Buffalo Unscripted: Buffalo in One Word: Phenomenal

Written by Julia Rocchi: 

I’ve used a lot of words in relation to Buffalo these past six months – words like great answer, gimme one second, can you move a little to your left, more coffee please, and I’m hot.
But if I had to pick one (yes, only one, in an evil about-face of our most thought-provoking interview question, I’d first have to ask you, from when?
You see, after we first visited Buffalo in May to scout for Buffalo Unscripted, I came away with the word community. Buffalo gets stuff DONE, and even more impressively, they get it done together. That’s not to say there aren’t naysayers or competing factions or other vagaries of basic human nature to contend with. It’s just that Buffalonians plow through it with a singular focus: to constantly improve the city they call home.
Then Colin Dabkowski of Buffalo News shot us the one-word stumper on our final day of filming in July. (Remember the heat wave? If you don’t, the size of my already voluminous hair in the video will indicate the extreme temps.) Exhausted, exhilarated, and sweating through yet another outfit, I let fly with the first word that came to mind: generous.


Buffalo In One Word: Rising from PreservationNation on Vimeo.

Buffalonians were generous to a fault with their spirit, time, and good humor. Some examples: Prish Moran stood on a chair at Sweet_ness 7 and ordered everyone to come talk to us. Max Willig bought me a Wegman’s chocolate cake to celebrate my birthday the day we filmed in Black Rock. Kathy Mecca coordinated a neighborhood block party for us on the West Side. And that doesn’t even approach all the moments and gestures in between.


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Then I flew home and went through a period of serious Buffalo withdrawal and personal reflection, at which point I emerged with the word future. The Queen City impressed me with its rich social fabric, deep well of community activism, and distinctive point of view. If I moved to Buffalo tomorrow, I realized, I’d already have friends. I’d already feel at home. I’d already be making an impact.

 

I should have made a down payment on an absurdly affordable historic Buffalo home right then. But I didn’t (largely because all my fancy editing equipment for this project was in DC). Instead, I’ve sat at our editing station for 2.5 months, re-watching our new friends’ interviews and reliving our funniest, craziest, most poignant moments.

 

Which means, of course, that I have arrived at a new word. Phenomenal.


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According to Merriam-Webster, phenomenal means “remarkable, extraordinary, known through senses rather than through thought.” Phenomenal is also my favorite Buffalonian-ism. I love hearing it spoken in a Buffalo accent. I use it most often when telling others about the project. It has become my personal shorthand for everything I’ve come to know and love about the Nickel City.

 

So thanks for being phenomenal, Buffalo. You made me happy to chug the Kool-Aid.

 

Julia Rocchi works for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Along with Jason, she wants you all to come to our big fat interactive premiere on Friday, October 21, during the National Preservation Conference. Learn more about this event (and our secondary screening on Saturday), and let us know you’re coming on Facebook.

 

Important Update: A second screening of Buffalo Unscripted has been added on Saturday, October 22, at 12:30 p.m. at the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre. Click here to learn more.


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About the author  ⁄ buffalorising

6 comments
moonqueen
moonqueen

"Buffalo gets stuff done." *laughs* *laughs harder* *falls our of chair* No. LOCAL groups in Buffalo get stuff done. INDIVIDUALS get stuff done. "Buffalo" does squat. Let me just say first, I LOVE Buffalo. I p+mp it far and wide. I fight diligently to get people to buy houses within its borders, to shop here, to eat here, to vacation here; but Buffalo as a whole - government, infrastructure, big business, local power players - are too busy trying to get their way (read: "we would rather have nothing done than compromise") and sucking up to certain constituent groups to accomplish any real change. We can have a million tax payers (Buffalo's population at one glorious point), we can work hard to form block clubs, we can keep our properties nice and patronize local businesses, but if our city government and prominent power brokers continue to mismanage funds, provide inequitable services, fail to maintain a large enough police force and make foolish decisions with our resources it's all for nothing. I'm all for Hope, but some of the "stroke Buffalo's ego" articles on here disappoint me. If you are on this site, you already (most likely) love the city and know what you are fighting for. You don't need to be told why it's great. You need to be given information on how to make it better.

grad94
grad94

so what would it take to get you to pack up that equipment and move? seriously! we're at your service.

AKBuffalo
AKBuffalo

Nice article!

I've always been an avid Buffalo supporter having lived and worked here all my life. Maybe I've been ignorant to what we really have here, but I've been surprised by my hometown in the past few years. There's so much happening and, for the first time, I feel like everyone's on the same page. I had a blast riding with a bus full of strangers last night who were all buzzing about the Richardson tour we just left. Buffalo is community. All are welcome.

JM
JM

From the Facebook page linked:

we'll be handing out DVDs (small donation to Preservation Buffalo Niagara appreciated) and all of the footage will be online soon on our website, www.BuffaloUnscripted.org.

TranspoGuy
TranspoGuy

Julia, thank you for the kind words (on behalf of the city). Be sure to spread the word to all your friends too.

Are there going to be copies of Buffalo Unscripted on DVD available for purchase online?

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