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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Photo Friday: History

Written by Stasya Erickson  • August 30, 2013

Tower2 reflection_web

Open Hand’s International Arts & Puppet Festival: A Celebration of Community and Family

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 29, 2013

Open Hand Theater is no stranger to participating in public events where they can showcase their larger-than-life puppets and interact with the community. You may have seen them at Juneteenth or at the Syracuse Balloon Fest this summer. Two years ago they created Art-in-Motion downtown and recently presented Carnival of The Animals with Symphoria. This September, however, Open Hand will create a celebration on a much larger scale than they’ve ever done before and it will all take place in our Northside neighborhood. On September 14 from 11:00 AM-4:00 PM get ready for the International Arts & Puppet Festival!

Geoff Navias, Artistic Director at Open Hand Theater, is really excited to be on the Northside for this international-themed event. “We are the gateway to many nations,” he points out, waving a finger at the Theater’s window to indicate the rich physical history of the Northside and the diverse families and traditions that make-up the neighborhood. “We’re existing in the context of this community,” he adds. Geoff considers the Northside a “fun” place to be where people look out for each other. Once word started to spread about the Festival, support was forthcoming from local entities like ourselves, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, the Greater North Salina Business Association, The South Asian Center at Syracuse University, and others who knocked on Open Hand’s door and asked what they could do. “Since we opened here we wondered, ‘How do we give back?’” Geoff explains, “The greater Syracuse community is welcome to the festival and I hope that they see it as a North Salina Street ‘open house.’” He encourages families to wonder the neighborhood and see what it has to offer. As part of the celebration, various local businesses will be offering specials that day.

All of this fits into Open Hand’s focus on family: the community as family, but also the conventional definition of family—in all its various configurations. To Geoff, family means a sense of “longevity, passing on one’s story from one generation to another,” and the Festival is a “fun, creative way” to celebrate this. It will be a great opportunity for families to gather, share, create, explore, and make memories. Festival-goers will enjoy various performances throughout the day including African drumming, South Indian dance, and a classical string quartet. There will be art activities available for kids as well as live painting performances. We can also expect fantastical creatures walking about, a puppet circus, and much more. This free, family-friendly event will take place outside of the Open Hand Castle (518 Prospect Avenue) and along North Salina Street to Ash Street.

The International Arts & Puppet Festival is made possible, in part, by the Economic Development Grant from the County of Onondaga, administered by CNY Arts. Partnering organizations include the Greater North Salina Street Buisness Association, Northside Urban Partnership, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, and The South Asian Center of Syracuse University. For more information about the Festival, stay tuned to Open Hand’s website, and Facebook event page.



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On the Calendar: WineRing and Tasting at Vinomania

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 27, 2013

Vinomania’s monthly wine tastings make it easier for us to explore the world of wine and learn what we like and don’t like. This Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, Vinomania is making it even easier for us to find our new favorite. WineRing is a new Syracuse-based company that offers a free, fun, and easy app. By recording your personal wine preferences, WineRing will suggest more wines that you would like. One really cool feature suggests wines that a group of people will enjoy even if they have different tastes, taking some of the stress out of planning a dinner party.

Stop by Vinomania and test the new app for yourself!

NBP Member: B & T Auto Service

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 26, 2013

B & T Auto

As the summer winds down it’s time to start preparing for our more fast-paced routines that arrive with the onset of a new school year. For many of us this means more time spent in the car and little time to deal with unexpected auto trouble. B & T Auto is a one-stop shop for those of us with very busy schedules. They offer towing services, auto repair and maintenance, and, if your car can’t be fixed, they also sell quality used cars with an honest, low-pressure sales approach.

B & T is a family-owned business with 37+ years of experience. They pride themselves on professional service and customer satisfaction.  For more information, visit their website.


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: Summer morning in Union Park

Written by Stasya Erickson  • August 23, 2013

Union Park Playground

Preserving the Past While Celebrating the Future

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder1 Comment • August 22, 2013

Main Street Banners

Take a walk along North Salina Street and look up. Tethered to light poles hang the pride of the Northside: our “Little Italy” roots and our “Many Nations” present. Side by side these banners indicate the Northside’s past as a bustling business district home to Italian and German immigrants in the 19th century and its present as a gateway for new refugees and immigrants from all over the world. These flags signal past and present and inspire our future. At Northside UP we want the Northside to feel just as vibrant and hospitable as it did 80 years ago. This means that our urban, mixed-use environment must have options for housing and business-space alike. Our streets must be attractive, safe and our community sustainable. We want to preserve history, instill pride, and make the Northside a great place to live, work, and play.

In 2009 we took a giant step toward this goal. Our community was awarded a grant through the New York Main Street program, which offers funds to revitalize historic downtowns, mixed-use commercial districts, and village centers. Northside UP became the facilitator to put to use $200,000 for building and streetscape renovations along North Salina Street. In 2012 we were awarded another grant through the program, providing an additional $225,000 for improvements. The funds are distributed among property owners whose rehab projects have been selected by a committee and will, in various ways, revitalize the Northside. The review committee is made up of neighborhood property and business owners and individuals with architectural and engineering experience. They consider the level of impact the project will have on the neighborhood, how many new jobs may be created, and whether the plan includes residential components. There are also conversations about sustainable development practices and how much the owner is willing to invest in the property. Another point of discussion is whether or not the project can actually be done within a reasonable amount of time and within budget.

Once the projects begin, Northside UP continues to offer support, connecting owners with contractors, architects, and other helpful sources who understand the Main Street Program requirements and the importance of historic preservation and energy efficiency. This added assistance gives owners the resources they need to bring their project to fruition and feed the up-lift of our neighborhood.

Jonathan Logan, Northside UP’s Program Manager for Place Making and Small Business Development and the manager for the New York Main Street projects, believes beautification efforts like this help revitalize the neighborhood in three important ways. First, it changes the aesthetic and perception of the area. When people find themselves in the Northside and look around he doesn’t want them to see it as a blighted neighborhood, but instead that “it is a place someone cares about.” Many of the historic buildings incorporate beautiful detail, but need to be restored. “This irreplaceable building stock lends character and charm to this unique business district that is home to an array of stores and shops representing the diversity of this neighborhood,” Jonathan explains. A well-kept and preserved building grounds the neighborhood in its rich history while still feeling fresh and new.

Secondly, some of the grant money goes to rehab vacant storefronts. This encourages new businesses to move into the neighborhood. Many of these places haven’t been touched in a long time and need work to make them “usable spaces.” Once this is done using New York Main Street funds, prospective tenants can move to the Northside and set up shop almost immediately.

Thirdly, these rehabbed buildings serve as a catalyst for other redevelopment projects to occur. Because the Main Street grant focuses on a specific target area where a number of buildings are being worked on at the same time, it encourages other property owners to start thinking about their buildings. Jonathan mentions a few buildings on the 800 block of North Salina Street started to receive attention following the redevelopment of Dr. Bonacci’s building (807 North Salina Street). “It’s encouraging to see this happen,” Jonathan explains.

One of the Main Street projects that stands-out in Jonathan’s mind belongs to property and business owner Roselinda Abbey. You may know Roselinda as the owner of the African & Caribbean Central Market (740 North Salina Street) where she in an invaluable resource to the West African immigrants and refugees in the neighborhood. Roselinda began from humble roots as an immigrant from Ghana who “boot-strapped it” raising her three children and becoming a property and business owner. She lives in the apartment above her store and is equally dedicated to her business and her family.

The 2009 Main Street money allotted to Roselinda’s project was used to reconstruct the building’s façade, preserve the historic details, and make energy efficiency improvements. “Being part of that project was pretty rewarding,” Jonathan explains as he talks about how the community really came together to help Roselinda. The Cooperative Federal Credit Union, the City of Syracuse, Crawford & Sterns, and CNY Builders Services all supported the project. In 2012 she was awarded the Preservation Merit Award from the Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY). But what touches Jonathan the most is the idea that she can attract more customers to her store and better serve the community she’s trying to reach.

Some of the projects using the funds from the 2009 grant are still underway and many of the projects under the 2012 grant are just beginning. Though they’re all unique, Jonathan is excited to see work done on two well-known buildings in the area: the “Skinny” building (539 North Salina Street) and the Flat Iron building (530 North Salina Street). “Seeing those back in use would be amazing,” Jonathan says, and truly it would be. The “Skinny” building has been vacant for 20 years and the Flat Iron has been vacant for a decade. The Main Street money is the first step the owners of the Flat Iron building are taking toward renovations.

These projects take time, but in the end they can change the Northside and make it a more livable neighborhood. More residential units will offer a safe, clean, and affordable living option as opposed to the pricier housing market and some of the more neglected housing that exist on the Northside. More storefronts with a clean, welcoming façade can serve the community at large. The neighborhood’s history will appear in architectural details with fresh paint and restored brickwork. More businesses will fill refreshed storefronts. More visitors and residents will walk down our streets. Our dreams burn bright for the Northside and we believe that new life breeds new opportunity.

Main Street Collage

On the Calendar: CabFab Studio Warming Party

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 20, 2013

Tomorrow evening CabFab welcomes the community into its studio. A new project is in the works for these “makers of things,” called Roaring Dog–a new enterprise with items designed by the Roaring Dog team. These beautiful pieces are different from the usual things we see from CabFab. In fact, they’re very different. Roaring Dog’s portfolio consists of cutting boards, chop sticks, and desk organizers, but with same craftsmanship, careful details, and beauty we expect from the cabinetmakers.

Visit the studio for a preview of Roaring Dog’s items and enjoy light refreshments. We’ll see you there!


NBP Member: Ra-Lin

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 19, 2013

It’s never a dull moment at Ra-Lin! This month the discount store’s Wesley Feuz is offering a night photography workshop at The Great New York State Fair. This wonderland of fried foods, music, and carnival rides is all a-glow during the evening, creating gorgeous photos–but only if you know all the tricks of the trade. Call 472-7766 for more details.

Ra-Lin is a family-owned business that specializes not only in photo equipment and prints, but also appliances, electronics, jewelry, and sporting goods–all at unbeatable prices. To find out about “hot deals,” visit their website.



Ra-Lin Wesley_Ra-Lin


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: Laci’s Anniversary!

Written by Stasya Erickson  • August 16, 2013

Yesterday, we had a fantastic time tabling at the 3rd Anniversary of Laci’s Tapas Bar. Enormous congratulations to the Cuse Pit Crew and, of course, Laura and Cindy. Powerful women doing extraordinary work!

Laci's Collage

The Zucchini Flower

Written by Joe Russo2 Comments • August 15, 2013

Editor’s Note:  Joe Russo is a “Nortsider”, a retired 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 each month under the category, “Old Times on the Northside”.


What would a backyard garden be without a few Zucchini plants? Famous for being productive and easy to grow, everybody likes Zucchini. In fact, the biggest problem most energetic gardeners have is they don’t have enough friends to take all the surplus zucchini. All the Northside moms and grandmothers traded zucchini recipes. Zucchini bread, fried zucchini, stuffed zucchini… how about zucchini with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese? The list goes on and on. Both my grandmothers had a special recipe they did not share with friends outside the family. It is a real delicacy.

I remember going into the backyard garden and watching either of my grandmothers carefully pick the biggest brightest zucchini flowers they could find. The flowers were delicate so they had to be handled with care. They made it clear that what they were about to prepare was very special.

The first step was to carefully clean the zucchini flowers. The second step was creating an egg batter. There are many variations and it seemed to depend on what herbs were in season. My grandmothers always used brown eggs. I suppose it is a matter of taste. Salt, a little minced garlic and whatever herbs seemed freshest that day were whisked into the egg batter. They would whip up the batter with one or two eggs depending on how many people wanted to eat. I always liked fresh chives chopped up with the garlic. I also like to add about 2 tablespoons of flour to the egg batter to give it a thicker consistency.

They did not deep fry the flowers but lightly sautéed them in olive oil. They cook very quickly so I would put only one or two at a time in the frying pan. When the oil was sufficiently hot the grandmothers dipped each flower in the batter coating as thoroughly as possible. Be careful to sauté the flowers for 2 minutes or less. I keep a few chopped chives and some minced garlic on the side and sprinkle them on each flower as they are cooking. Drain the sautéed flowers in a platter with paper towels for a moment or two. Make sure you eat them while they are still hot. No grandson can wait very long to taste one of these.

In recent years I have developed a Zucchini Flower Omelet, which is pictured below. My friends who did not have an Italian grandmother seem to prefer this more familiar style. Either way the taste is memorable.


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