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Commentary: Buffalo's Strengths and Weaknesses

By Jean Duffy

Buffalo, NY – I admit it. I'm in love with my hometown, Buffalo. I glory in its many well known assets and its history. When I drive up the thruway on the I-90 past Erie and I get the first glimpse of MY lake sparkling in the distance, my heart smiles. Ahead lies MY city, a city with a grand history, famed architecture, an amazing art and music scene, a plethora of colleges, green spaces and best of all, a notably friendly citizenry. I delight in the fact that no matter where I am in this city of mine I am only twenty minutes away from where I am heading. (Maybe we should call Buffalo "the no-hassle city.")

Have I mentioned our wonderful weather? I know. I know, it snows but it is so often much worse elsewhere and we do know what to do with it for fun and for getting around. Besides snow melts and leaves no destruction as do hurricanes, volcano eruptions, earthquakes, and massive fires.

Perhaps what is so outstanding here is the people who come from the immigrant populations that built our city with their hands and their hearts. These strong ethnic communities that instilled the virtues of family and hard work created a milieu of sincere, concerned persons who are unpretentious, no matter what their status. Buffalo is, in a very real way, a City of Good Neighbors.

So my heart swells with pride. But like all love affairs this too has a down side. I wince at errors made -- the 33 destroying the grandeur of Humboldt Parkway, the Skyway, (though it does give the best view of the Buffalo Harbor), the subway to nowhere, (How I long for those old swaying street cars!), and the Peace Bridge fiasco among others. There has been a vacuum of inspiring and inspired leaders. Mistakes and narrow concerns have lead to stalemate and dead ends. Opportunity after opportunity has slipped through our fingers. Now Buffalo seems to be on the brink of possibility and I, for one, cannot bear to think that we would let the recent past repeat itself. So I suggest at this time of need we tap into another of Buffalo's strengths.

One of Buffalo's legacies is a wealth of places of worship. They are a source of strength and support that we have failed to utilize. Since we have not done too well on our own, It seems logical to call on a higher power for guidance as we seek to establish a vibrant community. So, I invite the religious sector to come together to find a way to unleash the power of prayer each and every day for our city. Maybe all those bells could peal loudly at say two o'clock in the afternoon to jog our memories to take a minute to ask God's help. We have nothing to lose! We do have so very much to gain.

Listener-Commentator Jean Duffy is a community activist in Buffalo.

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