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Get Your Activism On

This is a shout out to the 35 University at Buffalo students from department of urban planning that I met with this morning to discuss the climate of the city. A short while ago I was contacted by Ramzi Farhat, Ph.D., Department of Urban and Regional Planning, who asked if I would be willing to come out to talk to the class. “The class is meant to introduce our students to community development
and the city of Buffalo,” Ramzi wrote to me. “And is designed around having guest speakers
join us to discuss their thoughts and experiences.” Instead of heading off to UB, I offered to host the students at The Eights on Main Street. A deal was struck, and this morning I found myself surrounded by the students, some from WNY and many from outside of the area. I was happy to see that the majority of them took the Metro Rail.

After speaking for longer than I probably should have, from Buffalo Rising to Navigetter to the Elmwood Festival of the Arts, I decided to ask the students if they had any questions. Now I’ve fielded these types of discussions many times before and the question is always the same. “How do we get directly involved with shaping Buffalo?” These are not students that are required to formulate a question for brownie points – rather these are young people who are truly interested in learning about Buffalo through volunteering for important projects.

Yes, we have the colloquiums where the collegiate and university students are required to interact with organizations in the city. But where does a student go who just wants to join in on progressive projects. I suppose there are internships where students can learn about the industry that they are about to embark upon. That’s obviously important. There has got to be more opportunities for these people to join in on. A place that is a living think tank where the ideas flow and the people whom can help to orchestrate the ideas are present. We see fleeting instances of this with Brad Wales and Harvey Garrett. How could we develop an organization that literally takes the motivated young people and places them into the hands of the innovative people of the community?

Written by RaChaCha


RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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