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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.



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.



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.


Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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