It’s working. The things we’re doing are working. The rust belt has flowers blooming in repurposed cast iron crates. Foundries and factories have flower boxes in the windows and young professionals in the lofts. Old mansions have new paint in vibrant colors with bric-a-brac trim that’s hand detailed. Old storefronts have new names and new patrons, with stained glass in the windows and copper lettering over the door. Old wood floors have been uncovered and refinished, their scratches and dents displayed with pride and epoxy. Exposed brick holds local art, some garish and frightful, some simple and tasteful.
Every patio and deck and alleyway has café tables of linen and silver and bouquets of fresh flowers. Bees are buzzing and locusts are chirping and people are walking. Everywhere, people are walking and biking on resurrected Schwinn’s and reinvented Converse. Herbs are soaking up kitchen window sun, tomatoes are reaching out of balcony pots and tiny gardens lie between the sidewalk and the street. Even the medians are overflowing with colorful blossoms.
Downtown, cranes and backhoes and cement trucks labor. The great un-shuttering of gentrification brings sunlight streaming back in through windows long darkened by economic decline. People are living smaller. People are living closer. People are living simpler and better. And, people are living. Outside. Off the freeway. On their feet. And in their neighborhoods.
People are dressing again, taking some pride in their appearance and clearing the consignment store racks. Men are wearing braces and women are wearing heels. Pride in the outward appearance breeds care for the insides as well. So those who are dressing are also eating well and moving well, resisting sedentation and opting for locomotion.
All of this, this new heartbeat, this new breath, this new energy, is happening in Buffalo, of all places, New York. Hit almost as hard as Detroit, Buffalo is bursting at the seams with new jobs, new living spaces and new faces. There’s a return to center and a return to reason happening. Despair and desperation may have forced the hand, but a spirit of cooperation has laid the trump card over selfish intent and greed.
It’s happening. We’re returning. We’re recovering. May we do so always remembering our excesses and staving them off. Bravo Buffalo.
Robin Behl, La Cuentista