compelled to face a mixed new post-industrial reality. While not easy it looks like the town, directly north of Buffalo, has the beginnings of an interesting and powerful template for moving itself forward into an economy after coal-fired electrical plants and manufacturing. It’s always very nice to find positive stories and this seems to be one worth considering.
Rising from the ashes, a Buffalo suburb ends its dependence on coal
image: Deutsch Fetisch via Wikimedia Commons
Underfunding of bus-based public transit combined with a tendency for newer and larger employers to locate in the suburbs makes it hard for low income Buffalonians.
Region’s biggest employers are tough for city’s poorest to reach
image: chrisforsyth via Flickr/CC
Among the things we’ve come across since starting this blog we feel certain this one will stay with us for a bit. We mean the establishment of a Girl Scout troop in Queens, New York specifically for homeless girls.
A half-hour enquiry into suburban poverty on Long Island, New York from WLIW 21. This discussion covers all the major pieces of this issue, doing justice to the economic reality of ”the new poor.” Such a serious topic at a time when talk of recovery can be heard from some quarters.
Just a slight shift in perspective yields much insight. Problems, problems Canada? Hot Chinese real estate money and bottomed-out oil prices bringing you down, or bringing you over the border to shop your brains out?
All economies are suburban now.
Canada’s economic crunch and Western New York
A semi-disposable Internet moment caught suburban-poverty.com’s attention yesterday. It illustrates succinctly one of the themes we’ve come back to often.
Seems a young woman in Western New York ran afoul of the sheriff for having to resort to making her own license plate. Her cardboard plate looks like something a kid would do in art class. Even has the little New York state map in the middle of a crooked row of letters and numbers. It’s kinda cute.
Mainstream media networks picked up the story. This “going viral” prompted Erie County resident, Amanda Schwieckert, to come forward and tell The Buffalo News her side of the story. Looks like she struggles a bit to get by. Insurance, registration fees and a parking ticket had whacked Amanda financially. Yet, she could not keep her hotel industry job without her car. The state took her plates. Amanda made her own.
This kind of moment is straight from the pen of Barbara Ehrenreich or Linda Tirado, two popular writers chronicling how tough it is for working people to get by in America these days. Amanda exemplifies the dual nature of working class motoring. The expenses for a set of wheels often take things from bad to worse, can be unpredictable and enormously consequential. Amanda is facing some steep charges including felony counterfeiting. Ouch.
We can’t help but think that a little Jane Jacobs would go a long way in the life of Amanda and the millions of workers like her. Community design, or the general lack thereof, reinforces poverty. So much of North America is so totally car dependent its inhabitants cannot function in their native landscape without cars. Many cannot even intellectually conceive of life organized at any other level than that of total mediation by automobile.
Hopefully Amanda’s resourcefulness is a sign she’ll be okay.
Black Suburbia: From Levittown to Ferguson at the Schomberg Center (New York Public Library)
The workers catering to the Hamptons’ super-rich: ‘this is not paradise for me’. Among the women paying $1,000 for a massage and the men lounging in $100m homes in the billionaires’ playground of the Hamptons is a largely unseen, mostly Latino, workforce toiling all summer in order to survive the winter
image: screen grab theguardian.com