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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Photo Friday: So few summer afternoons left

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 28, 2015


My Sister the Artist

Written by Joe Russo  • August 27, 2015

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.”

My sister, Maria, is an artist. She is not a painter or a sculptor. However, like so many members of my family, she creates art in her everyday life. My father made wood carvings. My grandfather made wine. PJ my Cousin Annie’s son works in pen and ink. His sensitive portrait of his grandfather, my Uncle Sam, will bring a tear to the eye of anyone who knew Uncle Sam.

PJ's drawing of Uncle Sam and my cousin Annie.

PJ’s drawing of Uncle Sam and my cousin Annie.

My cousin Rhea lives in Cazenovia and she goes for walks with her camera. She comes back with beautiful colorful works of art.

An example of cousin Rhea's work.

An example of cousin Rhea’s work.


Maria expresses her art in a different way. She lives in the Netherlands and I remember a visit from a number of years ago. She wanted to make a special Thai chicken recipe with peanut sauce. As Maria went through a list of ingredients she needed to make this special food it became clear that a trip to the grocery store would be necessary. I impatiently said, “They have that peanut sauce in the Asian food aisle.” My sister replied, “No way! I’m not using some prepared sauce, it won’t even come close to the flavor I need.” So, we picked up all the ingredients mostly at the Real Food Co-op. And then I watched her make the sauce.

She didn’t use a recipe. The ingredients and method came right from her heart. It involved much tasting and mixing. She explained each step in a way that made me feel that this was not just a meal, but a life experience. I believe that anyone who tasted that sauce would have agreed, it was a work of art.

Maria at one time lived on the Canary Islands. She lived on Tenerife the largest island of this volcanic archipelago. And she had a job, growing orchids. Orchids for export are a significant industry for the Canary Islands.  In the morning she would tend to the plants watering, nurturing, and trimming, whatever an orchid needs to flourish. In this Latin country the hours of 12 to 4 are reserved for siesta time. And what better way to enjoy this time of rest than a couple of hours of beach time at one of Tenerife’s beautiful beaches. It must have been during this time that Maria made some of the most beautiful postcards I have ever seen. Hand painted in water colors the volcanic mountains, the black beach sand and the blue green water, an unusual place for anyone but a great place for an artist.

Maria and my father in front of the Everson Museum.

Maria and my father in front of the Everson Museum.

Maria was a seamstress as well. She designed and made clothes for herself. Some of her creations were sold in Rotterdam boutiques. When she was young and traveled a lot sometimes money would just run out. In Europe open air markets flourish. She came up with a design for a shoulder bag that had universal appeal. Maria was able to haggle for a good price on the fabric she needed, then stitch together a practical and useful item that was easily sold in almost any market, especially in southern Europe.

I remember a photo of my sister holding a basket of grapes just picked from a vineyard in Sicily. I don’t have a copy of that photo but it struck a chord. I remember holding it and looking at it for several minutes just to marvel at my sister’s lifestyle. It was simple and close to the earth without bragging or flaunting. It was the life of an artist. Maria gave back more than she took. I have always admired her for her lifestyle but more so for the creative way she does everything.

Photo Friday: Former frame shop turns art gallery on Oak Street

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 21, 2015

This summer, two graduates from SU transformed a “versatile space” at 1100 Oak Street into an art gallery and sculpture studio, Apostrophe’ S. Their mission is “to produce innovative exhibitions and events that share contemporary art with the growing North Side and the surrounding communities.” To stay up-to-date on their events and happenings, “like” them on Facebook.

Apostrophe'S for FB

Get Your Tickets: Laci’s 5th Annual Giveback Party

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 18, 2015

Laci's party banner

Laci’s has built a reputation for delicious and beautiful tapas, a fun atmosphere, and a commitment to community. Their 5th Annual Give Back Party will magnify all these pieces, featuring a variety of food and drink, live music from The Mix Tapes, raffles, and a vendor showcase. During this year’s celebration, all proceeds will benefit David’s Refuge, a local non-profit that “cares for the caregiver.”

Advance tickets are available for $30 through davidsrefuge.org. They will also be sold at the door for $40. To learn more about the event, visit Laci’s Tapas Bar on Facebook and watch the video below.


Photo Friday: In flight above the Flat Iron

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 14, 2015

Flat Iron FB

AmeriCorps VISTA Neighborhood Tours

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 13, 2015

VISTA banner 1

On Monday, August 3, a group of four individuals, all with different backgrounds and interests, entered the CenterState CEO office to learn more about their new AmeriCorps VISTA positions and the neighborhoods where they will be working. For the next year, Kiva, Liz, Zach, and Camellia will help implement the Community Prosperity Initiative that seeks to more efficiently knit together community partnerships to achieve greater impact through workforce development, business development, and neighborhood revitalization throughout the City of Syracuse, and expects to benefit low-income, underserved community residents looking to improve their lives by participating in the economy.

Much of their first week was spent touring the Northside, Near West Side, and Southwest neighborhoods and getting acclimated to the projects and colleagues they’ll be working with during their time at four of our partner sites: Home HeadQuarters,the Near Westside InitiativeSyracuse Model Neighborhood Facility, Inc., and the Northeast Hawley Development Association, Inc. – NEHDA, Inc. Although the VISTAs will be based at different sites, their work will exist across neighborhoods, merging economic and community development with place.

Our aim is to create a relationship-based, action-oriented approach that can help our partners transfer hidden potential into opportunity and prosperity.

banner collage

To view a series of photos from the neighborhood tours, check out our Facebook album.

Dominic Shares His Love of Syracuse with Syracuse.com

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 10, 2015


Our director, Dominic, appeared in a Syracuse.com spotlight over the weekend to discuss  his love for Syracuse and his transition from being known as the son of Greg Robinson (former coach of the SU football team) to a leader in community prosperity.

Dominic Robinson could have followed his parents out of town. He could have gone on to do social work in any American city in need of young, creative energy to revitalize neighborhoods.

A job in any other city would offer a whole lot more anonymity for the son of Coach Greg Robinson.

So why did he stay in Syracuse?

Syracuse offered a special recipe of serendipity, trust and friendship that Robinson does not think he could replicate anywhere else.

Robinson, now 36, said he was allowed to take off with no boundaries.

He found equally dedicated friends with complementary skills — detail-oriented people to match his big ideas.”

To read the article in its entirety, visit Syracuse.com.

Photo Friday: Welcome VISTAs!

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 7, 2015

This week we helped orient a new group of AmeriCorps VISTAs who will be at different partner sites throughout the City, including the Near Westside Initiative, Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility, Inc.Home HeadQuarters, and Northeast Hawley Development Association. We’ll post more photos and details next week!

VISTA group shot

On the Calendar: Wine Tasting and Gonstermachers

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 6, 2015


This Friday and Saturday, Vinomania and ArtRage Gallery are hosting two special events on the Northside.

Friday, August 7, 4:30 – 6:30 PM

The Vinoman is pairing wine and chocolate during a free tasting event at Vinomania on Pearl Street. Owner, Gary Decker, will chose a section of wines from his collection and invite the public into his unique storefront filled with a large variety of wine and spirits as well as whimsical and delightfully weird decor. Lune Chocolat will also be on hand with a selection of beautiful candies with natural ingredients that will “fill your soul with chocolate.” Join the Facebook invite HERE.


Saturday, August 8, 8:00 – 10:00 PM

ArtRage is opening their gallery space for a live concert with Gonstermachers, a group describes as “So much talent and personality . . .  live performances are just beyond words” by Paula Chapman from WAER FM. Tickets are on a sliding scale between $10 and $20 at the door. All proceeds benefit ArtRage and their mission “to exhibit progressive art that inspires resistance and promotes social awareness; supports social justice, challenges preconceptions and encourages cultural change.” Join the Facebook invite HERE.

Support Coop Fed’s Indiegogo Campiagn

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 3, 2015

Indiegogo promo

Over the past 50 days, our partners at Cooperative Federal have been fundraising on Indiegogo to help sustain their In-School Savings Branches. This program equips teens with the skills they need to “prepare for a lifetime of financial strength” and “rise above the statistics.” Many of Coop Fed’s friends have been showing their support for the campaign with a series of photos that explain how a credit union in their high school would have influenced the decisions they made as young adults. We were excited to see two familiar faces from our staff, Stasya and Jonathan, sharing their answers.

Cooperative Federal has 2 more days left on Indiegogo to reach their goal of $5,000–and they’re almost there! To read the full story, watch the video, and contribute, click here. To follow the remainder of the campaign, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.