West Side Vs. Masten District

By Supo, Caleb, Say Ra, Dary, and Thaint
In the beginning of the year, we the Citizenship & Organizing Group worked together on a project to bring healthy fresh food to corner stores.  Our project plan was to go to four corner stores in the Masten District to communicate with the store owners, inform them about food deserts, and see if they were willing to work alongside us.

Before we even started our project, we interviewed stakeholders that we thought would give us great information to help us with our project.  One of the stakeholders that we first interviewed was Derek Nichols from Grassroots Gardens Buffalo.  Derek is a board member of the Western New York Environmental Alliance.  He told us to speak with the Mobile Safety Net Team.  We also talked with MAP’s youth employees about our project to get some feedback and ideas from them.

After we talked with Derek and MAP’s youth, we met with Sheila Bass from the Mobile Safety Net Team and Danielle Rovillo who runs MAP’s Mobile Market.  We interviewed Sheila Bass, talked to her about her project, which is Buffalo’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative, and asked her for tips and advice on our project.  Next we talked to Danielle to ask for her opinions on our project and for her help, and told her why we chose the Masten District.

First, Danielle suggested that we look up more information about the Masten District to further develop our project and to help us get to know the community better.  She advised us to pass out surveys in the neighborhoods by asking the corner store owners to help pass them out, as that could be a way to receive accurate information about the district’s needs and interests. Danielle also encouraged us to consider the Elim Church as a place to work on our project, because it is one of the biggest spots where people would buy from the mobile market and we could try and partner with stores near there.  After we met with Danielle, we looked up where the Elim Church is located and found that it is within the Masten District.

Danielle said she would support our project, but she couldn’t help us get food for the corner stores because she is working on getting food for MAP’s Mobile Market.  Since she couldn’t help us with the food, she wondered where we would source our food from and said she might be able to connect us with other people who could help us.

Finally, before we could put our project into action, we needed Diane Picard’s approval to continue.  Diane Picard is our boss, the Executive Director of MAP.  To get ready for the stakeholder interview with her, we came up with questions, in case she asked us about the Masten District.  To brainstorm questions, we separated our group into two teams and we had a debate on the West Side versus the Masten District.  Through the debate, we realized that we did not know much about the Masten District.

We finally met up with Diane and during the interview she told us that she wanted us to focus on the West Side, and if we were successful we could expand the project later on.  Diane gave us two possible corner stores on the West Side that we could work with and she also gave us some tips on the survey questions.

After talking with Danielle and Diane, we decided to not let the store owners pass out the surveys themselves, but instead we would pass them out, and we also decided to do our project on the West Side.  We changed our project plan to asking corner store owners on the West Side to partner with us, and we would pass out the survey to their customers.

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