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The response to Buffalo FUD

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.

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  1. I, for one, am glad that you stayed!

    I’ve often said, you don’t fully appreciate the great things about Buffalo until you live somewhere else. I left too. When I was 20. Lived in Charlotte for 4 years. Came back and never felt more certain that I was HOME!

  2. I am DEFINITELY glad you came back! I don’t know where I’d be without you. I feel the same about Buffalo, I have lived out of the area (not out of state) and this always was and always will be home to me. Sure it has it’s problems, but lets take a poll with all those people who moved out and see if it REALLY got that much better wherever they are now. I’m sure that they are still complaining and making noise about whatever is wrong at their new home too. It’s more people’s makeup than the actual place they are in some cases I think.

    Oh yeah, and home will ALWAYS be wherever my Husband is and that makes me happier than anything else. 🙂

  3. I lived *somewhere else* all of my life and only came to the Buffalo / WNY area to visit family and friends, although quite regularly, for most of my life. I always loved the area and thought about living here often. When ever I spoke of my desire, I was told I was crazy. I didn’t matter whether it was friends and family down south and out west talking, or my family up here, the response was always the same question: ” Why would I want to live in Buffalo?”

    Well, I didn’t listen and I eventually made the move up here. That was over eight years ago now, and although everything hasn’t been perfect, I love it here. I met my wife here, I made a lot of friends I likely wouldn’t have made elsewhere and I get to do a lot of things, I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to do down South.

    I understand that people are frustrated here. Our local and state government has a lot of problems. The economy leaves something to be desired and life here leave very little left in our pockets after the taxes are due, but you can’t beat this as a place to raise or enjoy a family.

    I for one, am glad that I live here. I don’t intend to leave.

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