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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Photo Friday: Down the Douglas Street Incline

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 29, 2016

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On the Calendar: Save Energy, Save Dollars Workshop + “Blackout” Exhibition Opening

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 28, 2016

NEHDA + ArtRage events

The Northeast Hawley Development Association (NEHDA) and ArtRage Gallery have two events coming up next week.

Wednesday, February 3 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM

NEHDA is hosting “Save Energy, Save Dollar$,” a free workshop led by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County. Throughout the class, participants will:

• Identify the biggest energy users in the home
• Learn low-cost and no-cost ways to reduce energy bills
• See examples of low-cost energy saving tools and supplies
• Receive information on energy grants and low-interest loans
• Create an individual Action Plan

Each household present will receive free energy efficient light bulbs. To register, call (315) 425-1032. Seats are limited.


Saturday, February 6 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM

ArtRage Gallery is having an opening reception for their new exhibition, BLACKOUT: Through the Veiled Eyes of Others, Racist Memorabilia from the Collection of William Berry, Jr. ArtRage warns that the show does contain offensive material, but in order to make a statement: “This exhibition invites viewers to confront how everyday objects support and perpetuate racism. Berry’s collection highlights how ordinary household artifacts have distorted how generations of Americans view people of African descent as somehow less than human. Mainstream media may refer to a post-racial 21st century America, but stereotypes and distortions of Black people persist nonetheless. ”

The exhibition will remain on display until March 19th during ArtRage’s business hours.

Cars, Customers, and Community Development: My Afternoon at Davco Performance Automotive

Written by Liz Wierbinski  • January 27, 2016

Liz2Liz is a graduate of SUNY Albany with a master’s degree in Social Work. She’s currently working with NEHDA and Northside UP as our Community Prosperity AmeriCorps VISTA.

As part of our collaboration with NEHDA, we’ve asked her to write guest posts for us each month as she explores the Northside, its businesses and residents.  All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. You can learn more about the organization by visiting their website and Facebook


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I made my way over to Davco Performance Automotive on 102 Catawba St. the morning after Syracuse’s first big snowstorm of the season. On the way, my car got stuck in the snow and two sensors kicked on as a reminder that I needed this visit for more than professional reasons. Once I reached their office, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dave and Linda Campbell, the owners of Davco. We chatted about where they’d started and where they are now, some myths about car shops, the unique qualities of Davco, and what they love about their work. Considering the most advanced thing I know about cars is how to put air in my tires, suffice it to say that I learned a lot – not just about some technical automotive issues but more about the dedicated people working to make Syracuse’s Northside a better place.


They are Knowledgeable.

When they moved to Syracuse from Long Island 30 years ago in 1986, Dave first began selling tools to get a feel for the Northside and to determine if an auto shop would fare well in this area. They decided to stick around and have been providing superior automotive service ever since. Dave is the technical advisor at Davco and has 35+ years in the trade, continually honing his skills by being updated with the latest and best in technical information available. He is extremely well-rounded – an outcome of years of experience being a transmission installer, rebuilder, shop manager, and an instructor at APEX Technical School in Manhattan. Tim, their technician, is also especially good at what he does and stays up-to-date by regularly attending educational workshops and seminars.

It is because of this level of knowledge that they are able to dispel many common myths about automotive care. One such myth is if you plug your car into a computer, a code will pop up telling you exactly what is wrong with it. This is not exactly true. Code scanners may give you an idea of what could potentially be wrong, but a correct diagnosis involves a series of observations and tests done by an informed technician. Part of this “myth busting” approach is apparent in their automotive blog and the informative videos that play on a TV in their waiting room. The employees at Davco are teachers of the trade and eager for the opportunity to share their knowledge.


They are Genuine & Honest.

One of the first things Dave and Linda explained to me was that they are a small, independent facility and would like to stay that way. Their size allows them to be personable with their customers and to develop trusting relationships that often lead to friendships, as Linda pointed out.  Dave shared that cultivating these close-knit relationships with customers is one of his favorite things about his job. Developing this sense of trust is something Davco strongly values and what sets them apart from other repair shops. They are customer-focused and determined to fix your car correctly the first time. Being able to fix a frustrated customer’s problem is one of the other parts of the job that Dave truly loves. He and Linda gave a fair warning that spending time correctly diagnosing and repairing the issue may cost more upfront. However, it will save time and money down the road that would otherwise come as a result of an inadequate repair job.

In many ways, their honesty goes against a very common myth about auto shops: they always try to cheat their customers. In reality, shops must charge a mark-up on parts in order to cover all the overhead costs that go into actually acquiring the parts. At Davco, they spend a great deal of time researching the parts in order to choose the correct ones that won’t fail on you in a month’s time. Customers often want to buy their own parts to lower the total cost of the repair. Dave clarified that this actually causes more work and costs in the long run because it can’t be warrantied under that auto shop and there is also a liability issue. Davco recognizes the responsibility to yourself and others that comes with owning a car, so they want to make sure that they are providing high-quality and honest work that will let them go to sleep that night with a clear conscience. Yet, they understand that we do not live in a perfect world and people make mistakes. For example, Linda told the story from a number of years ago when an employee could not remember if he hand-torqued each wheel on a car before the customer drove it home, which is a service Davco promises to its customers. Upon hearing about this, Dave took it upon himself to go to that customer’s house in the pouring rain to hand torque the wheels on their car. They try their best to maintain a balance between cost and high quality, doing the job well the first time and following through on their promises.


They are Family-oriented.

This is a constant theme that permeates all aspects of Davco. Not only are they family-run and owned, they also consider their employees as family. Dave and Linda invest in their employees and go through life with them. They see them grow up, get married, and have kids. They know that their employees have lives outside of Davco, and as such, understand the importance of having time off. Likewise, they treat their customers like family by being open and honest with them and truly caring that they receive the best service.


They are Community-oriented.

Building a strong, successful, and thriving community is no easy task. Dave and Linda saw the poor condition North Salina Street was in when they moved here, but they also saw its strengths and potential. One of these strengths is the wonderful people that reside on the Northside. They recognize that the refugee community is very prominent here and want to help them, especially because they are often taken advantage of in the automotive industry. They also see the business community on the Northside as a strength.  They aim to support their fellow local businesses and are active board members of the Northside Business Partnership (NBP), an organized group of individuals from the Northside’s business community working to improve the economic vitality of the neighborhood. Without a doubt, Dave and Linda are strong Northside advocates working to make a difference.


Talking with Dave and Linda made me feel refreshed. It was incredibly uplifting to hear how dedicated they are to the “bigger picture” as an independent business in our neighborhood. Of course they want to fix cars—and they do so with knowledge and honesty at the forefront—but, they also want to improve their customers’ lives and strengthen our community.


Davco banner

For more information about Davco’s services, including great deals like the Car Care Club, free scans, and a coupon for $5 off your next oil change, stop in or give them a call (315-422-1100). To read more about Davco’s history, services, and specials, check out their website.

To learn more about NBP, contact business@northsideup.org.



Photo Friday: “WI$E UP”

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 22, 2016

Wise Up

Rome is Like a Lasagna

Written by Joe Russo  • January 21, 2016

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.”


Snapshots from Italy

“Where are your ancestors from?” she said with a beautiful smile and a slight accent. “From Sicily” I replied. “Do you know of Mount Etna?” I asked. “Of course, Sicilia, I am from the south also.” I was checking in at an Italian Bed and Breakfast just south of Rome. Actually it is called an “Agriturismo.” An “Agriturismo” is much more than what we call a Bed and Breakfast. The woman was escorting my wife and me to our room at Corte in Fiori. It is in the Province of Lazio just south of Rome. This is my second trip to Italy but it promised to be a better look at the everyday life and culture my ancestors talked about with such affection. “Are you from an Italian community?” she asked. “Well, I’m from America,” I said thinking she misunderstood me. “No, I mean where you live are there other Americans of Italian origin?” “Oh, now I understand,” was my reply.

She was trying to find common ground. Italians living in our homeland and Italians from the northside are very proud of their culture. Even though my ancestors immigrated to America almost 100 years ago a link could be found between today and yesterday. The message from our Italian host was that Italian culture is timeless and without borders.

Five days later we were traveling to Rome. Our tour guide Tazatianna was bringing us to “Ara Pacis Augustae,” the Altar of Augustan Peace. Before going to the city of Rome our group visited Etruscan, Medieval and Renaissance archaeological sites. Tazatianna was explaining how the 2,000-year-old Ara Pacis was found beneath twelve feet of silt. It was in the flood plain of the Tiber River.  This is why “in Roma there are no subways” Tazatianna said. Her explanation continued complete with expressive hand gestures, “Roma is like a lasagna with many layers of interesting ingredients,” she explained. “When the archeologists find remains from the Renaissance, they dig further and find artifacts from the medieval period, then further down are the Etruscans.” Italy is multicultural in a different way. This culture has evolved over thousands of years. In America we don’t have buildings and gargoyles made of limestone to teach us the lessons of the past.

The northside is our archaeological site. Over the past 200 years a variety of ethnic, religious and cultural groups have emigrated to the northside. The Irish laborers dug the ditch that would become the canal with a pick and a shovel. The German brew masters plied their craft on the old northside and left behind crumbling brick buildings. The Italian bakeries still practice their craft. Not as many as in the past, but their brick-lined ovens still produce a crust that cannot be duplicated by super market bakers.  When I look back on our recent trip it seems to me that the vacant German breweries are similar to the Roman ruins found at Ostia Antica.

One could say that the northside is like lasagna. The northside is multi-layered, multicultural and open to interpretation. We cannot ask those who  once lived  in Ostica Antica some 2,000 years ago which was their favorite store for fresh fruit, or what was their favorite stage performance at the local amphitheater. Old time northsiders aren’t around to tell us about their favorite local jazz group playing at Sorrento’s or whether they preferred the Pilsner or the Bock beers from a local brewery. But we have our imagination to fill in the blanks; while another layer is being added to that lasagna right now as a new wave of immigrants’ add their cultures to a northside mosaic that keeps evolving.

What Does it Mean to Be an Active Neighbor?

Written by Lexie Kwiek  • January 20, 2016

Lexie2_for webEditor’s Note: Lexie is a proud AmeriCorps VISTA alum with a master’s degree in Communications & New Media Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. She currently works as the Volunteer & Community Engagement Coordinator for the Syracuse Northeast Community Center and NEHDA. We’ve asked her to write guest posts for us, taking a deeper look into the Northside, its businesses, organizations, and residents. Her posts can be found under the “Syracuse Northeast Community Center” and the “NEHDA” categories.



Sarah McIlvain has lived in her house on the Northside since 1972; both of her children graduated from Henninger High School; she has stained glass windows from ArtRage hanging in her kitchen. In many ways she’s similar to the Northsiders who spend much of their lives in our neighborhood, except that she’s sat on more Syracuse Boards than most people can name.

Sarah is an active neighbor who is passionate about shaping her community and feeling connected to her neighborhood. In 2015 she retired from the Citizen Review Board, where she spent years reviewing cases and taking action on formal complaints. Before joining the Citizen Review Board, Sarah spent eight years on the Community Development Block Grant’s Citizen Advisory Board, where she reviewed grant applications and outcomes. She’s also been on the board for the Cornell Cooperative Extension and a number of other organizations in the City.

But if you ask Sarah what her favorite projects were, many of them do not come with an official title.

She enjoyed helping organize SU Maxwell Students to design a “Participation in Government” course that they brought to local high schools. She also enjoyed bringing together 20 architecture students to look at the design of vacant churches on the Northside. She explains that the project didn’t create tangible results, but it did inform future architects about what can happen to these structures as the world changes around them.

“I come up with ideas and find people to put them into action,” Sarah explains about her love for community engagement. One such idea was implemented during her involvement in Salt City DISHES. She loved the event, but worked to establish debrief meetings for the planning committee post-event. “Without a discussion, how could there be improvement?” she wondered.

Throughout her experiences, Sarah has identified the necessity of positivity when building community. “We all need something to celebrate,” she said, but warns that the positivity must be organic. A recent example of this came from the “Lights on the Northside” contest, where local businesses competed to have the best holiday decorations. The process of decorating and voting brought the community together to share in the holiday experience.

While our city needs this connectedness, Sarah admits to not having all of the answers. One important lesson that she shared is: “there are good people doing things in a way that I would never do them and they’re happy!” She learned this through her many travels—from studying abroad in Nigeria, to visiting Italy, Spain, France, Chile, and Argentina (just to name a few). Sarah has experienced women digging trenches in silk saris; she has stayed in hotel rooms where you could touch both walls while laying in bed; she has experimented with new haircuts and jokingly warns: “French hairdressers do not layer the same way as Americans.” When exploring new ideas, she says, you have to abandon the belief that you know the best way to do things.

So, what does it mean to be an active neighbor? It means getting involved where you can, and asking questions when you don’t have an answer. It means watching your city change, and learning from new and different people to stay informed.

Photo Friday: Snowy canopy on Gertrude Street

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 15, 2016

Winter frame

Video From CNY Community Foundation: Syracuse Restaurant Gets “Up Started!”

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 14, 2016

We’re excited to see Dan Cowen, our Program Manager for Sustainable Business Initiatives, and UP Start business owner Zaw Nyein of Aloha Japanese Bento Express, featured in a video from the Central New York Community Foundation. The video was part of their E-Newsletter, Smart Stories, which regularly showcases their donors and organizational partners. To read the entire newsletter, click here.


Experience the Karen culture on Butternut Street

Written by Liz Wierbinski  • January 13, 2016

Liz2Liz is a graduate of SUNY Albany with a master’s degree in Social Work. She’s currently working with NEHDA and Northside UP as our Community Prosperity AmeriCorps VISTA.

As part of our collaboration with NEHDA, we’ve asked her to write guest posts for us each month as she explores the Northside, its businesses and residents.  All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. You can learn more about the organization by visiting their website and Facebook


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Two weeks ago a new ethnic store opened its doors on the Northside, founded by a member of the Karen (pronounced Kuh-REHN) ethnic minority group. The Karen people are from the border region between Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma). Though a significant number of Karen people have been resettled in Syracuse as refugees, this is the first store of its kind. The store, Thoo Moei Klo, is named after the river that serves as the natural boundary for that region.

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The products you can purchase at Thoo Moei Klo are mostly handmade fair trade items, crafted by villagers from northwest Thailand and the Eastern Myanmar region. The store sells cultural clothing, food, accessories, beauty products and treasured cultural items. The owners are particularly proud of selling De Leaf Thanaka beauty products because they are the first store in America to offer this product line. Thanaka is a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark and is a distinctive feature of Myanmar, where Thanaka trees grow abundantly. To learn more about this traditional beauty secret, be sure to stop in and speak with the owners, who are excited to share their culture and products with our community.

Thoo Moei Klo is open Weekdays 10 AM – 8 PM, Saturdays 10 AM – 8 PM, and is closed on Sundays.

For more information, visit their website or contact Thoo Moei Klo (315-802-7505). To stay up-to-date on the products they offer, follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook.


AmeriCorps VISTA Openings: Southwest Community Center

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 12, 2016

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Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility, Inc. (SMNF), the managing entity of the Southwest Community Center, is looking to fill a position through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. This individual will primarily assist SMNF in duties that include leading a community process to create a work-readiness program to help residents prepare for participation in Work Train, as well as conduct property assessments, assist with housing development activities, and support the development of the neighborhood’s fledgling business association. For all the details, view the posting here.

As part of their VISTA-ship, individuals will serve under the Community Prosperity Initiative and will work collaboratively with CenterState CEO and other VISTA sites, including Coopertaive Federal, the Near Westside Initiative, the Northeast Hawley Development Association, Inc., and Home HeadQuarters.