Individual Significance: The Ability to Make an Impact in Buffalo

By Griffin Jones

There are more remarkable things in Buffalo than most people realize. But when we brag about the Allentown Art Festival to someone from San Francisco, or rave about the Elmwood Village to someone from Manhattan, we sound like the mayor of Flint, MI in Roger and Me. It’s not that these things aren’t great, they actually are, they just fail when positioned incorrectly. Buffalo is positioned correctly with these five new marketing attributes. The second of which is individual significance, the results one person can initiate and the meaning it gives to his or her life.

In most cities, Larkin Square is just a few renovated buildings. What has it meant as a  statement for Buffalo?

In most cities, Larkin Square is just a few renovated buildings. What has it meant as a statement for Buffalo?

“You can get involved in larger areas, but your ability to have an impact might be limited. Buffalo is ripe with opportunity,” is how Justin Booth, director of GOBike Buffalo, described part of his decision to relocate to Buffalo from the New York City area. How much better do our streets look with a little extra paint on them? Our new bike lanes make Buffalo more connected, progressive, and marketable because one man and his small team aggressively pushed for the changes.

If Kevin and Melissa Gardner of Five Points Bakery opened a locally-sourced bakery in Chicago’s gentrifying Logan Square, no one would bat an eye. But one couple revitalizes one strategic corner on Buffalo’s west side and it’s reinforced the desirability of the whole neighborhood.

Someone opens four avant-garde restaurants in five years in Washington, DC and they are like every other restaurateur. Rocco Termini and Mike Andrzejewski do it in downtown Buffalo, and it breathes life into our city center.

Boutique marketing agencies in Brooklyn follow norms set by their competition. On the 700 Block of Main Street, Patrick Finan and the talented people at Block Club are changing Western New York business culture for the better.

Everywhere in the world, there are forward-thinking people who are frustrated that they can’t disrupt the destructive habits of our universal human culture. Look at national politics, international affairs, and vast sprawling cities. Is your picture of the world brighter when the scale is larger or in focus?

Buffalo is for people whose hope for the world is framed by their own role in making it better. Anyone with ambition can collaborate with others to create small victories. Now Buffalo didn’t see sixty years of decline because change is readily accepted here. Yet, that’s what compounds the significance of every little improvement.

The big fish in a small pond analogy doesn’t fully work here because it doesn’t have anything to do with the fish. It’s about the change it makes on the pond.


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