BuffaloGeek has touched off a flurry of commentary about another couple downer articles in the news today. Another census analysis on Buffalo’s increasing population loss, and yet another iteration of the “all the young people are leaving” requiem. I was going to throw in my comments on Geek’s site, but this constant Buffalo FUD is one of the things that Buffalo blogging is around to stop, and so with this I launch my new FUD category and a continued commitment to dispelling the rumors and negativity about the place that I was born, and the place where I’ve chosen to stay.
When I was nearing graduation at RIT I repeatedly told my parents, “Don’t plan on me coming back. There aren’t any jobs in Buffalo.” I had interviews with about ten different companies, only one of which was in the area. I didn’t even want to take the interview at first, but almost felt guilted into it since it was the only one in Buffalo. So out of all those interviews, a few second interviews, and even a couple third and fourth interviews, the first company to offer me a job was the one back home. The offer was great, so I took it. I think Mom & Dad were excited, even though I was moving back home to live in the basement again.
My job immediately took me to Boston to live and work for nine months, as we began transitioning development and operations of our new B2B and B2C sites from the consulting company that built them to bring them internal. I lived the dense urban lifestyle, rode the T, walked a minimum of two to five miles a day, dealt with the crappy supermarkets and the pain of driving anywhere until the project ended and I moved back home.
The day I pulled back into my parent’s driveway and unpacked, I was wandering around the backyard. I stopped, looked up and the clear autumn sky, took a deep breath, and sighed. It felt like someone grabbed a hold of my speed dial and turned it down about three notches. That was the first time I understood what “pace of life” really meant, and I knew that I didn’t want to go back to the big city. Buffalo wasn’t such a bad place to be after all.
A lot of other things began to shape my continuing existence after that – meeting Amanda, buying a house, getting married, and getting involved with the CTRC. I’ve done a bit of travelling, both for work and for pleasure, and no matter where I go, I’m always happy to come back home.
The way many people talk about Buffalo often reminds me of the way that a lot of college kids talk about the school they are attending – nothing but complaints and how much better it is elsewhere. I have the same advice for both groups – either do something to change it, get the hell out, or shut up and stop complaining because you’re drowning out the ones who are trying to do something. A lot of people have chosen to vote with their feet, and that’s fine. When faced with the fight or flight response, there are people that are going to go each way. There’s no point in arguing the validity of census bureau’s methodology or counting the number of job postings on a website. It all comes down to people. There will always be people that will stay. Those are the people that need to work on making it easier for others to do the same.
Don’t hate the news for reporting that people are still leaving, fight the root of the problem that’s forcing people to leave. That means continuing to expose the bad politicians and fighting to get the good ones elected. That means undoing years of damage and neglect to the city and it’s neighborhoods. That means counteracting the Fears, Uncertainties, and Doubts that are constantly being hurled at the population of this area.
There are many ways to help swing things back in our favor, whether you choose to be a part of Buffalo Old Home Week, join the Coalition for Progress, volunteer with Broadway Fillmore Alive, or work with any of the dozens, if not hundreds of organizations in Buffalo that are tackling some small part of the problem. You can also help by simply countering someone the next time the FUD falls out of their mouth. Let them know their choices.