People in Buffalo talk to one another. In line at Wegmans. Leaning on a shovel in the middle of the street in the dead of winter. Even at a stoplight, if your car windows are open.
While this may not be unique to Buffalo, it is certainly not universal. For me, it is one of the most engaging things about living here. It makes me feel rooted, part of a community. And it certainly facilitates unexpected friendships.
But while we chat and compare notes and kvetch and carry on, we have often failed to take that easy conversation to the next level: collaboration. We talk to one another, but we have all too frequently failed to work together. Result? Two steps forward, one step back.
Example: this newsletter. It’s been around for two-and-a-half years, reaches more than 10,000 people, and more than 30% of subscribers open and scroll through it every week. Those are astounding stats. I have offered to share it with a number of organizations, even offered to rebrand it with their logo and add their events to it. Instead of accepting this offer to work together, several have – you guessed it – reinvented the wheel, creating a whole new e-publication. It’s infuriating. And this is a very small scale, personal example; much more expensive examples abound.
However, the “new Buffalo” may be starting to extend beyond construction and condos to the less visible but perhaps even more valuable realm of collaboration. The most recent indication of this important trend is the proposed Buffalo Niagara Hall of Fame.
The Buffalo Broadcasters Association, the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, and the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame have for years sought funding and support separately, in effect competing for scarce dollars by remaining in their respective silos. The Fandemoneum concept is more recent, but created an additional potential demand for funding and support.
By getting on the same page and pushing together in the direction of a regional hall of fame that could evolve into a major tourist attraction and destination, the probability of success has just increased exponentially. The joint vision of these new partners is a museum at Canalside or in the Cobblestone District with interactive exhibits like radio booths, galleries, a theater, and more. And the consortia has thrown the door open for further collaboration:
"Just think, for example, what would happen if our grand theater community were to join us along with their legacy actors and producers – Michael Bennett, Christine Baranski, James Whitmore and others. Let us celebrate our regional contributions to the world by showing all our cultural heritage in one special spot – The Buffalo Niagara Hall of Fame."
A Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 in just 60 days will give the organizations an opportunity to practice working together and generate some of the dollars needed to secure the millions needed to bring the project to fruition, It also opens the door to community collaboration, doesn't it?
This is just one example of conversation turning into collaboration, and perhaps not even the most important one. How many other potential collaborations can you think of that could create the synergy needed for success?