True Green Cities / Reflecting on the Highlights of 2015 – Part 1

The FIT Sustainable Interior Environments graduate program celebrated its 5th anniversary in November.

The FIT Sustainable Interior Environments graduate program celebrated its 5th anniversary in November.

Last year was a challenging year on many fronts. There have been successes and losses, for me and the country. I would say from a global perspective terrorism, our crazy presidential campaign, refugees and climate change (at the Paris Climate Change conference) had the most impact. While locally, I have been involved in some big wins (and one huge loss) – the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy Gala, the fifth year anniversary of my graduate school program at FIT, the opening of the 500 Block of Main Street in downtown Buffalo, the active work on the opening of the new Buffalo Architecture Center and sadly the demolition of five of the Shoreline Apartments (by Paul Rudolph) on Buffalo’s waterfront.

While I think a lot about these world issues, the only one I really have any personal concern for is climate change.  I don’t worry about terrorism. I don’t quite see what the point is. Maybe because I lived through the 1993 World Trade Center bombings and 9/11 in New York City? Maybe because if someone really wants to kill me and it’s my time there isn’t much I can do? I don’t see myself as a fatalist, I see myself as a realist.

Paul Rudolph's Shoreline Apartments frame Buffalo's City Hall.

Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments frame Buffalo’s City Hall.

Here is what I do worry about. I worry about climate change. I worry about the grand mal seizure my kitten Percy just had.  I worry that my luggage will get lost on my weekly flights between NYC and Buffalo (oh and I don’t worry about the plane crashing).  I worry about the check engine light on my 12 year old Subaru. I worry that I haven’t written a blog since August. I worry about racism and xenophobia. With that said, despite these overwhelming international concerns, I start 2016 with great hope and a positive approach. And a plan to return to my regular blogging!

A Park is A Work of Art

A view of the Silent Auction tent at the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy Gala in Riverside Park, with a piece of equipment in the forefront that funds raised would help to purchase.

A view of the Silent Auction tent at the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy Gala in Riverside Park, with a piece of equipment in the forefront that funds raised would help to purchase.

My sister Joanne serves on the Board of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. She and I chaired the annual Gala this year and were proud to support the Olmsted-designed parks in Buffalo with a theme of “A Park is a Work of Art.” For the Conservancy it was a year of rebuilding, rebranding and rebooting at the Conservancy, and we are happy we could help with this with the support of so many friends and colleagues who made this Gala one of the best and most original at Riverside Park. The funds both the Gala and the Gift Gathering Happy Hour raised will help maintain Olmsted and Vaux’s vision from 1868, which includes caring for 6 parks, 7 parkways and 8 landscaped circles that total 850 acres.

While 40% of their funding comes from the City of Buffalo, the remaining 60% comes from members, donors, corporate sponsors, a wide variety of foundations and organizations, and 1,000+ volunteers.

The Revival of the 500 Block of Main Street

My Forester has a new parking lot on the newly opened Main Street in downtown Buffalo.

My Forester has a new parking spot on the newly opened Main Street in downtown Buffalo.

Finally, after two years of construction, the construction equipment outside my window is gone, my block is open to traffic after 30 years, restaurants and shops are opening and I can park in front of my door to unload groceries! We have trees again and parking spots, bollards that light up at night. What was a desolate embarrassment to Buffalo for decades, is the hottest new block in the city. I wasn’t quite sure I would make it through the two years of construction and now I find myself in the midst of a downtown truly being reactivated when I just may need to make a decision about moving to New York City. But as a friend would say, those are first world problems and 2016 will make it all clearer. In the meantime the cats and I enjoy suddenly find ourselves being back in a true urban environment.

Part 2 will continue in the New Year.  Happy New Year!!

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