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AV Influence Survey: Bill Nowak on the Grassroots

I consider a whole spectrum of folks who are organized at a grassroots level to be positive influences on WNY—from active unionists, to Occupy Buffalo activists, to Citizen Action of NY, to those involved in food co-ops and credit unions, to anti-violence folks like MAD DADs and the Western New York Peace Center, and those who are pushing us toward sustainability and the green economy such as the Sierra Club, PUSH Buffalo, the Outsource Center, the Foundry, Riverkeeper, and GreenWorks.

In terms of negative influences, I think of the super rich—people who are supposedly really smart but can’t figure out any other way to structure their businesses than so most of the wealth the business creates is leaked up to them instead of sustaining a middle-class life for everyone who works to create that wealth. How pathetic!

Walmart might be the classic case of the founding family skimming richly off the top while employees have to wrap themselves in the social safety net to survive, but there are plenty of local examples as well.

As far as ideas and people that should be more influential, I would include all those who are working on sustainability. Hurricane Sandy was the tip of the climate change iceberg and we desperately need to make a quick transition to clean energy if we don’t want our children’s future dashed against it.

Also—New York has a chance to institute Fair Elections this session. We’ve got to clean up our politics, and public financing of elections is an incredibly important way to reclaim democracy before it’s too late. A vibrant electoral system where private money doesn’t limit who runs and what they can get done, would make a huge difference in what we can accomplish moving forward.

- Bill Nowak, Buffalo

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