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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Photo Friday: Preparations

Written by Stasya Erickson  • March 29, 2013

Plans for the 2013 World Refugee Day in Syracuse are underway! Stay tuned for more information on the WRD facebook page.

World Refugee Day

Free Laotian Tasting!

Written by Emma Voigt1 Comment • March 27, 2013

One of my personal favorite markets, the Laos Market at 317 Butternut St., will be having a free tasting on Saturday, March 30 from 12-2 pm.

When I was new to the Northside, over a year ago, I tried to get to know the neighborhood by exploring corner stores. At the Laos Market, packages of brightly colored, exotic foods stretched to the ceiling. As I gazed around, I became a little overwhelmed. All the flavors of Southeast Asia seemed neatly stuffed into every corner. Boxes of Aloe Vera drink (which tastes great mixed with coconut soda and raspberry sorbet, by the way) overflowed onto the stairs. Yet, I scarcely knew what to do with shrimp paste, which type of curry paste to select, or what to use shredder green papaya for.

Luckily, over the last few months, I have had the privilege of getting to know the owners of the Laos Market. Because of their advice, I have started adding locally grown oyster mushrooms to soups. I use small green eggplants in many dishes, and I know how to make my own bubble tea. When I am in a hurry, I even know how to make a variety of instant noodles more flavorful and healthy (hint: add a generous helping of fresh Thai basil, a few fresh vegetables, and lemon grass).

I find myself in the Laos Market more and more frequently these days. Although I am familiar with the setup of the store now, I still find new things to try. My next culinary adventure will involve Thai mussels. My friends at the store are always happy to tell me how to use different ingredients, and I feel I learn something about Laotian culture every time I visit. For example, I recently learned that the Laos New Year is coming up on April 12 and the fact that people hold chop sticks differently in different areas. As for this last tidbit, it took me long enough to master the style I adopted, and I tried the more Laotian technique with no success.

I am excited for the tasting. I know how much I have enjoyed my lunches at the market, and I think everyone else will too. There will be samples of Thai and Laotian food. The market will be decorated with traditional items and images from Laos. There will also be recipes and cooking tips available. Thanks to the help of the Laos Market, I make much better curries now (it had to do with the addition of the right coconut milk and fresh bean sprouts). Don’t miss this event! If you are able to attend, please RSVP to vekonda@gmail.com and provide the number of people arriving with you.  On March 30, you will have an excellent opportunity to taste new dishes and get all the tools necessary to make them yourself, at home.

Laos-Market-Store-Web LaosMarketFamily_Web

Photo Sample

11th Green Train Graduation

Written by Denise Nepveux  • March 26, 2013

Our 11th Green Train class of fourteen students will graduate this Thursday at 11AM at the St. Clare Theater. We welcome you to join us in celebrating the accomplishments of this smart, hardworking group!

The Green Train students have spent 12 weeks learning construction and weatherization skills via classroom learning and hands-on work experiences. After numerous afternoons of demolition, construction and weatherization activities at 507 State Street, they practiced various insulation and air flow testing techniques for three days at the Telos Center in Jamesville. Finally, the class spent two snowy days at Adam’s Eden Camp in Lafayette. Here, they deconstructed an old wooden supply cabin, salvaged usable parts, and learned how to evaluate and reinforce them for reconstruction. I pulled a few students aside at Adam’s Eden to hear their reflections on the course.

George, a French-speaking refugee from DRCongo, arrived in Syracuse in September. I notice that he speaks more fluently in English now than four months ago when I met him at a recruitment gathering at Bob’s school. Three-hour classroom sessions every morning, he says, helped with this. He also enjoyed connecting with new acquaintances and learning about American workplace culture. “Here, time is money and you work by heart.”

Raul, a longtime Syracuse resident from Cuba, came to the class after a period of unemployment, and was hoping to improve his job prospects. He proudly emphasizes the skills he has gained in building, demolition, and use of hand and power tools. “I made a table, fixed a wall. My team built a doghouse. We worked like a football team, a baseball team. The communication was the first thing.”

José, originally from Spain, feels “a little sad” with graduation approaching. “This was a good experience for me. I’ve learned a lot, and I got to know some people who are really interesting, and other people who are really kind.” José hopes for a job in construction, perhaps incorporating his previous experience in tiling and masonry. He emphasizes the good feeling that comes from craftsmanship: “Something you can see and you can say wow, it’s a good job. It’s amazing. Something beautiful to see. That’s what I like to do.”

Bakari, a New American from the DRCongo, most enjoyed the weatherization aspects of the Green Train course. Like many of the students, Bakari has gained both skills and a sense of competence –a feeling of preparedness to take on a job in his new country. The parents of five children, Bakari and his wife have worked hard to establish their family in Syracuse. Green Train is an important piece of this puzzle. “I feel ready to work now. I want to work. If I get a job, I will be ready to work!”

Recently resettled in Syracuse from Burma, Maang has appreciated equally the English exposure and the hands-on experience of afternoons spent in the workshop. “I’m very happy with the class,” he comments. “I just want to thank you very much for Green Train.”

Green Train Collage Class 11

NBP Spotlight: Dunkin’ Donuts

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 25, 2013

Located on the corner at North Salina and Division Street, this Dunkin’ Donuts is housed inside a brick mixed-use building designed in the fashion of classic North Salina storefronts. With a drive-thru window, full menu, and Wi-Fi availability, this café is a great place to grab a quick cup of Joe or drop in for a bite and stay a while. For more information on the development and construction process, see the Syracuse.com article ‘On North Salina, imagine: Within historic fabric, a Dunkin’ Donuts that fits in‘.



Dunkin' Donuts


Editors Note: Each Monday, we’re introducing a community spotlight piece highlighting one of our Northside Business Partnership (NBP) members in an effort to showcase the diverse and unique businesses that make up the Northside. NBP is a collaboration between Northside UP, the Greater North Salina Business Association, and CenterState CEO that works to promote, support, and engage Northside businesses. 

Photo Friday: Determination and Celebration

Written by Stasya Erickson  • March 22, 2013

Photo Friday _ Determination and Celebration _ Green Train

Visit from Dryden High School

Written by admin  • March 21, 2013

We had a blast today hosting 60 Dryden High School students on the Northside! More to come on that later, but in the meantime here’s a snapshot from the day:

Field Trip_Dryden High School

French Pancakes and Tchaikovsky

Written by Joe Russo3 Comments • 

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”.


My paternal Grandmother loved to have her grandchildren visit her for a Sunday morning pancake breakfast. The pancakes were unusual and the conversation was even more unusual. Pancakes as we knew them lay flat and get slathered with butter and syrup, not Grandma Russo’s pancakes. Her pancakes were thin, sprinkled with sugar or topped with fruit and rolled up like a Manicotti. Later in life I learned these “French pancakes” were actually crepes and when ordered in a fancy restaurant, very expensive.

Good food was merely the bait. Grandma had ulterior motives.  She was a highly skilled seamstress with a sharp eye for detail and a creative approach toward design. She could alter a garment that didn’t fit quite right or create a formal gown or wedding dress without a pattern. Life had not been easy for the woman who left Sicily as a teenager. She settled in Syracuse to raise a family. My Grandfather worked mostly in Johnstown’s leather tanning and glove making industry. The pay was better and his older brothers lived there. The Great Depression did not affect the Johnstown/Gloversville economy but Grandma didn’t get along with the rest of the Russo family. She liked the medical care available in Syracuse and the multitude of job opportunities for a skilled seamstress. Working and caring for her family while her husband was away made for a hard life.

Grandma Russo was also a philosopher and soothsayer. I remember the house on Butternut Street right across from Alfred Cicci’s shoe repair shop. She lived in the front of the house and when the windows were open we could hear the passersby talking, and dogs barking. Before we could eat she assembled all the grandchildren in the living room where she would dispense advice. “Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see”, was a common lesson. What she meant was that rumors were meant to hurt someone and should not be believed. Secondly, someone may be trying to manipulate you into something that isn’t good for you, be a little skeptical, and find out the truth for yourself. She also read tea leaves but that is another story. “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet”, was another lesson. She was telling us to be happy with our lot in life. Make the most of what you have don’t worry about what you don’t have.

After the life lesson we had to sit and listen to classical music. I wanted to listen to the Beach Boys or the Beatles. I remember one Sunday asking, who is this person you like so much. “It is Tchaikovsky, his music is so beautiful.” She replied. I remember she would carefully place the vinyl record on the turntable and position the needle in the track then slowly back away as the energetic sounds came from the speaker. She moved her hands as would a symphony conductor and said, “I make the pancakes now”.  I didn’t know when I was oh so young, that Tchaikovsky was the composer and genius behind Swan Lake and the Nutcracker. But why was he so important to Grandma Russo? Purely by chance I discovered that Tchaikovsky spent many years while learning his craft living in Italy. One of the sources of inspiration for his musical compositions was the lively, energetic, street music one could hear every day in 19th century Italian cities. My grandmother must have heard that street music in Tchaikovsky. Great food, classical music and a life lesson what more could a kid from the Northside want out of life? The sepia toned Marshall Oil print of my Grandparents is one of my favorites. Just looking at it brings back great memories.


French Pancakes, Grandma Russo with husband

Reimagine Potential

Written by Emma Voigt  • March 20, 2013

When I graduated college a year ago, I was staring down the barrel of an economic recession with bleak unemployment rates. This meant my college degree was not the golden ticket to prosperity high school guidance counselors made it out to be. According to the Pew Research center, more than 8 in 10 people agree finding a job today is harder than it was for their parents’ generation. A while back NPR aired a segment on how adulthood is changing for the millennial generation. I caught an interesting quote from that discussion, “Maybe we’re picking having job satisfaction over job security and deferring earning potential.” According to Hannah Seligson, journalist and author of the book, “Mission Adulthood,” the millennial generation is reimagining the American dream.

Lower earning potential means traditional staples of the American Dream like suburban homes, children, and new cars are no longer attainable. Seligson believes the millennial generation is special because they are diverse, innovative, entrepreneurial and living through “seismic social and political changes.” Yet, entrepreneurship often involves a large economic investment in itself. The number of entrepreneurial dreams that die due to lack of opportunity are incalculable.

Northside UP has imagined a business incubator concept that would offer entrepreneurs steady employment and education to help them realize their dreams of business ownership. In order to help inform the creation of the incubator, I have been meeting with entrepreneurs; so many of them fit Seligson’s definition. Many of them left jobs they were not satisfied with for one reason or another. Rather than accepting the first acceptable pay check, they are investing energy in the fabric of their neighborhoods. They are making connections and lifting one another up. They are not searching for better surroundings; they are simply building them.

With a business incubator, the Northside can become the nexus of reimagined American Dreams. Roughly 24% of the Northside’s population belongs to the millennial generation (American Community Survey 2010). Here, young entrepreneurs merge fresh ideas with the talents and knowledge refugees bring from around the world. Harsh economic conditions may have forced the millennial generation to re-dream, but these emerging adults have gained a new understanding of the importance of building relationships, reducing waste, and making the most of little. Imagine what these new dreams can mean for Syracuse with the right support. Imagine how we can change the city instead of letting it alter us.


On the Calendar: “What If…” Film Series

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • March 19, 2013

This spring, we’re partnering with local organizations to bring you the “What If . . .” film series. Funded by a grant from the Rosamond Gifford Foundation, the film series will seek to educate us about efforts to improve communities around the world. The films were chosen by a committee made up of community members and will run from March-May 2013. Here’s a look at all the films:


Fixing the Future (2012), directed by Ellen Spiro: Hosted by David Brancaccio, Fixing the Future depicts communities that use sustainable and innovative approaches to create jobs and prosperity during our current economic crisis. Learn more about the film and watch the trailer here. Attend the screening at ArtRage on March 27 from 5:30-7:30 PM or April 2 from 7:00 PM-9:00 PM.


Play Again (2010), directed by Tonje Hessen Schei: It’s predicted that a generation from now most people in the US will have spent more time in front of a screen than in nature. How will this impact our lives, our futures, and our planet? Play Again explores the shifting balance between the virtual and natural worlds. Find more information and the view the trailer here. Attend the screening at ArtRage on April 16 from 5:30-7:30 PM or April 25 from 7:00-9:00 PM.


Queen of the Sun (2011), directed by Taggart Siegel: Through the struggles of beekeepers, scientists, and philosophers from around the world, Queen of the Sun uses bees and the mysteries of the beehive to explore the problems and solutions in renewing a culture that is in balance with nature. Check out the movie trailer and learn more about the film here. Attend the screening at ArtRage on May 9 from 5:30-7:30 PM or May 14 from 7:00-9:00 PM.


All films are followed by a facilitated discussion. All screenings free to the public and no reservation is required.

Partnering organizations for the spring “What If…” Film Series:  Alchemical Nursery, ArtRage Gallery, Baltimore Woods Nature Center, Cooperative Federal: Syracuse’s community development credit union, Montessori School of Syracuse, The New School, Slow Food CNY,  and the Syracuse Area Beekeepers Club.




NBP Spotlight: Dominick Falcone Agency

Written by admin  • March 18, 2013

The Dominick Falcone Agency was founded in 1920. Since then, four generations of the Falcone family have been insuring Central New Yorkers peace of mind. They offer exceptional service with the goal of making sure your family, personal property, and business ventures are covered properly by top-rated insurance companies.

Flacone IMG_3414-web

Editors Note: Each Monday, we’re introducing a community spotlight piece highlighting one of our Northside Business Partnership (NBP) members in an effort to showcase the diverse and unique businesses that make up the Northside. NBP is a collaboration between Northside UP, the Greater North Salina Business Association, and CenterState CEO that works to promote, support, and engage Northside businesses.