What others are saying...

Learning from others is a good thing. Think of patterns of behavior for a moment. Even in language development - or in the learning of a second language - we are surrounded by the examples of others. And when certain linguistic patterns are repeated often enough...we mimic and develop our own capacity to shape our context. Slowly we become fluent.

On a different level perhaps those of us living here in Buffalo, NY are becoming fluent about a defining phenomenon that appears to be central to the future of how we do City life. I've called this the hallowing out of our City. Others call it decline. What's happening is that our City is - on the whole - shrinking, not growing. Perhaps the following examples from European observers may lend the necessary repetition so we may begin to learn and become at least conversant in what's happening here. Fluency, later. Fingers crossed. Not convinced of the hollowing out, check out this - Urban Prairie.

Three examples...

I introduced the work of Bernard-Henri Lévy last January after reading his American Vertigo, see my post - Woe is Moi. He's the French rockstar intellectual - also wrote a brilliant book about events surrounding the death of WSJ writer Daniel Pearl - who crisscrossed the United States recently following in the footsteps of another frenchmen. Here's his analysis and observation of Buffalo, NY - c. 2005...
That a city could die: for a European, that is unthinkable. And yet … Buffalo, a city that was once the glory of America, its showcase, where two presidents once lived (and where one was shot and another inaugurated), a city that on this late-July afternoon — the anniversary, by the way, of Tocqueville's visit, in 1831 — offers a landscape of desolation - read the rest...
While attending the recent public release of Blue Print Buffalo - post and links to report - last November, a report that everyone interested in Buffalo's long-term future should read, I was introduced to what's happening with abandoned and former industrial sites in Germany and specifically what's happening with a spot called Emscher Park. Wrote about this here - Emscher Park.

This afternoon Michael Clarke from LISC - Buffalo posted a message to Buffalo Issues Alert. It contained a recent USA Today article that I've archived - As Older Cities Shrink - Some Re-invent Themselves. Here the reader is lead through many examples of smart cities that have rebounded. Buffalo is not mentioned. Here the work of Shrinking Cities is also featured which a few people have lead me to recently.
Cities are shrinking all over the world! /// Shrinking cities are a cultural challenge to us. In the Shrinking Cities project, architects, academics and artists investigate recent developments in Detroit, Ivanovo, Manchester / Liverpool and Halle / Leipzig - and make suggestions.

Shrinking cities is a project (2002-2005) of the Federal Cultural Foundation, under the direction of Philipp Oswalt (Berlin) in co-operation with the Leipzig Gallery of Contemporary Art, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the magazine archplus.
So just a quick look at some of my earlier work. Guess part of my reason for writing this is that I'm constantly amazed by the response that I receive from people that I tour with on the City's near East side. While focusing on some of the amazing potential - especially along the corridor between Artspace and Performing Arts - most people see the hollowing out, the shrinking and decline for the first time and are usually pretty wowed by the fact that I first settled over here on the City's near East side over 10 years ago and call this place home.

Sure we have to work harder. We have to realize that we live in one City and not two. Yet these examples above should serve to remind us that working harder is not what it's about...we have to work smarter, too!
Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row Housesfaqmy flickr

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