BUFFALO — This weekend, thousands of hoops fans descended on Buffalo for the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championships. Fans cheering for Syracuse University, Western Michigan University, Ohio State University, Dayton University, Villanova College, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, University of Connecticut and Saint Joseph’s University all descended on the Queen City and, according to Buffalo News columnist Donn Esmonde, they set themselves up for disappointment.
In his column this week, titled “Welcome to Buffalo, folks, you’re in for a nice surprised,” Esmonde wrote “Welcome to Buffalo, the best-kept civic secret in America. By the time you leave Sunday, you will have been enlightened, transformed, rebirthed and metamorphosed. OK, maybe we can’t promise a complete epiphany. But we can guarantee you a good time – and I suspect your perception of our city will change for the better.”
Now, wait just a minute. I’m no salesperson, but if you start out telling someone they shouldn’t like a car, chances are they’re not driving away on those wheels. Doesn’t the same apply to our little rust-belt wonder? Buffalonians have long had a chip on our shoulders about the place we call home. We rush to defend ourselves from expected attacks on snowy weather, less-than-stellar sports teams and whatever else we always think the world is about to throw at us.
But as Esmonde points out, this area has a lot going for it, and it’s just getting better. Shouldn’t we lead with our strongest, rather than assuming a defensive position, right out of the gate? (I’m not a sports person either, as that analogy probably proves).
“Despite what you might have thought, you drew the long straw,” the News columnist concluded. I agree with your sentiment, Esmonde, but not your strategy.
Buffalo, and the surrounding areas most of us live in, is more than snow. We’re more than sports and yes, we’re more than chicken wings, bars and architecture. We’re a hardy, self-sufficient people who bundle up against the gales and keep going, no matter what.
We’re plucky, but it’s time we stopped being defensive and started telling the world how great we are, without the self-effacing disclaimer.
In Springville and southern Erie County, we’re no stranger to that attitude, either. Living north of here, I often hear, “You drive where for work? Isn’t that really far?”
What many people don’t realize is that our little village, and the towns surrounding it, are a short 30-minute drive from the Buffalo border, and that drive is more than worth it.
Springville is fast becoming an arts destination, with the VanOver Fine Arts Gallery, the Springville Center for the Arts, the new Arts Underground and the in-progress Arts Cafe. Springville residents and nearby locals can catch a show almost every weekend, as well as grab a nosh at any number of fantastic restaurants before and after. Want to sip a cold one? Stop at any one of a selection of bars along Main Street.
We’ve got the Springville Concord Elder Network lecture series, Oktoberfest in the fall and the Dairy Fest in the summer, a host of fundraisers and events sponsored by local civic organizations and don’t forget local high school and town sports, if that’s up your alley. Speaking of alley, we’re one of the few towns in the area to boast not one but two bowling alleys. I don’t need to tell you all of that, though. We know all about the gems our little southern town has to offer, and we shouldn’t be afraid to stand tall and speak proudly about our assets.
Esmonde should lead with his strongest, too. As a spokesperson for Buffalo and its suburbs, he did a great job of pointing out some of our treasures. But he fell short when he assumed the rest of the country is looking down on them. Gone are the days when Buffalo was a dying city and just the brunt of jokes about snow and bad football. Let’s embrace a new era of Harbor Center construction, gleaming architecture and thriving culture. Without apology and without comment.