My 2015 Wishes for Buffalo and Western New York

by / Dec. 31, 2014 7am EST

In 2012, I wished for an Ethiopian restaurant in Buffalo. I got my wish: three opened! In 2014, I wished for a South Indian restaurant. I got it—Chennai Express! Feeling quite full of oracle’s luck, I hereby wish the following for Western New York and the City of Buffalo, NY: 

An Indian food truck. I can’t get enough curry, dal, and samosa. I’d also accept a pupusa truck. 

More funding to teach writing to young people. Just Buffalo Literary Center and Young Audiences of Western New York both do this, but there are so many more ways to reach and teach the young, especially immigrant children who have enormous stories to tell.

More ramps for wheels. So many places in Western New York are not truly accessible to those with mobility issues. Build a ramp, install a self-opening door, widen a doorway. Thank you. 

More free wifi. When I travel, I’m so grateful when an establishment offers free wifi, with no password required, or openly posted. Most places in a city like Portland, Oregon do, but few places in Buffalo do. It’s free advertising for the business when a person checks in on Facebook or Foursquare, after all. 

More opioid treatment throughout Western New York. The majority of addiction treatment is located in a few square miles in densely populated areas of the city. Addiction hits every area and class; destigmatize recovery by offering services at health centers of all kinds. Also, more sharps boxes in public areas reduce the risk of accidental needle jabs to those who encounter discarded works.

More reading. I attended a few Buffalo Reading Invasion events this summer; all were peaceful and delightful. It is inspiring to watch others read and write. Read more books, read in public, and try to talk about books as often as you do a tv show. 

More play spaces for small children. The one-to-three crowd want to romp, too! There are only a few fenced, not-too-big, easy-to-supervise areas with age-appropriate play structures right now. More would be well-attended.

More about Buffalo’s birds. Some days I feel overrun with birdwatchers. All the local knowledge and excitement around ornithology should receive proper focus. 

More help for the elderly. More facilities focused on high level care of the mental health of the elderly, especially those with dementia and mental illness. The majority of our population is over 60, and there are few assisted living facilities or geriatric psychiatry beds in the city. 

A café in the style of the late, long lamented Cybele’s Café—laid-back, delicious, the Third Place for the daylight hours. Not a week goes by I don’t wish I could go there for an hour or two. 

More community vegetable gardens. People are hungry for food and knowledge. Access to open land and support of community gardening is plentiful here, and folks could learn to plant and grow vegetables in every neighborhood in the city limits. (Grassroots Gardens is doing good work here.) 

Buy local, and make local. It is getting ridiculously (and wonderfully!) simple to purchase almost anything made locally in the realm of food. What else can we make locally? Surprise me. 

Finally, I want my city to be litter-free. I want every street to be a place where enough people care about it to take the moment to dispose of trash rather than put it on display. 

PS: A Japanese-style bath house would be very welcome, too!