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It’s nice to see Buffalo turning things around

Though The News article, “City of Illusions,” assured us that it wouldn’t be “a ‘woe-is-us’ type of story,” it certainly read little more than a parade of missed opportunities. Aware of them, I’m proud to return to a city that is abandoning its addiction to panaceas, instead coming around to leveraging local resources to build a diverse economy that gives its residents a reason to stick around. Call it a renaissance.

As someone “summering” in Buffalo for the first time in 10 years, I’ve found that my optimism on the region is well-founded; more reality than romance. The area around the Skyway, which chokes the waterfront off from the city, has been strategically engaged, busy with events and vitality every time I end up downtown. Allentown and Hertel both capture the allure that was once monopolized by Elmwood Village. The burgeoning diversity of the Lower West Side promises to spill that same energy over to Grant and Niagara in the years ahead.

But economic development alone is not enough. Community development and revitalization are indispensable moving forward. Initiatives like OpenBuffalo, a coalition of nonprofit organizations and community members, are at work to ensure citywide, democratic and innovative participation in the direction and agenda-setting of Western New York. PUSH Buffalo, the Coalition for Economic Justice, Partnership for the Public Good and many others are organizing community members to secure an equitable development that addresses neighborhood issues and engages all of us, not simply the elite selection of Buffalo’s money men and the politically connected.

The article completely overlooked our greatest asset of all: our people. What makes Buffalo’s potential exciting and meaningful is the inclusive, regionwide work to make Buffalo’s citizenry the backbone of its future.

Jamil M. Barton

Buffalo