Get Discounted Tickets to Buy Local Bash

The Buy Local Bash is coming up on Monday of next week – that's November 21 – after work at Benjamin's on Franklin (it used to be Ohm for those of you who have been here a few years; Styleen's Rhythm Palace for those who have been here a few more).

The event kicks off this year's Shift Your Shopping campaign, which aims to get you to think about shopping local for your holiday gifts. Buy Local week begins on Black Friday and continues throughout the following week at participating locally owned retailers.

Tickets for the event are $20, and include wine and beer from vendors, as well as some food.

It's a great party.

And here's how you can pay $15 for your tickets instead of $20.

- Like Benjamin's on Franklin's Facebook page.
- Mention the Buy Local Bash on the wall.

Pretty easy, huh? It'd be pretty cool if you'd like Syracuse First, too, since they are the organization putting on the event.

See you Monday!

Press Release: E.T. & Jaws double feature at the Palace

PRESS RELEASE for Friday November 18th.

BREW & VIEW 35mm Film Series Steven Spielberg double Feature of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial & Jaws
BREW & VIEW 35mm Film series is presented by AmeriCU Credit Union and SIFF

$10/ all ages for movies/ 21+ with valid ID for Alcohol

Friday November 18th. Doors open at 6:30pm
7:00pm - ET
9:30pm - JAWS

Director: Steven Spielberg

JAWS (1975)
Director: Steven Spielberg

Why I’m working with the Future Fund

Most of us will never be philanthropists on the scale of Bill and Melinda Gates. The foundation model – one in which one huge donation gets an endowment together and the interest pays out grants (while the foundation continues to solicit donations to add to the endowment) – is changing, Katherine Fulton explains in her 2007 TED talk.

Enter the Future Fund, an affiliate fund of the Central New York Community Foundation (CNYCF).

One of the things the Community Foundation has done through the years is help people set up personal "funds" – when you see a memorials scholarship fund, or something like that, it starts with a $5,000 check and the CNYCF's 501(c)(3). But who among the young professionals out there – here, in the Syracuse area – is writing a $5,000 check to get something amazing started?

Not many people. So the CNYCF came up with this idea: Let's find 50 young people to donate $100, and that'll be good for a $5,000 grant every year to a local non-profit.

This group of young professionals first nominates a "cause category," such as nutrition or mentoring, then sends out a request for proposals (RFP). A committee narrows the field down to a dozen or so, and then everybody who donated (we call them members) gets to vet the semifinalists, narrowing the field down to three.

Site visits are set up for the three finalists; all members may attend, and then a final vote is held.

For the 2010-2011 grant season, the topic was nutrition, and we awarded Syracuse Grows $5,000 to help them with urban gardening throughout the city.

The Future Fund is an amazing group of people. I'd encourage you to come meet some of them October 13 at the kickoff event at Montage.

Here is the first email of the season, so you can get a feel for what we do.

Greetings, Future Fund Members!

Welcome to the 2011-2012 Future Fund grant-making season. We're extremely proud of what we've done over the past few years and can't wait to get moving on the new year!

Over the past few years, you – our members – have helped make Central New York an amazing place by funding programs that provide, among other things, youth mentoring, financial literacy, workforce development, and, most recently, nutrition and wellness. With that nutrition and wellness grant, we supported Syracuse Grows, which has graciously invited us to their Harvest Dinner, a potluck event, on Sept. 25 from 3:30-5:30pm at the Southwest Community Farm, 100 Bellevue Ave., Syracuse. If you plan to go, RSVP to

Save the date! Our annual kickoff event is coming up Thursday, October 13 at 5:30pm. This is for members, families, friends, colleagues, and random strangers you think will enjoy a night of free hors d'oeuvres (and a cash bar). Keep an eye on your inbox in the coming weeks for the details.

Worth Watching: TED Fellow Katherine Fulton discusses the future of philanthropy. It's a 12-minute lecture on the changing model of philanthropy – the future will not be the Bill Gateses and George Soroses of the world, it will be people like us. If you come across other interesting stories of philanthropy, send them to us at

Happy giving!
The Future Fund Steering Committee

The Future Fund of Central New York
c/o Central New York Community Foundation
431 East Fayette Street
Suite 100
Syracuse, NY 13202
Tel: 315-422-9538

Access to capabilities, energy use and cities

I own a drill. I've used it to mount a stereo and iPod charger below a kitchen cabinet.

I also own a circular saw, which came with the best electric chainsaw I ever had, I always though they were no good. It came with the drill. I've never used it.

I have a lot of other tools that I do use, though some of them (like my chainsaw and my ax) are going to see very limited use throughout their lives.

It's an example of waste that Alex Steffen uses in that TED talk above. Most homeowners, he says, have a drill. The average drill sees between 6 and 20 minutes of use in its lifetime. There are maybe a dozen houses on my block. Over the next 25 years or so, we'll use a little over an hour of drilling time. Why do we own 12 drills?

I live 3.4 miles from work; that's less than an hour's walk. Eyeballing it, I'd say there's a little under a half-mile of sidewalk. Do I walk to work? Nope. I could use a little safety.

I live about a mile from a grocery store. I go often, since I tend to eat fresh foods that only last a day or two in the fridge. There are no sidewalks, and just about the entire trip is on a 40-mph road. I don't walk there, either.

In the next 30-40 years, Steffen estimates, some 8 billion people will live close to cities. We need to be smarter with how we build them. We also need to be smarter about how we choose where we live, and our use of energy, and our sharing (see also, drills).

Learn something. Build something. Create something. Advance us, don't just make more of us.

American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure

Yesterday, a few of us from Civic Engagement volunteered at the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure. Diabetes isn't one of my primary causes, but my employer is a national sponsor, so I had easy access to the organizers.

This is a really great event. Rather than a "simple" run or walk or ride, it's five rides – a 100-miler, a 62.5-miler, a 40-miler, a 25-miler and a 15-miler. It requires volunteers at many stages and a whole lot of planning.

From our perspective, it went as smoothly as we could imagine. We got bad directions to the rest stop we were supposed to run, but got there and set up before the first riders came in. We were missing some supplies, but our radio operator (yes, they have someone operating short-wave radios at each stop, in trail vehicles and at the home base) managed to get in touch with home base to get us the stuff we needed in time.

I didn't look up the numbers (the amount raised or the number of people involved), but it was impressive. If you're looking for a way to get involved, I highly recommend the event.

5 Central New York Spots You Might Have Overlooked

Last summer, I did a series on Central New York places you might want to work from or bring a client to. Here are those posts:

5 Syracuse-area Coffee Shops to Work From
5 Syracuse-area Bars to Work From
5 Places to Bring Clients in the Syracuse Area (Note: Edward Thomas Cigar is now something a bit more private and secluded, and is no longer on that list.)

Here are five places in the Syracuse area not on these lists that you might want to try out.

1. Frosty Fuzions

Located in the Gold's Gym in DeWitt, Frosty Fuzions is locally owned, employs a couple of people part-time, and serves organic smoothies and coffee, locally made high protein bread, and other energy drinks and food bars. The owner, Shawn Hannon, is personable and he keeps up on sports and politics, so there's always something to talk about at the counter. He also does corn-based plastics. You don't need to be a member of the gym to go in; just let the folks at the member service center know you're heading in for a smoothie.

2. The Beginning II (B2)

The B2 is a little off the beaten path, but not far (a little bit up Bridge St, past all the action). They have a lot of really good food (they claim they have the best wings in town – they're definitely up there – but the pizza, nachos and sandwiches are pretty awesome as well). The B2 is a sports bar (Syracuse U, Red Sox and Buffalo Bills) with beach volleyball courts out back. It draws a mix of people, from students to retirees, and has a friendly staff. Try them out on a non-sports day if you're not into the sports crowd.

3. The Cafe at 407

I wish I was out Liverpool way more often. Located in the village of Liverpool, the Cafe at 407 supports Ophelia's Place, a safe haven and support center for people with body image issues. The serve fair trade, organic, awesome foods (coffee, salads, sandwiches, soups, cakes, etc.). Free wifi, and a very comfy space.

4. Kelley's

If you're on Tipp Hill or near the Onondaga Hill neighborhood, you're probably not a stranger to Kelley's. Upstairs, Kelley's is a nice-looking place, but at the bar downstairs, it really comes to life. Dark woods, a couple of dining tables in quiet corners and otherwise a sports bar feel. The food is very good (try the Buffalo mac-n-cheese!), and they have some really good off- and on-menu wing sauces that you'll just have to go to experience.

5. Books and Memories

Books and Memories is a large used book and music shop. They're currently in transition, dumping some of their dead weight and opening themselves up some storage space downstairs, but they still have five rooms with narrow aisles, tall shelves, and stacks of books laying around waiting to be filed. While I miss the basement (it was so big they'd have to yell downstairs a few times before closing to make sure they didn't lock anyone in the shop at closing time), I was still able to spend several hours browsing recently – and that didn't include opening up my computer, or checking out any CDs or vinyl. They offer coffee and tea for free while you browse (they have a donation jar, but it's serve yourself and leave something if you want), and the wifi is free as well. It takes up a block on James Street in Eastwood, and is the perfect place to spend a rainy weekend afternoon.

Dey Centennial Plaza

I got a tour recently of the Dey Centennial Plaza. It's a group of buildings at the corner of Salina and Jefferson streets in downtown Syracuse.

While the residential units are nice – hardwood floors, marble counters, lots of space, and nice appliances (stainless faucets, electric stoves and refrigerators; some of the units have wine refrigerators and all of them have washer/dryers) – residents pay a little extra for the building security and good parking (the single bedroom units run between $950 and $1200, while the two-bedroom units are in the $1600 range).

The thing I'm excited about, though, is a local market coming to downtown.

It's going to be a 12,500-square foot grocery (much bigger than C.L. Evers, its downtown competition), and all the food is going to come from within 70 miles of Syracuse. There will be garage parking with the first hour free, and the store will be open until 8 p.m., so people shopping after work will have a place to go.

The plaza is a series of five formerly vacant buildings that are quite old. The developers have a great vision for it, and seem to be excited to be helping to shape downtown (the tour was given by Paramount Realty, which closed on the building near the end of 2009).

Fond farewells, and the trouble of leasing for business

Clark's Ale House, which has been a local favorite since the mid-1990s, is closing on Saturday.

Let's first talk about Clark's. It's a small, two-level pub with primarily ales on tap. They're locally famous for their roast beef sandwiches, and for a while, that's all that was it for the menu. Just shaved beef, and if you wanted, onions and cheddar. Always on a roll, always with a shot of jus.

The only noise at Clark's is talking – no loud music, no TVs, just people getting together and doing what people do best: talking about whatever they talk about.

All About Beer named it one of the 125 places to have a beer before you die. In the world. Yeah. It's that kind of place.

In it's history, Clark's typically has done steady business, but you could pretty much count on not fighting a crowd to get a drink or a sandwich. This week, it's crazy; all that steady business is coming back for a final round.

Clark's has almost two years left on its lease, but announced to its employees last Friday it would be closing. It's not for lack of money (though that's one explanation for them not moving right away), and certainly not for lack of customers.

It's that the Landmark Theatre – a Syracuse institution since the 1920s (it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the '70s) – owns the building and is expanding so that it can bring in deep-stage shows (as in shows that require a large set, like "The Lion King").

And you can't blame the Landmark for that, can you? It's really hard to hold a grudge against a live performance venue with a rich history. And kudos to Clark's for not spending two years fighting them, for recognizing that another Syracuse institution needs the space to survive.

I'm a little miffed that there's been nothing to this point on the Landmark's Twitter account, since that seems the logical place to host a discussion. [Maybe that's one reason they need the expansion.]

If anybody's looking for a good real estate investment downtown, try buying the former Stoop building in Armory Square and inviting Clark's to re-open there. Good things would come of that.

Winning customers by stretching the rules

For those Syracuseans not in the know, Funk 'N' Waffles is a great little spot on the SU hill. It has a menu of interesting waffle creations (including chicken & waffles, pulled pork waffles, and a new favorite for some of my friends: a stuffing waffle with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce), good coffee, and free wifi.

They are good citizens, opting for local eggs, Dinosaur BarBQue sauces, and other local options when possible.

The only complaint I've ever thought of is that they close at 4:30 on Mondays, which is kind of early.

So, as co-chair of the 40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force, I approached the venue about staying open a little later to host a social networking event, which started at 5:30. I arrived a little before 5, and was pleased to see they had something of a walk-in crowd, which meant they weren't bored in that hour between when they typically close and when we were to start.

Then we brought in 16 people – very few of whom had been there before. And almost to a person, they were so impressed with the venue that they said they would not only return, but bring other new people.

If eight of those people do return with two new people each, and then half of those new people do the same, that's a lot of new customers, thanks to being willing to keep the lights on and paying two employees for four extra hours.

That's a minimal investment for a lot of new customers – and let's not forget that so much of small business marketing is helping the non-profits in your area.

Awesome job, Funk 'N' Waffles.

Assault City announces first-ever international bout

A press release from Crazy Diamond at Assault City Roller Derby.


Syracuse, NY – Assault City Roller Derby is pleased to announce its first-ever international bout at the Greater Baldwinsville (Lysander) Ice Arena in Baldwinsville, NY, on Saturday, August 21st. Assault City will take on the Tri-City Roller Girls of Ontario, Canada. Doors open at 6 PM and the bout starts at 7 PM. There will be refreshments, music, halftime entertainment and loads of excitement. This is also ACRD’s last home bout of the 2010 season.

Presale general admission tickets are $10 each while a limited number of front line tickets are $20 each. Reduced price children’s tickets are also available. Tickets can be purchased online or at Black Mamba Skate Park in Shoppingtown Mall. Tickets will also be available at the door the day of the event for $12 for general admission and $22 for front line.

ACRD is an all-women’s flat track roller derby league consisting of working mothers, professionals, wives, and students, ranging in age from 21 to 45. Their goal is to help local communities and promote women’s empowerment. Since its inception in late 2007, Assault City has competed on the road in Vermont, New Jersey, and Ohio as well as throughout Upstate New York. For additional information, please visit