e: info@northsideup.org | ph: 315.470.1902

115 W Fayette Street Syracuse, NY 13202

What's Happening

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Recap of the Northside Networking Event

Written by admin  • October 31, 2013

Over fifty people stopped by the Northside Networking Event on Tuesday. The second floor of Laci’s Tapas Bar provided the perfect setting for drinks, food and conversation.

Networking Collage Laci's_web


This event was hosted by the Northside Business Partnership, a collaboration between Northside UP, the Greater North Salina Business Association and CenterState CEO that works to promote, support and engage Northside businesses.

For the full album of photographs, see our facebook page.

The Lost Art of Canning Tomatoes

Written by Joe Russo3 Comments • October 30, 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”.

Canning Tomatoes

This was a good year for growing tomatoes. For the first time in several summers I actually had tomatoes without black spots. I planted only eight tomato plants but they were productive enough to provide a daily supply for salads and other garden delights. When autumn is in the air I always wished I could grow enough tomatoes for canning. I remember as a kid growing up on Mary Street we canned tomatoes at the end of the growing season.

My Mom and Aunt Jenny were in charge of the whole operation. My Dad and Uncle Harold did the heavy lifting. My cousin Shirley, my sister Maria and I had the fun jobs. According to my Aunt Jenny we got most of the tomatoes from my grandfather. He had such a productive backyard extra tomatoes were always available. Sometimes we needed more tomatoes and both my sister Maria and Aunt Jenny remember going to local farms; where they let you pick your own and pay for them by the bushel. My sister now lives in the Netherlands, a place more famous for tulips and canals than tomatoes. “Actually, for me the fun began on the farms where at the end of August in the last days of the summer sun you could pick the tomatoes yourself. I’m not sure but I think it cost only $1 a bushel. I loved looking at and running along the long fields of dry soil. I remember the half dead yellow and worn-out-green plants still hanging on to the last spattering of ripe red tomatoes for the season, clinging to the vine,” Maria recalled.

Aunt Jenny remembers setting up the basement operation with tables, a colander, salt, basil, parsley and pots of boiling water. The first step was blanching the whole tomatoes so the skins could be removed. I remember Aunt Jenny being really fast, skinning more tomatoes than anyone else.  I couldn’t figure out how she could do so many and not burn her fingers. Needless to say, I was slow. Shirley and Maria talked and laughed, a lot, but always peeled more tomatoes than I did. Maria remembers it this way, “…Makeshift tables in an L-shape taking up half the space in the basement, Mom and Aunt Jen in aprons, with warm red faces and short sleeved dresses.” Everyone enjoyed the moment and wanted to be a part of the whole process.

The next step required straining the blanched, skinned tomatoes of excess liquid and filling up the canning jars. Aunt Jenny said we filled the jars up half way then put in a little salt, basil and parsley before filling the remainder of the jar with tomatoes. My sister remembers it this way, “we took the boiled tomatoes then squish, splash, squish pushing them down into the canning jars with a sprig of basil and a raw clove of garlic…” sounds like fun. I put the rubber gasket on the top of the jar but I think Maria and Shirley had more fun.

For the next step the men took over under the direction of Aunt Jen. They had to load the wire baskets full of glass jars into the large pots of boiling water. Steam would be rising from the great bubbling cauldron on top of the stove. My Dad and Uncle Harold with rolled up sleeves would lift the wire baskets holding the glass jars and place them in the boiling water. The tomato filled jars sat in the boiling water for several minutes. When they were removed the jar lids made a pinging sound as they cooled. That’s how we knew the jars were sealed. My Uncle Harold remembers turning the jars upside down and covering them with a blanket so they would cool slowly.

For my family canning tomatoes, peaches and other vegetables is a lost art but a great memory. As wonderful and delicious as the canned tomatoes were it is the memories and the laughter that make the longest lasting impression.


On the Calendar: Northside Networking Event

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • October 29, 2013

From 4:00-6:00 PM tonight, Laci’s Tapas Bar opens its upstairs lounge for the Northside Networking Event. Business and property owners on the Northside are invited to chat and get to know each other over finger foods and drinks. The event is hosted by the Northside Business Partnership (NBP) and is a great chance to learn more about the benefits provided to NBP members. Businesses who are not part of the partnership can enter to win a free  year-long membership. The event is free and includes a cash bar. For more details, check out the flier below.

We hope to see you there!

Northside Networking Event Oct 13


Assumption Church Rededicates its 115 Year Old Organ

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • October 26, 2013

organ pic 2

Assumption Church is known for its beautiful atmosphere. No amount of words describing the ornate ceilings, colorful windows and towering pillars could do the space justice. Perhaps they can only be felt, experienced in person, among the booming notes of the Church’s organ, a grand instrument that sits on the top balcony overlooking the congregation.

This particular organ was first built by the George Hutchings Organ Company of Boston in 1898. At the time, Hutchings was one of the largest organ builders in the country, drawing national acclaim for an organ built for the Mission Church in Boston. In the early 1900s the Hutchings factory caught fire, destroying the files of all the instruments built up to that point. This loss of records limits the information we know about the organ at Assumption, adding a bit of mystery to the grand instrument.


Since its birth, the organ has gone through several repairs to keep the instrument in working condition. Tragedy first struck in 1934, on Easter Sunday, when the church caught fire, severely damaging the organ. The following year the instrument was sent to Utica where the Buhl Organ Company worked to rebuild the instrument. It resulted in a four manual build instead of the original three manual instrument, making it much larger.

Assumption Church enjoyed 50 years of music from the rebuilt organ. It wasn’t until the 1980s that major pieces needed fixing. Funding came from the Assumption’s renovation drives and resulted in enough money to repair the main division of the organ and completely remove the solo division which remained unusable. The Kerner and Merchant Organ Company of Syracuse was contracted for this rebuild, and another more recently, to repair the Swell, Choir, and Pedal divisions. Money for the second round of repairs came from a generous bequeath from the estate of Marie Salenske who so appreciated organ music, that she even owned her own small instrument.

With all repairs complete, the organ is now fully functioning again. This much-loved organ celebrates the combination of history and modernity, making it a perfect symbol for Assumption’s mission: “Step back in history and forward in faith.”

On Sunday, October 27th, Assumption Church invites the community to an organ re-dedication concert performed by the award-winning organ virtuoso, Adam Pajan. No stranger to Syracuse, Pajan has participated in various organ competitions in our city and has performed in the past at Assumption’s liturgy. This Sunday, experience Assumption Church in all its glory, surrounded by brilliant architecture and filled with the deep sound of the old organ, made anew.

More information can be found at www.assumptionchurchsyracuse.org


Photo Friday: Main Street Improvements

Written by Stasya Erickson  • October 25, 2013

Work continues on Syracuse’s “Skinny Building”, wedged between Francesca’s Cucina and the Northside CYO. Today, we watched workers remove radiators through the third floor window!

You can read up on the program and funds that make this work possible on our post, Preserving the Past while Celebrating the Future.

Photo Friday_Main Street Renovations


Celebrate a New Era of Urban Entrepreneurs at UP Start PRESENTS!

Written by admin  • October 24, 2013

This fall, Northside UP, in partnership with community partners, launched UP Start Syracuse – an innovative neighborhood entrepreneurship program. This collaborative program empowers the next generation of urban entrepreneurs to start businesses and improve the Syracuse community. UP Start will tap the hidden talents and pent up ambitions of our inner city residents, empowering individuals to become economic leaders in their neighborhoods and restoring vitality to Syracuse’s urban business districts.

The program just completed its first phase – an intensive small business training, customized for individuals from Syracuse’s urban neighborhoods, particularly immigrant and refugee communities. From this student pool, a smaller group will be selected to enter the program’s second phase, where they will receive comprehensive support and incubation services as they work to grow their businesses.

On November 18th, the public is invited to meet these dynamic entrepreneurs at UP Start Presents: A New Era of Urban Entrepreneurship. The event will take place at Small Plates restaurant, located at 116 Walton Street in Armory Square.  Come listen to business pitches, enjoy food and drink and support our emerging entrepreneurs. Tickets cost $20 and will directly contribute to seed funds made available to entrepreneurs as they prepare to launch successful businesses. Tickets are advance sale only and can be purchased at centerstateceo.com/events.

If you find yourself wanting to get involved behind-the-scenes, we have a number of opportunities on the horizon. Please contact Sarah Pallo, Program Coordinator, at spallo@northsideup.org or 315.299.8228 x 17.

Looking forward to celebrating together!

UP Start Presents Poster 11x17


Lead Safe Works Hard to Keep Us Safe

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • October 23, 2013

“Lead poisoning is a huge social problem that we can put our arms around,” Patrick Strodel, Operations Coordinator at Lead Safe, explains. He stands next to his desk, an X-ray Fluorescent (XRF) gun in hand ready to scan a test sheet of paint samples.  It’s something he uses regularly on the job for residential and commercial assessments. Any building that was painted before 1978 can have dangerous amounts of lead that can cause long-term damage.

IMG_1134He’s excited to show me how this instrument can get an accurate read on lead levels in paint, toys, and other objects. Once he’s done showing me all the data and what it means, he carefully packs it up in a locked box and moves on–he has much more to show me.

There’s a small lab filled with slides and samples, and he encourages me to take a look at several types of asbestos under a microscope. Next he gives me a tour of the classroom and his office. The windows overlook North Salina Street and pictures on the wall depict his family throughout the years. “We’re legacy Northsiders,” he smiles, “My father grew up here. He was an attorney, a do-gooder from German decent.” It seems that Patrick has inherited not only his father’s inclination to be on the Northside, but also his desire to do good: “I like to go home, put my head on the pillow and say, ‘I did good today,’” he nods for emphasis.

Lead Safe has tested nearly 20,000 places for lead since it began in 2000. When Rebecca Markus first founded the company, Lead Safe worked mostly with the City of Syracuse. Since then they’ve grown to partner with mostly non-profit organizations and private contractors throughout New York State. “We do whatever it takes and more,” Patrick explains when I ask him about Lead Safe’s success. “We know the laws, but aside from regulations, what does the client really need as an end product?” At the close of an assessment Patrick gives his recommendations for how to move forward, while keeping in mind that there may be limits because of budgets, etc.

One of Patrick’s favorite roles at Lead Safe, however, is in the classroom as an instructor. He teaches Environmental Protection Agency certification classes and refreshers for inspectors, renovators, project designers, and anyone who works in older homes. He also teaches an informational workshop just for homeowners.

IMG_1172“I can talk about lead all day. I can teach to your specific needs and experience and still follow federal regulations,” he says. He describes his teaching style as a “one-two punch of information and comedy” and tries to create trainings and presentations that aren’t boring. Students often tell him, “I learned more today in this refresher course than in the original one.”

Truly, there is much to learn. “In the 1920s it was considered good for your family to use lead-based paint in your home,” Patrick tells me. Because it doesn’t rust, mold wont grow on it, and it makes colors vibrant, lead-based paints are still used today on large ships and bridges, but it is banned from use in residential and commercial spaces, toys, and furniture. “It’s in dust, in chipping paint and you can’t always see it. Sometimes it’s at the atomic level.” He cautions, “There’s dust on toys, on the floor, and a kid can easily get it in their mouth.” In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), nearly half a million children living in the United States have elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to kids’ health. Lead poisoning affects brain cells and replaces healthy minerals (iron, calcium, zinc) in the blood stream. This can lead to speech and language problems, anemia, and/or decreased bone and muscle growth, especially in children who are the most vulnerable. Patrick’s passion is rooted in the reality of his profession: “We’re dealing with people’s lives,” he tells me.


This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, an awareness campaign lead by CDCP, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It urges parents to test children for lead poisoning and to learn more about companies like Lead Safe who can help assess the amount of lead in your home by investigating surfaces, taking samples, and using an XRF gun to determine lead concentration. To read more about Lead Safe and the good work they do, visit their website and blog.



On the Calendar: I-81 Meeting and Energy Workshop

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • October 22, 2013

There are two important events happening in the next several days: one is a community meeting that encourages people to talk openly about the I-81 Viaduct project and the other is a workshop that will save you money on your energy bills.

The New York State Department of Transportation is holding a Northside Community Meeting tonight, 6:30-8:00 PM. This is your chance to voice your opinions about how I-81 affects you and your community. Not a resident or business owner on the Northside? Check out the NYDOT website to find a meeting in your neighborhood.

On Sunday, check out the ‘Save Energy, Save Hours’ workshop from the Northeast Hawley Development Association. Learn about reducing your energy bills and different conservation methods. Attendees will also receive 3 compact florescent bulbs to bring home. The workshop is free, but space is limited. To register, call (315) 425‐1032 or email sarah@nehda.org.



Oct 28th Save Energy flyer

Photo Friday: Reclaimed

Written by Stasya Erickson  • October 18, 2013

One of the coolest parts about collaborating on Salt Works is getting an opportunity to see the milling process! In this photo, Green Train students and Salt Works team members hustle to place beams on the mill, shovel sawdust and de-nail timber.


The Story of Salt Works

Written by admin  • 

Salt Works with Photographs

There is a new social enterprise forming on the Near West Side. Neighborhood residents – graduates of Northside UP’s workforce training programs – are creating artisan furniture from reclaimed timber. It is a complex yet elegant puzzle, crafted over several years from three interlocking pieces: the wood itself, a workforce training program, and collaborations between several local partners. The venture is largely the brainchild of Near West Side Initiative (NWSI) director, Maarten Jacobs, and Northside UP director, Dominic Robinson. By taking time to understand and develop the reclaimed wood’s value, NWSI, Northside UP and other local partners are also helping to unlock human potential on the Near West Side.


After years of neglect, the former Lincoln and Case Supply buildings on Otisco Street had become a Near West Side eyesore. Residents referred to these adjoining warehouse buildings as the “Berlin wall”: a physical and figurative impediment to progress in the community. In 2009, NSWI purchased and redeveloped the 100-year old buildings. Through the Syracuse Center of Excellence, the NWSI began careful deconstruction and renovation starting with the Lincoln Building, preserving the massive wood beams and columns from which the buildings were constructed. According to Zeke Leonard, Assistant Professor in Syracuse University’s School of Design, the wood is old-growth hemlock, spruce, and yellow pine. Based on a ring count, some of the trees were at least 150 years old when felled. “It is safe to say,” Leonard comments, “that these trees were alive long before Syracuse existed …before the USA was even a country. They were venerable grand dames of the countryside and they were felled in a way that we are unlikely to find now.”

As the buildings took on new life, Jacobs and Robinson began talking with friends, partners and neighborhood residents about how the wood could also take on a second life, and how it could play a part in the revitalization of the Near West Side.


Two years ago, the Near West Side Initiative and Northside UP began to work together to develop a way to address poverty and unemployment within the neighborhood. Green Train, a program of Northside UP and CenterState CEO, was known as one of the most successful workforce programs in the area but was operating solely on the Northside. Jacobs and Robinson worked out a deal to bring Green Train to the Near West Side in 2011. Four Green Train programs have since taken place on the Near West Side. About 50 neighborhood residents have completed the program and gotten jobs in construction, home weatherization and other emerging green industries. Despite the success of the program, questions loomed about how to sustain its costs.

An idea surfaced about the potential for Green Train graduates to develop products that could generate revenues for the program. Program instructor, Andrew Erickson, wondered whether grads could learn to design and build artisan-quality furniture, and in so doing, expand their employability and career prospects.


Possible answers to Erickson’s questions unfolded as NSWI, Syracuse University (SU), and Northside UP began to envision a social enterprise that would employ workforce program graduates to build unique furnishings from the materials discovered during deconstruction, while mentoring them in skill and career development. Leonard suggested that his Industrial Design students could create prototypes for the graduates to construct.

Meanwhile, Habitat for Humanity – a longtime partner of the NWSI and Green Train — loaned the project workshop space at its headquarters on the Near West Side. With prototypes from design students in hand, two recent Green Train Graduates and Near Westside residents, Luis Vilella and Pedro Ignacio Diaz Ramos, began working full time to set up shop, create jigs, and craft pieces from the timbers. Initial products ranged from book-ends and cheese platters to large museum-quality benches.


Janie Mills, graduate of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Construction Management master’s program, has been contracted to manage the shop and business operations through December of 2013. With her help, Luis and Pedro will build upon the current model and products as NWSI, Northside UP and other partners further refine this new social enterprise.

Proceeds from sales will help to support the Green Train program. Future Green Train graduates will be offered paid roles in the workshop, honing craft and work readiness skills before entering the broader workforce as experienced craftspersons.

As Leonard comments, “celebrating the material that stood proudly in a forest for decades and then stood for so long inside the buildings and kept them standing, letting it have another life and another identity –and helping us teach Syracuse residents in the process– seems a perfect way to acknowledge the history and spirit of these long-dead trees.”

“Salt Works is a great experiment for us,” Robinson says. “Through it we believe that we have an opportunity to create meaningful employment opportunities within a green business, located within a low-income neighborhood. To do that, while generating funds for workforce programs, would be a huge breakthrough for our community.”

Enterprises like Salk Works can diversify organizations’ funding strategies while furthering their social mission. In our case, that mission is to build stronger, more sustainable communities in Syracuse and, eventually, to serve as a model for community economic development in other cities.

You can look forward to meeting with the Salt Works team and checking out their products this Saturday at the Salt Market.


Salt Works Team Web