David Torke runs a blog called Fix Buffalo. He is a good guy with some good ideas for the city. Or is he? David is a typical politicial activist, he has agendas, both private and public for his interests. He is a avid 'urban explorer', or so he claims. He will take groups of unexperienced people, into abandonments illegally in order to give them a 'tour' of the neighbourhoods. He will physically break into buildings using force, and encourages people to take 'momentos' from them.
Sure, I am an Urban Explorer myself, but I have 2 major issues. Firstly, people who have to force their way into a building, are not Urban Explorers, they are breaking into a building and forcing entry. This is against the ethics of the UE world. Find a unlocked door, or window, or hole to climb in through. And if you really need to get in somewhere (i.e. lets say you traveled 300 kilometers to see a place, and you get there and its locked up), be discrete, and lock the place back up when your done.
Secondly, do not take shit! The golden rule of Urban Exploration is to take only photographs and leave only foot prints. There was one time when I was with him, and he was encouraging his group of people (who were in their mid 40's to late 50's) to use hammers and other tools to break apart some wood molding in a abandoned church so they could take it home. In some ways this was even going against his own preaching, of trying to save the historical neighborhoods and such.
If you care about exploring, then you will care about following these ethics. These ethics are in place to help earn some respect for Urban Exploring as a artistic and to some extend scientific based hobby, investigating our industrial past. If Urban Explorers start breaking into buildings, and stealing shit, they will ruin the image for the whole community.
Of course UE will never be legalized, but when I go into a building to take artistic photos and respect the place as it is... I do not want to be looked at as a thief, or a tagger or vandal. Because I am none of those. I am a tresspasser, sure.
But Davids true colors came out when I was planning OPEX 2007 here in Buffalo. You see, I was in charge of arranging the International convention for Urban Explorers around the world, and I did so here in Buffalo, because of its abundance of abandoned buildings. David wanted in on it, once he heard what I was planning. He was offering me all this convention space and gallery space and such, but he was after one thing; Money! He wanted me to charge people admission to the event, and he wanted to collect on it.
OPEX has always been a free thing, kinda like Woodstock. Ninj, the former author of Infiltration.org, started the first OPEX in Toronto in 2004. In his memory (he passed away sadly) it has always been a free, come as you are, type event.
Of course I rejected these offers, in the tradition of keeping OPEX free. But Davids true colors showed, after he was told there was no money to be made, he was uninvolved faster then a fat kid on a bigmac.
So Buffalo, I am sure if David sees this he will be upset, but these are my thoughts on him, from an Urban Explorers prospective. I know some 'Urban Explorers' do promote stealing, breaking in and even tagging inside abandoned buildings, but perhaps I am elitist. Call me what you will, but I think its wrong. And if your only focus is on money, then I wonder what interests you have in saving buffalo, if it isn't for historical value, I am sure it likely has something to do with his pocketbook.