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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Happy Leap Day!

Written by Stasya Erickson  • February 29, 2012

Here on the Northside, we do a fair amount of leaping and we don’t restrict those activities to February 29th. May you and yours leap for creativity, vibrancy, and community… today and on all days!


A Cooperative Future

Written by admin  • February 28, 2012

Editor’s Note: The work of Northside UP involves many partners, including Onondaga Community College’s Small Business Development Center. Frank Cetera, a certified business advisor with SBDC, shares our offices, seeing clients on a wide range of issues pertaining to starting and operating a small business. In this post, we’ve asked him to share a bit about the United Nation’s designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.


The future of our economy may be hard to see.  But make no mistake, the cooperative business model has been here all along, and its coming-out party is happening at every turn   – including 2012’s designation as Year Of The Cooperative by the United Nations.

For one thing, it exists behind the scenes, and though many people participate in it, they do not often know they do.  How do you fit into the cooperative scene?

As a member of a local credit union such as Cooperative Federal here on the Northside, you receive all the services that you need from, and are also an owner of, that financial institution.  You have the ability to participate in the governance as a Board Member or on a working committee, or as a voter selecting the leadership and direction of your credit union.

As a consumer, you may belong to a grocery such as the Syracuse Real Food Cooperative or the soon-to-be Food For Life cooperative. Your capitol membership contribution entitles you to participate in the democratic governance, and will provide you with special discounts or savings.

You also likely purchase products produced or distributed through cooperatives. Sunkist is a marketing cooperative owned by, and operated for, the California and Arizona citrus growers who are its membership.  If you shop at Ace Hardware, you’re buying screws and nails from a business collectively owned by the dealer-owners of each individual Ace Hardware store.  Bringing Dairylea Milk home for the family?  Your purchasing from a cooperative comprised of 2,000 dairy farm families.

Cooperatives can also be owned by the workers who are employed in a business.  These worker cooperatives present special opportunities to create equitable work environments and revenue sharing distinct from discrepancies that exist in many businesses between owners, management, and productions workers.

For a second thing, cooperative democratic business has not been lauded by traditional economic development agencies, governments, and non-profit institutions as the important strategy that it really is, though that is starting to change.

The “Social Entrepreneurship” movement, begun in the 1960s, is supporting a strong case to understand that business is not only about profit but also about improving and upholding community and social standards.

Behind-the-times economic development agencies and governments are hearing the sea change accompanying the Occupy and the Move-To-Amend movements that will encourage more equitable ownership and profit distribution within business entities.  This is proving itself out as the pro-active and long-standing US Steelworkers are embracing the cooperative movement; and multiple agencies including university, health and government communities in Cleveland Ohio lead the way domestically with worker cooperative development through the Evergreen Laundry, Ohio Cooperative Solar, and Green City Growers Cooperative.

We can’t be, nor should we be content to be, far behind this curve.

Contact Onondaga SBDC Business Advisor Frank Cetera at the Northside Urban Partnership for free one-on-one business advising and strategy discussion.  And consider taking part in the Upstate NY Cooperatives Summit to be held in Syracuse on March 31st – details at www.cny.coop.



Written by Stasya Erickson  • February 27, 2012

“Living” Spaces

Written by Stephen Aguayo2 Comments • February 24, 2012

Syracuse is brimming with possibilities, especially if you consider the many abandoned and neglected spaces in our city as sites of great potential. Hard work and creativity, applied throughout the city, have already transformed some vacant spaces into art galleries, creative work-spaces, and new businesses.

In Milwaukee, Sweet Water Organic has infused an abandoned warehouse space with new life. The founders of Sweet Water Organic utilized a “three-tiered, bio-intensive, simulated wetland” environment to grow various vegetables and raise fish. A vestige of a once thriving industry has become a bountiful testament to the untapped potential of human ingenuity by building a socially and environmentally conscious future. This project re-imagines vacant space, creates fresh economic opportunity and supports the local food system… who else is thinking we need hydroponics on the Northside?

“Keeping Sparky’s Spark Alive”

Written by admin  • 


This Sunday, celebrate the memory of Linda “Sparky” Mortimer at the ArtRage Gallery, located at 505 Hawley Ave. Live music, food, raffles and an art auction.

An event not to be missed for a woman that will never be forgotten.


Photo by Joan Farrenkopf


What: Fundraiser to pay for Sparky’s estate expenses
Where: ArtRage Art Gallery, 505 Hawley Ave, Syracuse NY
When:  Sunday, February 26, 1-5 p.m.

More details can be found in this Syracuse New Times article.

Meet Hopeprint

Written by Hopeprint2 Comments • February 22, 2012

Editor’s Note: Just a few blocks away from our office exists a unique home. It is a place full of learning and support, where conversations are shared in a multitude of languages; it is Hopeprint. We’ve asked their Executive Director, Nicole Watts, to share stories from the organization on a monthly basis. Meet Hopeprint.


She didn’t have a name. Her language and the details of her story were unknown to me. She was a refugee. I associated her with U.N. tents covering the landscape as far as you can see in some desert land in the middle of Africa. The horrors out her back door were merely news blips on my television screen during the evening news. I didn’t know her, but something was stirring inside of me to care about her.

As I began to ask questions, the answers turned into more questions. In the end, I uncovered what I believe is one of Syracuse’s greatest secret assets – a large resettled refugee population living on the Northside of Syracuse. In 2010, over 1,100 refugees moved into this community. The numbers have continued to be projected right along those same lines for the years that followed.

Through relationships, I began walking their journey as resettled refugees, going to an American grocery store, clothes shopping and filling out job applications. (All far more challenging than one would think.) I sat with a single mother as she gave birth to her son, and held him at moments old as his mother rattled off prayers in her mother tongue with tears rolling down her face. I tasted and saw the challenges they face. Even more, I saw the unrealized potential.

Rachel arrived at 19 years old, just one year too old to attend high school. She resigned a brilliant mind to piece labor for money. Rana was an engineer in Iraq and now found herself cooped up in an apartment with no friends, job or cultural navigation skills. Bhim worked very hard to provide for his family, participating in job trainings and all, yet being unable to achieve his goals. Arriving in the United States brought life ripe with opportunities, but there was something missing.

Hopeprint was born in the fall of 2010 in an effort to address those gaps by building a bridge between the resourced communities of Syracuse and the under-resourced community of the resettled refugees that live among us. We believe that the greatest result for all involved happens through relationship. For that reason, we seek to use English and other programming as a field on which we both meet felt needs as well as build relationships.

In keeping with that relational drive, we have chosen to be a home-based organization which builds an extended family among our community – the Hopeprint Family. With our Hopeprint Home in the heart of the Northside neighborhood, we have team members living out our daily lives with the refugee community. This also serves as a hub for tutoring, networking, friendships and more through our ESL and college programming among other things.

We are proud to be part of Syracuse’s Northside, and look forward to the day when it realizes its potential as a hub of cultural diversity, breathing life and vision back into Syracuse. Until then, we’ll be right here, stoking the flame.


Salt City Slam wins $1,000 at DISHES

Written by admin  • February 21, 2012


This past weekend, Northside UP hosted the 3rd Salt City DISHES event. The evening was a great success and granted $1,000 to Salt City Slam, a project that aims to create a monthly poetry slam series here in Syracuse, NY. The winners, Mozart Guerrier and Seneca Wilson, ended the night by performing their poetry in front of the audience.

Photos of the event, along with a video of the winning presentation, will be along later this month.


Then & Now: Why we’re here

Written by Dominic Robinson  • February 16, 2012

Imagine a place bustling with life. Serene streets, lined with sturdy houses, where the sidewalks are teaming each morning with adults and children, walking to work and school.  A place where a Saturday afternoon’s errands can be done on foot, and where you know the owner of each business you visit. A place where children play in yards, on streets and in parks, and parents and neighbors look out for them.  There is a sense of community in this place and a quality of life that is hard to measure.

This place existed on the Northside of Syracuse for the better part of 100 years. The mostly German and Italian families that settled the Northside were hardly rich, but they lived in abundance. Throughout its history, the neighborhood was defined by its quality of life, at least until after World War II. Then the factories started to leave, and the highways were built, choking the neighborhood and luring families to newly built suburbs – an exodus fueled further by racial tensions that emerged as the area started to diversify. Over time, the place was filled with vacancy. Houses were abandoned and storefronts were boarded. Those who remained found that their neighborhood was less safe and offered fewer opportunities.

It’s important to remember, however, that while the Northside has declined in many respects, it has never lost its vitality. Even in the midst of many challenges, the Northside has remained true to its roots, existing as a place of refuge and hope.  As the neighborhood lost much of its original population, new communities moved in – from African Americans, spreading throughout Syracuse after desegregation – to immigrants and refugees, from South and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East – to mostly white young professionals, searching for an urban environment. All of them came seeking something better, just like the first Northsiders. One needs only to stand on a street corner to feel the energy here. Watch, as people from almost every part of the world, many dressed in bright native clothing, walk down sidewalks, past majestic churches, in and out of laundromats, bakeries, and markets.  A world’s worth of music projects from cars and apartment windows, while the scents of varied cuisines waft from kitchens into the streets.  Things might not be perfect, but life still abounds.

The big difference today is a lack of economic opportunities. Most Northsiders are still working class; it’s just that many of them can’t find good work. People here still dream of owning homes and starting businesses; they just have a harder time turning those dreams into reality. This lack of opportunities translates into more poverty, which means greater instability – which results in pockets of crime and blight. These challenges are only part of the story, however, and they are certainly not the end of the script. Slowly, but surely, the Northside is coming back. Every month we see new investments in the community. Historic buildings are being rehabbed, luring middle class residents and new business owners. Meanwhile, some Northsiders are working up from poverty and are buying homes and starting businesses themselves. Pockets of the neighborhood are emerging as creative hubs, as young artists and professionals congregate and convert abandoned places into vibrant spaces.


Written by admin  • February 15, 2012

After over a year of hard work, we’ve finally launched our dream website!

We’re still working out a few quirks, but invite you to have a look around. Make sure you check back often as we’ll be updating this blog on a daily basis.

Questions? Comments? Contact us at info@northsideup.org.