Tag Archives: future

New Buffalo 2005 – 2009

4 Sep

I started blogging in late 2003, and started focusing on local issues about a year later – after John Kerry lost the presidential election. Soon after that, in early 2005, George Johnson contacted me about Buffalo Rising – it was then a print publication that was starting a blog, and they were going to cover “New Buffalo”. George even made these handy widgets that said, “New Buffalo” and were used to promote not just Buffalo Rising, but the idea that Buffalo was finally shedding its rustbelt image of failure, and that great things were coming. They were just around the corner. This time, we’re going to get it right.

Some, like Christopher Byrd, say it was stupid to think it ever existed. We at WNYMedia.net promoted the notion that there wasn’t a “new” or “old” Buffalo, but One Buffalo. I had bought in to the notion of there being a “new Buffalo” because I know first-hand how dramatically a city, a region, and a mindset can change. The city I grew up in, White Plains, was once a typical little suburban city with a bustling main street (Mamaroneck Avenue), and you had your drug stores, Woolworth’s, movie house, music store, donut shop, photography store, Macy’s, etc. Then they built the Galleria mall, and Mamaroneck Avenue started looking dingy and forgotten. But in the last decade, a massive transformation took place right downtown in the shadow of a newer, fancier mall – Mamaroneck Avenue is booming again and features names on it like “Target”, “Ritz-Carlton”, and “Trump”.

Likewise, when I first moved to Boston it was a lot like Buffalo. Clinging to past glories, still thinking it was the hub of the universe, gritty but progressive thanks to a massive yearly influx of young, energetic people with disposable incomes. Now, it’s Boston.

Buffalo? I think the idea of “New Buffalo” is dead. The time of death, in my estimation, was the moment Byron Brown was re-elected Mayor of the City of Buffalo in 2009. He’s had 5 years to do something palpable to change not just the city for the better, but also its culture of back-scratching and backbiting. But it’s only gotten worse. And if you think about it – who’s out there who could take that job and possess, much less articulate, a coherent, credible vision for Buffalo’s future? We always come back to: no plan, no vision, no goals, no aspiration. Just make sure Goin’ South and Grassroots get their promised jobs, and STFU.

New Buffalo existed, after all, in the aspirations and hopes of people who love this area and want to see it grow. People who are here not because they have to be, but by deliberate, conscious choice. People who know it’s good elsewhere, and want to make it good here, too.

My goodness, January 2005 was filled with hope. And that’s just one example. Half a decade later, and Tom Suozzi is no longer going to be in elected office, much less Fixing Albany or its 3 men in a room. The Brennan Center’s simple recommendations for legislative and rules reform haven’t been completely implemented, and Albany pols don’t seem energized to make those changes. Revitalize Buffalo? Gone. WNY Coalition for Progress? Gone. Kevin Gaughan’s push for regional, metropolitan government? Gone in exchange for downsizing town boards and consolidating towns & villages.

We cheer small successes and are mentally and emotionally numb or immune to our disappointments. But as far as movements of the young and plugged-in, the big trend seems to be to get together and pow-wow about social media. You know who’s not using social media? The Erie County Legislature, the administration running the City of Buffalo, the Mayor of the City of Buffalo, the Buffalo Common Council, your town/village/city government, and most likely your representative in the State Senate/Assembly/town or city council. And if they were using social media, chances are they’d use it for one-way announcements rather than conversations about WNY and its government.

The red/green budget crisis seemed like a cathartic moment when we would finally get our political, economic, and social act together to jettison the past and work towards the future. Didn’t happen. The same fights get fought by the same people. Some who seemed as if they could be positive actors for change turned into raving, indecent lunatics. Others gave up.

New Buffalo as a concept may be dead, but plenty of people and organizations are taking little steps towards making a better WNY and a better life for them and others. Buffalo isn’t just a place, it’s something of a state of mind.

Buffalo needs goals, a plan to reach them, and leadership to steer us through the plan. When those three things converge, then we’ll have a truly New Buffalo.

You Will

17 May

AT&T ads from 1993. Phone booth?!


Branding Buffalo

25 Sep

Geek wrote about it here, in response to Mark’s unexpected return to blogging here at allthingsbuffalo.

How would you brand Buffalo?

The best I can come up with now is “Buffalo, the other New York”

(Photo by Flickr user stratushead)

Meanwhile, in California

7 Jul

A proposition

The proposal to build an 800-mile system of 200-mph trains linking Southern and Northern California, by way of the Valley, has made a great deal of sense throughout its two-decade gestation. Proposition 1, the $9.95 billion bond measure, is the necessary first step.

High-speed rail will be an engine of economic development that we badly need in this state, creating tens of thousands of jobs in both its construction and its operation.

It will have a dramatic impact on our environment, removing thousands of cars from California’s highways. Less congestion will make the remaining vehicles more efficient for those that remain on the road. Conservative estimates suggest millions of barrels of oil could be saved annually, and as much as 22 billion pounds of carbon dioxide kept out of the atmosphere.

The rail system would also reduce the need for many short- and medium-haul airline flights, which pollute the atmosphere at an astonishing rate.

Now, with gasoline at $4.50 a gallon and rising, high-speed rail is no longer just a good idea. It’s imperative.

High speed rail with Buffalo as a hub connecting Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto, Albany/Boston/New York would be a pretty dandy thing now in the days of $4.50/gallon gas, hourlong TSA lines, and Amtrak dreck-o-rama.

America at a Crossroads

30 Jun

Friedman in the Times yesterday:

My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.

I continue to be appalled at the gap between what is clearly going to be the next great global industry — renewable energy and clean power — and the inability of Congress and the administration to put in place the bold policies we need to ensure that America leads that industry.

“America and its political leaders, after two decades of failing to come together to solve big problems, seem to have lost faith in their ability to do so,” Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib noted last week. “A political system that expects failure doesn’t try very hard to produce anything else.”

We used to try harder and do better. After Sputnik, we came together as a nation and responded with a technology, infrastructure and education surge, notes Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. After the 1973 oil crisis, we came together and made dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. After Social Security became imperiled in the early 1980s, we came together and fixed it for that moment. “But today,” added Hormats, “the political system seems incapable of producing a critical mass to support any kind of serious long-term reform.”

If the old saying — that “as General Motors goes, so goes America” — is true, then folks, we’re in a lot of trouble. General Motors’s stock-market value now stands at just $6.47 billion, compared with Toyota’s $162.6 billion. On top of it, G.M. shares sank to a 34-year low last week.

That’s us. We’re at a 34-year low. And digging out of this hole is what the next election has to be about and is going to be about — even if it is interrupted by a terrorist attack or an outbreak of war or peace in Iraq. We need nation-building at home, and we cannot wait another year to get started. Vote for the candidate who you think will do that best. Nothing else matters.

There are so many reasons and causes for this inevitable chicken roost homecoming that I can’t even begin to hurl epithets at them. But I’m willing to overlook them for now just to have some people in congress take some bold steps that will help us in the future. Fewer international misadventures and more time and money being spent on transitioning our economy would be a swell idea.


27 Jun

Is Buffalo still a blue collar town in America’s Rust Belt?

The stereotype of Buffalo is that it is a town filled with blue collar lunch bucket factory workers with a love of chicken wings and Canadian Beer. Well, the wings and beer thing is true, but Buffalo is home to a growing and thriving community of new economy.

Purpose: To showcase 20 of the region’s most progressive new economy companies to demonstrate that we are rapidly building a burgeoning entrepreneurial sector in Western New York.

This will be a networking event at which larger companies can show the way to success, mid-level companies can reach out to new customers, find talent, locate real estate, and smaller companies that are just starting out can find some investors or just share their plans.

The event will be interactive with questions from the online community via text and Twitter, live attendees, and the whole event will be streamed online via BuffaloHomecoming.com, wnymedia.net, and ustream.tv.

It’s about building a community of entrepreneurs and young professionals who are looking to generate local wealth which can be used to put people to work, and build the foundation of our community. Instead of looking to traditional power structures and politicians, these are driven companies which seek to build upon Buffalo’s legacy of entrepreneurialism. Let’s look forward, work together and build the city in our own vision.

When we’re done, we’ll upload each presentation to dozens of viral video sites to spread the word about Buffalo’s business future.

Presenters: WNY’s 20 most innovative technology, design, social network, creative and media companies. Click here for more details on our presenters.

Audience: Local, regional, and national venture capitalists and angel investors, members of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, InfoTech Niagara, local entrepreneurs, general public, online participation. Attendance is 100% free and registration is NOT required. We just ask you to join us in person or virtually!

When: June 27th, 2008 9AM-2PM

Where: Statler Golden Ballroom, Statler Hotel, Buffalo, NY