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Emma’s Not Quite Good-Bye Post

Written by Emma Voigt1 Comment • June 10, 2013

Despite appearing to be my ideal work environment—dynamic, community-minded, visionary—I never intended to spend more than a year with Northside UP. Fast-paced barely begins to describe the atmosphere here. Until I began writing a farewell, I never had time for nostalgia, so I never fully understood the breadth of what I was a part of. Just now, I am digesting all the events and changes that have flown by.

When I first put pen to paper, I tried to convince myself that I would take these experiences with me as I started over in another city. I tried to chalk it all up to a learning experience and keep packing. It did not take much effort to convince myself that this year had prepared me to pursue the future aims I put on hold a year ago.  Yet, logic did not seem to be enough, and I wrestled with my decision.

As my grad school plans became more concrete, I found myself telling people I was from Syracuse more often. I spent sleepless nights thinking about when I would ultimately leave the neighborhood which has become my home. As I sorted through my memories, I kept dwelling on the fabrics, and imaging countless designs. I began sewing again, and I produced some of my best work. In my mind, the vibrant cultural fabrics I enjoy sewing with are a key to recognizing the beauty and potential in the Northside.

Proud as I was of my designs, I had to show Devi*, a friend and fellow seamstress. Her eyes lit up and she expressed enthusiasm. She then went on suggest ways to improve the design. Noticing the fabric, a friend from West Africa approached, eager to see how I was using her cultural fabrics. That night, I recalled their reactions, and thought of more fabrics and more designs.

Suddenly, I recognized what I had been missing. I sat bolt upright and felt pieces fall in place. I finally felt I had a reason to pursue a long time goal and the ability to realize it. Having spent the last year at Northside UP learning about social enterprise development and building relationships within the community, I knew I had the foundation needed to start a business.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a part of something larger than myself. Until recently, I assumed the means to that end was a job with a prestigious global entity. After working with Northside UP, I know that the size of an organization does not necessarily correlate to its impact. Through witnessing Northside UP’s work first-hand, I have come to recognize this area as the ideal place to pursue new ideas.

The things I have learned and the connections I made while at Northside UP may logically lead to developing my own social enterprise, but my esteem for the Northside solidified my decision. Starting out with accessories, I will combine the many fabrics of the Northside to promote cross-cultural and cross-generational transfer of trades and traditions. Ultimately, I aim to provide sustainable employment which celebrates artisans’ skills and crafts while allowing them to make quality garments. Had I not experienced the work of Northside UP, I would not be embarking on this venture. Working with a group of people who embrace opportunities to think outside the box has inspired me to look for my own way to drive change. This year was more than a means to an end; it was a chance to find what is truly important and how my skills can affect the greatest impact.

Although Northside Messenger will start small, if my social enterprise succeeds, the impact will be far-reaching. Like many refugees, Devi divides her meager pay check to support herself, her children, and family members still awaiting resettlement. Creating another means of fulfilling, sustainable employment will benefit people around the world. Yet, I may never leave the Northside. Here marks a new beginning with no good—bye.

*Name changed

Emma Good-Bye Post



Two Blokes and a Bus

Written by Emma Voigt1 Comment • May 29, 2013

Just as we started getting excited about new food trucks starting in Syracuse, I learned of one becoming a sensation in my hometown of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Two friends, experienced in the restaurant industry, found an old London double decker, and followed their entrepreneurial inspiration. In the fall of 2012, they began serving internationally inspired dishes out of that refurbished 1958 London double decker bus they call, ‘Miss Victoria.’

A life-long anglophile and food enthusiast, I was eager to dine on the bus. I followed Two Blokes and a Bus on Facebook before I finally made it back to central Illinois. While on holiday in Illinois last week, my family and I chose a lovely evening to walk out to the bus, which according to the Facebook page, was parked about a mile from our home that evening.

We smelled the food cooking before we saw the bus. Neighbors—all drawn out by the enticing aromas, greeted each other in the queue. A woman in front of us joked that a make shift block party was forming in the parking lot. This mobile ‘bustaurant’ was bringing neighbors together.

After ordering our food from the side window, we headed upstairs to find a seat. European style seating—if there is an open spot, you are welcome to it. My family and I slid into one of the long booths across from another family.  It was their first time on the bus too. We were all clearly happy to be there, and they gave the food brilliant reviews. After they left, some loyal bus regulars joined us. We chatted about how great the fresh local ingredients were, and when our food arrived we all took pictures of one another’s dishes. I had steak kabobs with sticky rice, one of the blokes’ most popular items. The food is beautifully presented in traditional street food trays.

Before long, Steffan Block, one of the two owners, came up to check on us. He shared stories about England, and how the bus got started. By the time I finished eating, I actually felt like we were all old friends.  We finished the meal with Panna Cotta, eggless custard, topped with mango ginger. About to leave, we bumped into another acquaintance, and took time to catch up. In this fun and friendly atmosphere, you certainly do not want to rush your meal.

Steffan says there are some other mobile food businesses starting in Bloomington-Normal this summer. He has been helping them get started. In the world of food trucks, the more the merrier really is true. Larger cities have events where dozens of food trucks come to the same location to offer food and entertainment.  Some cities even have food truck hubs, where multiple trucks park and share an indoor seating area. We hope Syracuse’s food trucks will create the same sense of connectivity the blokes achieved in Illinois.


Food Truck Collage

Read up on Syracuse’s food trucks and carts at the following links:

Columbus Baking Co.

Fresh Crepe Co.

Gannon’s Ice Cream cart

Lady Bug Lunch Box

PB &J’s Lunch Box

Recess Mobile

Stevie’s Street Eats

STIR Mobile

Tortilla Jacks

Inspiration from Homeboy Industries

Written by Emma Voigt  • April 17, 2013

In the midst of an economic recession, the task of providing social services to an underserved population is growing more and more daunting. In some census tracts on the Northside, the poverty rate is as high as 30%. Homeboy Industries, in Los Angeles, California, tackles a similarly heavy task. In 1988 Father Greg Boyle founded Homeboy Industries to address the need for youth employment opportunities. Their work continues to impact the lives of young people throughout Los Angeles.

Currently, Los Angeles County is home to 34% of California’s poor, and 75% of youth gang homicides in the state occur here. The Homeboy organization focuses on formerly gang-involved and incarcerated men and women. Their model combines a range of services including: employment services—job preparation and placement; mental health services—individual therapy, substance abuse counseling, and group classes; legal services; curriculum and education—GED preparation, and a partnership with Learning Works! (a program that specializes in the education of young people); Solar Panel Training and Installation—preparing students to take a national certification test; and a charter high school offering life skills and enrichment classes.

Twenty-five percent of the funding for Homeboy’s services comes from its seven social enterprises, which include: Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery, Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy/girl Merchandise, Homeboy Farmers’ Market, Homeboy Diner at Los Angeles City Hall, and Homeboy Grocery (distributing products through regional grocery chains). In 2012, the businesses were estimated to bring in about $3,500,000 per year. By providing employees with a living wage, they are able to provide for their families while learning valuable soft and vocational skills. Homeboy employs between 240-280 people per year.  As Northside UP works to create a social enterprise, we believe Homeboy Industries’ approach is transferable to other settings.

Homeboy attributes their foundation of success to making programs and opportunities easily accessible for clients—everything takes place in gang-neutral downtown Los Angeles. By keeping all services in one location, clients are more likely to access all Homeboy has to offer, and because they are more engaged, they are more likely to successfully complete programs. In certain parts of the Northside, as many as 36% of residents do not have access to a vehicle.  Northside UP plans to focus its initial social enterprise efforts on improving the quality of life for residents of bourgeoning neighborhoods.

Homeboy Industries has found the primary driver for gang-involvement to be lack of alternative options and opportunities. One hundred percent of Homeboy’s clients are low-income, 99.9% are people of color, most have PTSD or complex trauma, most were abused or abandoned as children, all witnessed violence, and most have only an elementary school reading level. Gang-involvement is largely an effect of poverty. Yet, Homeboy points out that to children who must walk through various gang territories to get to school, who have never seen anyone graduate college, or are homeless, “joining a gang does not always seem like a bad (or particularly big) decision.” In order to break the cycle, better options and opportunities need to be made available.

Homeboy provides second chances to those of whom the rest of society has discounted.  The organization is an outstanding example of rethinking a flawed system.   By engaging in social enterprise, Syracuse can do its part to offer alternative options and opportunities for the underserved in our community.  By increasing opportunities, we can reduce costs and drive economic revitalization.  Perhaps most importantly, by creating opportunities, we enable the people in our community to make positive life choices that result in positive life changes.

Credit: www.facebook.com/HomeboyIndustries

Credit: www.facebook.com/HomeboyIndustries

Credit: www.facebook.com/HomeboyIndustries

Credit: www.facebook.com/HomeboyIndustries

Refresh Farms

Written by Emma Voigt2 Comments • April 3, 2013

Jamie O’Hern, the owner of Refresh Farms, says she was shocked by what she learned about our agriculture system.  Large corporate farms use pesticides, large quantities of water, and hormones; the effect is devastating for both the environment and our personal health.  She saw aquaponics as a solution to these problems, so in December 2011, she started Syracuse’s first aquaponics farm.

Aquaponics is an integration of hydroponics and aquaculture, which results in a balanced ecosystem in which nearly all harmful waste and pollution are eliminated.  Aquaponic systems use less than 10% the amount of water that is used on traditional soil farms.  Jamie’s farm provides several varieties of lettuce, basil, and White Nile Tilapia. Beneficial bacteria convert the fish waste into nutrients for the plants growing on rafts floating in water-filled growbeds.

Not everyone can create their own aquaponic farm to help alleviate food supply issues.  However, anyone can support Jamie’s IndieGoGo campaign.  Her goal is to raise $19,500 to help the farm grow, diversify, and become more sustainable.  Some of the additions include incorporating solar panels, biofuel, and a greenhouse into the current model.  The additional funds will also help support research and development.

Because aquaponic farms can be located inside, they are ideal for food deserts and/or areas with contaminated soil.  Jamie would like to see community gardens incorporate aquaponic systems. Indoor farms are controlled environments, not beholden to the climate.  Currently, Jamie’s butter lettuce is thriving despite the sleet and snow outside.  This means that aquaponic farms could potentially grow vegetables and herbs not native to Central New York.

Jamie believes that small, local community gardens and farms are a great way to source food.  Unfortunately, they are limited in what they can produce during the upstate NY growing season.  For that reason, many small, local farms become the victims of corporate giants.  By incorporating aquaponics such farms can increase their supply in a sustainable way and grow year round.

On the Northside, many of the small markets must travel to New York to purchase staple produce which has been imported, especially in the winter.  If bok choy, thai basil, lemongrass and water spinach could be grown year round on a large scale locally, it would impact the economy of the Northside. It would also enhance the cultural vibrancy which already exists in the neighborhood cuisine.

Refresh Farm identifies as Syracuse’s first Urban Aquaponic Farm.  Thus, Jamie feels an added incentive to succeed.  Her farm’s success will prompt others to follow suit.  She has learned a lot from other farms in the Central New York area, and she hopes to share her findings with those who want to begin similar endeavors in Syracuse.  Supporting Refresh is a way to support a dynamic and positive shift in our city.  To donate, visit the IndieGoGo page, and watch the video.  The Refresh campaign ends on April 7th.

Refresh Farms

Refresh 2

Free Laotian Tasting!

Written by Emma Voigt1 Comment • March 27, 2013

One of my personal favorite markets, the Laos Market at 317 Butternut St., will be having a free tasting on Saturday, March 30 from 12-2 pm.

When I was new to the Northside, over a year ago, I tried to get to know the neighborhood by exploring corner stores. At the Laos Market, packages of brightly colored, exotic foods stretched to the ceiling. As I gazed around, I became a little overwhelmed. All the flavors of Southeast Asia seemed neatly stuffed into every corner. Boxes of Aloe Vera drink (which tastes great mixed with coconut soda and raspberry sorbet, by the way) overflowed onto the stairs. Yet, I scarcely knew what to do with shrimp paste, which type of curry paste to select, or what to use shredder green papaya for.

Luckily, over the last few months, I have had the privilege of getting to know the owners of the Laos Market. Because of their advice, I have started adding locally grown oyster mushrooms to soups. I use small green eggplants in many dishes, and I know how to make my own bubble tea. When I am in a hurry, I even know how to make a variety of instant noodles more flavorful and healthy (hint: add a generous helping of fresh Thai basil, a few fresh vegetables, and lemon grass).

I find myself in the Laos Market more and more frequently these days. Although I am familiar with the setup of the store now, I still find new things to try. My next culinary adventure will involve Thai mussels. My friends at the store are always happy to tell me how to use different ingredients, and I feel I learn something about Laotian culture every time I visit. For example, I recently learned that the Laos New Year is coming up on April 12 and the fact that people hold chop sticks differently in different areas. As for this last tidbit, it took me long enough to master the style I adopted, and I tried the more Laotian technique with no success.

I am excited for the tasting. I know how much I have enjoyed my lunches at the market, and I think everyone else will too. There will be samples of Thai and Laotian food. The market will be decorated with traditional items and images from Laos. There will also be recipes and cooking tips available. Thanks to the help of the Laos Market, I make much better curries now (it had to do with the addition of the right coconut milk and fresh bean sprouts). Don’t miss this event! If you are able to attend, please RSVP to vekonda@gmail.com and provide the number of people arriving with you.  On March 30, you will have an excellent opportunity to taste new dishes and get all the tools necessary to make them yourself, at home.

Laos-Market-Store-Web LaosMarketFamily_Web

Photo Sample

Reimagine Potential

Written by Emma Voigt  • March 20, 2013

When I graduated college a year ago, I was staring down the barrel of an economic recession with bleak unemployment rates. This meant my college degree was not the golden ticket to prosperity high school guidance counselors made it out to be. According to the Pew Research center, more than 8 in 10 people agree finding a job today is harder than it was for their parents’ generation. A while back NPR aired a segment on how adulthood is changing for the millennial generation. I caught an interesting quote from that discussion, “Maybe we’re picking having job satisfaction over job security and deferring earning potential.” According to Hannah Seligson, journalist and author of the book, “Mission Adulthood,” the millennial generation is reimagining the American dream.

Lower earning potential means traditional staples of the American Dream like suburban homes, children, and new cars are no longer attainable. Seligson believes the millennial generation is special because they are diverse, innovative, entrepreneurial and living through “seismic social and political changes.” Yet, entrepreneurship often involves a large economic investment in itself. The number of entrepreneurial dreams that die due to lack of opportunity are incalculable.

Northside UP has imagined a business incubator concept that would offer entrepreneurs steady employment and education to help them realize their dreams of business ownership. In order to help inform the creation of the incubator, I have been meeting with entrepreneurs; so many of them fit Seligson’s definition. Many of them left jobs they were not satisfied with for one reason or another. Rather than accepting the first acceptable pay check, they are investing energy in the fabric of their neighborhoods. They are making connections and lifting one another up. They are not searching for better surroundings; they are simply building them.

With a business incubator, the Northside can become the nexus of reimagined American Dreams. Roughly 24% of the Northside’s population belongs to the millennial generation (American Community Survey 2010). Here, young entrepreneurs merge fresh ideas with the talents and knowledge refugees bring from around the world. Harsh economic conditions may have forced the millennial generation to re-dream, but these emerging adults have gained a new understanding of the importance of building relationships, reducing waste, and making the most of little. Imagine what these new dreams can mean for Syracuse with the right support. Imagine how we can change the city instead of letting it alter us.


A Model for the Northside

Written by Emma Voigt  • February 27, 2013

The Northside has a unique asset in its diversity.  Hundreds of refugees resettle on the Northside each year.  These New Americans combine skills, trades, and recipes from their homelands with their new neighbors’ traditions. As a historic point of entry for New Americans, the Northside’s lifelong residents claim heritage from across Europe.  Because of its history of diversity, the neighborhood is beginning to attract young, artistic entrepreneurs of every background imaginable.

Northside UP has been developing ways to help this diverse group cultivate their innate entrepreneurial spirit and change the neighborhood by harnessing the power of business.  By pairing our existing programming with the simple idea of a traditional bazaar, an idea with far reaching added benefits began to grow.  As Northside UP assembled a team of partners to create this shopping experience, we came across the example of the Midtown Global Market (MGM) in Minneapolis, MN.  This space illustrates many of our hopes for the Northside market.

MGM began when community groups and local business owners came together to convince city officials to save a long vacant building in 2003.  The idea was to create a place that could utilize the formerly vacant property to showcase the neighborhood’s ethnic diversity and entrepreneurial energy.  The Neighborhood Development CenterLatin Economic Development Center, and African Development Center worked with other business development partners and advisors to build the vision.  Through these partnerships, MGM was able to launch and offer training, technical assistance, lending, and other support for entrepreneurs.

Today, the market houses many diverse businesses including specialty groceries, prepared food, sit-down restaurants, arts, and crafts.  A shared commercial kitchen, located in the market, enhances the experience.  Professional chefs, caterers, food trucks, and other food manufacturers who need certified space, may use the kitchen for their culinary delights.  Access to high quality shared commercial kitchen space helps new and small businesses succeed by cutting overhead costs.  The kitchen also offers a growing schedule of cooking classes.  Customers can find food prepared in the kitchen along with cookbooks, magazines, kitchen utensils, and chefs’ tools at Kitchen in the Market’s retail store.

Like Syracuse, Minneapolis also resettles a large refugee population each year.  Each wave of new Americans brings refreshing ideas to the area. Northside UP sees the marketplace as an ideal means for infusing the business community with new ideas. By incentivizing incubator graduates to locate in vacant storefronts in bourgeoning neighborhoods, they will catalyze ongoing revitalization efforts.  It is encouraging to see success stories emerge from other like-minded endeavors. The Northside’s diverse residents add vibrancy to this corner of the city each day. Once they have access to the appropriate support, tools, and opportunities, they will help strengthen our city’s economy.

To learn more about Syracuse’s project, check out the video on the Huffington Post and be sure to vote for Syracuse!


Photo Credit: http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/100374339

Photo Credit: www.ndc-mn.org

Photo Credit: www.ndc-mn.org

Intangible Gifts

Written by Emma Voigt  • December 13, 2012

Sure, a few bulbs are out, but the white lights are twinkling. A homemade paper chain and a few reflective ornaments adorn the slightly lop-sided artificial spruce. The tree we recently put up at the Hopeprint home is a ‘Charlie Brown’ tree if I ever saw one. The neighbor kids do not seem to notice its shabby qualities, though. Every time they see it they ask, “When are you going to put presents under your tree?”

For most kids, it’s only natural that a tree should be surrounded with brightly colored packages tied up with shiny ribbons. Yet, every year many of us face difficulty making that dream a reality. Luckily, there are a number of organizations who step in and offer pre-selected, pre-wrapped gifts for “girl age 12” or “boy age 8.”

While the children are ecstatic about their new toys, Bob Lupton, the founder of Focus Community Strategies Urban Ministries, noticed that parents often feel a sense of shame when these organizations step in. This type of charity from strangers highlights the parents’ understanding that they are not responsible for their children’s joy on Christmas. Therefore, Hopeprint adopted Lupton’s idea to provide gifts in a more comfortable way.

The “Hope Store”, as it has been named, is a place for parents to shop for gifts. The store will be open from 12 pm to 3 pm on Saturday, December 15 at the St Clare Theater, 1119 North Townsend Street. While the parents/guardians are shopping, children will have the opportunity to make them gifts. The price is simply whatever customers feel they are able to give. All proceeds will go to Central New York Freedom Makers to support the International Justice Mission. IJM seeks to tackle the issue of human trafficking through a comprehensive approach to ensure justice.

Another benefit of the Hope Store is the educational experience it offers to a local Girl Scout troop. The girls will be running the store. According to Erica Weeks, one of the troop leaders, the girls could earn a badge for their participation in the store. The troop decided to work the store after learning about modern day slavery. As a few of the girls have said, they wanted to do something because they do not want young children like themselves to be enslaved.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the Hope Store or donating items should contact Nicole Watts, Hopeprint’s Executive Director at ourhopeprint@gmail.com. Hopeprint will accept donations up to the time doors open on Saturday. Nicole says they would love more gifts for children ages 0-3 and over 10. She also said they could also use more wrapping paper and juice for the kids.

The Hope Store abounds with social benefit that cannot be tied up with a bow, but there are no words to describe what it really means to folks facing economic hardship this holiday season. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, I myself have a hard time making ends meet. Since I have no children, I will not be shopping at the Hope Store, but I had to come up with creative handmade items for my loved ones. Luckily, my friends and family understand my position.

Nevertheless, when one of my neighbor kids looks up at me and asks with great anticipation where the presents that are meant to be under that tree are, I imagine how hard it would be to answer him if he were my child. As we unload the donated toys from cars, I see the kids get excited about certain items. I hear them innocently speak of the toys they want and how they would play with them. I imagine how disappointed they would be if there was nothing for them to unwrap during the holidays. Then I think to myself, the gifts are coming soon. They are at the Hope Store.

The Salt Market on the Northside

Written by Emma Voigt  • October 18, 2012

Four years ago, Briana Kohlbrenner and Vanessa Rose held the 1st annual “Salt Market” here in Syracuse, NY. Having grown up in Brooklyn, Briana was well acquainted with underground, cutting-edge creativity. The driving force behind creating this event was her desire to bring the energy and creative atmosphere of larger cities to Syracuse. Several markets, like the Renegade Craft Fair held throughout the US and abroad, served as sources of inspiration for the Syracuse version. For more local inspiration, Briana and Vanessa toured like-minded markets in cities like Rochester and New York City. Having connected with artists and designers at markets in the region was helpful when figuring out how to start their own.

The first market was highly successful, and surpassed the organizers’ original goals in terms of both applicants and attendees.  In order to allow the market to grow and offer the same level of quality, Briana and Vanessa asked Stasya Erickson and Courtney Rile to join them in their planning efforts. Briana thought both women had good ideas, energy, and experience.

All four organizers are now gearing up for the fourth annual market, which will be held on Saturday, October 20th from 10am-6pm.  Each year, the market is meant to showcase local, independent, up-and-coming artists and designers.  Their products must be as handmade and local as possible and designs must be original. Briana pointed out that vendors change naturally over the years, and that even returning vendors are encouraged to bring new, fresh creations each year.

Now in its fourth year, the majority of details simply fall into place. Stasya feels the organizers have really streamlined the process of creating the market. Therefore elements like music, food, and décor come together easily. Local venues—Recess Coffee, Roji Tea Lounge, and Strong Hearts Café—are providing refreshments.

One key change is a fresh location. This year, the Salt Market will be held on the Northside at 401 N. Salina St., in a slightly smaller, more intimate venue.  Because this year’s market is in a smaller space, showcasing just 30 vendors, there will be a second market on Saturday, December 8.  Market number 2 will also have 30 vendors, but this event’s catch will be that all handiwork will be available for under $30.  Six vendors from the Salt Market will overlap with the “Pepper Market”, but most vendors will be new.

In addition to providing consumers with a fun environment to find creative items, vendors also benefit from participating in the market. Beyond gaining new customers, Stasya noticed that markets like this are a helpful way for artists and designers to build community with likeminded people.

This year, you have two opportunities to experience the vibrant atmosphere of an urban art and craft market. However, with different vendors at each, you will probably want to check out the imaginative wares at each! We, here at Northside UP, are extremely excited that this year’s market is taking place in our neighborhood.  North Salina Street is historically one of Syracuse’s most unique shopping districts, so locating one of the city’s most celebrated shopping experiences here is ideal. “Salt Market” patrons need only take a short walk to dozens of other eclectic shops and restaurants.



A Weekend on the Northside

Written by Emma Voigt1 Comment • October 16, 2012

Sometimes people question my ever growing affinity for the Northside. I live and work here. I rarely leave the area. My tendency to stay put first stemmed from my aversion to driving. Yet, once I got to know my neighborhood and the people in it, I found fewer reasons to leave and more to stay. Walking about the neighborhood gives me ample opportunity to see friends and learn more about the community. I wanted to share a few ways I have found to entertain myself here in hopes that others will come to see the Northside as affectionately as I do.

I recently learned about Vinomania, 313 E. Willow Street (Pearl Street Entrance). About once a month, they have free wine tastings, so I attended the last one. The small shop was packed; owner Gary Decker estimates upwards of 60 people drop in for tastings. The store’s fun and friendly atmosphere kept it from feeling stuffy. I admit, I am an amateur aficionado, but I enjoyed the wine selection. A typical tasting includes 3 or 4 people pouring 10-15 different kinds of wine. The samples are determined by what Gary has in stock at the time. He says he is constantly looking for the best taste to price ratio. In other words, the wines he sells taste like they cost a lot more. Because he focuses heavily on finding his customers great deals, his product selection is constantly changing. Gary tries to have different local businesses offer samples at each tasting. Having been in the restaurant business for many years, Gary and his wife also occasionally prepare food and offer lite fare like local, organic cheeses. From his years of experience in the food industry, Gary has a wealth of knowledge on recipes and food and drink pairings. With a well-priced bottle of wine or liquor you will also get expertise and good conversation. Vinomania is open Mondays from 4-7, Tuesday-Friday from 11-7, and Saturday 10-6. The next tasting is on Friday, October 19 from 4:30-6:30.

My second recommendation is the small free yoga class at the White Branch Library. The class is offered twice a week, 9:30-11:30am on Saturdays and 4-6pm on Wednesdays. When I attended the class, the instructor was Dil Dahal. Other instructors from the Bhutanese Community of Syracuse, which leads the yoga program, help out when they can, and all have multiple certificates in yoga from Nepal. Dil’s friend Lisa Warneke helped her develop the class after Dil taught her ways to deal with back pain. Lisa approached the library about using the upstairs space. Flooded with natural light from windows on three sides, this room is an ideal location for yoga. Although Dil learned yoga in Nepal, according to Lisa, they continue to learn through books, online videos, and other yoga classes. Dil’s specialty is Pranayama Yoga, or breathing exercises that carry more oxygen to the blood and brain. Dil says this type of yoga is especially good for headaches. To join the class, you simply need to come to the library with your own yoga mat or blanket and wear comfortable clothes.

On Saturday mornings, feeling refreshed and energized after yoga, I head to the CNY Regional Market to complete the morning. It’s just a leisurely walk away from the library or my home. The market is more than a great place to find local produce, baked goods, and other items, it is an experience. Last weekend I learned that buckwheat honey contains many more antioxidants than other varieties. With a more molasses like flavor, it tastes great too. Squash is prevalent at this time of year, so I have enjoyed experimenting with many different ways to prepare all varieties. Depending on the season, different items may be more abundant. The diversity is a part of the fun.

The same can be said for the Northside in general. In the course of a weekend, I am able to engage with people from many different nations and walks of life. Each of these encounters gives me an opportunity to try something new. These events are just three examples of the many reasons I love the Northside.


Inside Vinomania!