The Strathmore Speaker Series is Proud to Announce its Spring 2017 Season

The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce its Spring 2017 lineup. The season will kickoff on Thursday, February 18th at 7 pm with a presentation by fitness guru and life coach, Nick Murphy, who first gained fame for helping a local man lose 425 pounds. Our second event of the season will feature a presentation by legendary Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Roy Simmons Jr., on Sunday, March 12th at 2 pm. Strathmore resident and founder of the Syracuse University Law School’s Cold Case Initiative, Janis McDonald, will headline our third event about seeking justice for civil rights-era crimes on Thursday, April 13th at 7 pm. And new for the spring 2017 season – a fourth event! – will feature the Syracuse Parks Department on Celebrating 100 Years of Syracuse Parks on Thursday, May 18th at 7 pm.

All events are held in the Onondaga Park Firebarn and are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

Andrew Lunetta, Founder of A Tiny Home for Good, to Speak at the Firebarn

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The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce that Andrew Lunetta, Founder and Executive Director of A Tiny Home for Good, Inc., will speak at the Strathmore Speaker Series on Thursday, October 13th, 2016 at 7:00 pm.

Lunetta, who lived in Syracuse as a child and attended Ed Smith Elementary through third grade, grew up in Massachusetts before returning to Syracuse in 2008 to attend Le Moyne College.  He graduated from Le Moyne in 2012 with a degree in Peach and Conflict Studies and went on to earn his Masters in Public Policy from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School in 2014.

Drawn to helping others since a gap year spent substitute teaching in Cleveland, Ohio through the AmeriCorps program, Lunetta quickly sought out ways to help others upon his return to Syracuse. As a freshman at Le Moyne, he started volunteering regularly at the Brady Faith Center, an organization which would eventually invite him to join its board. Through the center Lunetta became involved with helping the city’s homeless and quickly found his calling. He created a drop-in center, started a program that provides sandwiches, and began a bike give away program for the Center’s homeless patrons.

His involvement with the Center eventually led to the establishment of his latest endeavor, the A Tiny Home for Good project in 2014, which aims to provide affordable, safe and dignified housing for Syracuse’s homeless. With the help of volunteers, the project completed the construction of its first two homes on Rose Street in Syracuse earlier this year.

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Each modest home measures 12′ by 20′, and contains a single room that includes a living area, bed, kitchen, and bathroom. They also include a small outdoor shed to store they occupants’ bikes. Costing less than $25,000 each to construct and making use of already vacant lost, the project’s homes are a compelling alternative to VanKeuren Square, a state-of-the-art East Side housing complex for homeless vets that cost $11.4 million for 50 units, or $228,000 per apartment.

Since finishing his first two homes, Lunetta has begun construction of three new homes on South Salina Street which are expected to be completed this fall and plans are already in the works to build more new homes near the Rescue Mission.

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“Social Impact and Syracuse” – Tim Rudd to Speak at the Firebarn

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Social policy expert and recent candidate for Onondaga County Legislature’s 15th District, Timothy Rudd will speak at the Firebarn on Thursday, November 19th at 7 pm. Timothy will discuss exciting new strategies to finance investments in people and their applicability to communities like Syracuse.

Timothy is a Research Associate for MDRC – a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social policy research organization headquartered in New York City. For the last four years Timothy has been heavily involved in the first Social Impact Bond (SIB) in the United States. The project used a $9.6 million loan from Goldman Sachs to pay for cognitive behavioral therapy for 16-18 year olds in the New York City jail system on Rikers Island. If the program can reduce the amount of time participants spend in jail by more than 10 percent, the City of New York will repay the loan using money saved by keeping program participants from returning to the jail system. If the program fails to reduce recidivism by the required amount then the City of New York pays nothing and investors lose their investment. The project examines a number of new and innovative ideas about how governments can most effectively invest in their people.

Timothy’s presentation will introduce the SIB concept and describe how it could change the way government pays for investments in people. Additionally, he will comment in a private capacity about how similar ideas might have value in places like Syracuse. He will examine questions such as: Is it appropriate to use debt to increase the level of investment in people? What are the costs related to the way government currently makes investments in people? Does a lack of investment in people perpetuate poverty? And, can financial innovations unleash new capital that can be used to disrupt the cycle of poverty?

Timothy was born and raised in Syracuse. He graduated from Henninger High School, Syracuse University, and has an MPA from the Maxwell School. He lived and worked in New York City for six years including three years working for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget. He currently lives in the Elmwood neighborhood of Syracuse where he works for MDRC from his home.

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Maxwell School Economist Donald Dutkowsky to Speak at the Firebarn

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Maxwell School economist Donald Dutkowsky will speak at the Firebarn on Sunday, May 17th, 2015 at 3 pm. Professor Dutkowsky will discuss income and economic inequality and the growing gap between rich and poor in America.

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Having earned his B.A. and Ph.D. in economics from SUNY Buffalo, Professor Dutkowsky began his teaching career at Clarkson University before joining Syracuse University in 1985. At Syracuse, he served as the Director of Graduate Studies for the economics department at the Maxwell School for ten years, and regularly teaches courses in Money and Banking and Macroeconomics. His research uses macroeconomic data to assess how monetary policy affects output growth and inflation. He also studies consumer and corporate economic behavior and monetary policy. Professor Dutkowsky has published more than 40 works in scholarly journals, newspapers, and textbooks. He has also been featured in numerous national and local news outlets including, the Syracuse Post-Standard and Herald-Journal, Business Week, the Daily Orange, WCNY, WSTM, WTVH, WSYT, WSYR, WAER, and the BBC. Recently, he’s weighed in on small business recovery from the economic crises, Governor Cuomo’s student debt forgiveness plan, falling gas prices, and unemployment among millennials.

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Former Newhouse Dean and host of WCNY’s Ivory Tower David Rubin to Speak at the Firebarn

Dr. David Rubin, former dean of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and current host of WCNY’s “Ivory Tower Half-Hour,” will speak on “the Impact of Media on Democracy” at the Firebarn at 7:00 pm on Thursday, April 16, 2015.

About Dr. Rubin:

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Dr. David Rubin holds a B.A. from Columbia University in American History and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University. He served as Dean of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University from 1990 to 2008, and is now a member of the full-time faculty at Newhouse, teaching more than 200 students each year. Prior to Syracuse, he was, for 19 years, a member of the faculty and chair of the Department of Journalism at New York University.

At Newhouse:

As Dean of the Newhouse School, Dr. Rubin oversaw the building of the award-winning Newhouse-III, a state-of-the-art experimental lab for new approaches to online news delivery, and the new home of the offices of student services, a research center, and the Newhouse career center.

Beyond the Classroom:

In addition to teaching, Dr. Rubin is also the host and co-creator of “The Ivory Tower Half Hour,” a regular round-table discussion of public affairs that airs on WCNY-TV every Friday at 8 pm. Ivory Tower has been on the air since September 2002 and is the highest rated public affairs show in Central New York with a weekly audience of 10,000 viewers.

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Dr. Rubin served as a Pulitzer Prize judge on journalism in 1998 and 1999 and writes a monthly column for the Syracuse Post-Standard and the Syracuse Media Group.

David Rubin is married to the former broadcast journalist Tina Press. They live in Fayetteville with their two Shelties, Bobby and Ace, both of whom are masters-level agility competition dogs, no thanks to Dr. Rubin.

Learn more about Dr. Rubin here.

“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.

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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.

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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.

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‘Tree of 40 Fruit’ Creator Sam Van Aken to Speak November 20th

Syracuse University Professor and creator of the Tree of 40 Fruit Sam Van Aken will speak at the Firebarn on Thursday, November 20th, from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

About Sam Van Aken:

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Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Sam Van Aken received his undergraduate education in Communication Theory and Art. Immediately following his studies he lived and worked in Poland under the auspices of the Andy Warhol Foundation and the United States Information Agency. Returning after several years in Europe, Van Aken received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001. Since this time his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally receiving numerous honors including a Joan Mitchell Award, Association of International Curator’s of Art Award and a 2009 Creative Capital Grant. Sam Van Aken is currently an Associate Professor in the Art Department at Syracuse University.

Sam Van Aken’s art combines sophisticated technology with traditional modes of art-making. Van Aken’s projects cross boundaries between artistic genres, including performance, installation, video, photography, and sculpture. With each body of work, he selects practices and new perspectives that provide a kinesthetic perception of objects and a visceral charge.

Most recently, he has gained acclaim for his Tree of 40 Fruit project. For this project, Van Aken uses the ancient technique of grafting to attach branches from various types of stone fruit onto a single tree, resulting in one tree that blooms in a multitude of colors and bears a range of fruit, including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds. Currently, Van Aken has sixteen such trees installed at locations across the country. Van Aken’s project has been featured by NPR, Time, and CBS, among other news outlets. In March of 2014, he spoke at TEDxManhattan (see below).

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Artist’s rendering of Sam Van Aken’s Tree of 40 Fruit in bloom