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Raking leaves and engaging the community, one block at a time

Posted at 7:23 PM, Nov 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-01 19:23:55-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — One group in Buffalo is taking the meaning of grassroots community organizing quite literally, and it starts with raking leaves.

Raking leaves and cleaning up streets is a gateway to change for Ronald Dixon. Once or twice a month he picks a block to clean with other members of the his Masonic lodge. The group knocks on doors and asks people to fill out a community engagement survey they made.

It asks for basic demographic information, changes people want to see in the community, and what issues they want to learn more about.

Dixon started the project to help community's organize. He shares the information with block club presidents.

“This actually affords these different block clubs and these different community organizations, to actually use the data that they’re pulling from their own communities in order to receive funding for whatever projects or events they want to hold or host," Dixon said. "This allows them to be in that driver’s seat.”

The weather cut this week's cleanup on Fennimore Avenue and Suffolk Street short. The duo raking leaves in the pouring rain made it through one house.

Pharaoh Grant worked alongside Dixon, and said he's happy to give back to the block he grew up on.

“That block’s seen me grow from a boy to a man, and I learned a lot of principles between establishing a connection with the community, with our people, building friends, building relationships," Grant said.

Dixon said the group has visited six neighborhoods so for. His goal is to share the information with the Board of Block Clubs and the city's Division of Citizen Services once there is 1,000 survey responses.