“The Near Westside – by Choice!” – A Profile of Peter Waack and Maggie Maurer

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Peter Waack and Maggie Maurer. Photo from Syracuse.com.

Peter Waack and Maggie Maurer will join other neighbors from Syracuse’s Near Westside for a panel discussion of what it’s like to live and work in one of the City’s most dynamic neighborhoods. The conversation will take place on Thursday, March 19th at 7 pm at the Onondaga Park Firebarn (500 Summit Ave, Syracuse, NY) and is free and open to the public.

Peter is the General Manager of The Daily Orange, a student-produced news media organization affiliated with Syracuse University. He is active in the community, sitting on the board of Directors for ArtRage, Syracuse Sports Corporation, and the advisory board of SyracuseFirst. Peter’s partner Maggie runs her own interior design consultancy and is a sales and marketing executive for an independent media company. Previously, she worked in the green home industry.

Together Peter and Maggie occupy the “R-house” at 19 Otisco Street on Syracuse’s Near Westside. The home’s design was among three winners of “From the Group Up”, a competition for affordable and energy-efficient homes to fill vacant lots in the neighborhood. The home was built in 2010 through a partnership between the University and Home HeadQuarters.

The 1200 square foot home was designed to German Passivhaus standards. Airtight and super-insulted, the home has a poured concrete floor that stores and strategically releases heat from sunlight coming in through large windows, and can be heated with the energy needed to run a hair dryer. Since moving in, Peter and Maggie have further demonstrated their commitment to green living by outfitting R-house with EnergyStar appliances and low-flow plumbing. They’ve even ensured that its exterior paint is environmentally-friendly and does not emit Volatile organic compounds.

More information about the home can be found here.

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R-house interior. Photo from Arch Daily.

“The Near Westside – by Choice!” – A Profile of Michael Giannattasio

The third featured speaker for the Strathmore Speaker Series’ upcoming “The Near Westside – by Choice!” event is Michael Giannattasio. Michael will join a panel of other Near Westside residents and business owners on Thursday, March 19th at 7 pm at the Firebarn in Onondaga Park for a conversation about what it’s like to live and work in one of Syracuse’s most exciting neighborhoods. The event is free and open to the public.


Michael is the founder and director of Syracuse Arts Learning & Technology (SALT) Makerspace. He holds BFA and MFA degrees in Sculpture, is an independent fabricator, Co-Chair of Public Arts Task Force for 40 Below, a university-level teacher, and a public art sculptor.

Michael grew up in the Bay Area, just south of San Francisco. From a young age, he was exposed to diverse populations which influenced his outlook and goals in life. He received his first degree, a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Sculpture, from California State College, Chico. At Chico, he refined his process by working with every medium he could get his hands on including: glass, bronze, aluminum, wood, and ceramics. After completing his degree, Michael worked for a time as a studio assistant, independent fabricator, and professional artist.

In 2009, he moved to Syracuse to begin work on a Masters of Fine Arts in Sculpture at Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). During this time he focused his art on experiences relating to location and expressed through digital installations. By the time he graduated in 2012, Michael had fallen in love with the City of Syracuse and its people.

Soon after graduation Michael became involved with 40 Below’s Public Arts Task-Force, working to create collaborative and permanent public art projects throughout the City of Syracuse. At around the same time, he began working on the SALT Makerspace project. Since 2012, Michael has worked tirelessly to bring the Makerspace to life. In July 2014, his hard work finally paid off, with the grand opening of the 2,300 square foot SALT Makerspace in the Delvan Center on West Fayette Street. The space, which is aimed at local inventors and artists, offers members access fully-equipped metal and wood shops, a computer lab with 3-D printers and software, and a collaborative lounge space. It also hosts regular workshops on a variety of topics.

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The SALT Makerspace. Photos from Syracuse.com.

“The Near Westside – by Choice!” – A Profile of Maarten Jacobs

On Thursday, March 19th at 7 pm the Strathmore Speaker Series will host the first event of its spring 2015 season. This event, entitled “The Near Westside – by Choice!”, will feature a panel discussion between neighbors who live and work on Syracuse’s Near Westside. It is our first panel event, and in honor of it, we will be posting weekly bios of our guests. First up is our panel moderator Maarten Jacobs.

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Maarten Jacobs, MSW, is the Director of the Near Westside Initiative (NWSI), a nonprofit organization working to combine the power of art, technology, and innovation with neighborhood values and culture to revitalize Syracuse’s Near Westside (also known as the SALT District). In that role over the past four years, Maarten has worked diligently to ensure that the residents of the Near Westside neighborhood are actively engaged in the revitalization taking place in their neighborhood and ensuring that the community’s best interests are always represented. Similarly, with a personal passion for the arts, Maarten has pushed the Near Westside Initiative to be a truly place-based initiative with a focus on implementing creative placemaking as a fundamental strategy for economic and community development.

In addition to his work with the Near Westside Initiative, he teaches Community Economic Development at the Syracuse University School of Social Work. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology and a Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in Community Development and Social Action from the University of Maryland.


The Strathmore Speaker Series Announces its Spring Lineup

The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce its spring 2015 lineup. The season will kickoff on Thursday, March 19th at 7 pm with a panel discussion between neighbors who have chosen to live and work in the up-and-coming Near Westside (SALT District). Our second event will feature a lecture about the impact of media on democracy by former Dean of the Newhouse School and moderator of WCNY’s Ivory Tower Half Hour, David Rubin on Thursday, April 16th at 7 pm. The spring season will conclude with a presentation on income inequality in America by Maxwell School Economist Donald Dutkowsky on Sunday, May 17th at 3 pm. All events are free and open to the public.

SSS Spring 2015