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.
Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder • August 25, 2017
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.
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.
“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.”
Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder • July 27, 2017
Last month, InterFaith Works organized a Community Orientation, featuring a conversation between Abdul Saboor (a refugee from Afghanistan who oversees the Match Grant Program at InterFaith Works) and Dominic Robinson (our Vice President of Economic Inclusion at CenterState CEO) and a panel discussion with a variety of service providers in our community. Guests enjoyed refreshments as they learned more about the refugee experience and the ways citizens can help support New Americans in Syracuse.
Quotes from ABDUL SABOOR
“When you go from being detached from your home, from your country, from the place where you built your dreams on, when you go to leave those places, it’s not easy. It’s something that I personally wish for no one. But, this is a journey, and this is something that I had to make in order to survive, in order for us to continue our dreams. This was a very, very rough transition. Grass root agencies such as InterFaith Works, Catholic Charities, ARISE, and others who are willing to accept and to do the resettlement at the grassroots level, are the ones who are actually going to welcome these families from the airport, from the housing, to making their appointments, to getting an ID card, a benefit cards, and helping and establishing a life, jobs—you can name it and every step of that process is easier said than done.
It requires a lot of effort and it is not the job of the resettlement agency alone. It takes a neighborhood, it takes a community. I don’t think InterFaith itself alone could do the resettlement work that they’re doing right now if it wasn’t for community support . . . Because I lived there, I can see how society, the pillars of our communities are not based on the individual. It depends on all of us . . . We do it hand-to-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder with those individuals and we try to make sure they succeed because their success is our success. And by ‘we’ meaning us as a community, as Syracuse. Because if they struggle, we struggle.”
“When I first arrived, I had 3, 4 priorities that I had to establish. First thing was I had to get a job. Becoming self-sufficient in a place where I had no friends at that time in my life was a number one priority. . . But, this life was not about me only. I had a wife, so, building a family, making sure that my family accepts the new neighborhood we’re going to live in as home . . . Bombs, and kidnappings are no longer the impressions that we have to worry about. Survival no longer becomes a question. I’m a special case. [As an English-speaker] I had the ability to speak and communicate and break all my frustrations out, and sit down to someone like Dominic and InterFaith Works and complain about all the challenges I’m facing—my wife didn’t have anyone. And it goes along to the many, many hundreds of women and men and childrens who are coming into our doors. While you have so much to say, you can’t say it.“
“Next time you visit Destiny Mall. There’s a lot of Cubans that are in Destiny Mall right now. They’re just living in those shadows, but I’ll be honest with you – if you do get the chance to say ‘hello,’ and you have the opportunity to ask him about his background, I will almost guarantee that everyone of those guys were either a nurse or a doctor. So, by just excepting that they’re going to start from zero, a jump that a majority of us would not take—becoming a janitor and going to Destiny Mall. But, they happily do it because it provides them income. But yet, they take off that doctor hat and they accept the janitor hat. . . . If you get the first job it will get you going, so that you can get the second job, you can get the third job, and eventually end up exactly where you come from.”
Quotes from DOMINIC ROBINSON
“I was really enamored with the idea of neighborhood-level work. Thinking, if we could community organize, we can get neighbors to work together, that’s kind of the currency of all good social change . . . I happen to be a white male who grew up with an upper-middle class background. You know, I drew the longest straw possible in our world. But, I think the dynamics that I was interacting with were all part of this larger system of inequality that we’re all trying to work against. So, it’s kind of a matter of saying, ‘Okay, I’m working in a community that has a lot of refugees,’ but I think the underlining principle is the same: there are people across our country, across our community who have the answers, who have the ability and the power within them to change their communities, to live good, productive lives, to provide for their families and for whatever reason, they face barriers to that. And so, I think the organizing theory in this work for me over the years, is always trying to build better systems to allow that self-empowerment to be possible . . . Get out of the way. Let business owners take hold, let people enter into leadership positions within their workforce, and not try to be too forceful for what it means to help, but rather create the tools and vehicles that allow that to be possible.”
“When facts don’t sink in, I think we have to tell stories. I’ve had the luxury you know, these past years, of experiences where you’ve talked about the resiliency, you talk about the people who keep putting one foot in front of the next, in front of the next and all of those challenges, all of that gut-wrenching, soul-sucking amount of work that it takes just to flee political persecution to come here, to start a new life, to go to work oftentimes in a place that is far below your skill set, but to do it because you have to put food on your table—whatever it is. I would just ask, ‘Why wouldn’t you want that person in your community?’ And, when we also know that there is a net economic contribution that in fact the more productive we are, the more jobs there are. We’re not taking jobs away. When a group of people are creating an impact, more jobs come. There’s actually a scarcity mindset that is far too prevalent now, that we have to hoard all the opportunity, when in fact, if we only welcome people, we create a reality of abundance. I think that’s the story we have to do a better job of telling.”
The Community Orientation ended with a panel representing many of the service agencies who help refugees transition to life in Syracuse. To begin, Beth Broadway, Executive Director at InterFaith Works, introduced the panel and stressed the importance of each role these organizations play in refugee resettlement: “We know that ecosystems are best when they are diverse. And when that diversity is lost . . . it makes it very vulnerable. And resilience in that ecosystem is reduced and that is making it ultimately endangered. The same is true for our human family. That when our human family is not diverse, the system is not as resilient and we are endangered at that point. We recognize . . . that to do refugee resettlement work, it’s an ecosystem that requires many different parts. And if the parts are diverse and require many different way of interacting and providing support, we will be stronger for that.”
The panel included Christina Costello, Director of Health Services at Catholic Charities; Janet Lenkiewicz, Income Maintenance Specialist at Onondaga County Department of Social Services – Economic Security; Jacki Leroy, Director of ENL Services at the Syracuse City School District; Shelly Tsai, Staff Attorney at Legal Services of CNY; and Khadija Muse, Bridging Case Manager and Women’s Empowerment Program Director at ARISE. Participants talked about their own experiences working with the refugee community and answered some questions from the audience.
The Orientation was followed by a World Refugee Day celebration with music, presentations, and food at Dr. Weeks Elementary School. To learn more about the days’ events, check out this photo gallery from Syracuse.com and some of the photos and videos posted by InterFaith Works on Facebook.
There are many ways you can get involved with the refugee community in Syracuse. Abdul suggests talking with volunteer coordinators at InterFaith Works and Catholic Charities to volunteer your time or donatea variety of different items to their programs. If you’d like InterFaith Works to come talk to your church or civic group, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the next seven days Theresa, known as “elraz.” will be taking over Northside UP’s Instagram account, sharing with you some of her many experiences on the Northside. Follow us on Instagram to stay tuned!
Theresa Barry (elraz) has a long-time interest in the Northside neighborhood. It began years ago as she walked around photographing the buildings and street life that she witnessed on North Salina Street. Theresa is a an artist, event organizer, visual merchandiser, community volunteer, photographer and mentor/big sister to 2 Congolese girls. Theresa has volunteered with Hopeprint since 2012 and has more recently volunteered at the newly set up food pantry at the Masjid Isa mosque. She lives in downtown Syracuse.
“What initially interested me in the northside was the incredible architecture and the history. My husband’s family lived on the northside beginning in the late 1800s and we have photos of them in places that are still there today―which I love. I started taking regular walks down North Salina Street to photograph the amazing architectural detail on the brick buildings. I became intrigued by the diversity of the neighborhood and vibrant street life I was witnessing and began going into all the little food markets and shops that I would come across. I loved chatting up the owners and getting to know their stories and ideas for their businesses. I started volunteering with Hopeprint in winter of 2012 and through that organization got to know many of the families in the neighborhood. I then started being invited into people’s homes, which I considered an honor and a great way to learn about other cultures. And to eat delicious food from around the globe! I’ve never visited the home of a refugee family without being fed. I love everything about the northside―I think it is the most unique and interesting neighborhood in Syracuse”
Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder • March 9, 2017
WHAT: Visioning Voices Community Speaker Series, a free reoccurring event from SUNY ESF’s Center for Community Design Research. The series takes place in different places throughout Syracuse with the goal of growing healthy neighborhoods.
WHEN: Tuesday, March 21 beginning at 2:30 PM
Guided walking tour of N. Salina Street: 2:30 – 3:30 pm
Presentation by Nate Hommel and intervention site visit: 4:00 -5:45 pm
Community dinner: 5:45-6:15 pm
Workshop: 6:15-7:30 pm
WHERE: Assumption Church, 812 North Salina Street
“Take useless spaces and give them back to people,” encourages Nate Hommel, University City District Director of Planning and Design and the speaker for this month’s Visioning Voices series and workshop on the Northside. Nate will take participants on a walking tour of the North Salina Street corridor and a nearby community space, and will present some of the work he’s done in Philadelphia transforming underused public spaces. Check out the video below for a brief overview of Nate’s efforts!
This event is free and open to the public. Although it focuses on the Northside as the “host neighborhood” concepts will be applicable across communities. Participants can attend one or all of the event’s components by registering at the Visioning Voices Eventbrite page.
Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder • March 1, 2017
Editor’s Note: In the past few months, we’ve shared many articles and events from InterFaith Works – an organization dedicated to building bridges of understanding to affirm the dignity of all people in Central New York. Late fall of last year, our staff was invited to join their employees on a neighborhood tour. This experience gave us a chance to explore the Northside neighborhood with new eyes and we hope this recap offers you an opportunity to do the same.
Several months ago we were invited on a neighborhood bus tour put on by and for the staff of InterFaith Works. The “Know Your Neighborhood Bus Tour” was designed to help employees connect their work to the neighborhood they serve and we were asked to come along and help fill in extra information and capture photographs. Among the places on the tour were:
- Landmarks like the statue in Schiller Park featuring the park’s namesake, Schiller, and Goethe. Both men were of German descent—Schiller was a playwright and Goethe a poet.
- Businesses small and large, such as Tops, the only commercial grocery store in the neighborhood that has various services for helping families and assisting New Americans as they shop in the United States for the first time.
- Organizations like the Syracuse Northeast Community Center that focuses on the changing needs of the neighborhood, including parenting classes, housing assistance, and more. Sarah Walton, Deputy Director of Operations and Programming at SNCC, explains, “We’re really focused on the details of the family.”
The stops had us look to the past and future of the neighborhood for inspiration and hope and as we traveled from one place to the next, the tour confirmed just how much the success of the Northside depends on the businesses and organizations that continue to support its residents. Some of the stops on the tour featured speakers, including representatives from Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam, the Cathedral Candle Company, and White Branch Library, that helped us better connect their work to InterFaith Works’ mission and the neighborhood as a whole.
“Everyone is welcome. It enables people to not only come in and worship, but also sit in here and just think. It gets you away from all the tension and all the negativity that’s outside right now.” – Hassina Adams, leader of Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam
Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam (which translates to Mosque of Jesus, Son of Mary ) was previously the Holy Trinity Parish, but sat vacant for four years until the Northside Learning Center bought the building and started reaching out to the community to explore potential uses for the space. “The answer kept coming back, ‘this was built for worship, why don’t you find someone who can worship here,’” explains Mark Kaas, then board member and now Executive Director of the Northside Learning Center. A new mosque in the neighborhood would also solve an issue that many of the Learning Center’s clients voiced: the difficulty of worshiping regularly without a mosque nearby. With the help of local leaders, the space was repurposed and the mosque was established with the motto, “check your culture at the door,” as a way to be inclusive of all genders and religions.
Hassina Adams, a member of the mosque, shared with us one of the biggest events held at Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam, World Harmony Day, organized in partnership with InterFaith Works. “I got the chance to participate in an initiative that allowed people not only to interact with each other,” Hassina explained, “but remove the misconceptions that they had of Refugees, of Islam, and also brought in an atmosphere where people could talk freely and get to know each other and interact in ways that you don’t usually see outside.”
“That’s one of the reasons we’ve always stayed right here on the Northside, on Kirkpatrick Street, because we’ve had so many great employees that live in the neighborhood and we don’t want to lose that talent if we were to ever move.” – John Steigerwald, owner of Cathedral Candle Company
The Cathedral Candle Company was founded almost 120 years ago by Jacob Steigerwald, a German immigrant and candle maker. The current owner, John Steigerwald, Jacob’s great-grandson, has continued to celebrate the diversity of the Northside and employ residents from the surrounding neighborhood. These workers make candles that are shipped all around the world and have been used by Popes, U.S. Presidents, and even appeared in a Janet Jackson music video.
“This whole building is set up for the neighborhood.” – James, Staff at White Branch Library
The White Branch Library is the Northside’s resource for accessing information, educational and professional development, and entertainment. Beth Broadway, President of Interfaith Works, shared a story about one of her first interactions with the library. The branch manager, Renate Dunsmore, called Beth after witnessing a group of neighborhood kids being bullied. Beth explains, “So, we started a young person’s dialogue in the library for people in the neighborhood and their parents. And it was very successful. The library has been super friendly to our work.”
The bus tour ended at the Samaritan Center where the staff enjoyed dinner together. Everyone was given a tote bag full of mementos and gifts from the various stops – soap from Syracuse Soapworks, lip balm from Tops, candles from the Cathedral Candle Company, snacks from Thanos Import Market and Di Lauro’s Bakery, as well as other items. But, they also went home that evening with greater insight into the hard work that takes place in the neighborhood around them each and every day.
To learn more about InterFaith Works and their mission to “affirm the dignity of each person and every faith community and work to create relationships and understanding among us,” visit their website and follow them on Facebook.