Sunday, May 22, 2011

Buffalo: Where you go when you want to question your purpose in life

Somewhere between the impenetrable fog, the abandoned grain elevators, and the slight post-wing queasiness, I fell in love with Buffalo.

Remember Austin Unscripted, the work project I told you about last year? Well, it's happening again, this time in Buffalo, which meant a scouting trip with the Unscripted crew this past week to prep for our July filming.

The itinerary took us to all corners of the city -- art districts, historic corridors, park systems, grain elevators, urban gardens, Frank Lloyd Wright houses, and neighborhood after neighborhood after neighborhood.

But those diverse sites paled in comparison to the people we met who care about them. Be they homeowners, activists, historians, planners, or simply concerned citizens, Buffalonians impressed us with their hospitality, warmth, and deep pride in their community.

Moreover, these folks get shiznit DONE. They see a problem and they tackle it head on, usually with their like-minded neighbors in tow. Like the West Side neighborhood group opposing the Peace Bridge expansion. The 'unofficial mayor' who organized the first-ever Neighborhood Forum. Or the local business owner planning to repurpose the grain elevators and keep industrial heritage alive.

It got me thinking about what my future communities might hold, and what I might also have in store for them. Do I want to be an small player in a bustling metropolis? Or do I want to find a city of neighborhoods, a place that needs my energy/optimism/mad cooking skillz to enact change?

There's no right answer, and there's certainly no fixed answer, for who knows where life/work (life's work?) will take me. All I know is that I'm thinking a lot about how to make a dent -- how I can be more like Buffalo.

Prayer #166: Make a Dent

Lord, protect the dent-makers. Inspire the instigators, rally the rabble-rousers, carry the catalysts.

Plant in them a conscience and the will to follow it.

Instill in them compassion to hear and respect the other side.

Help them play nice with others while still defending the sandbox.

Give them plenty of space across their towns, along their blocks, and in their hearts to accommodate expansion.

And if they don't yet think they are dent-makers (or don't believe they can be), open their eyes to what they most care about -- and then appear in the sightline to remind them they're not alone.

Amen.

2 comments:

  1. I really like this one Julia!

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  2. Remember, my one word for Buffalo is POSSIBLE. Anyone can be a Buffalonian, no matter where they are. I love the concept, thanks for writing it.

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