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Influence Survey: Bernice Radle on Groundwork

For this week’s cover story, we polled a number of local folks about positive and negative influences in our region—people, ideas, circumstances. In the days to come, we’ll publish the responses we received in full here. 

Here’s what Bernice Radle of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists  has to say:

1. What people/ideas/circumstances do you consider positive influences in this region?

I see the most positive influences in our region being from the people and local organizations that are on the ground making changes, creating unique space & places and organizing local citizens to take ownership and be a part of rebuilding their community.  

A great example of leadership and influence is PUSH Buffalo. They understand that social capital is just as important as financial. Their NetZero home on Winter St. is an exceptional neighborhood centerpiece, one that challenged the traditional design standards often associated with affordable housing. The NetZero house, located within the Green Economic Development Zone has helped to educate thousands of local citizens on energy efficiency, employed hundreds of local people through construction and has inspired many others to invest in the West Side. 

For me, there are hundreds of inspirational stories, people and organizations that are pushing forward for our local neighborhoods and residents. These stories are what keep me here, keep me moving forward and make me love Buffalo! Their involvement is incredibly inspiring and unique and is undoubtedly one of the important driving pieces to the puzzle of success for our region. 

 2. What people/ideas/circumstances do you consider negative influences in this region?

Often times, many people stand in the way of bright, young talented people who bring new ideas, new energy and new outlook to our region. If we want to keep people here and attract others, we need to give them what they need to encourage them to grow, excel and succeed. 

Buffalo no longer competes with the Rochester’s of the world; we are competing on a much larger scale with cities of all sizes. Due to the internet and social media, we actually have the ability to attract people from large and small cities!

Cities like Columbus, Baltimore and Milwaukee get it. They implement higher design standards, add bike lanes, support food trucks and start up businesses, and encourage development of unique spaces and historic buildings. Implementing policies and procedures will attract the young, college educated people who are drivers and leaders in a 21st Century economy. If Buffalo can attract and retain this group of people, we will thrive as this wave of millennials start to become the power players and decision makers.

Personally, I have a lot of ideas when it comes to planning, preservation and buildings that can help lead Buffalo into being a 21st century city that attracts people, new ideas and investment.  I will say this – the current system that is in place is not working very well. The systems itself are the barriers to development, investment and creative design. A great example is our vacancy crisis. You want to know why we have thousands of vacant buildings and lots? Or why some incredible houses sit vacant?  Try to buy one. 

3. What people/ideas/circumstances do you think ought to be more influential in this region?

We need to empower the local folks that challenge the normal ideals, ones who have proven success after breaking barriers and taking risks. The Prish Moran’s, Aaron Bartley’s and Rocco Termini’s of the world are great examples of putting pride, excitement and love into their work. Rocco will never turn down giving a tour of the Hotel Lafayette because he knows it inspires others to buy, invest and believe in Buffalo. We need more NetZero buildings in Buffalo. We need more neighborhood coffee shops for people to meet, eat and plan revolutions. People like this continue to break barriers, challenge the norm and prove that success is not only determined by a five year financial payback. They have taken risks, proven success and deserve to have more influence in our regional decisions.