Every once in awhile, some pompous City of Buffalo resident makes a quip demeaning the work of hundreds, if not thousands of dedicated volunteers who spend countless hours working to improve Buffalo. Today, that remark was reiterated by a commenter and occasional contributor to Buffalo Rising, “Gabe”. In his response to Figmo’s “Let’s Get An H&M Downtown! and our friend and CTRC Treasurer Mike Miller’s positive comments, Gabe played the “If you don’t live in the city, shut up” card.
Here’s Gabe’s exact comment:
“And Mike Miller, don’t kid yourself either. Broadway/Fillmore is probably the LAST place on earth H&M would locate. And I find it an insult to the struggling residents of the neighborhood that you have these vivid, delusional fantasies of it resembling Queen st. in Toronto. How about thinking small and cleaning up the blight and stabilizing the rapid decay first? Maybe you can make more of a difference moving into one of these beaten-down neighborhoods instead of cooking up foolish schemes from the comfort of your Wheatfield cul-de-sac.”
Now, I don’t know Gabe personally. I don’t know what he does to contribute to Buffalo besides presumably living there. But I do know that the fact that Mike lives in Wheatfield has no impact on his tireless contributions to the Central Terminal, the East Side, and Buffalo in general. And I find it personally insulting every time some city resident with a martyrdom complex feels that if someone lives outside the city limits that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Guess what, Gabe. While you admittedly “spent the greater portion of last year living in New York City,” Mike and a heck of a lot of other non-city residents (Amanda and I included) spent the greater portion of their “free” time actually on the East Side and actually doing something to stabilize the decay.
I don’t buy the argument that one needs to live in the exact location they’re trying to improve. Hell… what percentage of East Side residents actually give a crap about the East Side? Not enough, and that’s why “outsiders” are stepping in to do what needs to be done.
“Suburbanite” is not an evil word. Quite frankly, I don’t ever want to live in the city. I lived in Boston for nine months and got enough of a taste of what urban life is like to know that I don’t particularly enjoy that lifestyle. Amanda and I look forward to someday leaving even the suburban life behind and enjoying a more rural setting with a greater expanse of nature and greenspace than what we can get in the suburbs.
But that doesn’t change the fact that at the moment, we realize that we are residents of Greater Buffalo, and that this entire area is dependent on the success of the city. So we latched on to a project that interested us and one we felt we could make a significant contribution to. We both spend a shitload of hours on this project for no pay and little recognition by those outside the organization. So I find it insulting when someone belittles the efforts of people like Mike, Amanda, myself, and all the others who actually do venture out of our cul-de-sacs to try and breathe life back into an area that we don’t even live in because we don’t pay a city tax bill. That’s just more of the small-minded thinking that has permeated Buffalo for more decades than I’ve been alive.