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Friday, June 21, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

The Power Of My Community

Lauren Nostro

I don't bleed red and blue, but I have a personal attachment to the Buffalo Bills. It reminds me of Sunday afternoons spent with my dad and imagining my mother in all of her glory in a Jills uniform in the 1980s.

I barely even follow the Buffalo Sabres, but I did jump on the bandwagon when I tried to be a tomboy during their stint in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1999 and then again in 2007.

Regardless, I am a Buffalonian.

Technically, I grew up in Black Rock, but by my fifth birthday, I was living in a do-it-yourself home that my dad found just a few blocks from the Elmwood Village.

Growing up, I witnessed the power of a community.

In 2004, my dad forbade me from eating at Pano's Restaurant when its owner announced plans to tear down the Atwater House to expand the old diner and its parking lot.

Pano's may now be two stories, but at least the protests of community members stopped similar plans to knock down homes to make room for a hotel at Elmwood Avenue and Forest Avenue, showing the power of a united neighborhood.

Those who inhabit Elmwood Village make it a home, a community, and unlike any other area of Buffalo. The local business owners, the Buffalo activists, the generations of individuals who, regardless of opportunity, have committed themselves to their home, their city, and its prosperity.

While commercial districts in Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs boast of their goal to impact economic growth in the city, Elmwood Village prevails. For instance, this past month, local fashionista and Buffalo State College professor Erin Habes (also this year's Most Eligible Bachelorette) produced the Mass Appeal runway show incorporating numerous local businesses to raise thousands of dollars for the Elmwood Village Association.

The proceeds will fund the upkeep of the flower baskets adorned on Elmwood Avenue streetlights, the cleanup of streets during the winter, the holiday events throughout the Village, and the Free Summer Concert Series on Bidwell Parkway. While these may just be aesthetically pleasing, they motivate a community to finish the little things that make it what it is.

It's not unusual for the Buffalo-born and raised to brag about our wings, our greasy pizza, the overload of Loganberry, and the fact that they can tell what part of town someone is by their accent.

But to anyone besides a tourist, it's really not important.

What's important is the sense of community in the city, the power of people joining together for a common cause. Local farmers' markets, festivals to celebrate local art, knowing your barista's name at SPoT and his life story, and getting those butterflies in your stomach when you hear of someone from the area making it big or gaining some sort of recognition for their work – paid or not-for-profit.

While the suburbs may have lower crime rates, we have stronger communities. Mixed-use neighborhoods that utilize local businesses and community members that co-exist are able to create a more sustainable and thriving neighborhood that benefits its residents.

E-mail: lauren.nostro@ubspectrum.com


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