Buffalo not only needs to boost its image when it comes to winter weather, it also needs to fortify its residents with ways to enjoy the colder months. At the same time that Bradley Cooper and Rooney Mara are in town, filming director Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley (taking advantage of Buffalo’s winter weather), an effort is underway to capitalize on our “fourth season”.
Why is winter our ‘fourth season”? Because while most people relish Buffalo in spring, summer, and fall, Buffalo gets a bad rap for winter, which is unfortunate. In many cases, when talking to someone from outside of Buffalo, the first thing they reference is our winters. So maybe winter should be our first season, since so many people associate the season with the city?
To that end, Mayor Byron W. Brown and the Department of Citizens Services have announced that they are now capitalizing on the Wintermission Buffalo initiative, which was previously announced in February of 2019 (in partnership with Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and Western New York, and GObike Buffalo – sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through 8 80 Cities).
Since that time, three imperative directives have been identified:
- The distribution of weatherization kits for city seniors and eligible residents
- The opportunity for block clubs or block club coalitions in low to moderate income eligible neighborhoods to apply for small scale grants of up to $750 for volunteer led approaches that improve the quality of life in the City of Buffalo during winter
- A series of Winter Bashes in neighborhood parks citywide, as follows…
March 1 | Roosevelt Park/ 256 Millicent Ave.
March 7 | Martha Mitchell Community Center / 175 Oakmont Avenue
March 14 | MLK, JR. PARK / 175 N. Parade Avenue
Of these three efforts, I believe that the most intriguing and significant is the opportunity for block clubs to apply for small scale grants during wintertime. While this Wintermission Microgrant program is only available to organizations based in HUD eligible neighborhoods, I believe that this could eventually be expanded to neighborhoods throughout the city. Why? Because one of the itemized components listed within this directive is as follows:
Applicants are being asked to create a team of young people who commit to shoveling at least three blocks of a local sidewalk, preferably located close to an amenity like a community center, within 24 hours of every storm.
For years, we have been calling upon the City to come up with a framework that would provide for this sort of quality of life directive. After all, you can throw all the snow festivals you want, but if residents can’t walk to the corner store without risking breaking a leg, then there’s something seriously wrong with our hierarchy of imperatives. After all, we’re talking about the absolute basics when it comes to dealing with winter, let alone enjoying winter. It will be interesting to see how many groups take advantage of this incentive. These small-scale grants of up to $750 would provide neighborhood kids with some extra spending money, while offering neighbors the peace of mind that they rightfully deserve your round.
“I am pleased to present these Wintermission Buffalo activities, put together with significant input from members of our community, who teamed up with us on our shared goal of increasing physical activity during the winter months in neighborhoods citywide,” said Mayor Brown. “Buffalo is a city that fosters a healthy, inclusive lifestyle and Wintermission Buffalo reinforces our community’s international reputation as a winter-wonderland. Let’s continue to work together to build the best winter-friendly city.”
Director of Citizen Services Oswaldo Mestre stated, “We are pleased to offer this unique opportunity that encompasses inclusivity, social cohesion, volunteerism, and winter activities in the spirit of embracing innovation and winter. We hope that our residents will find Wintermission to be a new and welcome change to the way that they approach the winter season here in our city!”