POLONIA OF THE EASTERN GREAT LAKES

by MICHAEL PIETRUSZKA (Buffalo-New York)

When most Western New Yorkers think of Polonia, they think of events and people located in the City of Buffalo or one of its immediate suburbs, such as Cheektowaga, Depew or West Seneca. Few people are aware of the great number of Americans of Polish descent who live in the smaller cities and towns of Western and Central New York outside of Erie County and in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Even fewer consider the Polish-Canadians of Southern Ontario.

Over the last few years, I visited many of these „forgotten” pockets of Polonia and have discovered some very active communities. Whether you are in Toronto, Rochester, Oil City, Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Elmira, Syracuse, Wilno, Dunkirk, Oshawa, Auburn, Burlington, North Tonawanda, St. Catharines, Batavia, Kitchener, Olean, Brantford, Erie, Mississauga, Medina, Salamanca, London or Perry, Polonia is alive and well for now, but if it is to remain so, we must join together to address the problems which face our Community.

If Polonia is to survive as an identifiable Community, it is vital to keep open the lines of communication among organizations which represent people of Polish descent in our region. Groups from different geographical areas should get to know one another and support each other. That is the reason that I began this project which will always be a „work in progress”. I believe that it is a first step in the right direction and I am asking everyone who uses the resources on the project website to become part of this project.
I think that it is important that Polonia organizes on a regional level if we are going to be able to maintain our unique ethnic identity. Every year there are fewer people who truly identify themselves with Polonia and take an active part in our Community. Assimilation, parochialism and „turf” considerations will soon spell the end of Polonia as a cultural, political and economic force in Western New York and Southern Ontario if we do not take concerted action.
It is up to those of us who are active in Polonia to try to stem the tide of apathy. We must coordinate activities, support the events of other Polonia groups, and address issues on a regional basis with one voice. We must replace the traditional view of Polonia as a small, geographically identifiable neighborhood with the broader concept of a „Polonia of the Heart”, based upon the historical, cultural and emotional ties that bind us together as a Community.

When most Western New Yorkers think of Polonia, they think of events and people located in the City of Buffalo or one of its immediate suburbs, such as Cheektowaga, Depew or West Seneca. Few people are aware of the great number of Americans of Polish descent who live in the smaller cities and towns of Western and Central New York outside of Erie County and in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Even fewer consider the Polish-Canadians of Southern Ontario.

Over the last few years, I visited many of these „forgotten” pockets of Polonia and have discovered some very active communities. Whether you are in Toronto, Rochester, Oil City, Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Elmira, Syracuse, Wilno, Dunkirk, Oshawa, Auburn, Burlington, North Tonawanda, St. Catharines, Batavia, Kitchener, Olean, Brantford, Erie, Mississauga, Medina, Salamanca, London or Perry, Polonia is alive and well for now, but if it is to remain so, we must join together to address the problems which face our Community.

If Polonia is to survive as an identifiable Community, it is vital to keep open the lines of communication among organizations which represent people of Polish descent in our region. Groups from different geographical areas should get to know one another and support each other. That is the reason that I began this project which will always be a „work in progress”. I believe that it is a first step in the right direction and I am asking everyone who uses the resources on the project website to become part of this project.
I think that it is important that Polonia organizes on a regional level if we are going to be able to maintain our unique ethnic identity. Every year there are fewer people who truly identify themselves with Polonia and take an active part in our Community. Assimilation, parochialism and „turf” considerations will soon spell the end of Polonia as a cultural, political and economic force in Western New York and Southern Ontario if we do not take concerted action.
It is up to those of us who are active in Polonia to try to stem the tide of apathy. We must coordinate activities, support the events of other Polonia groups, and address issues on a regional basis with one voice. We must replace the traditional view of Polonia as a small, geographically identifiable neighborhood with the broader concept of a „Polonia of the Heart”, based upon the historical, cultural and emotional ties that bind us together as a Community.

The POLONIA OF THE EASTERN GREAT LAKES (POL. E.G.L.) project uses a website  to facilitate the intra-Community communications necessary to bring about this coordination. The project website contains an organizational directory, calendar of events, news and links to other sites relating to the Polonia Community in Western and Central New York, Northwest Pennsylvania and Southern Ontario.

As we enter the Third Millennium, we must work together with others in our region to exhibit our pride in ourselves and to protect the heritage and culture of Poland and people of Polish descent. I hope that you agree with me and will join in this effort.
The geographic boundary of this project is a roughly 200 mile circle centered on Buffalo, New York, which includes all of the areas mentioned above. It is the distance that I believe a person would travel to take part in a Polonia activity or event of interest. The term „Polonia of the Eastern Great Lakes” was coined because I could not find an appropriate descriptive phrase that would encompass the unique bi-national character of our regional Community.
I conceive of the project website as a living document, constantly changing as our Community evolves. I update it on a regular basis. If anyone has any information about a group that I may have missed in the directory, or if you have correct information where I have erred or if you have any events, other comments or suggestions, please forward that information to me. I can be reached at:
MICHAEL PIETRUSZKA
P.O. BOX 223
NIAGARA SQUARE STATION
BUFFALO, NY 14201-0223

Thanks to everyone who helped us put the project website together, especially my wife, Pat, for her many hours of computer layout and design. Without her selfless efforts, this resource would not have been possible.
POLISH NEWS wishes to congratulate Michael Pietruszka for „uniting” the Polish Americans Remember „UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL”.

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Ten wpis został opublikowany w kategorii kultura, kultura polska, Nowy Jork, polonia, polonia w usa, społeczeństwo, społeczność, usa i oznaczony tagami , , , , , , , , . Dodaj zakładkę do bezpośredniego odnośnika.

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