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, allisongates.com

 Photo by Allison Gates, allisongates.com

No comments:

Post a Comment