On October 31st, Halloween night, an amazing thing happened—my daughter Lavinia Dale came into my life. For a wandering, exploring, and transient being, the arrival of a child changed my life in an instant. There are the obvious changes—less time to yourself, more responsibility in the care of a small human, more collaboration and communication between parents to ensure baby has and will get everything she needs to develop, grow and be healthy.
But more importantly Lavinia’s arrival has refocused the lens in which I view the world and consequently my focus for life moving forward has been forever changed.
Refocus The Lens
For the better part of two decades now, my lens has been focused on the life that I wanted for myself. Self-directed and even at times selfish, in pursuit of the things that fulfilled my interests, my needs, my educational goals, and my vision for life on this planet. Now the lens is different, and consequently the pursuit is broader. What kind of world do I want my daughter to live in? How can I improve the planet that both she and her children, family, and friends will live on long after I’m gone? What will be my legacy and what will I leave behind for her as an example of a life well lived?
Turn The Page
Having a small set of eyes staring up at you each day, you definitely contemplate the type of role model you’ll be for your child. It’s certainly created a healthy shift in my actions and behaviors. Admittedly, my last four years have been very challenging.
My first organizational experiment here in Buffalo did not turn out the way I’d envisioned, but it did create many opportunities for significant learning. That’s me wearing my optimist hat, but I haven’t been successful every day in seeing the good in what happened. I have beaten myself up way too much and held grudges way too long. But now, with the arrival of Lavinia I have renewed motivation to both turn the page and take the next step.
Re-Create The Engine
Our first reuse effort in Buffalo held tremendous promise. It was not just a demolition company, it was a training vehicle for young adults. Not just a store, but resource for both community education and learning. Not just a community organization, but an opportunity for the community to come together, to create, to trust, to believe in something better. It inspired us to be better people and empowered us with the courage to do things collectively we could only imagine as individuals. We dreamed it and then we went out and did it.
I’ve missed this passion in my life! And others have missed our presence. While I still have the tremendous pleasure of working with many of the same staff each day, I still get calls for materials, run into old customers and volunteers, and see daily reminders of what we started but didn’t quite finish. I believe we can recreate that engine for community change, educational training, and jobs creation we first articulated back in 2006. We can do it again, and we can do it better.
Expand The Concept
In 2015, we’ll expand the concept of ReUse Action, a company we created back in 2011 to continue the work of building deconstruction in Buffalo. Since our founding we’ve taken down scores of buildings, including the largest prevailing wage deconstruction job in New York State, the dismantlement of eleven building for SUNY-ESF. We have kept thousands of tons of materials out of the landfill and transformed them into useful products you can see locally at Canalside or at Five Points Bakery (or buy at our store at 980 Northampton Street).
We’ve trained young adults and helped them attain jobs and training opportunities previously out of their reach, like Lawrence who now is receiving training with the Sprinkler Fitters, or Demetrio who will soon leave us to start with the Electrical Workers. Our past failures advise our direction and our successes remind us each day of what’s possible in Buffalo.
Before long, we’ll have a community presence once again, for being engaged in the community has always been the primary motivator for why we do what we do. It’s the manifestation of our intention to bring people together, to inspire learning, and to be responsible ecological citizens.
This is the example I want to be for my daughter and we invite you to stay tuned and be a part of our next chapter here in Buffalo.
1 thought on “Onward!”
Cool Michael that you assessed yourself as clearly as you could. And then went on. I am not clear on what the failures were associated with your building/deconstruction/ Community Action work. But I offer my two cents to say that as Lavinia grows and your support of her grows, whatever kept you from your initial aspired goals will manifest. I have faith!
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