Tag Archives: Community

One Region Forward Community Congress Workshops: This Week

12 Nov

This week, “One Region Forward” will be holding a series of workshops, soliciting public input regarding planning for a sustainable future for Buffalo and western New York. 

One Region Forward is working to create a long-term vision for making Buffalo Niagara a more sustainable and equitable region by helping inform decisions on how we use our land, coordinate housing and transportation decisions, prepare for climate change and grow and distribute food locally.

Community engagement is critical to this initiative, and One Region Forward has stressed the importance of one-on-one interactions by traveling across the region this year to hear how Buffalo Niagara residents view sustainability in their lives (a full list of engagements to date can be viewed here).

Starting tonight and continuing on through Saturday the 16th, One Region Forward will be hosting five Community Congress Workshops across the region. These workshops will involve a hands-on mapping exercise where small groups of people will be asked to work together to map what they think the future of Buffalo Niagara should look like while answering questions like: How will we get around? Where will we live? Where will we work? Where will our food come from? What will we protect?

To provide some context for the Community Congress Workshops, preview the “What the Data Tells Us” data story, which explores the trends of the past and projects what Buffalo Niagara might look like in 2050 if we keep doing things the way we have in past decades. Also, check out an update on Regional Vision & Values, which summarizes the feedback we heard from citizens at the initial Community Congress meetings in early 2013.

One Region Forward Community Congress

Workshops will be held as follows: 

11/12/13: Amherst Central High School 6pm – 8pm

11/13/13: City Honors Buffalo 6pm – 8pm

11/14/13: Parkdale Elementary School East Aurora 6pm – 8pm

11/15/13: Starpoint Central High School, Pendleton: 6pm – 8pm

11/16/13: Niagara Power Project Visitor Center, Lewiston 12 – 2pm


Not Just Parking Lots Anymore

11 Apr

Washington, DC is a thriving, bustling city filled with people and money. Even after business hours, the streets are filled with cars, the sidewalks are filled with people, and there are street-level businesses doing good business. 

One of the things to remember about historic preservation is that many of these older buildings don’t have underground parking garages, and to make them even remotely economically feasible, you need to provide parking for tenants, guests, and residents. New builds can hide the parking underground – old buildings can’t, and we have nothing in place to require it to happen. So, we maintain a sea of surface parking that we complain about endlessly, but we seldom come up with ideas to actually change that around. 

Our city municipal parking garages are inadequate, antiquated, and ugly. Forget smart parking – in most lots, you can’t even pay without cash. We don’t have a comprehensive civic, urban plan to turn the surface parking into shovel-ready lots while concentrating the daily influx of cars into designated, well-designed, modern parking garages. 

But here’s a homework assignment for Buffalo. DC’s Mount Vernon triangle was, until recently, a blighted shell of a neighborhood made up largely of cheap parking for commuters. Now? It’s re-making itself into a thriving community thanks to its proximity to downtown businesses and attractions. It’s “not just parking lots anymore“. 

So, that’s Buffalo’s homework assignment – to learn a lesson from places like Mt Vernon triangle; to take its blight and turn it into something attractive and exciting. It doesn’t matter if a building is new or old – what matters is what’s inside them. 

Buffalo ReUse Needs You!

23 Sep

Folks, there is a rare opportunity for you to help us out this Friday–Sept24th! with processing materials on our current green demolition project.

It’s a very large cinder block warehouse and we need help: denailing, loading the truck and palletizing block, brick and other materials – some repetitive heavy lifting.

Amanda is the project manager and she will be directing folks on-site.  Please wear work clothes, layers–kudos for bright safety orange or yellow, and heavy soled boots/shoes for your own safety (steel toe–if you have them).

It’s important that you be at the ReSource, 298 Northampton, at 9:15am to sign-in, grab a hardhat and other safety gear.

We will carpool to the job site at 10am.  There is a port-o-jon on-site.  It’s a good idea to pack a lunch.

Be ready to sweat!

Tyler's Toy

22 Nov

Via Fark, this story of Tyler Shipman, a dying high school senior from Minnesota whose last wish is that his beloved 1986 Pontiac Fiero be restored.  The wish was made on a Fiero enthusiast’s forum, and the response was as overwhelming as the badass yellow restoration that resulted.

The car was finished today, and Tyler even got to drive it for a while.  You can see pictures of the restoration, and the final result, here.

There is a PayPal donation button here.

Moderating Comments

6 Aug

Mrs. Geek Would Like Me To Note, this is not our child

When we started this website back in 2004, WNYMedia.net was pretty much the only online outlet for people to comment on and discuss the local news of the day. The TV stations pretty much ignored the web and The Buffalo News updated once each morning and ignored the potential for an online community. So, we stepped in.

We offered a cozy spot on the Internet for people to discuss issues in their community, share insights, build consensus, and bring different perspectives to stories that were often ignored by the larger outlets. We even had a little slogan internally, the site was built for all of us to Advocate, Educate, Inform, Opinionate and Update. We built a pretty diverse community and we were proud of what we created.

Over the ensuing years, the “news and opinion” audience fragmented into various niche websites because, well, that’s what happens on the Internet. Buffalo Rising, Buffalo Spree, SpeakUpWNY, Artvoice, BlockClub and dozens of individual blogs started to build their own communities. Through it all, our traffic numbers grew.

As the old saying goes; “A rising tide raises all boats”. We were still bringing new readers and contributors onboard each day and, generally speaking, discussions were proactive, friendly, intelligent and productive.  Sure, we had occasional sniping and verbal slapfights, but it’s the Internet.  It’s what happens.

In early 2007, the major outlets finally got onboard with this whole “internets thing” and started asking for comments on stories and providing an outlet for people to communicate. In their meandering and unfocused effort to add an interactive component to their news organizations, they forgot about the most important part of building an online community, moderation.

Online communities are like gardens. They need to be watered, fed and maintained on a regular basis or bugs and weeds will overtake the flowers, ya dig? When new readers visit, your online community cannot look like a hostile, insular and angry place or the new readers will not stay to participate. People don’t want to be yelled at or insulted nor do they wish to hang around with a bunch of anonymous assholes.

A quick sample of a random comment thread at The Buffalo News website or the WGRZ forums will show you the basest, most awful parts of local humanity. I’m not overblowing this. People are outright racist, mean-spirited and obsessed with launching anger filled invective down the Internet Tubes.  Spending more than a few minutes on those sites can really make you lose faith in the whole “City of Good Neighbors” myth we so eagerly spread in this town.

However, the major outlets are not the only ones who have failed to tend their online “community gardens” in recent months, we’re guilty as well.

Marc, Alan and I noticed that the political discussion on our sites took a turn for the angry around the time of the Democratic National Convention last year. We thought it was a reflection of the nasty campaigns being fought on both the national and local level and that things would die down after the November elections. In the midst of all of the angry infighting amongst our regular commenters, we noticed that a meme was developing, we were becoming a place where the same 10-12 people came to continue the same argument each day, regardless of the topic. We’ve been hearing about libertarianism versus the perceived notion that this nation is moving towards socialism for about eight months now.

The result is that our once diverse community of political commenters has essentially boiled down to six proselytizing libertarians and a core group of liberals who like to bicker with them each day. Our traffic numbers are still growing at incredible rates month-over-month as people consume our content, but the community we once were so proud of is struggling to fight off the kudzu of ignorance. New readers are not contributing in comments because they don’t feel welcome to do so. That’s a problem we need to fix.

Because the local libertarian crowd (all 20 of them) cannot grow its local audience on its own merits, it has decided to engage in political discussions on more popular sites in the hopes that they can thereby recruit new readers through links and trackbacks left in our comment section.

We’re not opposed to differing viewpoints, as we have many productive Republican commenters and bloggers on our site and we also offer a home to those that scrape the far lefty edges of the political spectrum. The problem is that the comments left by this vocal group are repetitive, predictable, and 99% of the time add absolutely nothing to the underlying article or discussion. In short, they’re trolling.

Discussion is one thing. Proselytizing is another.

They have their own sites and they find sympathetic souls over at SpeakupWNY.  Whenever WBEN, The Buffalo News or the TV stations want someone to talk about how badly taxes suck, they have Jim Ostrowski and his army of bores. They don’t lack for access to the free “marketplace of ideas” nor do they want for attention, they get it everywhere they go.

So, we at WNYMedia (as participants in the free market) have a choice to make. Do we want to have adult discussions about issues of import or do we want to be yet another place for a daily libertarian circle jerk where they discuss their utopian fantasies and hijack our website? If we are to take action and institute new community guidelines, will we alienate our readers? We are a business and we need to create an environment in which we new readers and commenters feel welcome to participate so that we may grow. Balancing a growth curve and loyalty to our existing readers and commenters is not easy. We certainly consider decisions like this with caution.

Before we make an official decision, we thought we should ask our community for feedback. We’re not all on the same page internally as to how to move forward, so I’m putting this out there to hear what you think. We may decide to make some changes or we may decide to do nothing at all. However, we’ll let you guide our ultimate decision as to whether or not to introduce some new moderating guidelines.

In essence, it boils down as follows:

– The comments sections are there for discussion of the topic that is the subject of the post. Period.
– Personal attacks will no longer be tolerated, but profanity will be allowed. After all, I love profanity.
– If you hijack a thread with off-topic bullshit, your comment will be moderated.
– Bring Hitler into a discussion that is not specifically written discussing Hitler and you’re put in moron moderation.

We’re just weeding the garden in order to let the flowers of community bloom. Did you like what I just did there? Yeah, me too.

What do you think? Where do we go from here?