Buffalo has been graciously chosen as one of three cities to participate in a ground breaking two-year Wintermission program, run by 8 80 Cities – an international civic organization based out of Toronto. The other two cities are Eau Claire, WI, and Leadville, CO.
“I’m proud that Buffalo has been selected as a recipient of the Winter City Vanguard Award by 8 80 Cities,” said Mayor Byron Brown. “Buffalo will be awarded with a grant to participate in a two-year Wintermission program where we will lead a city-wide conversation about increasing physical activity in the winter. This designation solidifies Buffalo as a city that fosters a healthy, inclusive lifestyle and furthers Buffalo’s international reputation as a winter-wonderland.”
This is great news, because for years we have been calling for Buffalo to realize its full potential in the wintertime. Spring, summer, and fall create a mecca for residents and tourists in Buffalo. Then things begin to slow down during the colder months, which should not be the case. The two-year Wintermission program aims to inject Buffalo with a new energy when it comes to “setting new standards and precedents for winter friendly cities in the United States.”
8 80 Cities – We believe that if everything we do in our cities is great for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, then it will be great for all people.
“We are ecstatic to be working with such fantastic teams in Buffalo, Eau Claire, and Leadville,” says Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director of 8 80 Cities. “The impressive project teams these cities assembled demonstrate their passion and commitment to being national leaders in combating social isolation and improving public health through strategic investments in winter friendly public spaces.”
After sending out a call for program partners throughout the US, 62 cities of all sizes responded to the 8 80 Cities initiative. Since that time (November, 2018), the 8 80 Cities team has sifted through the applicants, looking for the ideal three pilot cities to kick off its directive.
Wintermission kicked off in Saskatoon, Canada with delegates from the pilot cities, including Oswaldo Mestre Jr., City of Buffalo Chief Service Officer & Director of Citizen Services.
Mestre stated, “We at the Division of Citizen Services are excited to work specifically with GOBike Buffalo, The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, Cities of Service – Love Your Block program and The Board of Blocks of Buffalo various stakeholders throughout the city, county, and state, while leveraging the division’s ancillary programs to meet citizens’ needs. The real change lies in the engagement of our residents, the everyday heroes uplifting our community during even the coldest time of year, and their relationships with city services to create sustainable solutions for social isolation during the winter. This opportunity partner with 8 80 Cities is a testament to the very warmth and resilience of Buffalo residents which have deemed us the City of Good Neighbors.”
“Winter is a time when people tend to cut back on social and physical activity, and community life dries up; feelings of isolation are especially acute for people who are new to a community and not indoctrinated to winter sports and activities. That can have a negative impact on health and well-being,” said Sharon Roerty, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Cities around the world are rolling out Wintermission project partners include the Children & Nature Network, National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, Winter Cities Institute, City of Edmonton and research and public sector advisors from Canada, Sweden, and Denmark.“
In February, 8 80 Cities will begin working with each team to collect feedback and ideas from the community on how public life could be improved in winter. These ideas will inspire a series of winter pilot projects to enliven public spaces, which will be launched in winter 2019-2020. Wintermission is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Global Ideas Fund at CAF America.
Lead image: Buffalo holds the Guinness World Record for largest ice maze – Photo by Joe Cascio | February 26, 2010