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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Depicting Fairy Tales: Artwork at White Branch Library

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • October 31, 2012

It’s impossible to miss the three large paintings hanging in the Children’s Room at the White Branch Library. The art nouveau pieces in shades of orange, navy, green, and brown set the scene for three classic fairy tales: Cinderella, the Pied Piper of Hamlin, and Jack and the Beanstalk. Beautifully painted with fun details (the fairy godmother in Cinderella wears a headdress of peacock feathers dripping with pearls), the magic of these stories pushes the boundaries of imagination—no matter your age.

The panels were painted by Syracuse’s own Margaret Huntington Boehner, an award-winning painter. Born in Oneonta, New York in 1894, Boehner attended Syracuse University’s College of Fine Arts and began teaching there shortly after graduation in 1922. Early in her career Boehner painted the three panels that were given to the White Branch Library by the Friends of Reading of Onondaga County. The fairy tales remain on permanent display in the Children’s Room.

Although a Syracuse resident for much of her life, only a handful of Boehner’s works actually remain in the city. The three panels at White Branch Library are an important part of our local history, but also our personal history on the Northside, as patrons fondly remember the pictures from their childhood.

Visit the White Branch Library in order to appreciate all the details of Boehner’s vision. How do these fairy tales compare to your own imaginings?


Photo Friday: Otisca Revisited

Written by Stasya Erickson  • October 26, 2012

The Otisca site as it stands today, after demolition and before new construction. You can read more on the Otisca Building demolition HERE and HERE.



27 Million

Written by Hopeprint  • October 24, 2012

Editor’s Note:  We’ve asked Nicole Watts, Executive Director of Hopeprint, to write guest articles for us on a monthly basis. All of her posts are organized under the “Hopeprint” Category. You can learn about her organization and read more of her writing at hopeprint.org.


Seeking to be an active learner of the world, especially the unfolding stories of refugees related to our new neighbors, several of the Hopeprint team members have traveled to other parts of the globe for hands-on lessons. Sixteen months ago, one such venture brought me to the red light district of Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I witnessed the front lines of sex tourism in that city. As we walked through the blasting pop music coursing the rhythm through our veins, there was this sobering knowing that gripped and continues to haunt me. It was the knowing that this was just the “window display” of a much larger, complex network of girls hiding in the darkened apartments beyond the bright neon lights. Their voices, tears and screams drowned out by what was visible… rendering them invisible and unheard.

Experts say that there are 27 million slaves in today’s world. Unbelievable amounts of them are children, coaxed out of or sold by impoverished families who believe the trickery of paid “guides” or recruiters claiming they will lead them to opportunity. We are told that there are more slaves today than ever in the history of humanity.

We are told that there are more slaves today than ever in the history of humanity.

As we walked those Thai streets, my stomach turned each time I saw a 12-14 year old Asian girl hanging on the arm of a middle-aged Western man, kissing him, flirting and clearly feeding this romantic pleasure he had paid for. Questions began to rise up within me… What about my refugee sisters in Syracuse? How many of them have had this in their story?

As I listen to so many of their stories, the guides that led them to “freedom” are unbelievably identical to the raw details of stories of guides that arise from the human trafficking crisis. I cannot help but ask…  How many of them never made it?

Recently, two of my Hopeprint sisters from Bhutan shared with me some of their stories from the refugee camp, and I found myself with that gnawing feeling growing even stronger… moving from questions to partial answers. And the answers are not the kind I wished for. They told of the older women in the refugee camp and/or surrounding community that coaxed children to eat candy that was drugged to knock them out. Children and young women would disappear, sometimes returning after four to five years starving, infected with HIV and stripped of so much more.

They told me of one such girl that was a lucky one that made it back to her family. Sadly, when she returned home, pregnant from some “John,” she was rejected. In order to survive, she returned to the very thing she had fled.

“Many people who are very poor need the money,” the girls alluded to the sending off of girls with strangers with the supposed promise of a job. Often times, the girls were never seen again.

So if these aren’t just questions, if these facts are reality, what are we to do? It is simply impossible for all of us to throw our entire lives towards every human tragedy; this I know. But I believe that most of us don’t live up to our capacity to make a difference, to leave our hopeprint.

As Northsiders, we find ourselves in the crosshairs of the world at our doorstep. As we befriend our new neighbors, their stories intertwine with our own, bringing to light the truth that was there all along – the human story is our collective story.

When confronted with the collective human story, we have a choice – engage in it or protect ourselves from it.

When confronted with the collective human story, we have a choice – engage in it or protect ourselves from it. As Hopeprint, we are seeking to actively engage.

This season, members of the Hopeprint family and community are partnering together to amplify the voice of the invisible and unheard, the victims of human trafficking – CNY Freedom Makers. Through this campaign, we are participating in that collective human story gathering the voices and resources of Central New York to affect lasting change on one community where human trafficking flourishes: Manila, Philippines.

After hearing the stories of these children and girls around the world, a number of our Hopeprint family members got excited about what we might be able to do together to be a part of this movement. Some of the teen girls have set a goal to raise $1,000 together from our community. While they may not be personally financially-“rich” , these girls are rich with passion and wish to give it what they can to make a difference.

This isn’t a foreign crisis. It’s personal. It’s here. It’s part of our collective human story. 27 million…

Everyone has a hopeprint, where are you leaving yours?



Photo Friday: Seasons with Hairanoia

Written by Stasya Erickson  • October 19, 2012

Michael A. DeSalvo, owner and stylist of Hairanoia, has a beautiful, spacious salon. Fresh coffee and pastries are available to all guests and the space is always abuzz with activity and conversation. Each season, Michael does something special to make the salon feel festive. We always look forward to stopping by and seeing how he’s redecorated and this fall is no exception! Check out what he’s done in the space to celebrate the season.





The Salt Market on the Northside

Written by Emma Voigt  • October 18, 2012

Four years ago, Briana Kohlbrenner and Vanessa Rose held the 1st annual “Salt Market” here in Syracuse, NY. Having grown up in Brooklyn, Briana was well acquainted with underground, cutting-edge creativity. The driving force behind creating this event was her desire to bring the energy and creative atmosphere of larger cities to Syracuse. Several markets, like the Renegade Craft Fair held throughout the US and abroad, served as sources of inspiration for the Syracuse version. For more local inspiration, Briana and Vanessa toured like-minded markets in cities like Rochester and New York City. Having connected with artists and designers at markets in the region was helpful when figuring out how to start their own.

The first market was highly successful, and surpassed the organizers’ original goals in terms of both applicants and attendees.  In order to allow the market to grow and offer the same level of quality, Briana and Vanessa asked Stasya Erickson and Courtney Rile to join them in their planning efforts. Briana thought both women had good ideas, energy, and experience.

All four organizers are now gearing up for the fourth annual market, which will be held on Saturday, October 20th from 10am-6pm.  Each year, the market is meant to showcase local, independent, up-and-coming artists and designers.  Their products must be as handmade and local as possible and designs must be original. Briana pointed out that vendors change naturally over the years, and that even returning vendors are encouraged to bring new, fresh creations each year.

Now in its fourth year, the majority of details simply fall into place. Stasya feels the organizers have really streamlined the process of creating the market. Therefore elements like music, food, and décor come together easily. Local venues—Recess Coffee, Roji Tea Lounge, and Strong Hearts Café—are providing refreshments.

One key change is a fresh location. This year, the Salt Market will be held on the Northside at 401 N. Salina St., in a slightly smaller, more intimate venue.  Because this year’s market is in a smaller space, showcasing just 30 vendors, there will be a second market on Saturday, December 8.  Market number 2 will also have 30 vendors, but this event’s catch will be that all handiwork will be available for under $30.  Six vendors from the Salt Market will overlap with the “Pepper Market”, but most vendors will be new.

In addition to providing consumers with a fun environment to find creative items, vendors also benefit from participating in the market. Beyond gaining new customers, Stasya noticed that markets like this are a helpful way for artists and designers to build community with likeminded people.

This year, you have two opportunities to experience the vibrant atmosphere of an urban art and craft market. However, with different vendors at each, you will probably want to check out the imaginative wares at each! We, here at Northside UP, are extremely excited that this year’s market is taking place in our neighborhood.  North Salina Street is historically one of Syracuse’s most unique shopping districts, so locating one of the city’s most celebrated shopping experiences here is ideal. “Salt Market” patrons need only take a short walk to dozens of other eclectic shops and restaurants.



What Union Park Means to Me

Written by Joe Russo  • October 16, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Joe Russo is a “Nortsider”, a teacher, and an aspiring writer. We’ve asked him to share his stories of the past and offer his perspective on the present and future of our neighborhood. His posts will appear a couple of times each month under the category, “Old Times on the Northside”.


Union Park has always fascinated me. My dad’s camera repair shop was just a few store fronts away from the park. It seemed like a green oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of North Salina Street. During the warm weather months eating lunch outside was always a treat. Sometimes we were too busy to close the repair shop for even a few minutes. When the weather cooperated I remember dad locking the front door and hanging up the “back in 20 minutes” sign. We always found a shady spot on a hot day or a sunny spot on a cool day. We welcomed a few moments in the park to get away from the work day pressure.

The park was a busy, happy place. Many of the neighborhood families lived in houses or apartments without front yards or backyards. Union Park was an oasis for the kids as well. Most noticeable was how many moms were in the park with their children. Protective moms, momma bear and baby bear kind of protective. One could easily see that the neighborhood mothers really cared for their children.

At the same time we had a problem as businesses on North Salina Street. We could not buy insurance for our large plate glass windows. Apparently, in the mid 1970’s there had been a rash of broken and otherwise vandalized windows. As a result, the insurance companies red-lined glass coverage. A large plate glass window cost around $500. Many North Salina business owners, including my father, blamed the neighborhood kids.

I developed a different insight. Just before Mother’s Day, a youth I remember from Union Park came to the camera shop. He didn’t have a camera that needed repairing. He looked at the floor and shuffled his feet. I don’t remember his name but I do remember he wore a New York Yankee baseball cap and looked at me anxiously as he said, “can you give me a job?” I explained to him that he wasn’t old enough to have working papers and legally hold a job. He replied, “I don’t need a real job, I just wanna get a present for my mom.” What he wanted was to sweep the sidewalk or wash a window to get a few dollars and buy a Mother’s Day gift. My father didn’t approve. Neither did my uncle Fred Maurillo who owned an insurance agency two doors away. I ignored their collective advice and continued to pay out small sums of cash to a significant number of neighborhood youths for odd jobs. The youths seemed so honest and sincere. The test for theory came once a year on Halloween. The morning after Halloween I would drive the length of North Salina Street to take a first-hand look at whatever tom-foolery had taken place the night before. As I drove the street I would see egged windows, spray painted graffiti, turned over garbage cans and evidence of other and various pranks. I slowed down my car as I approached the 900 block wishing and hoping my investment in jobs for Mother’s Day gifts paid off.

From 1975 until 1992 we couldn’t buy glass insurance. However, the end result was we didn’t need it. Not once did we experience any sort of vandalism. I believe the kids became my protector and convinced other would-be-vandals to stay away because a Mother’s Day gift is very special to everybody in every neighborhood.

The new playground’s ribbon cutting ceremony took place on October 4th. More photos, can be found on our facebook page. Thanks to all that made this build possible! For a full list, please see this Playground Thanks.


A Weekend on the Northside

Written by Emma Voigt1 Comment • 

Sometimes people question my ever growing affinity for the Northside. I live and work here. I rarely leave the area. My tendency to stay put first stemmed from my aversion to driving. Yet, once I got to know my neighborhood and the people in it, I found fewer reasons to leave and more to stay. Walking about the neighborhood gives me ample opportunity to see friends and learn more about the community. I wanted to share a few ways I have found to entertain myself here in hopes that others will come to see the Northside as affectionately as I do.

I recently learned about Vinomania, 313 E. Willow Street (Pearl Street Entrance). About once a month, they have free wine tastings, so I attended the last one. The small shop was packed; owner Gary Decker estimates upwards of 60 people drop in for tastings. The store’s fun and friendly atmosphere kept it from feeling stuffy. I admit, I am an amateur aficionado, but I enjoyed the wine selection. A typical tasting includes 3 or 4 people pouring 10-15 different kinds of wine. The samples are determined by what Gary has in stock at the time. He says he is constantly looking for the best taste to price ratio. In other words, the wines he sells taste like they cost a lot more. Because he focuses heavily on finding his customers great deals, his product selection is constantly changing. Gary tries to have different local businesses offer samples at each tasting. Having been in the restaurant business for many years, Gary and his wife also occasionally prepare food and offer lite fare like local, organic cheeses. From his years of experience in the food industry, Gary has a wealth of knowledge on recipes and food and drink pairings. With a well-priced bottle of wine or liquor you will also get expertise and good conversation. Vinomania is open Mondays from 4-7, Tuesday-Friday from 11-7, and Saturday 10-6. The next tasting is on Friday, October 19 from 4:30-6:30.

My second recommendation is the small free yoga class at the White Branch Library. The class is offered twice a week, 9:30-11:30am on Saturdays and 4-6pm on Wednesdays. When I attended the class, the instructor was Dil Dahal. Other instructors from the Bhutanese Community of Syracuse, which leads the yoga program, help out when they can, and all have multiple certificates in yoga from Nepal. Dil’s friend Lisa Warneke helped her develop the class after Dil taught her ways to deal with back pain. Lisa approached the library about using the upstairs space. Flooded with natural light from windows on three sides, this room is an ideal location for yoga. Although Dil learned yoga in Nepal, according to Lisa, they continue to learn through books, online videos, and other yoga classes. Dil’s specialty is Pranayama Yoga, or breathing exercises that carry more oxygen to the blood and brain. Dil says this type of yoga is especially good for headaches. To join the class, you simply need to come to the library with your own yoga mat or blanket and wear comfortable clothes.

On Saturday mornings, feeling refreshed and energized after yoga, I head to the CNY Regional Market to complete the morning. It’s just a leisurely walk away from the library or my home. The market is more than a great place to find local produce, baked goods, and other items, it is an experience. Last weekend I learned that buckwheat honey contains many more antioxidants than other varieties. With a more molasses like flavor, it tastes great too. Squash is prevalent at this time of year, so I have enjoyed experimenting with many different ways to prepare all varieties. Depending on the season, different items may be more abundant. The diversity is a part of the fun.

The same can be said for the Northside in general. In the course of a weekend, I am able to engage with people from many different nations and walks of life. Each of these encounters gives me an opportunity to try something new. These events are just three examples of the many reasons I love the Northside.


Inside Vinomania!

Exploring Your World – Preschool Open House

Written by Emma Voigt  • October 15, 2012

In 1948 Lionel O. Grossman founded the United Cerebral Palsy and Handicapped Children’s Association of Syracuse, Inc. Over the years, the organization grew and evolved into Enable. According to Enable, their mission remains the same—enhancing “the quality of life for people with developmental or physical disabilities through an array of services.”

Inclusive education and therapy for children with disabilities is a prominent service. Through Enable’s “Exploring Your World” preschool, children with disabilities and their typically developing peers participate in activities together. In order to ensure they meet the needs of all children, Enable’s physical, speech, and occupational therapists work closely with preschool staff.

On Friday, October 19 at 9:30 am Enable is holding the grand opening of “Exploring Your World” at their Court St. location. Until this summer, Enable leased preschool space from the First Presbyterian Church United. Unfortunately, the church fell on hard times and was forced to close. After evaluating several options, Enable decided to renovate space at their main campus to accommodate children.

The new preschool is located in a section of the building that was previously part of Enable’s clinic, which has seen moved to the opposite side of the building. The community raised funds for a large part of the renovations. Several individuals and foundations, including the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation, CNY Community Foundation, First Niagara, J.M. McDonald Foundation, and Dorothy and Marshall Reisman Foundation, gave supporting gifts.

Enable hopes to continue serving as diverse a community as possible, so the preschool is open to anyone who needs childcare. Enable also invites the public to attend the preschool open house and grand opening this Friday. Those interested in attending may RSVP to mseubert@enablecny.org.



Photo Friday: Visiting Health Train

Written by Stasya Erickson  • October 12, 2012

The 2nd Health Train class finished up last week with a day of sharing stories, dreams and food!

Here’s a quick look into the classroom:


A Lesson from Joe Stagnitta

Written by Sarah Pallo  • October 10, 2012

In a recent blog post, Taking a long-term view for invigorating Syracuse’s Northside, our director Dominic Robinson writes about Joe Russo’s connection to the Northside Business Association and the many efforts he and other business owners in the area took to help rebuild the North Salina Street business district.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with another Joe also involved in the district’s rebirth at the time. At the age of 91, Joe Stagnitta has a wealth of knowledge to share about the Northside and life in general. He remembers when North Salina Street used to be Rt. 11, Route 81 used to be the Oswego Canal, and how the first hotel in Syracuse is now an empty lot on the 700 block, right near Apiero Computers. More than just memories, Joe still holds on to boxes filled with past records. From the days of playing with music icons like Frankie Avalon and Della Rose at the Three Rivers Inn to the time when he was on the board of the Northside Business Association, you name it and there is a picture, newspaper clipping, and story to go along with it.

As I listened to Joe’s stories, it was apparent that his life’s passion is being a teacher. In 1954, Joe opened the Stagnitta Music Co., selling and repairing musical instruments and offering music lessons out of his storefront location on 744 N. Salina Street. He also created the Stagnitta Marching Band, one of the go-to bands for several Northside events like the Columbus Parade, the business association’s Dinner-Dances and the Uptown Festival. Even today Joe carries on his role as a teacher, offering music lessons to 26 Vietnamese students in his Townsend Street home.

During my first conversation with Joe, I learned quickly that he is not afraid to tell it like it is. I find this extremely helpful as someone working to coordinate activities for the Northside Business Partnership, a collaboration between Northside UP, the Greater North Salina Business Association, and CenterState CEO that promotes, supports, and engages the Northside business community. After all, there is no better way to learn more about a place in time than from someone who’s been there. Joe’s past experiences have shed light on the similarities between what was going on then, and what is happening now. And even after all the changes over the years, it’s clear that history really does repeat itself.

In the early 1980s, merchants from North Salina Street formed the Northside Business Association with the goal of upgrading and gaining recognition for the Northside business district. Joe was one of the founding members and acted as treasurer on the board for several years. He was also responsible for giving the area its “Uptown” identity, a business district including North Salina Street and its offshoots like the commercial strip on Butternut Street. Members of the business association were the promoters and advocates of the Northside, especially business on the Northside. They even held their monthly lunch meetings in a different restaurant every time, just to make sure they didn’t leave anyone out.

The business association participated in the Main Street program to improve the façades of old historic buildings and made streetscape improvements such as updating trash cans and painting murals. They worked on projects such as printing a business directory for the area, used cooperative advertising to promote businesses, and partnered with Cooperative Extension to provide free energy audits to business owners. They were also responsible for hosting the “Uptown Festival”, one of the first major outdoor festivals in the city.

They often focused their efforts on parking issues, government advocacy for business and neighborhood news, and thinking of creative ways to make the Northside a business destination. Joe recalls one idea they had that would solve both the parking issue and the need to attract people to the neighborhood: setting up a trolley line that connected the parking lots in Downtown to Uptown, making it easy for visitors and residents alike to commute back and forth from the major commercial centers of Syracuse. He said the rail tracks are still hidden beneath the paved road on North Salina, and believes this is still a viable option for the neighborhood. Jason Evans, an architect and life-long resident of Syracuse, has also identified this potential. In his blog, [re] think Syracuse, Jason writes: “the sustained density nearly the entire length of Salina Street through the city of Syracuse makes it an ideal candidate for the revival of a former north-south streetcar line.”

After reviewing several articles from Joe’s boxes, one quote in particular stood out to me: “It’s a matter of organizing; we can’t expect the city to help us unless we help ourselves.” During Joe’s time, North Salina Street had two basic ingredients that helped reassert the Uptown neighborhood, commitment from merchants and a strong architectural and historical fabric. Now, over 30 years later, the Northside is once again reasserting itself as a dynamic neighborhood to live, work and play.


Photo by Danielle Carrick, daniellecarrick.com