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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Recap of the Employment Skills Gap Panel Discussion

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 29, 2015

Skills Gap banner

Last week, our director, Dominic Robinson, along with  Tim Penex (Director of SUNY Syracuse Education Opportunity Center [SEOC]), Representative John Katko, Amy Kremenek (Vice President  of Enrollment Development & Communications at OCC), Hussein Yerow (a SEOC student, Northside resident, and refugee from Kenya), Peter Waite (Executive Vice President of ProLiteracy), and Marchas Tait (Executive Director of Literacy CNY) were part of a panel to celebrate Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. The subject of the discussion, the employment skills gap in our region, drew from findings in the latest report from the Onondaga Citizen’s League: Understanding the Employment Skills Gap in Central New York.

The panelists were all able to speak to different aspects of the issue, including federal legislation, college and career readiness, and the need for additional resources. What many of the panelists emphasized, however, was a strong collaborative approach to lessening the gap. “Collaborate,” Tim Penix explained, “that’s going to be the strength of our community.” Similarly, Dominic argued for the importance of a community-wide and an asset-based approach to “bring economic opportunity back into our communities and invigorate our local economy.” “We need to understand,” Dominic emphasized, “that we can’t do it alone.”

The event ended with questions from the audience and further discussions about funding and the role on Congress. To view a series of photos from the event, visit ProLiteracy’s Flickr account.


Photo Friday: A turn toward autumn outside Our Lady of Pompei

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 25, 2015


The Back Yard Cookout: Northside Style

Written by Joe Russo  • September 24, 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.”


Family gatherings create my strongest memories. Among the earliest of my recollections were the backyard cookouts. Grandpa Emmi’s house on Grumbach Ave was adjacent to Schiller Park. It was a large back yard by city standards. Every trip to Grandpa’s house was an adventure. The garden was cultivated to grow not only tomatoes but also a diverse variety of vegetables. Fruit trees and a grape arbor complimented garden. It seemed like every plant in Grandpa’s backyard produced something to eat.

Cousins, laughter and adventure attracted me to the backyard on Grumbach Ave. I remember that whenever we walked into the garden to marvel at the vegetables we could hear Grandpa raising his voice, warning us about the perils of stepping on one of his hand nurtured plants. He would distract us with something that smelled and tasted delightful, finocchio(fennel). The “finnocch” grew like a weed at the edge of the garden. It was irresistibly attractive. It smelled and tasted like licorice. The herb seemed to have a calming effect on the cousins and myself. The large man with the booming voice became the grandfather with the big smile and the nurturing laugh.

The family is not as tightly knit as it once was. Cousins have moved to California, Connecticut, Colorado, the Netherlands and Virginia. Regular and frequent gatherings just have not been possible. Over the years a cousin or an aunt will organize a get together and we all come with a smile and a plate of food. We all say this happens too infrequently and we should do it more often. But busy lives and growing children often take us in a different direction.

Just a “couple two tree”(a northside expression) weeks ago my brother came home from California for a visit. It has been a while and I felt something special was necessary to welcome Armand home. I decided to host a backyard barbeque just as my cousin Theresa did last year. I received a Bocce ball set for Christmas and this would be the perfect time to try it out. We never did play Bocce. Conversation and laughter seemed more important. My backyard doesn’t stand up to Grandpa’s. I have too many trees and lots of shade, not ideal for growing tomatoes. I tried to grow finocchio but the neighborhood deer got to it first. I wonder if it had the same calming effect.

Almost everyone showed up to celebrate. My brother enjoyed being the guest of honor. My cousins and aunts brought laughter and food. Somehow I forgot to take even one picture. But I wondered to myself, had we managed to create that same old fashioned feeling of family that I remembered from Grumbach Ave. The family has changed significantly over the years. Marriage has brought in new members. Not only are most of my family members not Italian but most have not grown up on the northside. As I stood in the kitchen between platters of barbecued chicken and pans of eggplant parmigiana my Aunt Jenny shouted out over the merriment, “Joey, where do you keep the muppeens?” “Over here by the refrigerator”, I replied. At this moment I knew the family still had a connection to the old northside. Without even thinking about it Aunt Jen brought the spirit of the old northside to our gathering. Everyone was pitching in to make this memory a lasting one.

On the Calendar: VinoStock

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 22, 2015

VinoStock banner

This week, Vinomania is celebrating 15 years in businesses with “3 days of peace, love, and wine.” VinoStock will begin Thursday evening and extend into the weekend, beginning at 4:00 PM on Friday and 3:00 PM on Saturday. Along with wine, food will be available from Lune Chocolat, Zimmers Bakes, Recess Coffee, 2 Kids Goat Farm, and more. For all the VinoStock details, check out the event flyer.

To learn more about Vinomania, visit their website and like them on Facebook.

Free Photo Seminars at Ra-Lin Discount

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 21, 2015

ra-lin banner

From noon to 4:00 PM today Ra-Lin is hosting a Tamron Tailgate Tour, featuring a variety of sessions for individuals interested in taking better photos. The event begins with three free mini-sessions:

12:00 – 12:45 PM: Achieving Perfect Exposure

1:00 – 2:30 PM: Portfolio and Image Review

3:00 – 3:34 PM: Understanding Your Digital Darkroom

The Tamron Photographer Tech Team will be on hand throughout the event to answer any of your photo questions. There will also be a free lunch (12:00 – 2:00 PM), giveaways and prizes, and a chance to “test drive” some of Tamron’s camera lenses.

As an added bonus, Tamron will also lead an evening seminar on Wednesday from 7:00 – 9:00 PM. This seminar, entitled, “The Field Guide to Inspired Photography: See It, Capture It, Work It,” will help you “capture top-notch images while finding your own style.” Tickets for this session are $25 and can be purchased online here. Seating is limited.

For more details, view the Tamron event flier here.

Photo Friday: Pets of the Northside

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 18, 2015

animals of the Northside collage

Photo Friday: Shaded dwelling at close of day

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 11, 2015

To learn more about the history and architecture of Hawley-Green’s most beautiful homes and gardens (like this one!), call NEHDA at (315) 425-1032 and get your ticket for tomorrow’s Home & Garden Tour.

Hawley-Green house

On the Calendar: Housing Tour, Puppet Performance, and Art Opening

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 9, 2015


This Saturday, Open Hand Theater, the Northeast Hawley Development Association (NEHDA), and ArtRage Gallery are all hosting events in our neighborhood.


Historic Hawley-Green Home & Garden Tour

Starts at 11:00 AM; last tour leaves at 3:00 PM

Meet at The First Lutheran Church, 501 James Street

NEHDA has organized a tour of some Hawley-Green’s most stunning homes and gardens. Much of the architecture dates back to the Victorian era and includes intricate details and color combinations. Participants will learn the history behind many of these residential buildings during a guided tour of the neighborhood. Tickets are $15 in advance (call 315-425-1032 to make your order) and $20 the day of the event. Lunch at The Dolores Community Garden is included in the ticket price.


The Chocolate War

11:00 – 11:45 AM

Open Hand Theater, 518 Prospect Avenue

Join Open Hand Theater’s talented puppeteers during a performance of  The Chocolate War, the story of ” two inseparable pals who tumble into a series of haphazard events that lead to a catastrophic quarrel.” Like many of Open Hand’s shows, this performances is enjoyed by children and adults alike, but is best suited for grades K-6. As the plot thickens, the audience will delight in puppets that grow as the conflict develops. To purchase tickets, visit Open Hand’s website or call the box office at 476-0466.


The Global Citizen Opening Reception and Artist Talk

Artist Talk: 4:00 – 5:00 PM |  Reception: 7:00 – 9:00 PM

ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Avenue

The graphic art of Marlena Buczek Smith depicts “struggles for peace, social justice, environmental defense, and liberation from oppression.” This exhibit highlights the poster, a form that is so often utilized “for the public dissemination of ideas, information, and opinion” whether they be for political or educational gains. To read the artists’ statement, visit ArtRage’s website. The Global Citizen is on display until October 24 during gallery hours.


Best of Syracuse: Vote for Northside Businesses

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 8, 2015

Best of Voting

The Syracuse New Times is asking the Syracuse community to weigh in on The Best of Syracuse, a contest where individuals vote on their favorite businesses and local personalities in a variety of different categories. This year, several of our Northside Business Partnership (NBP) members are in the running:


Best Spot for Date Night

Francesca’s Cucina


Best Smoke Shop

Rocky’s Cigars


Best LGBT-friendly Bar

Laci’s Tapas Bar


Best Birthday Cakes and Cupcakes

Biscotti Cafe and Gelateria 


Best Local Chef

Michael Brown of Laci’s Tapas Bar


Voting ends September 20 at midnight. Visit SyracuseNewTimes.com to place your vote.

Photo Friday: Rooftop plot

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 4, 2015

rooftop garden