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Monthly Archives: August 2017

“What’s For Dinner?”: Featuring Maggie Moore

Written by Rachel Nolte  • August 31, 2017


Editor’s Note: Rachel is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) at NEHDA for the year. Her roll involves a variety of tasks, such as recruiting volunteers and applying for funding opportunities to plan really cool, really fun events that benefit the community. Rachel graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BFA in Sculpture and a minor in psychology. She spent the past year serving in another AmeriCorps program where she traveled the state of New York to help out with various environmental projects. As part of Rachel’s work with NEHDA, she is writing some posts for us to share. All of her posts can be found under the “NEHDA” category. To learn more about NEHDA, visit their website and Facebook.



“I am most excited to work at NEHDA because of the people. Everyone here is so friendly and passionate about what they do. I feel privileged to serve my year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at NEHDA.” - Maggie Moore

“I am most excited to work at NEHDA because of the people. Everyone here is so friendly and passionate about what they do. I feel privileged to serve my year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at NEHDA.” – Maggie Moore


Maggie works for NEHDA and the NPC (Neighborhood Preservation Coalition) as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). She is a welcome new presence in the office and we look forward to seeing what she accomplishes during her time with us. 


Question: Where are you from?

Maggie: I was born in Vallejo, California, which is across the bay from San Francisco. I spent most of my time growing up in Cazenovia, New York, outside of Syracuse.


Q: What drew you to NEHDA?

M: I knew I wanted to do AmeriCorps and I knew I wanted to stay in Syracuse. So NEHDA just seemed like a great organization. I was especially interested in the work that you did helping different businesses and things like that (Side note: Throughout my VISTA year, I’ve done a lot of work with the Northside Business Partnership). I thought that was cool and different from some of the other AmeriCorps programs that I saw.


Q: What do you like about the area?

M: Well, I’m married so I wanted to live with my husband. We just got married, so I’m not sick of him yet (laughter). Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll move away for a program.


Q: What are you most excited about with your new position?

M: I’m mostly excited to learn more about advocacy with the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition. I know I get to go to a few meetings in Albany with my site director, Mike [La Flair] and so I’m excited to see how those meetings go.


Q: For those who are not familiar with the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, could you tell me a little more about it?

M: Yeah. The Neighborhood Preservation Coalition (NPC) is based out of Albany, and then they have them all over. So, New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and they even have rural NPCs. NEHDA is actually an NPC. They’re nonprofit organizations that do community development in a specific area. So for Syracuse, there’s some on the Northside of Syracuse, the Southside, the Westside, and the different neighborhoods. Ithaca has an NPC, Watertown has an NPC, so they’re different nonprofit organizations that fall under the community development umbrella. A lot of times, they do work with affordable housing.


Q: Do you have a strong interest in housing?

M: I think growing up in Syracuse, I always saw all the empty and boarded-up houses, and it’s really too bad, I know a lot of people need affordable housing. So when I interviewed with NEHDA it was cool to see—on their walls, they have pictures of houses that they have worked on or given money to work on. So it was cool to see that they care about the way that their community looks and that people have access to affordable housing. Then it makes your neighborhood look better, too.




Q: Do you have a favorite business on the Northside yet?

M: I don’t. I just had lunch at Mi Casita today and it was SO delicious and I’m stuffed. It was great.


Q: Speaking of food, What’s for Dinner??!

M: My vegan friends visited and inspired me to try cooking tofu.


Tofu Stir Fry:

– Pre-marinated and baked tofu, teriyaki flavored (“Tofubaked” is the brand!)

– yellow squash

– zucchini 

– red + green bell peppers

– red onion

– broccoli

– rice

Cook desired amount of rice.

Combine veggies in a frying pan with some oil, salt, pepper, and any spices your heart desires. Add a stir fry or teriyaki sauce. Cook veggies, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes and then add in chopped tofu. Cook another few minutes until veggies are tender and tofu is warm.

*Feel free to use any vegetables you have on hand, this just happens to be what I have in my fridge at the moment*

Top rice with tofu mixture and enjoy!


Photo Friday: NEHDA’s Community Photography Show

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 25, 2017

Photo credit: David Haas. To view all of the submissions to the Northside Photography Show, visit: www.facebook.com/pg/NehdaInc/photos/?tab=album&album_id=839331309570203

Photo credit: David Haas. To view all of the submissions to the Northside Photography Show, visit: www.facebook.com/pg/NehdaInc/photos/?tab=album&album_id=839331309570203

This collage by David Haas was submitted to NEHDA to be considered for their Northside Photography Show on September 8th.

Do you have photos of the Northside? Submit your image by September 1st by sharing it to NEHDA’s Facebook page. Check out their album for details about how your photo could be displayed at their event.


From Syracuse.com: “Like a well-made jacket . . . “

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 24, 2017

Earlier this week, Andrea Henderson published an article and series of photos on Syracuse.com about Middle Earth Leather, a staple of the Northside business district. The shop, lined with leather bags and jackets, counters ready with patterns, vintage sewing machines, and rolls of leather show the love and attention each product receives from this family-owned business on North Salina Street.


Photo Credit: Syracuse.com / Andrea Henderson

Photo Credit: Syracuse.com / Andrea Henderson

Like a well-made jacket, Middle Earth Leather weathers the changing retail climate


“While at the factory, Frank unexpectedly found his passion for custom leather making. He inherited the ability of pattern making from his mother, but had never used his talent until the day he purchased a poorly designed hat.

After recognizing his skill set, he began making his own belts and sandals. Occasionally, he would sell some of his custom items to co-workers who were looking for a new belt or a pair of shoes.

‘I never wanted to work in a factory all of my life,’ Frank said. ‘I would dream of becoming more independent.’

Frank gained an entrepreneurial spirit from his mother, Dorothy Westfall. She owned and operated her own dressmaking business in Syracuse, was a college graduate before World War II ended and was handicapped all her life, with one foot longer than the other. Her principles to continue life with every ounce of energy resonated with Frank during his early days of running his company – and certainly now, during a bleak time within the retail industry.

‘I am just trying to survive my second phase: Internet shopping,’ Frank said.

To help maintain Middle Earth Leather Works presence during the age of online shopping, his daughter, Kalley, 30, who is formally trained in graphic design, runs the company’s website and social media platforms. Not only does Kalley bring younger experience to the company, but she also assists her father with sewing, designing and selling products.

‘The Internet has the ability to have the accessibility of anywhere,’ Kalley said. ‘That is something that my dad is very shy about, only because of the amount of products we are making and being able to supply the demand.’

As generations evolve, so do the buying habits. Internet wholesalers like Amazon have the buying power to sell products at a lower rate, but often extract sales from smaller businesses that rely on the local purchasing power. In an era of accessibility and affordability, Frank cannot lower his prices to compete with larger companies who sell at lower price points.

Even though Kalley is a millennial, her mindset is like her father’s when it comes to business. While continuing to learn patternmaking and entrepreneurship, she plans to grow the company by learning how to function in every aspect of the business, whether it be how to use new equipment or how to broaden the company’s selling scope via the web.”

Visit Syracuse.com to read the article and view all the photos. To learn more about Middle Earth Leather, check out their website and follow them on Facebook.

Photo Friday: Pineapple on Salina

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 18, 2017


August 2013: “I suppose it is a matter of taste . . .”

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 17, 2017

If you have zucchini growing in your Northside garden, it’s time to do as Joe’s grandmothers did and cook up the delicate blossoms to share with loved ones (or, to savor all by yourself). We’re throwin’ it back to August 2015 when Joe was making omelets and reminiscing about the Northside gardens of his childhood.


The Zucchini Flower (originally published August 15, 2013)

by Joe Russo

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.



Photo Friday: Cat on Guard in Hawley-Green

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 11, 2017


Summer Fun: Union Park in the ’80s

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • August 10, 2017

Syracuse.com’s photo essay, Beating the heat: Vintage summer fun in the water, features several photos taken at Union Park in the 1980s.

Left: "George Stuben, 4, Alby Stuben, 6, and John Conners, 8, cool off at a fountain at Union Park on North Salina Street. Photo taken on Aug. 17, 1986 by Nicholas Lisi." Right: "Melissa Stevens, center, who lives on North Salina Street cools off in Union Park. Photo by Dick Blume, taken July 7, 1988." Photo credit: Syracuse.com.

Left: “George Stuben, 4, Alby Stuben, 6, and John Conners, 8, cool off at a fountain at Union Park on North Salina Street. Photo taken on Aug. 17, 1986 by Nicholas Lisi.” Right: “Melissa Stevens, center, who lives on North Salina Street cools off in Union Park. Photo by Dick Blume, taken July 7, 1988.” Photo credit: Syracuse.com.

For the entire series of photos, check out the full story here.

NBP Member Interview Series Featuring Liz Wierbinski

Written by Rachel Nolte  • August 9, 2017



Editor’s Note: The Northside Business Partnership (NBP) is an association comprised of Northside businesses, property owners, and organizations. It serves as an advocate group for the Northside, strengthening the vitality of the business community by connecting, engaging, and promoting its members. NBP is administrated by NEHDA.






Liz is the Programs & Development Director for the YWCA Syracuse & Onondaga County. The YWCA is one of the newest NBP Members and is dedicated to “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” Read on to find out . . . 


YWCA collage


Q: Could you give me some of the history of the YWCA in Syracuse & Onondaga County?

Liz: So, I’m going to pull out my handy dandy note sheet, because I wasn’t exactly sure of the history—the YWCA has been around forever. I guess the first one, according to this, was in London, England and that was in 1855. The first one in the USA was in 1858, and then we were established here in Syracuse in 1892.


Q: Has it always been at this location?

Liz: No, I don’t know what the initial location was, but we moved here a number of years ago. Maybe five or six? We used to be over Downtown, on Washington Street, where the main offices were. Then we moved over here. This building actually used to be just the Girls Inc. building. Before Girls Inc. it was the Zanta Foundation, which was like a women’s club, I believe, and then Girls Inc. was here and then due to funding issues, the YWCA adopted Girls Inc. and so now Girls Inc. is a program of YWCA. It fits pretty seamlessly into our mission.


Q: So what exactly is Girl’s Inc. on its own?

Liz: Girls Inc. is also a national organization, like the YWCA, with local chapters in different regions. They do programing for young girls, teenage girls. Here, we do a lot of STEM programming for girls. So we’re the local chapter for Girls Inc. and the YWCA. But in kind of a unique situation, Girls Inc. in Syracuse is a program of the YWCA. There’s similar situations in other regions, too. I think there’s maybe 10 other YWCAs that have the same set up with Girls Inc. It’s a natural fit. Women’s empowerment and working with young girls—it’s more of a preventative aspect rather than sort of a reactive measure to fighting those systemic barriers.


Q: In nonprofits, the titles of various positions can sometimes seem confusing. Can you shed some light on what “Programs & Development Director” involves?

Liz: So my title is, I think, intentionally vague, because I do—like everybody that works in nonprofits, especially small nonprofits—everybody wears 10, 15 different hats. My title encompasses a few different things. I do program supervision, so I supervise the YWCA programs. I help with finding different pathways and strategies for making our programs better, training and developing staff, all that good stuff. I help with the grant writing, so I constantly am researching grants, trying to figure out, find things that fit our agency but also aid in our program development. We need the funds to be able to do what we do. That’s a big part of it. I do coordinate a lot of our events. Day of Commitment, Girls Summit, Spirit of American Women, Day of Commitment and Spirit of American Women are two annual fundraisers, so those are our two biggest events. I coordinate the organizational efforts for those events. And then, helping with social media and marketing efforts, so we actually just created an Instagram account a few months ago, which has been awesome. It’s fun. That’s the fun part of it, social media is its own kind of unique bubble. So it’s a little bit of everything, but it keeps me on my toes.


Q: So is social media one of your favorite parts of your job?

Liz: I do—yes. It’s one of my—it’s the fun part. There’s no deadline. It’s kind of a little break from the more serious parts of the job.


Q: Any other favorite parts?

Liz: Probably just—this is kind of a generic or vague answer, but just the people. Working in nonprofits, you meet so many different people and everybody—whether it be your coworkers or the people that are in your programs or the people that you meet at meetings, organizations that you collaborate with—I think people in the nonprofit world are great people. It’s easy to get caught up in the stressors of nonprofits, but when you keep it in the back of your mind to look past those stressors, and that everybody’s on the same playing field, everybody has the same goal, trying to do better for each other and the community, that keeps me going.


YWCA collage 2


Q: Are there any particular people you want to highlight?

Liz: Let’s see. Well geez, I don’t want to leave anybody out. I guess most recently, what’s sticking out in my mind, is the basketball program that I facilitated here at the YWCA, working with those young girls. They were ages 8 to 12 and I worked with them every Saturday for four months, and it was just awesome to see them grow as individuals, but also they all became friends. And they’re just awesome girls. Obviously there’s many more people but, right now that’s a big one.


Q: How did you get into this line of work?

Liz: Well, I’ve always been interested in human behavior and human dynamics. My background is in psychology but I didn’t want to be a psychologist or anything like that. I realized I’m way more into social justice and community level issues, so that’s when I decided to go into social work for grad school. I had always worked a lot in direct practice, one-on-one work with clients and individuals, but always with it in mind that I want to get more into community level programs, administrative type field, to still make an impact but a different kind of impact. So that was the reason that I took the AmeriCorps position that you’re in now (Side note: Liz used to be the AmeriCorps VISTA at NEHDA, where I now serve!), because it has that community organizing component to it, and neighborhood revitalization. It was cool to see social work from a bigger lens ’cause I had always seen it on the ground level, but to see how anything from a development effort, construction of a new building, a new program, can trickle all the way down to an individual impact, and to see how that happens was really fascinating to me. So when I got connected, through my AmeriCorps position to this job, that was something I had still in mind. So I started out as a case manager, but I was kind of going where I was needed, and I came over here to the main office and am doing more program-level work, which is really cool and I like it so far.


Q: If somebody is interested in getting involved with the YWCA, what would you recommend to do?  

A: Don’t go to the YMCA’s website. We still get calls like, “When are your open pool hours? When do you guys open up?” We’re like, “Ahh, we don’t have a pool.” There’s no affiliation between the YWCA and the YMCA. So, first, make sure you know where you’re going. But other than that, we’re always open to volunteers, always looking for—we take interns every semester, we have three or four interns right now for the summer. It’s through SU, OCC, we actually have an intern from a college in Vermont right now. She’s home for the summer and needed an internship. They get credit and it works out for us because they’re all really smart and motivated students and they help us tremendously.

Other ways to get involved, we’re taking donations for our women’s residents right now. I think we’re kind of over capacity for clothes right now because that’s what people are always getting rid of, and obviously we need clothes and we really appreciate that, but—other things that the women’s residence is in the market is for household items, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, even like home decor. They want to decorate their apartment, making it cozy and everything, but that stuff is a bit harder to find. So yeah, donations, volunteering. . . Just call our office. Also, subscribe to our email newsletter. We do a quarterly newsletter and we sent out one-time newsletters for specific events and programs.


The Spirit of American Women is one of the YWCA’s annual fundraiser’s. This year’s event is October 17th from 6-8PM at the Genesee Grand Hotel. The evening will be spent celebrating how far women have come and of all of the work that still remains to be done. There will be a presentation from a current Women’s Resident and from participants of Girls Inc. The event is part of the YWCA’s National Week Without Violence, a week of programming and events about eliminating violence against women. Tickets will be available on the YWCA website closer to the event. 

For more information about YWCA, follow them on Facebook and Instagram. To subscribe to the newsletter and  receive updates, contact Liz at lwierbinskiywca@centralny.twcbc.com. 

Photo Friday: Summer Green

Written by admin  • August 4, 2017

Photo Friday_Green

Walking North Salina

Written by Joe Russo  • August 3, 2017

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.”


Biscotti collage


In between rain storms in May I walked North Salina Street, reminiscing and searching still for some answers. During my search, I stopped for a Gelato at Biscotti’s. This wonderful pastry shop is a new addition for me. In contemporary times this is one of the older more established businesses on North Salina, but in the 1950’s it was Zirilli’s Paint Store. Tom and Joe Zirilli ran the store during my era. Zirilli’s was founded by their Grandfather who came to America from Italy on the same boat as my Grandfather. Needless to say we bought all our paint at Zirilli’s. It was a small business but they had a larger impact on the small business community. A more significant part of their business was as a supply house to paint contractors and home remolding businesses in the area. They also sold tile, carpet, and wall paper along with all the tools and equipment to get the job done. This small business reflected the general economy in Syracuse. In a sense it was a boom town driven by large manufacturing businesses. We have all heard the old stories about the General Electric assembly line turning out thousands of black and white television sets. In addition, Carrier, Smith Corona and other manufacturing companies provided good paying jobs with good benefits, something all of America yearns for.

Fast forward to 2017 and the new economy, for which creativity, flexibility and knowing your customer are the priority. Can anything be more customer oriented than a custom made cake for your special occasion? A business like Biscotti’s requires a different kind of entrepreneur.  Managing not just the cash flow but the creative process that makes your product special as well as nurturing your staff and expanding your customer base. This is not a business that employs thousands but it does have an impact, especially in the post industrial economy.  The Northside is an incubator. It is a special combination of the old and the new.

Young people, whether they are native to Syracuse or immigrants or refugees, are the future. How will they embrace this transition? I do not have the answer. One of the reasons I have restyled this Blog is to search for answers. It is important to all of us.