Friday, December 20, 2013

Six Community Project Ideas, Coming Your Way

We're happy to announce that we've accepted six project proposals to present at the next DISHES dinner! We're pumped and can't wait to see the presentations on February 23.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thank You for Your Submissions!

We've officially closed our RFP. Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas with us. We'll pull the team together next week to review submissions and let you know how many we've selected on December 20th!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Announcing a New DISHES Co-Director: Annalena Davis!

One dinner ago, Annalena Davis joined the DISHES team as Volunteer Coordinator. Her role was one of many created to make the events more sustainable. She was so well organized and dedicated, she was remembered later on as we started looking for someone to help co-direct the effort, filling the position vacated by co-founder Rachel Somerstein who left to concentrate on school and writing. 

With that, we'd like to introduce you all to Annalena - the third co-director of Dine In. Support Happenings. Enliven Syracuse. (DISHES)! Annalena rounds out the co-directing team with her talents for organization and finance. Above all, she is excited to be part of the planning for the next dinner “and help continue to make DISHES a success.” Here are some fun facts about the newest DISHES co-director:

  • Her background is in community development working at different times for Cornell Cooperative Extension, Northside Urban Partnership, and Thoma Development Consultants: “DISHES is a good combination of [community development] and creativity.”
  • Annalena went to school for Landscape Architecture, a passion that has translated in to her artwork: her graphic art prints are actually maps of cities that she sells through her business, Salty Lyon Prints & Photography. “They’re designs inspired by place. I love to travel, love to explore. I make prints so people can show their love for their homes or past homes.”

  • Salty Lyon is named after two cities: “It’s the two places I’ve called home the longest,” she says. The “Salty” is for Syracuse and its heritage as the Salt City and “Lyon” is for State College, the town where she grew up and went to college. The “y” in “Lyon” is a reference to Lyons Hall at Penn State, where Annalena dormed for two years. Check out her work at
  • Annalena loves her current home: “I love Central New York for all of its outdoor activities. I enjoy all of the different events and things happening in Syracuse right now, arts-related or otherwise. There’s just a lot of energy here.”
  • Her favorite hiking spot is the Adirondack mountains : “My husband and I try to go every year for camping, hiking, canoeing. I’m definitely a ‘mountain’ person.”

  • Annalena’s favorite travel destination: “New Zealand and Montana. See, it’s so hard to choose! Okay, the Andes Mountains in Peru. They’re just beautiful.”
  • Annalena’s favorite thing about joining the DISHES team: “I’m in charge of getting desserts—so that’s really fun! But, what I’m most excited about is going through the proposals and seeing the ideas that are floating around.”
And we are so excited to have her!

Monday, December 2, 2013

#GivingTuesday - Help Our Local Nonprofits!

The Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Giving Tuesday. It is a national movement created to motivate charities, families, businesses, and people like you to come together and give more.  This year, the Central New York Community Foundation is running a one-day contest for people to vote for their favorite nonprofit via facebook and twitter. The winning organization will win $5,000 from The Foundation! 

Tomorrow, support our local hardworking nonprofits by participating in this year's 'Giving Tuesday'.  All you have to do is tweet or post on the Community Foundation's Facebook wall ( with the name of your favorite CNY nonprofit and the hashtag #GivingTuesdayCNY.  Find out more at

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

While you're celebrating the holiday with family and friends, give some thought to submitting a project proposal to DISHES. You don’t have to be associated with an organization or a group of dedicated volunteers – you just need a compelling idea.

We can't wait to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Team Member - Mike Intaglietta

We've added another member to our team! We're very pleased to introduce Mike Intaglietta, who'll act as "Presentation Coach" for the DISHES effort.

Mike is an arts administrator and performer from Liverpool, NY. He has been performing and teaching improvisational and stand-up comedy since 1994. Mike co-founded the Thumbs UPstate Improv festival, one of the inaugural DISHES project proposals in 2011, and has since gone on to co-found the Syracuse Improv Collective.

Q. Why did you decide to get involved with DISHES?
Mike - DISHES was a key motivator for the creation of the Thumbs UPstate Improv Festival, which gave birth to the Syracuse Improv Collective: my two chief creative outlets in Syracuse. And we didn't even win. I would love to help more people visualize and realize their own projects.

Q. What is your favorite thing about DISHES?

Mike - The fact that no matter what project gets chosen, the community will be improved because of the ideas generated during the process.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ready to hear your ideas!

Let's get cracking, Syracuse, and make things happen! We have $1,000 burning a hole in our pocket and we'd love to give you the opportunity to win it.  We are currently soliciting project ideas now through Friday, December 6th at midnight.  For more information and to submit an application, visit our 'Request for Proposal' tab.  Looking forward to hearing your ideas!!!!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

We feel the love!

We have some wonderful news to share with you all! Currently out on newsstands is the November/December issue of the Central New York Magazine: The Good Life, and Salt City DISHES graces the cover and has a lavish eight-page spread. We hope that this issue reaches many new people and encourages fresh thinking about our city. The piece also boasts a lovely assortment of photos, including our team members, past winners, and moments from our dinner events. Grab your copy today and check it out!

Many thanks to the magazine team including freelance writer, Renee Gadoua, for putting this all together.  We are truly honored!

Love, the DISHES team


Monday, October 28, 2013

New season, new plans!

Yay!  Plans are underway for the next DISHES dinner, slated to take place in February 2014.  In just a short couple weeks, we'll launch details on when/how you can submit your community project idea to pitch at the next dinner event!!!  We're sooooo excited to hear from you.

More soon!

~DISHES team

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Growing Food and Self-Sustainable Citizens: An Update from the Cooperative Permaculture Garden

by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder

In back of Nottingham High School, right outside of the Technology Lab where students study robotics during the school year, are three beds that house lentils, jalapeños, and pumpkins. These are the beginnings of the Cooperative Permaculture Garden created by Reina Aparez, an alum from Nottingham, and now former students, Symone Campbell and Sterling Lowry. You will remember Reina from her presentation at Salt City DISHES this past May, where she introduced the Cooperative Permaculture Garden and ultimately won the micro-grant to begin the project. The garden will serve the Nottingham community as a hands-on learning site for healthy skills and the sciences. It will also help feed students and family members in need.  So far, Reina, and her student volunteers, are growing zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, lentils, jalapeños, bell peppers, pumpkins, parsley, and chives. Eventually summer annual plants will be phased out and fall plants will be added.
Gardening is still relatively new for Reina. While a student at Nottingham she explains, “I didn’t really have any exposure to it.” It wasn’t until she attended Hobart and William Smith College and got wrapped-up in the farm-to-table movement that she began thinking about food and where it comes from. Once she was done with school, she moved back to Syracuse and began working at the Syracuse Real Food Co-op. She eventually enrolled in the Community Training and Ecological Design class taught by the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute and Alchemical Nursery. She learned more about gardening and sustainability and eventually she created the proposal for the Cooperative Permaculture Garden. “I’ve always been interested in community works,” Reina explains, and the garden was a way to combine her passion for the community with her love of fresh, homegrown food.
Still, Reina is the first to admit that she’s not an expert. The staff, teachers, and students at Nottingham are incredible sources of knowledge and have gone out of their way to help. Some have put together plans for a seed donation program. Others have helped by recruiting student volunteers to help with planting and maintenance. Some of the students have experience with gardening in the United States and in their home countries. Mr. Roberts, Head Custodian, has helped Reina plan out the landscape of the garden so that it does not interfere with the day-to-day needs of the school and warned her about animals in the area. “He knows the deer haven’t come this far into the property. He recommended planting lilies to help keep them out,” Reina explains, adding to her student volunteers busy planting pumpkins, “Get to know Mr. Roberts. He’s the one that knows all about this school.”
There are plans to expand the garden eventually and Reina is busy negotiating with the district to find out exactly what she can and can’t do. She’d like to build sub-irrigation planters to be able to grow annuals that can be rotated out quickly, but she may have to resort to simple lumber beds. Once the food is ready to harvest, items will be distributed among the student volunteers and, once the school year resumes, to different classes, as well. Some of the plants and much of the compost has been donated, but funds from the micro-grant will be used to purchase other plants (for example, maybe some seaberry bushes) and the materials needed for more beds and possible fencing. 
Reina hopes that the garden will give students “experience for the future,” that the work will help mold them into hardworking individuals with knowledge about growing their own food. “This is the best way to empower them to live a sustainable life,” she proclaims, “to eat things that aren’t expensive and are good for you.” One of the volunteers, Laxuman Sanyasi, who will be entering the 10th grade next year, smiles when he describes the work as “interesting” and says he’s most excited to eat the “broccoli, tomatoes, and hot peppers.” Syracuse seems to understand this excitement, too. Many restaurants, cafes, and food trucks are using local produce when possible. Individuals are starting gardens in their backyard and attending farmers markets. “It’s not hard to see that more people know someone who is a farmer these days,” she explains, making the world feel both wonderfully plentiful and small. The student volunteers, however, are no longer listening to how the world has grown. They’re engrossed in directing the wheelbarrow brimming with soil, bearing large shovels, and preparing the soil for seedlings that will eventually grow into brilliant, substantial pumpkins.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Syracuse Gathers to Eat, Vote, and Innovate

by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder

Growing up in Auburn I spent little time in Syracuse until I moved back to the area last fall and began an internship at Northside Urban Partnership. During my time here, I’ve found this much to be true: we who live and work in Syracuse love our city. This past Saturday I attended DISHES for the first time and couldn’t wait to demolish a Mexican feast and vote for my favorite innovative public project. Under the soft glow of strung lights, the rows of long tables were filled with people who wanted to enrich their city by voting for one of five projects: Salina St. Refreshed, the Cooperative Permaculture Garden, Trees: Symbols of Powerful Experiences, Noexcuses: LOWdowns, and Syracuse in Print. The presentation content touched upon a number of topics; some presenters promised to preserve Syracuse’s history by hand painting faded signs that boast of the city’s past or by recording the personal histories of Syracuse’s residents. Others focused on art as a way to bring the community together and celebrate the talents within our city through an art competition showcased on the walls of the Tech Garden and a series of print-related workshops culminating in a small press festival. The project that won the $1,000 grant, however, enacts change through the youth of our city. An alum and two current students at Nottingham High School presented their community garden initiative called, the Cooperative Permaculture Garden. The garden would be a hands-on opportunity for students at Nottingham to learn about healthy eating, the sciences, and how to work together to produce food for families in need. The project will bring together the Nottingham community and give students and their families a connection to Syracuse through food and gardening.

Before the presentations began we were reminded of the generosity of Syracuse and the surrounding community. Much of the food and drink were donated by local businesses and farmers, allowing the chef to create a variety of delicious dishes, including an assortment of enchiladas, black bean soup, and Spanish risotto. As volunteers served food and drink, it became clear that the dinner was for the community, by the community, in order to improve the community.

After all the lemon cookies were eaten and the coffee poured, the winner was announced and the Cooperative Permaculture Garden appeared on stage to accept their grant and a porcelain Syracuse China dish which served as the group’s trophy. The excitement was palpable and we rushed to add our names to volunteer lists for all of the projects presented that night. Like many presenters in the past, we look forward to seeing these projects succeed and find support through other initiatives. We still want to hear the histories of Syracuse and we still want to see historic advertising signs refreshed, art on the walls of the Tech Garden, and Syracuse in print. There is no absence of support in our city. There is no absence of cool and innovative projects. There is no absence of talent. Perhaps most importantly, there’s no absence of pride in calling Syracuse “home.”

 Photo by Allison Gates,

 Photo by Allison Gates,

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cooperative Permaculture Garden Wins!

Photo Courtesy of Natalie Stetson
WHEW! What an amazing weekend! THANK YOU SO MUCH to all the sponsors, supporters, team members, presenters, volunteers, and attendees. 

The 4th DISHES was a great success and we're very excited to announce the winner - Cooperative Permaculture Garden at Nottingham High School! Reina, Symone and Sterling did a great job presenting and we can't wait to see what they're able to accomplish with the micro-grant. Best of luck to the other four projects - we know they're going to accomplish incredible things in this city, regardless.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Many Thanks!

DISHES would not be possible without the generous donations of individuals, businesses and farmers from across the region! This evening, you'll have a chance to sample from this generosity. We are so grateful!

Our Sponsors:

Art Store
Assumption Church
First English Lutheran
Cafe Kubal 
Cobblestone Valley Farm
Dessert by Design 
Grindstone Farm 
Mandana Inn
Side Hill Farmers 
Small Potatoes
Sound Garden
Stones Throw Farm
Today's Rentals
Wagner Valley Brewing Co 
Wake Robin Farm

After the event, get out there and support these wonderful people!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Max McKee to Perform at DISHES

We are proud to present our music for the evening: the one and only Max McKee!

Inspired by American and World folk music, Rhythm and Blues, ancient and modern spiritual teachings, and the sounds of shamanic music from across the globe, the music of Max McKee is aimed at wonder. A native of the Syracuse area and a graduate of SUNY Oswego, Max has been adventuring through music from the get go. Blended with this child-like energy of playfulness, hypnotic rhythms, textural chord colors, and lyrics seeking higher consciousness bring this music together to create a melting pot of mystical roots music.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Side Hill Farmers - New Sponsor Spotlight!

Side Hill Farmers, a cooperative of livestock farmers based in Madison County, just donated some local ground beef for our event! Once you sample it, you'll have even more reason to stay updated on their soon-to-be opened butcher shop and local-foods market in Manlius! Stay tuned through their facebook and website; they're aiming for an opening date of mid-June.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Vinomania - New Sponsor Spotlight!

Tonight you'll get a chance to sample some vines from the infamous VinoMan! In addition to wine, the store sells unique and tasty spirits. Funky atmosphere, approachable staff, and frequent wine tastings make Vinomania a MUST visit.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Today's Rentals - New Sponsor Spotlight!

Today's Rental, located at 705 N. State Street, has generously donated the use of 24 tables for our dinner! Got an event coming up? They also rent out tents and chairs. We're grateful!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cafe Kubal - New Sponsor Spotlight!

Our event is made possible through the generous donations of goods and services from local businesses, farms and individuals. It's thanks to them that we're able to make ticket prices affordable while offering such a generous supply of food and drinks. On May 11th, you'll have the pleasure of sipping some delicious Cafe Kubal coffee while eating dinner and watching presentations. This business prides itself on making "coffee for the soul" and you can sample some of their delights in three different neighborhoods around Syracuse- Downtown, Eastwood and on SU Campus.

Want to learn more? You can do so through Cafe Kubal's facebook, twitter or website.

Enormous thanks to them for their contribution and wholehearted support of our effort!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 2013 Posters!

Mark your calendars - tickets for our May 11th dinner go on sale on THURSDAY MAY 9th and will be available until they sell out at Syracuse's The Sound Garden and The Art Store. A huge thanks to these two businesses for supporting our effort. When you drop by - buy something awesome!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New dinner date for DISHES #4

We're going to need you to re-mark your calendar -- we had to move our DISHES #4 dinner date from Sunday, May 5th to Saturday, May 11th.  We are excited about the opportunity to try our event on a Saturday and look forward to seeing you all there.  Ticket information will be posted soon!

Monday, April 15, 2013

We've Got Our Team!

We are very excited to announce that we've selected our 2013 DISHES team! Read up on the new additions HERE. Thank you all for reaching out to us, asking great questions, and pointing terrific people our way. We can't wait to build this up, together.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tonja Dishes About DISHES

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder

“Something magical happens that I can’t control,” artist Tonja Torgerson explains as she talks about street art and the ways something beautiful and unexpected can change our perception of an urban city. Tonja is an MFA student at SU who has had various art shows throughout Syracuse, including a solo exhibition at the former Craft Chemistry entitled, Sick at Home, in 2012. She’s also one of the co-founders of SUBPAR, the very first innovators to win a Salt City DISHES grant for their “art intervention” project in 2011. Presenting in front of such a large group of people was both nerve wrecking and exciting, even with the help of SUBPAR co-founder, Joel Weissman. “I’ve never done anything like that before,” Tonja explains. With the fourth DISHES dinner in the works for May 5, she reflects on her experience with street art and offers some advice to the future DISHES presenters.
The project that SUBPAR proposed at the first DISHES event was to incorporate street art throughout Syracuse, specifically as part of abandoned or dilapidated properties. What makes their project so compelling is the ability to inspire dialogue about a space’s purpose and it’s possibilities. The DISHES grant helped SUBPAR install four ceramic tiles in front of an abandoned building on N. Salina Street, formerly a center for worship and a community meeting place. The tiles were screen-printed with the words “touch base” for two important reasons: 1. to attach the building to its past life as a center for connecting people to each other, spirituality, etc.; 2. to establish a connection between the onlooker and the building so that we can re-imagine the space’s future. The tiles also had another very practical purpose: it acted as support to the building’s broken façade.
When we think of street art, it’s often loud in order to make a large statement. “But ours is a little whisper,” Tonja explains, “and if you hear it, it’s an amazing experience.” When street art is quieter it has the advantage of being unexpected and its small size immediately elicits questions: Who put that tile here? What is this building? What could it be? How can I look at Syracuse differently?
More public arts projects are in store for SUBPAR. They will soon be showcasing a working bicycle that turns into a print making station at a printmaking conference. They've also been busy placing tiles in former phone booths in each of Syracuse’s neighborhoods. So far there are 10 on display, but more will be popping up in the next few weeks.
The “art intervention” proposed by SUBPAR is still an ongoing project. The pieces take a lot of planning. For example, asking for permission to incorporate art into abandoned properties is a time-consuming task.  It can be difficult to first find the owner of the building and then to keep in contact during the process. Tonja, however, views this challenge as an opportunity to really think about the artwork and make sure it fits with the space’s history and the architecture of the building.
In addition to the time spent on projects for SUBPAR, Tonja is also working on her own street art. You may have seen some figures floating around Syracuse, on walls and overpasses like this one:

Tonja uses a wheat pasting method to secure the pieces throughout the city. This procedure means that the art is not permanent: it will fall apart over time and it’s less difficult to remove if needed. The theme of impermanence fits well with Tonja’s work. Her pieces both draw you in while making you feel uneasy by juxtaposing whimsy with the reality of illness.  Tonja explains that on-lookers are “confronted with the inevitability of the end. [This art] needs to have a finite existence in the world. It will be obliterated—and I think that’s very fitting for how we exist in the world in a lot of ways.”

Right now, Tonja is preparing for the MFA Art Show at Syracuse University beginning April 4-May 12. She will showcase copies of her life-sized images that are pasted around town. Tonja will graduate from SU this spring and is busy applying for jobs, fellowships, and thinking about what’s next. In the meantime, she’s preparing a project update for the DISHES and offering advice to presenters who hesitate to think big. “Go for it,” she says, “You’re pitching something you’re not sure you can pull off, but you have to figure it out because now the community is invested in it. Make it great.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Join the team!

Salt City DISHES is currently seeking new team members for the DISHES 2013 season!  We are looking for energetic people who are interested in helping us continue to enliven Syracuse through their passion and skills.  

Please follow THIS LINK and review the positions we are looking to fill.  If you think you are a good fit for our team, we'd love to hear from you!  

Monday, March 25, 2013

And the Presenters are...

Here are the six presenters for our May dinner:

Peter Waack: Ghost Signs  -  Michael Heagerty: NOexcuses/Distinctive Syracuse tours  -  Reina Apraez: Nottingham HS Permaculture Garden  -  Maria Rizzo: If I Were a Tree...A Recycled Art Competition  -  Rebbeca Oppedisano: Music Together  -  Jason Luther - Syracuse Small Press Fest

We are looking forward to experiencing their presentations with you!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

RFP is now closed!

We are delighted to announce that we've received a record breaking number of applications in response to our recent RFP. With huge smiles on our faces, thank you for your submissions!  At this time, we are no longer accepting ideas for our May dinner event.

 We will be taking a short break while we process the applications and return with dinner details soon.

Thank you!
~Your loving co-directors

Friday, March 1, 2013

Covered by Syracuse Guru!

Word about our request for proposals is spreading! Today, we're featured on

"Presented proposals tend to comprise a wider range since presenters are going after a grant, not a bank loan. Not only that but Salt City Dishes also gives diners a chance to meet and listen to inspired locals with exciting projects. It’s also a place to connect with like-minded individuals in a communal atmosphere of both innovation and creativity. Syracuse has people with a million ideas, but SCD connects these folks with the capital needed to bring ideas to fruition. A very noble mission indeed."

Thanks, Syracuse Guru! Read the full article HERE.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our 4th DISHES dinner is....

How great is this -- our next dinner falls on Cinco de Mayo and we plan on making a yummy Mexican feast to celebrate.  Why not right?!  (We promise we won't go overboard with the theme!)  

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

*2013 Request for Proposals opens 2/25*

We know that you've been dreaming up some incredible projects with which to enliven the city of Syracuse and we'd love to assist! In just one short week, we will be accepting project proposals for the opportunity to share your idea and win $1,000 at our May event. Starting Monday, February 25th through Friday, March 8th, you're invited to fill out our 'Request for Proposal application' on our website. So, now's the time to get your ideas in shape to share them with us.  We can't wait to hear what you're all cooking up!!!

"Yaaaay! Woo hoo!"

Friday, February 15, 2013

Our summer adventure caught on tape

Thanks to Courtney Rile of Daylight Blue Media, we have a great video to share with you that captures the essence of our DISHES On the Road project from Summer 2012.  Take a look!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Yes!!! We're back! And boy have we missed you.

Hello everyone!

Have you been missing us?  Wondering if we'd dropped off the planet?  Not a chance!  We're here and thrilled to be back in action.  You see, over the last few months we've been hard at work planning this year's schedule and doing a lot of planning and problemsolving on how DISHES can become more sustainable for years to come.  As the next few weeks unfold, we'll be announcing our upcoming dinner date [in May], launching our Request for Proposals [we know you've been busy too - scheming up creative ideas for our city], and we're seeking new volunteers (YOU?) to join our team! 

Lots coming up, so please stay tuned!

The Salt City DISHES co-directors
Stasya Erickson and Briana Kohlbrenner