I Will Stay If… Buffalo December 3rd

24 Nov

A press release from the Great Lakes Urban Exchange, whose mission is to right the Failboats along the Great Lakes.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For some, it’s lower taxes. For others, it’s a commitment to a green economy or sustainable city. Many simply need good-paying jobs. Still others want to see a revitalized waterfront.

A coalition of young leaders wants to know what it will take to keep their friends and colleagues in Buffalo. And they want to take that message to the region’s elected officials.

On Thursday, December 3, the public is invited to participate in the “I Will Stay If…” campaign of the Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE) with an event at Century Grill, 320 Pearl Street in downtown Buffalo. The event begins at 5:30 and is being organized locally by representatives from Buffalo 2032, The B Team, Buffalo Niagara 360 and other community organizations. Sponsors of the event include Century Grill, Flying Bison Brewery and Douglas Levere Photography.

The Great Lakes Urban Exchange was founded to catalyze conversations across Rust Belt cities on topics of mutual concern, including the loss of population and sustainable economic activity. The “I Will Stay If…” campaign is an attempt to involve a diverse crowd of people to participate in a vital conversation about the future of our cities. The campaign collects visually powerful data about what residents want most from their cities. Similar events have taken place in Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cleveland and are being planned in other Great Lakes cities.

“We know what a great community we have in Buffalo and Western New York and we want to be part of the solution in making it even stronger,” said Sara Emhof, one of the event organizers. “Our elected leaders in Washington, Albany and locally need to make informed decisions about Western New York’s future. The concerns and ideas of their constituents need to be considered.”

Those attending the “I Will Stay If…” event at Century Grill will be asked to lend their thoughts on the reasons they want to stay in – or come back to – Western New York. The answers given throughout the night will be captured in a photographic exhibit that will be shared with policymakers.

“By organizing this event, we not only want to celebrate everything we love about our hometown, but also to capture the conversation we have all had so many times about staying committed to Buffalo and the great future we all want to see here.,” said Phil Pantano, another organizer of the local “I Will Stay If…” event.

Food and refreshments will be served and a nominal donation to support GLUE is requested, but not required.

The Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE) is a growing network of young leaders committed to revitalizing the cities of the Great Lakes region through story-telling, constituency building, and political advocacy. After two years of hosting multi-state conferences, building networks online, and creating opportunities for urbanists across the region to connect with a variety of policy and organizing experts, GLUE launched its I Will Stay If… (IWSI) campaign in Detroit earlier this year to answer the question: “what will make young people stay?” For more information, visit www.GLUEspace.org.

18 Responses to “I Will Stay If… Buffalo December 3rd”

  1. HapKlein November 24, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    I like the evident enthusiasm of glue that spotlights and seeks to vitalize potential of the Great Lakes Area. I recently read of how Henry Ford analyzed and utilized the strengths of Detroit to develop Ford that in turn created one of the most successful urban areas of the 20th Century.

    We need that here. But I fear the formation of another group that will tend to be more social than effective in improving the region.

    I have a vision of the new group forming as a counter group of smiling youth with happy signs confronting the members of the Tea Party folk with their nasty messages and frowns.

    From the list of participants I see a lot of hopeful names and wish them well. But as a person who has worked on many aspects of recreational pursuits in the waterfront and trail development be aware that there is deadly lethargy in the road ahead. We need humongous energy and hope to overcome the failures of the past fifty years.

    Just never, never, never, never, never give up.

  2. Jessica K November 24, 2009 at 11:26 am #

    To me, this isn’t complicated. I don’t give a crap about Richard Florida and fancy wine bars or even a prettier downtown or H&M or Trader Joe’s or whatever people always end up going on about at these things. I would have stayed in Buffalo if I could find a decent job in my field. I can’t — partially because of the economy here and partially due to not having the right ‘connections’ — so I am leaving.

    • Alan Bedenko November 24, 2009 at 11:37 am #

      What job were you looking for, in what field?

      • Jessica K November 24, 2009 at 11:59 am #

        Real estate law, legal aid-type lawyering, affordable housing development/management, community economic development — any of that would do. Government or not-for-profit agency, or working for a university or college even. I looked for a year, only found part-time and freelance work. Went to Brooklyn and interviewed for four jobs at two agencies in two days.

    • Chris from OP November 30, 2009 at 10:37 am #

      I hear you Jessica.  I graduated a few years ago and busted my ass trying to get a professional job in WNY but couldn’t even get my foot inside of doors.  I moved to Washington, DC without a job and had gone from sending out resumes, to interviews to working in three weeks.  I just moved back, but the job I have now, I have because I knew somebody.

      I wish you the best in NYC and hope that down the road you get the chance to come back.

  3. Hank November 24, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    The idea in theory is a good one. How it is implemented is crucial. Pols heavily entrenched have no desire to see anything change. Considering UB and SUNYAB, this area bleeds thousands of college graduates every year, many of them locals. This hemmorage must be stopped. The whole structure of the state would have to change to keep them here—they only leave because there are no jobs. Long gone are the young men who said they would follow their father’s steps into Chevrolet/Trico/Saginaw/Republic/Bethlehem/Harrison-Delphi/Westinghouse, etc etc etc—those jobs are gone and they’re not likely to come back. NYS is too business unfriendly and taxes are totally out of hand. It’s not a destination that businesses are looking to locate. End of the day, the answers being looked for by the “I will stay if” crowd can be answered by the “Why I left” crowd, currently numbering in the hundreds of thousands if not more. Jobs top the list, followed by taxes, political corruption, the list is finite but awful long. Weather doesn’t even enter into it, or the perennial losses by our pro sports teams. Development of our lakefront and harbor has progressed nil in over 50 years. 2 opportunities to re-route the 190 away from the riverside to give the River back to the people have been shot down by state government and nimby’s in the Tonawandas in the last 20 years.
    Until the massive sucking sound of the state and local governments pulling their heads from their asses is heard, this group is full of the good intentions that pave the road to hell. Lots of luck—you’re gonna need it.

  4. Chris Smith November 24, 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    @Jessica K, if the economy is so bad here, it would seem that there is a market for a lawyer to hang out a shingle and perform low cost legal aid and real estate services for the poor. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve really ever heard someone say there is a lack of non-profit work in Buffalo. We’re lousy with it. Perhaps in your specific declared interest there isn’t a huge market, but you could have made one. Sounds like a market opportunity to me.

    Anyhow, good luck to you in Brooklyn.

    • Jessica K November 24, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

      Yes, there is a market to provide services to people who can’t afford to pay you for them. Just because there is a huge demand for services to low-income people doesn’t mean there is money to pay for it; I think anyone in the local non-profit community could tell you that. Bottom line is, if staying in Buffalo was my absolute number one priority, I could have scraped together a living; I am in training to become an assigned counsel criminal defense lawyer, which is a much better idea than hanging out a shingle to serve poor people, since the government can and will pay you. But I would rather have a regular job with health insurance and I couldn’t find that here.

      • Dave November 24, 2009 at 7:01 pm #

        There’s a glut of lawyers everywhere, not just Buffalo. To make it in a narrow field is going to take some time and patience. I put out my own shingle and did the assigned counsel thing for awhile, but there’s a limit to what you can make doing that. If you really get frustrated, you can do what I did – put your degree on ice for awhile and join the Army. It’s not the law, but it’s got awesome health benefits.

  5. Jessica K November 24, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

    I am accustomed to people here acting, like you are, like there’s something wrong with me for not being able to make it here, at least not the way I want to. And I really believed it until I went elsewhere and my resume got a much warmer reception.

    • Chris Smith November 24, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

      I’m not saying there is something wrong with you, I’m saying that it really should not come as a surprise to you that it’s easier to find work in one of the world’s largest cities as opposed to the third poorest city in America. And if your job goal is to help the poor with your legal skills, well, it seems there ought to be a market for that here. If one isn’t established, maybe someone needs to establish it.
      Should it have been you? No. Just sayin’

      To be honest, I’m no longer on the bandwagon of keeping people in Buffalo, if you find a better opportunity, take it. Go where you’re happy, no one owes anything to a region or city. You want to live in Brooklyn? Awesome, good luck.

      • Jessica K November 24, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

        Who used the word surprise? Anyway, I’m still not clear on how you think someone should turn “providing services to people who can’t pay for them” into a viable business plan.

      • STEEL November 24, 2009 at 9:49 pm #

        Someone somewhere must have done so otherwise the field you are interested in would not exist.

      • Alan Bedenko November 24, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

        In 1997, I couldn’t get a job so I hung out my shingle. It was hard, and it took a while, but I developed a great little practice doing a little of this, a little of that, but specializing in landlord/tenant matters, personal injury, and bar advocate/indigent criminal representation. My clients were regular folks, middle and working class who couldn’t afford 5-figure (or often even 4-figure) retainers, but I developed innovative billing structures that helped me get paid and kept my clients happy. It’s hard, but not impossible.

      • Jessica K November 24, 2009 at 10:54 pm #

        Alan, I don’t know how much experience you had in ’97, I’m guessing not much since I know you’re not that old, but for me, at this point in my career, I don’t feel I have the experience or connections to make that fly. Like I said to Chris — if it was my number one priority I guess I could make it work somehow. I would rather have a regular job, though, and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable way to feel when you have a modest amount of experience.
        More generally, I don’t mean to be a hater. I like living in Buffalo — I like my apartment, I really like my cheap rent, I like my neighborhood and the volunteer work I’m doing and the people I know. I just couldn’t find the job I wanted after a year of looking, and opportunities came up elsewhere, and there was not much keeping me here. I would have stayed if I could find something, but I couldn’t, so I’m not. I just wanted to make the point that I’m not leaving for some elaborate set of reasons involving taxes and culture and etc.

  6. Mike McGuire November 24, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    Helping the poor doesn’t pay? That’s a fucking breaking news alert. I love when hippies grow up and decide they want the nice things adults have but they don’t want to sell out their bohemian rep to get them.

  7. Pauldub November 24, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

    My sister is currently doing the Public Defender thing in Buffalo, Did a lot in housing court. She isn’t making the big bucks, but she is enjoying tilting at windmills.

  8. HapKlein November 25, 2009 at 9:27 am #

    I coordinated on behalf of Literacy Volunteers with the Department of Social Services during the early 1990’s. The illiterate are rated as unable to read at a 5th grade level. Most of my clients did much worse.

    One day in response to the Clinton Reforms a DSS supervisor mentioned to me that they had sent my clients notices of the changes and how they could act in response.

    With a smile I asked, somewhat incredulously, you sent my clients a letter? Pray tell who will read it to them. I pictured an endless line of folk losing their food stamps and support due to an unread letter in a drawer someplace.

    At that moment I yearned to be a lawyer more than anything else in the world. Society and government have moved away from the horrors of inadequate education they produce and the two can never be reconciled with a lot of legal work done properly. If anyone can walk away from this reality they don’t belong in that advocacy anyway. Those folk have already had enough harm from well meant ineptness.

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