Cheers to the popular ABC show for coming the oft forgotten about west side of Buffalo. The turn out is tremendous and I’m sure the “Move that bus!” moment will be well documented. The sheer volume of people giving of themselves is even more moving when you consider the area where it is happening. The Mass Ave. part of the west side of Buffalo hasn’t been on many radars for a long time. The fact that as many as 50 properties are going to benefit from the week’s worth of attention is a great thing.
The area got a lot of gibes from people who have never ventured west of Elmwood and never will. It struck that that attitude is part of what has kept those areas down. Block Grants and Hud monies buy new SUVs and blackberries, but there has never enough to make something like this happen. I don’t watch the show, but when a TV show can galvanize thousands of folks, shouldn’t there be somebody who can ride that wave of goodwill into other parts of the city. Michael Kearns is quoted in Buffalo Rising as saying this is a great thing and we should be able to do it again in a few months in another area of need. That is a laudable attitude, if it every happens. The cynic in me doubts it.
There has been some snide remarks from people who populate the news forums and listen to too much talk radio about check back in a month, yada, yada, yada. I want to try and rise above that a little bit. To generalize that as a veiled racism might be a bit harsh, but we are a parochial area. We don’t like what we don’t understand. That’s okay, I’d rather my produce from Guercio’s while you are paying too much at the chain store because it is on a “safe” street. People are isolationist in their own nooks and things suffer. That I think extends to the government. You’d hope your representative see the entire area to which they are elected. There was a running joke in the neighborhood when I lived on West and West Ferry in the early 90s. Whenever it snowed, the streets were plowed quickly. The joke was that was because Mayor Masiello’s mom lived up the block. Jimmy Griffin moved good mountains getting the Bisons park built, by shoving those mountains to the east side where nobody would see them. Areas get written of because of that. The wags of talk radio, facebook, the news forums are talking about how the improvements won’t last. I suppose there is that chance, but I also know there are a lot of folk in those streets and they are doing the best they can. There are gangs, but there are also people whose biggest crime is scraping by. Because they don’t have a riding mower or a roof man doesn’t make them less of a person. The short attention span of city hall isn’t their fault.
So, I guess my point is with spending in the right direction could make a reality show to be proud of and in lieu of fresh blackberries, a little investment can go a long way and our leaders can lead the city, not just the portions they frequent. People get reelected for less. Kearns wants to do something to spur another mayoral run. Take some of the resources and do an east side version of this in the Spring. We all know Ty Pennington is sitting in his trailer reading the Wall St Journal while all this has been happening this week. It can happen again. We don’t need the camera or the big reveal moment. We just have to want it to happen.