Monday, August 03, 2009

Writing Buffalo

I intended to write about immigration today, but one of my Sunday posts is garnering some interest. In Dayton, art and poetry are used to weave a counter-narrative to negative Rust Belt publicity:

Michael Gainer, founder and chief of operations for the New York-based, non-profit Buffalo ReUse, will make a presentation on a creative way to deal with blighted housing that also grows jobs.

“We’re eager to get there and share what we are doing and hear what is working for other communities,” said Gainer, founder and chief of operations for Buffalo ReUse. “We hear all the bad stories from outsider perspectives who don’t understand the treasure Buffalo is. It’s reassuring to know there are others struggling with the same things.”

You might think of the event as redefining urban vitality. I think of it as exploring the possibilities of socio-economic frontiers. Or, artists and city boosters are simply celebrating shrinking city cool:

The praise follows major Buffalo strokes on our architecture, culture and communal spirit from the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. The national buzz about Buffalo has never been louder in the quarter-century I have lived here. The lightning rod is genius architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House complex in North Buffalo, nearing the end of a 12-year, $50-million restoration.

The praise does more than make us feel good. It means more visitors spending money in hotels, bars, restaurants, shops and museums. It justifies what a lot of folks have said for a long time:We have world-class architecture, art and other attractions. Restoring and marketing it will polish our national image and create a cottage industry in cultural tourism. We already are seeing the payoff.

“Two-thirds of our visitors are from outside the region,” said the Martin House’s Mary Roberts. “It’s new money into our economy.”

It's more than Buffalo. The good word about Youngstown is getting out. "The Office" helped to put Scranton back on the map. Need I mention Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh?

I'm in the mood to go feather bowling. (Is that one word or two?)

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