Community Control of Resources: The Grant Street Neighborhood Center

In late 2005, the public library located at 271 Grant Street (on the West Side of Buffalo) was closed. It was just another county target to save funding and became a victim of the budget cuts’ axe. Members of the community wondered why there was no neighborhood library in an area that could use one the most. If it wasn’t going to be a library, what could it be? The neighborhood could ill afford another eye sore, and all the building needed was a little tender loving care to become an asset to the community again. Working with the city council member and Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP), PUSH Buffalo stepped in to help figure out how to bring this building back to life, to make right a previous wrong. To this day, MAP and PUSH offices are in the building, but the idea was to keep the main first floor space open to the public, provide resources, and be an open, safe, and productive place for the community. And so, the Grant Street Neighborhood Center (GSNC) was born. Community control of resources is a very important concept when it comes to building a sustainable neighborhood. Fast-forwarding to the present, nowhere isthis more evident than in the daily operation of the GSNC. Since the building's rebirth, its usage has been steadily increasing, mostly by people who live within walking distance of it. Neighbors know it as a safe and supportive community space with resources and programs that respond to neighborhood needs. Upon walking through the doors on any given weekday, anyone can see the positive environment. People of all ages who live in the neighborhood use the space in a variety of ways, whether it’s for computers, homework help, browsing the books, or taking part in the regular programming. Maybe it’s writing club, the visual arts program, yoga at Shakti, or the teen Girl Talk or Guy Talk programs. GSNC Open Hours are Monday through Friday, from 2:30pm to 7:00pm. Aside from Open Hours, the space is open for community groups and currently is reserved for small fellowships groups in the evenings and weekends. People interested in knowing more about what goes on at the center or groups looking to possibly use the space should email or call 884-0377. When people in a community work together to control resources for the good of all who reside there, great things happen. The GSNC is a living, breathing, and physical example of what this means.