Eric Persons on Central Current and Local Journalism

Join the Strathmore Speakers Series and Onondaga Free Library for an evening with Central Current, Inc. co-founder, Eric Persons. Central Current is a new nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent digital news agency based in Syracuse. Eric will discuss the Central Current project and the role of local journalism in creating an informed and engaged citizenry. A brief Q&A will follow.

This event will be held on Thursday, October 14th at 7 pm on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAkduGqqD0sGdQ-FmYa2igggXKbp79yUW8O

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Eric Persons

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Eric is supporting Central Current, Inc. because of journalism’s renewed focus on citizenship and community engagement. As a broadcast journalist, he witnessed violent crime, economic failure, and a decline in social capital, and he became frustrated that his work had little impact in helping his hometown of Buffalo, NY address those conditions. Now, local news can no longer survive and thrive without having a strong, responsive relationship with its audience. He believes that online journalism provides opportunities for innovation and creative storytelling that can strengthen an understanding of issues, create engaged citizens, while also preserving journalistic objectivity and integrity.

Eric stepped into a newsroom over 30 years ago with interest in covering sports, local news and politics. As a television photojournalist, he covered breaking news overnight while spending his days covering the NFL, NHL and college sports. His news stories involved countless homicides, weather events and car accidents while also contributing to stories on local government, the economy and cultural events. In 1996, his coverage of a suspect’s death in police custody contributed to an investigation and homicide charges filed against a Buffalo police lieutenant.

In 1997, he traveled overseas to learn more about the political, economic, and social changes occurring in Central and Eastern Europe. The experience turned into a career developing programs in higher education and public affairs. He directed university programs on political and economic reform in Washington, DC, the Czech Republic and Greece until arriving at Syracuse University in 2002. He has been a resident of Central New York ever since, where he has developed community initiatives involving urban planning and design, public health and economic development. He also represented Syracuse University at the local, state and federal levels of government, and has been an advocate for innovation and community engagement in higher education.

About Central Current

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Mission: Strengthen Civic Engagement and Democratic Governance

Central Current, Inc. is working to launch a nonprofit digital news publication that will provide balanced, fact-based news, opinion and analysis about the issues, events and happenings that impact life in Central New York. At a time when commercial interests and political interference are limiting quality journalism, we strive to fulfill a need for independent news with thorough and investigative coverage of issues to help residents be well-informed citizens. Our objective is to strengthen civic engagement and democratic governance, and to foster a prosperous and healthy community.

As a digital multimedia news organization, Central Current, Inc. will take an entrepreneurial approach to online journalism that redefines the relationship between news media and its audience. We will publish quality journalism and produce meaningful stories through writing, video, photography and other forms of media. As a mission‐centered nonprofit organization, we are exclusively focused on serving and engaging the community to enhance civic dialogue and understanding of issues. We will uphold the highest standards of journalistic integrity and creative storytelling while ensuring news coverage reflects the needs and diversity of the region.

Our motivation is our love for Central New York, but knowing we can do better. Our region is an attractive place to live and raise a family. But we also have one of the highest rates of poverty and racial segregation in the country. And while having a strong industrial heritage with dynamic anchors in higher education and health care, we struggle to drive investment and growth in our economy. It is necessary more than ever to have a better understanding of the issues that impact our entire community and resolve any disconnect we have to realizing a better future.

We are also driven by an entrepreneurial spirit that is rooted our region’s diversity and talent. The people we employ and others who support our work will be more than representative of our community; they also will have an ownership in our enterprise. Our work culture will be defined by a collaborative group of individuals and partners from different backgrounds, experiences and skill sets who are willing to try new approaches and learn from each other and from the community we serve.

We strive to be a reliable and trusted resource for journalism and to set the standards for integrity and creativity that other news organizations will want to replicate. Our content will be free and accessible to everyone, and we will offer programs and events to foster dialogue on the issues we cover.

At a time of great transformation in journalism and digital media, we are well positioned in Central New York to make the most of that opportunity. We are rich in talent, and have a young and entrepreneurial generation of professionals living in Central New York who want to make an impact in their community. Our journalists will include writers, photographers and great storytellers, all of whom will be committed to quality standards and practices to advance their craft.

– From centralcurrent.org

Historian Dennis Connors on “The Smith Family Fortunes”

Join the Strathmore Speakers Series and Onondaga Free Library for an evening with historian and former curator of the Onondaga Historical Association, Dennis Connors. Mr. Connors will discuss the history of the Lyman Smith Family, best known for their L.C. Smith Shotguns and Smith-Corona Typewriters. This talk will explore three generations of the Smith family and their residences as well as how the family’s fortune was made, spent, and dissipated. It promises to be an evening filled with interesting characters and images. A brief Q&A will follow.

This event will be held on Thursday, September 9th at 7 pm on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAkceGsqzsrHd1MoL8FU_zwkdgx0o4ozBb-

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Dennis Connors

Dennis Connors has worked in historical agencies since 1972 and as curator of history at the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse, New York from 1999 until his retirement in 2018.  He was employed originally by the Association from 1992 to 1999 as its Executive Director.  Previous to that, he was the Supervisor of Historic Resources for Onondaga County Parks for 14 years, overseeing three historic properties.  He also served as executive director for the Landmarks Association of Central New York for three years. He recently was a contributing author for the New York State Encyclopedia Project and has authored and edited six books on Syracuse area history, the most recent being Syracuse’s Grand Hotel: A History, published in 2017.  Mr. Connors has a history degree from the State University of NY at Buffalo with a concentration in museum studies.

About Lyman Smith & the Smith Family Businesses

Lyman Cornelius Smith was an American innovator and industrialist. He was born in Torrington, Connecticut in 1850 and died in Syracuse, New York in 1910. After several failed attempts to break into the lumber industry, Smith experienced his first entrepreneurial success in 1877 when, along with his older brother Leroy and firearms designer William H. Baker, he helped to form W.H. Baker & Co. Following the departure of Baker and his brother, he would rename the business the L.C. Smith Shotgun Company of Syracuse, before ultimately selling it to to the Hunter Arms Company in 1889.

Alongside brothers Hurlbut, Wilbert, and Monroe, Lyman formed the Smith Premiere Typewriter Company in 1887. Relying on technology developed by Alexander Brown, who had replaced W.H. Baker as the firearms designer for the L.C. Smith Shotgun Company, the Smith brothers began producing the first double keyboard typewriter in 1884. This typewriter, the Smith Premiere, performed so well that the brothers ultimately traded their gun business to focus exclusively on typewriters. The growing demand for typewriters combined with Syracuse’s role as an industrial and manufacturing center soon led other typewriter companies to setup shop in the City which, by 1904, had been nicknamed “The Typewriter City.”

The company was renamed L.C. Smith and Brothers in 1904 before being renamed again in 1926 when it merged with Corona Typewriters. By then, the newly formed Smith-Corona company was the largest manufacturer of typewriters in the world, producing 155,000 machines annually. Throughout its existence, the company maintained a reputation for innovation and would go on to expand aggressively into mechanical calculators, office products, paints, foods, and paper through the 1960s. The rise of inexpensive electronic calculators in the 1970s and personal computers in the 1980s ultimately led to the decline of Smith-Corona’s business. The company was acquired by Hanson Plc in 1986. It would endure its first bankruptcy in 1995 before enduring a second in 2000. By 2005, Smith-Corona had ceased manufacturing typewriters entirely, instead leveraging their expertise in ribbons and thermal technologies to focus on the growing thermal label business.

L.C. Smith and Bros. employees on the factory floor c. 1920. Photo from the Onondaga Historical Association.

Eddie Brennan on Beak & Skiff: Family Orchard to Tourist Destination

The Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library are delighted to announce our April 2021 event, an evening with Eddie Brennan, President and Co-Owner of Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards. Mr. Brennan will share the story of how this fifth-generation business evolved from a small family farm into regional producer of award-winning ciders, spirits, and wine, and, finally, to a polished, publicly-acclaimed tourist and event destination. Beak & Skiff’s transformation is at the heart of all that makes Central New York agriculture great, and is a shining exemplar of Central New York’s entrepreneurial ethos. A brief Q&A will follow Mr. Brennan’s discussion.

This event will be held on Thursday, April 8th at 7 pm on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUqfu2gqzovGdS_NJqXGc-WN3bPJ-O9ljVN

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Beak & Skiff

Beak & Skiff has been growing apples for over 100 years. The operation began in 1911 when George Skiff, an onion farmer on the North Side of Syracuse, and Andrew Beak, a dairy farmer, met at the farmers market and decided to join forces and enter the then emerging apple business. They found that the hillside area along Route 20 provided the perfect conditions for growing apples and began planting that very year.

For most of the 20th century, Beak & Skiff was strictly a wholesale apple producer, selling apples to grocery stores such as Victory and A&P. It was throughout this first phase of the business that they developed the culture of creativity and innovation that would set the stage for where the business is today. At first, this culture manifested itself in technological innovations around protecting and increasing the yield of their apple crop. In 1975, the business turned outward for the first time, opening its doors to the public as one of the nation’s first pick-your-own orchards. This was followed a few years later by the conversion of an old dairy barn into the Apple Hill Country Store and the beginning of Beak & Skiff’s foray into cider production. It was during this time that a visit to the orchard first became a fall tradition for many Central New York families.

In 2001, Beak & Skiff launched their 1911 Established line of Hard Ciders, catching a nascent cider revival that was soon to sweep the country. Before long, 1911 Established ciders were available in stores, restaurants, and bars across New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The success of their hard cider line led to a jump into wine and the spirits business via the launch of 1911 Spirits small batch premium vodka and gin and later brandy and bourbon. In 2013, Beak & Skiff renovated their Apple Hill Campus, transforming it into a major regional agrotourism destination and event venue.

Today, Beak & Skiff is in their fifth generation of family ownership and continuing to innovate. Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, the 1911 Spirits distillery switched over to the production of hand sanitizer which was ultimately sold and donated across Central New York. 2020 also saw the launch of Beak & Skiff’s industrial hemp and multi-product CBD business

Hyatt Green on COVID-19: Predicting the Next Outbreak

The Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library are delighted to announce our January 2021 event, an evening with SUNY ESF professor Hyatt Green, whose novel approach to wastewater monitoring is currently being used as an early warning system for the next major outbreak of COVID-19 in Onondaga County. Battling COVID-19 requires rigorous testing. Testing, if it is to succeed, requires the close coordination of microbiologists, public health officials, and operational technologists. Professor Green’s cutting-edge wastewater monitoring project unites these fields. Its blend of microbiology and biotech provides local governments and public health officials with a non-invasive method for detecting the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community—a method that may just be able to contain the next outbreak before it spreads. You won’t want to miss this incredibly topical event. A brief Q&A will follow Professor Green’s presentation.

This event will be held on Thursday, January 14th at 7 pm on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUrdeyqrTIuHdAtO64QbJTKanSoJNNbhthH

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Hyatt Green

Hyatt Green is an assistant professor at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He holds a PhD in Microbiology from Oregon State University, and has been published in numerous scientific journals, including Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Environmental Science and Technology. His research looks at molecular microbial ecology, water quality and microbial source-tracking, microbial dark matter, and eDNA and molecular ecology.

In April 2020, Professor Green and his research team began developing a method to monitor wastewater for evidence of COVID-19. The New York State Department of Health awarded Professor Green $500,000 in funding to pilot a statewide coronavirus transmission early warning system. They are currently monitoring wastewater systems in 11 counties across New York State, including Onondaga County.

Missed our last event? Watch the video!

The Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library are excited to announce that our virtual events will now also be accessible after the event in video form.

Missed Michael Streissguth and his presentation on City on the Edge: Hard Choices in the American Rust Belt? Watch the video below!

Announcing a New Partnership and a Fall Event!

The Strathmore Speakers Series is excited to announce a new partnership with our friends and neighbors at Onondaga Free Library! The Speaker Series and the Library will be working together to bring you the same great content you’ve come to expect… virtually!

We are delighted to announce that this partnership will launch with an event featuring journalist, professor, filmmaker, and longtime Syracuse and Strathmore resident, Michael Streissguth, as he discusses his most recent book City on the Edge: Hard Choices in the American Rust Belt. Following the stories of five Syracuse residents—a young survivor of the streets, a refugee from Cuba, an urban farmer, a community activist, and a city elder—City on the Edge offers insight into the reasons why individuals chose to remain in a struggling metropolis. In this lecture, professor Streissguth will examine these motivations and will take us on a deep dive into the social, political, and cultural challenges confronting Syracuse today. A brief Q&A will follow professor Streissguth’s discussion.

This event will be held at 7:00 pm on Thursday, November 12, 2020 on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcofu-rrj8qHtVIu9g5XUvijcp1WDf_Ckpt

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Michael Streissguth

Michael Streissguth is a professor in the Communications and Film Studies Department at Le Moyne College, where he teaches courses on Mass Media, Film, Writing and English Literature. His work has also been featured in numerous publications, including the Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Rolling Stone, and the Irish Times. He is the author of eight books, including Johnny Cash: The Biography, and the producer of two documentary films, Record Paradise and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (2008).

Dr. Colin Beier on Climate Change

The Strathmore Speaker Series is delighted to announce our November 2019 event, an afternoon with Dr. Colin Beier. Dr. Beier will explore the science and evidence behind our changing climate. He will discuss near and long-term solutions for managing this change and the implications of failing to manage it.  This event will be held on Sunday, November 10th at 2 pm at the Onondaga Park Firebarn. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

About Colin Beier

“My work recognizes that humans are integral parts of the Earth system, capable of both inducing rapid and irreversible changes, yet also providing careful stewardship that fosters the adaptive capacity of the Earth’s ecosystems.” – Colin Beier

Colin Beier, PhD, is a father, a husband, a student and teacher of the natural world, and an associate professor at SUNY ESF.  He is a broadly trained ecologist interested in the fate of forest ecosystems and landscapes – including people and our economic, political, and cultural institutions – in a rapidly changing world. His current work is focused on monitoring ecosystem impacts of climate change in the Adirondacks, developing a statewide forest carbon inventory and monitoring program for New York, and leading a new ESF initiative in ‘Pathways to Net Zero Carbon’ that will integrate science and design to address our critical challenges and opportunities at the nexus of land use, energy systems, and climate change.

Dr. Jana Shaw on The Rise of the Anti-Vaccination Movement: Why Should You Care?

The Strathmore Speaker Series is delighted to announce our October 2019 event, an afternoon with SUNY Upstate’s Dr. Jana Shaw who will explore the rise of vaccine hesitancy and why it should matter to you. This event will be held on Sunday, October 20th at 2 pm at the Onondaga Park Firebarn. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

About Dr. Jana Shaw

Dr. Jana Shaw is an immunization content advisor with expertise in the area of vaccine refusal and 17 years of experience providing primary and specialty pediatric care. Dr Shaw is an Associate Professor at the Department of Pediatrics at the SUNY Upstate Medical University with training in pediatric infectious diseases, public health and immunology from the Johns Hopkins University and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Dr. Shaw’s research has focused on identifying populations at-risk for undervaccination, with a particular focus on undervaccination and school systems in the United States. Findings from her research have been disseminated through presentations at national and state meetings and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Shaw has previously collaborated with the numerous public health and academic institutions on variety of vaccination coverage improvement projects such as Center for Disease ControlUniversity of Albany, the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins and the New York State Department of Health. Her expertise also extends beyond the national borders. She has collaborated with public health professionals in New Zealand to search of ways to enhance coverage in a country without immunization laws.

Announcing the Spring 2019 Season!

The Strathmore Speaker Series is delighted to announce its Spring 2019 season!

Our first event will take place on Thursday, March 14th at 7 pm and feature scientist Dr. Donald Siegel who will examine the dismissal of facts in science-related decision making.

Our second event of the spring will take place on Thursday, April 11th at 7 pm and will feature Dr. Keith Bybee, who asks “Is civility dead?”

Our third and final event of the spring will feature Dr. Ednita Wright who will examine the root causes of the opioid epidemic in America and consider what it means for individuals and families dealing with addition. This event will be held on Thursday, May 16th at 7 pm.

As usual, the events will be held at the Onondaga Park Firebarn. They are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!