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Sarah Bishop: Executive Director, Buffalo First

Sarah Bishop is the executive director of Buffalo First, the nonprofit that encourages consumers and businesses to buy local and buy smart, in order to keep our dollars in the community. She’s also about to turn 26 years old, and she’s throwing a party to mark the day this Friday, March 11 at 10pm, at Allen Street Hardware. The event—featuring Fudgychewy, Steve Kay, and DJs Cutler and LoPro‚ doubles as a benefit for the Give for Greatness, AV’s campaign to raise money for the region’s cultural institutions. So come by, wish Sarah a happy birthday, and support a good cause.

Tell us a little bit about Buffalo First.

Buffalo First is a community of individuals, nonprofits, and businesses committed to building a just, sustainable, and local, living economy in the Buffalo and Western New York. We encourage people to shop locally as a means to economic growth and development while giving independent businesses a united voice to shape better policies pertaining to the triple bottom line—people, planet, and profit. The overarching goal is to root more dollars in Buffalo, preserve the community and create a healthier environment.

How did you become affiliated with Buffalo First?

Happenstance. When I first moved home, I had thought about opening a restaurant, bookstore, and human rights center similar to Busboys & Poets in DC. While doing some research pertaining to that endeavor, I came across Buffalo First, applied for a position, and the rest is history.

What are some ways that folks can contribute to a more sustainable local economy?

Since I’m preaching to the choir, I would recommend first and foremost to challenge yourself, your local business, and your community—it’s about turning consciousness of environmental, economic, and social effects into concrete actions. In your day-to-day activities, don’t just think local—buy local. Think of the most sustainable method of transit to reach your intended destination. Ask your local business to stock fair-trade goods and ask about their operational practices. And be willing to ask your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same. Sustainability and your local economy are living, not static.

You’re a photographer, too, right?

Amateur at best. Basically, I took up photography as a way of documenting my various travels—anthropologically discovering and artistically documenting society through the lens. Plus, it’s really the only form of artistic expression I have. I fulfilled my art requirement in college via art history because I knew that any studio class would be do irreparable damage to my pride.

Why did you decide to make your birthday party a benefit for the Give for Greatness?

My connection and great adoration for the arts and culturals comes from the constant exposure I have had to the region’s plethora of irreplaceable, readily available resources since childhood. No matter their size and stature, they have had a profound impact on and enriched my life. It seems only appropriate to celebrate and give back to them on my birthday.

BONUS: What kind of birthday present does a person get for a local business maven who’s turning 26? What’s on your list?

I am simply asking that people GIVE for the arts, for Buffalo and FOR GREATNESS. But, if you insist—enough Rusty Chain to last until we elect a county executive who will restore funding to the arts and cultural institutions that make Buffalo the city I am proud to call home.

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