So it has been brought to my attention that perhaps the name rust belt love is confusing for people who don't know what the Rust Belt is! (My brother has told me it scares him because he literally thinks of a rusty belt... and adding "love" to that makes him uncomfortable... and several people have referred to it as "Rust Bucket"... so perhaps an explanation is called for!)
As wikipedia explains here, the "Rust Belt" is the Great Lakes region that was known at one time for the booming steel industry, and all the factories in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, as far as Detroit and Flint. Once these great manufacturing hubs began to close – and rust – in the 70's, they were dubbed "the rust belt," and had a pretty negative connotation. Entire cities closed down, abandoned, and left to rust...
Probably the most famous of the failed steel mills was Bethlehem Steel, pictured above is the Lackawanna Plant circa 1950 (image grabbed from here.)
But now the WNY area is experiencing a new urban revitalization. People (especially young people) are moving into – or back to – the more urban section of the area they grew up in, or maybe just fell in love with when they came here for college (as this is still very much a "college town.") This movement is a whole new generation of people shrugging off the inferiority complex of being New York City's cold, destitute, once-mighty-now-fallen little brother, and yelling from the rooftops (to anyone who will listen) all the POSITIVE things Buffalo has to offer. There's a pride swelling up from the gentrified neighborhoods of the West Side, Elmwood, and Allentown, and moving outward.
Eclectic Allentown, The Drakosha Darkroom, grabbed from here.
This is where the name rust belt love comes from. A love for a city that can laugh at itself, and it's reputation. A city that doesn't take itself too seriously, or pretend to be something it's not. Yes, it snows here. A lot. Yes, if you drive for 40 minutes in any direction you will run into farmland. Yes, there are people who will do anything for a t-shirt, including diving into a kiddie pool of bluecheese to "bob" for a chicken wing... But there are also people who will do anything for their neighbors. I, on more than one occasion, have had complete strangers push my car out of a snow drift. Last year my sister's car broke down on the 90, and one of my friends I haven't seen since high school recognized her and pulled over to help. Strangers say hi to you when you pass them on the street. We have our problems (okay, a lot of problems), but we're a stubborn, resilient people.
And that's what rust belt love is based on. An idea everyone can get behind, even if you're not from or in the Great Lakes Region. That a good idea, and a good attitude, can only do good. Happiness begets happiness, and one good deed leads to another. Whether that's pushing someone's car out of a snowbank, or providing a service in a chill, honest way. Upscale, funny, sophisticated, and/or sometimes snarky design for everyone. No BS, no attitude... just doing the right thing. And hoping the next person passes that on.