Swan Song. … Not.

SWAN

{ except it’s not, because … }

SONG

{ I Can’t Keep Quiet I am naive. I know this. I am too nice. I know this too. People can’t take me seriously. I get it. But what I do not get is any City’s Clique Problem. Follow My Lead. }

Top 10 11 Reasons why Cliques are Destructive to Rochester

Because Ima go Wherever I Want, When I Want,
even when you Make Fun Of Me.
Ima Ask Out Whoever I Want.
Ima Say – No Thanks – Whenever I want.
because { … }
I’m not in High School Anymore.

  1. HIGH SCHOOLGrow Up Y’all. We already made it. We do NOT need to convince ourselves or anyone else that We are “making it,“. We already have. Leave High School in High School so that, as Young Adults, we can more Fully Grow. So we can Own our Accomplishments, and truly enjoy them. Actualize our Full Potential. Please – We Deserve this. Now.
  2. BE FREEHave you ever said or thought – “I can’t go there: they don’t like me?” … As an Adult?? In your own City??? … I have … { raised hand emoji }. More than once. Tragic. This is a Tragedy. We live in the Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. Stop the Madness. You can go anywhere you like. Rochester is such a Beautiful City with Incredible Intellect, Culture, + Creativity … and Food! We have some of the best, most fresh / artisanal food … nello mundo. Represent. Support your Community. Go where You Want. This is True Freedom. Our World is incredibly Oppressed. We are not. Rise Up. Rise Above. Do You. Freely. Please.
  3. INFERIORITY COMPLEXThis not US. This is not Rochester. This is Trump – our President of the United States of America. Rochester – we are far better than this, and we know it. We have Nothing to Prove to Anyone. We are our Own City, with our Own Identity + Culture. We literally, #ROC On. Literally. So what’s the deal – way do we hate on each other. We can’t we say Hi to each other or join a Cause just because we want to? … The thing is: We Can. But, I have to say, in my own experiences — whenever I try, and I don’t want to join the “tribe,” the “group,” the “crew,” or the “clique,” I get shunned. Hella. It is not right. We are Complex Human Beings with a Humanity, + we Owe it to Ourselves, or Community, + our City to more Fully Realize This. Unite.
  4. CULTURAL IDENTITYDown with “The Other.” I learned this as a student of English Literature while studying at the University of Pittsburgh. I learned this while living in Manhattan as a grad student at Teachers College, Columbia. This is a rather complex thought, so bear with me. { I know you can. You smart. }
    1. First – We as a smaller – medium sized city owe it to ourselves to harness + hone our Cultural Identity. We are trying, and we’re succeeding on the one-hand.
    2. Second – as a burgeoning city, it is okay — and in fact — we do need to look toward other city’s for an exemplar: this is just how it works. { We do not need to become that city, but we do, in fact, look up to it. Truth. } 
    3. Boston + NYC – I’m not tryna hate on Boston: I love Boston + hold it dearly to my heart. But I can attest, primarily from the testimony of 2 dear friends who hail from Boston (and 1 still live there now), that Boston is a Cliquey City. Clique-y AF. Ain’t no body makin no new friends in Boston, okay. I’m not saying that New York City is any different. But I am saying that, from my perspective + personal experience, it has been. I have an equally good friend who was born / raised / lives in Brooklyn now, and I can also say that I lived on the UWS { Duke Ellington Blvd, holler } in Manhattan for 6 months. { Which doesn’t sound like long, but it’s probably longer than you – so : respect. } New York City is the Great City it is because it melts, blends, infuses, + sets the example before anyone else. 
    4. We are #Roc. – So Rochester … who are we more similar to? A city in another state. Or a city in our home state. A city where we share a similar Hipster / Cafe / Cocktail / Culinary Culture. We, in fact, are quite similar to New York City. And NYC is it’s own force. It’s own entity. It is a True Melting Pot, + I think we — Rochester, NY — deserve some Respect, too. We absolutely do. We will not get it by being Clique-y High School. We just cannot grow in the way we need, if we are separated by Groups + Business, separated Economically + Culturally. So, Rochester, let’s Grow + Fully Actualize into our Own Cultural Identity.
  5. POVERTY, SEGREGATION, + INTEGRATION – How Dare We. How. Dare. We. … Rochester, NY has the best Public Schools in the Nation, and The Worst. Rochester, NY is Incredibly Affluent, in the Top 10 most Poverty Stricken — Extreme Poverty — Urban cities in our Great Nation. ENOUGH! NO! WE CANNOT GO ON LIKE THIS! I do not apologize for all Caps, because they are warranted. “Separate, but Equal, is Inherently Unequal,” Brown v. Board of Education, 1954. Rochester, NY cannot Grow + Thrive into the Urban Cultural Center it is with our continued Disparities. How can we expect our Community to grow when the very Cultural Scene of Rochester, NY is so separated? How. 
  6. EAST V. WEST  –  I am Over It. I am an Offender of it. Not because I graduated from an “East Side” high school { which may as well be a “West Side,” so far as farer East Side school districts are concerned, even though Irondequoit High School is a paradigm of Educational Excellence, in spite of  because of its growing Urban Population … }. Namely, because of East vs. West within the Town of Irondequoit. When I am Wrong, I Call Myself Out, First: And I am wrong to Differentiate my High School Education based upon East V. West. We all need to Call Ourselves Out, more. For the Sake of our Country; For the Sake of our Humanity. Language is Power. I concede that some Rochester Suburban School Districts out-rank others. And I contest that this is primarily a concern of anyone who has children or will soon have children attending these public schools, because — if you’re not yet — who the f. wants to pay those property taxes anyway? Come-on: ENOUGH. Enough is Enough. We are One. We All make our City Great. 
  7. MEAN GIRLS‘Nough said.
  8. HEATHERS‘Nough said.
  9. GOSSPI GIRLTotal satire of the snobby, privileged, uber wealthy NYC scene. Well, Rochester, we have our own version of this scene. And for anyone who thinks Gossip Girl — the TV series, not the book series { as I’ve not read them but know that almost every youth at the LAB School for Collaborative Studies in Chelsea, Manhattan, where I student-taught in 2007, has } — is lame, you’re right: and if you don’t think it’s Satire, you are, perhaps, missing it. Whether the creators intended for it to be, or not: it is. Learn to see yourself through others’ eyes. And then laugh.
  10. CAN’T BUY ME LOVEHave we learned nothing from Pop Culture? Let alone ’80’s movies?? { See Heathers, above. } I mean really. We can’t we ever learn from our past? The time is now. Learn. Act. Grow. Do. 
  11. #SHOPLOCALI do not Shop Local to be Cool. I am not Any Cooler than You. Everyone is Equally Cool. Only Evil is Not Cool. Okay. I Shop Local because I grew up in Poverty, until my mother went back to school to become a Chemical Engineer thereby Graduating in the Top of her Class from the University of Rochester — even as she gave birth through an Emergency Caesarian to my younger brother, who then had to be operated on at 3 days old — when I was in the 4th grade. I grew up in Poverty. Do you get that. I was shunned by almost every Teacher + ever Student in the Catholic School to which I went, until we moved to the Suburbs when I was headed into the 5th grade. I was told I was stupid. My older brother, who has a near-genius-level IQ: He was told he was Stupid. He could not read until the 4th grade, and he is the most prolific reader I know — more so than my younger brother, who has a Masters in Rhetoric from Miami University of Ohio. Do you get this. I grew up in Poverty. I was bullied every single day since the day I was born until I was 10, and beat-up almost every single day in ‘Da Hood of Rochester, NY.

This is why I Strive to Bully No One + Advocate for Everyone.
{ This is what I do in my Career, as  Career Advisor at a local non-profit. }
Do you get that. I Shop Local because it it Sustainable + Responsible.
Integrating our City is also Sustainable + Responsible.
Do Both. As Much as you Can.

Separate, but Equal, is Inherently Unequal.

My AdviceEveryone go to Lux. This is the greatest Social Melting Pot of Rochester, I have ever seen. Then think – How many people of different Socio-Economic Statues, Races, + Cultures hang in your crew??

Let’s get With It Rochester. Let’s Be Real.
Let’s Be Free.
Let’s Be One.
For the Cultural Identity of Our Community.
For our Growth.

Because Ima go Wherever I Want, When I Want, even when you Make Fun Of Me. { . . . } I’m not in High School Anymore.

Much Love,

#standforthesilent

#integrate

#LocalLegend

{ or so I’ve been told }

#weareone

#Roc.

X.

Instagram: Instafun! How to Be in the Know, Be Present, + Be Local.

SUMMERTIME IS

Instagram.

HERE.

You might say Social Media is the Antithesis / Antichrist of all things … Social. Like: Being Present, Being Active, Living your Real Life, just to name a few. Au Contraire. Social Media, when used responsibly, enhances all things Social. I’m going to provide 3 Simple Guidelines { because who like Rules } + use Rochester, NY to tell you how! Because, after all, #YOLO.

Vibe With Your Community

How does one strike that delicate balance between SM junkie + SM savvy?? Listen here:

1. Be Discreet. Only check Instagram when on the toilet.

  • Insta picture junkie, I am + I admit. I have a very narrow filter for when I do + don’t post pics because, well … Instant. { However, anything that requires major editing, I wait. }
  • Scrolling / Liking / Commenting junkie, on the other hand, I abstain. I save the big-read for very private, alone times. Such as when I first wake-up. Or when I pee and … Just kidding! But you get what I mean. { And also, don’t do that. That’s gross. }

Why is this important? We don’t want SM to consume our actual social lives. Talk to your friends. Listen to their conversations. It’s fun. Promise — real socializing is pretty great.

2. Be Free. Let Instagram reflect the most pure you.

  • No one’s judging. Unlike Twitter, Instagram has no lists. Give yourself permission to be select with who you do + don’t follow! It’s okay to Unfollow. It’s also okay to Follow individuals who post incredible content, even if you don’t know them.
  • Wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s also okay to Like! Tap that heart, baby. Leave comments when inspired. Don’t be shy. This is what SM is for.

It’s for getting to know your fellow community.

{ And for anyone — me! — who is confused about Post Notifications + the new Inst-algorithim-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or Understood, … read here. }

Why is this important? For several reasons. The biggest being: Social Media should enhance our identity + individuality. You have control over that. Harness SM to hone You. 

3. Follow Local. Restaurants, Organizations, Stores, Events, Local Bloggers — follow, follow, follow!

Why is this important? Because the more you know, the more you grow. The more you share + interact, the more your community grows.

So get on it! 
Follow your community on Instagram.

And Follow Me! Because Child, there’s even more than that happening in the Roc this week!

  1. South Wedge Sip & Shop: This Thursday!! And every 3rd Thursday until October. { Thank you Thread for this Insta. }
  2. South Wedge Third Thursday Concerts: Also this Thursday + every 3rd until October. { Thank you South Wedge + Star Alley Park … next to Lux. }
  3. Lux Lounge Events: Always a Party! Game Nights, Dance Parties, PB+J, B Movie Wednesdays. { If you’re bored, you’re boring because Lux + Chill. }

So … Go Out, Get Out, Insta-Responsibly, Be Present. And, always, Be Local.

#YOLO.

#bepresent.

#belocal.

Shop Like an Urban Local: Farmer’s Market Tips You Don’t Know … Yet.

{ What are your Saturday plans?! Check out your local Public Market + come back with a haul like this. Shout out to Heather Saffer + her frosting empire, better known as Dollop Frosting! }

FARMER’S MARKETS

The Rochester. Public. Market.

AND EVERYTHING YOU DON’T KNOW.

I think by now — in this age of Farm-to-Table, Save Money, + Organic/Local Eating — we all know:

It’s the whole: haggle, baggle { bring your own tote }, shop around, find a tomato-guy spiel. Done + done. So whether you’re an O.G. of the underground or a Late Bloomer, I’m going to share some tips you might not know.

The pay-off?
Guaranteed, you will have more fun + find more value.
You will become 1 with the experience of your local Public and/or Farmer’s Market
.

Last Saturday, I walked to the Rochester Public Market. I bought over 1 lb of locally raised ground beef, 1 dozen locally raised free range eggs, 5 lemons, 1 bunch of kale, 1 pint of cherries, 4 sweet potatoes, 1 eggplant, + I had a free tasting of locally made O’Begley’s whiskey … all for $23. Best part? I made friends + had an adventure doing it. Here’s how:

  1. Off the Beaten Path. Take the Road Less Traveled. Urban living, or not, chances are most of us live within walking distance to our local farmer’s markets. If so, don’t just walk — Explore.
    • Live a Little. I live in the NOTA section of Rochester, which means I’m probably .5 miles away from at least 5 ways to get to the Rochester Public Market. Taking the straight-and-narrow is just too damn bland.
    • Free Stuff. Last Saturday, I discovered 2 different Little Free Libraries on 2 different side streets. I even took a book!
    • Pretty Sites. I also imbibed the sites of quirky houses, colorful gardens, + cute cobblestone paths.
  2. Don’t be a Wallflower. Be Part of the Community. At the Public Market, you are family. Shoppers, farmers, sellers, buyers: it’s one big family festival of sights + sounds, tastes + smells.
    • Step Out. Crowds can overwhelm me, so last Saturday I was very guarded at first. Which is just fine! But so many cool things happened once I opened my face to the sun.
    • Talk to Strangers. I complimented a young lady on her gorgeous locks. As I walked away, she shouted to back to compliment my crazy curls! We both felt thrilled. Right after, another passerby chimed-in — That was really nice! — when she saw me pick up a stray piece of litter that swooped in front of my feet. Talk about friendly.
    • Support our Troops + Community. On the way out, I met a Vet who was giving away paper Poppy’s in request for a donation. He was sweet, funny, + he served our country. What can be more fulfilling than that?
  3. Be Curious, Not Cheap. You Don’t Always Have to HaggleThat is right. You don’t. Especially if you don’t feel comfortable, and especially if prices are already super low. Instead …
    • No Middle Man. Ask questions. Did you know that the woman who supplies all of Wegmans with their eggs has a stand at the Public Market?? Yup. She and her 700,000 { ! } chickens sell lots of eggs, including free-range, for near-half the price you’d find at the super market.
    • Local Meat. Same story for local meat from local farms. After asking some questions on quality, locality, and prices from the people at Heiden Valley Farms, I left with 1 fresh package of never-frozen, locally raised 80/20 ground beef. At these prices, it should be the only type of meat I eat. { Life goals. }
    • Seasonal Produce. Not every single last fruit + veg at your local public/farmer’s market will be from your surrounding area. And that’s okay! But, if you ask the right questions — you’ll discover that this California Kale will soon { 1 month } be replaced by locally grown NYS kale that was recently planted.
  4. Enjoy Yourself. Make Grocery Shopping Fun. The Rochester Public Market can do this. And yours can too. In fact, most public markets are more like festivals than they are chores. That’s because:
    • Brunch. You can grab gourmet, fresh coffee along with breakfast sandwiches and other brunch dishes for quick + for cheap.
    • Dine Solo. It’s super easy to still have a meal and some downtime, even when you are alone. Last Saturday, I grabbed a latte + a chair so I could sit + read before beginning my shopping spree.
    • Free Tastings. If your market is anything like ours’ here in Rochester, there’s going to be wine + liquor, and it’s going to be free. This past Saturday I tasted O’Begley’s locally made Poitin + Whiskey for the 1st time. It was great. And it was cool to learn about the product from the distiller, himself!

If you’re going to Shop Local, might as well do it like a Local. Which means laying down roots, having fun even if there’s no sun, falling in love with your City and Community, + saving a ton of green.

#RochesterPublicMarket.

#shoplocal.

Shop Local Rochester: #Roc the Holiday!

#ROC

the holidays are here

the

#shoplocalroc

HOLIDAY

{ The holidays are unofficially here. Although I say, when 20-below weather arrives along with the snow … it’s full-on shopping season! So gear-up + get ready to hear what’s good from the #ROC. Because #ShopLocalRoc is bringing it this holiday season. }

This holiday, shop with a cause.

#shoplocalroc

Two incredible websites + blogs, A-List Rochester + Flower City Fashionista, along with BESL { me } are bringing you access to Rochester’s best #ShopLocal spots + events, gifts + ideas. Why?? Because the holidays are about giving + getting. And that’s exactly what shopping local does for you + for our community.

be sustainable this holiday season.

give + get:

#ShopLocal is sustainable for our:

  • economy
  • environment
  • budgets

#ShopLocalRoc is a fun + festive way to make shop local a lifestyle { while giving the greatest gifts. }

look good, feel good:

#shoplocalroc 

Getting started is simple. { And you can win prizes! }

  1. Shop at a local store or event!
    • And if you want to participate in our contest …
  2. Take a photo
  3. Tag on Facebook or Instagram using: #shoplocalroc
  4. Be entered to receive great prizes from many of our prized shops around Rochester

The best way to spread Holiday Cheer,

is pledging #shoplocalroc loud for all to hear.

Take the { Polar } Pledge. Get loud about it! Why not?

  1. Write a pledge.
  2. Post on Social Media.
  3. Voice your #shoplocalroc feats.

Pledge’s are simple solutions you resolve to take while holiday shopping this season. It could be anything! Some quick ideas are:

  • Before heading to the big box store for children’s toys … I’m going to Archimage on Monroe Ave!
  • Instead of catching that sale on dish ware for the party … I’m going to try my local VOA!
  • Forget the mall for one-stop-shopping. I’m hitting South Ave in the South Wedge!

Let us know what your plans are on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, and hashtag #shoplocalroc.

{ To be eligible for the contest, include a photo of what you’ve purchased. }

make it count:

every $1 spent locally has 3x the impact!

#ShopLocalRoc makes it easy for you to make it count! For all of the best gift giving + gift guides, check-in with:

Cheers.

#shoplocalroc

XO.

Shop Local: VOA Thrift Stores – Upstate New York.

VOA

VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA UPSTATE NEW YORK

THRIFT STORES

Break The Cycle of Poverty

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER

WHO: VOA Upstate New York.  Serving: 6,000+ people plus throughout Upstate New York.

WHAT: Over 100 years old! Non-profit. Serves our community and sells some wicked good duds, home wares, shoes + accessories, and more.

WHERE: Flagship Store: Lave Ave (near downtown). 10+ Store Locations throughout Rochester. Shop Online.

WHEN: Founded in Rochester, 1901.

WHY:  Because why not. You should become passionate about VOA. See my list below. To really get it, watch this video:

Rise Out of Poverty, Move Toward Self-Reliance, Reach Toward Full Potential

IMG_7502

Crop Top / Vintage / Wrap Dress / Fashion Jacket – All on my MUST list. All found at VOA.

1. Incredible Deals. 

  • Everyday Low Prices: Recently Dropped Prices on Most Popular Clothing Items! (Prices exclude better brands. … But trust me, those are inexpensive too.)
  1. $.99 Sunday’s + Monday’s
  2. $1.99 Regular Tanks + Tees

    IMG_7401

    Ask for your Rewards Card when you cash out! Earn + Redeem Points.

  3. $3.99 Regular Tops
  4. $4.99 Regular Shorts
  5. $5.99 Regular Bottoms
  • Sales: Change Daily.
  • SUPER SATURDAYS – Everything is 50%. Go THIS SATURDAY, 6/28!!
  • Rewards Card: Ongoing. VOA Rewards Card gives you points (turns into real $$) on each
    purchase you make. Can be used on sale items!

2. Excellent Selection.

  • Brand Names
  • High Quality
  • Unique Finds
  • Women’s Wear
  • Men’s Wear
  • Office Wear (not including Working Wardrobe)
  • Casual
  • Going Out
  • Lounging

    IMG_7400

    Neatly organized + some brand new ones to select from! Like those boots on the end.

  • Junior’s
  • Children’s
  • Children’s Books
  • Shoes
  • Bags
  • Accessories
  • Home Wares
  • Furniture
  • Seasonal Attire

3. Convenient.

  1. Batavia
  2. Brockport

    IMG_7379

    Spotted! 2 dresses I donated to VOA. Patterned halter from HM Toronto + black lace from Target.

  3. Canandaigua
  4. Culver Road
  5. Elmira
  6. Endwell
  7. Fairport
  8. Lake Ave Store  
  9. Lake Ave Outlet
  10. Palmyra
  11. Warsaw
  12. Webster
  • Parking is Accessible
  • Changing Rooms
  • Vending Machines at Lake Ave!

4. Arranged Like Retail Stores.  

  • Thoughtful Layout

    IMG_7384

    Formal Wear. Prom dresses + gowns. … I should really donate mine. Also seems like a great place for old Bridesmaid’s dresses.

  • Clothing Organized by Color / Size / Style
  • Clearly Marked Sections + Sizes
  • Enough Cash Registers

5. Specialty Selections. 

  • Formal Gowns
  1. Wedding
  2. Prom
  3. First Communion
  • Vintage

“We’re here to serve each other. We change lives. We restore hope and dignity. We put others first.”

~JoAnne Ryan, President + CEO (taken from Agency Video)

Thrifting will always have a special place in my heart. From suits to blouses to slacks and shoes to bags: I gave my mom the hardest time, while growing up, for never buying anything new. For never being like the other moms. But she was right. She scraped together just enough change to buy me McDonald’s fries {we have her to thank for this infatuation} and paid for my older brother’s and my grade school tuition. She, a newly graduated full-time engineering UR student, and full-time mom with a new baby boy in the crib, interviewed for jobs out of university. She taught me value. She taught me style. She taught me what it means to be proud of what I have, who I am,  and my community. She taught me to do what I do, whether it is popular or not. She taught me all of this. And she taught me it through thrift shopping.

My aunt, as well. Aunt Katy, my mama’s older sister, is an antique dealer and thrift shopping maverick. With just 1 scan of the perimeter, Aunt Katy knows exactly what’s treasure and exactly what’s … not. Aunt Katy’s taught me, not just the value of a dollar, but also, the value of a flea market, the value of a garage sale, the value of an estate sale, the value of a church sale, and the value of the people behind them. Shopping is fun. Fashion feels good. But thrift shopping, the values and the culture and the people behind thrift shopping, is immortal.

When we thrift shop, yes: we give immortal lives to the things no one wants. More, we give immortality to the spirit surrounding our communities. This is why I thrift shop.

I thrift at VOA because they support and empower our community.

IMG_7408 IMG_7405

VOA CHILDREN’S CENTER

Last Thursday I shopped with Marketing & Media Director, Megan, at the 214 Lake Ave. location, centrally located between Lake Ontario and Downtown. Passersby cannot miss the neatly blocked tan building with familiar red, white, and blue sign that flags down shoppers, outside of this Upstate New York VOA Flagship store. Convenient parking flanks both sides of the Retail Center.

When I finished devouring aisle after aisle of shorts, denim, blouses, tanks, dresses {I even ran into a few of my own that I donated!}, Megan was kind enough to take me next door to the VOA Children’s Center.

My jaw never closed.  A bright jungle gym set-up donated by Top’s. The Universal Preschool that is associated with RCSD. Beautiful, jubilant children, pre-school aged and up, who attentively listened to aids and harmoniously played together, both inside and out. Brightly painted, mural-ed walls. Classrooms fully equipped with sitting spaces, learning areas, bathrooms, books. A full dental center in partnership with RGH. Even more medical services, including Telemed equipment to web conference with doctors as needed.

IMG_7404

Dental Room in partner with RGH at the VOA Children’s Center.

 

My eyes squeezed in tears. Seeing these happy, healthy children and the facilities imparted to teachers and aides to keep these children happy + healthy. These are the programs that improve our world. Programs like these, with the research and altruism and partnership and innovation and heart, are what change our world.

I am so proud that the VOA Children’s Center serves 280 children, between 6 weeks old to 12 years old, 98% of whom live in the most impoverished parts of Rochester. I am so proud we have VOA to serve a number of populations and communities in this exact same manner.

SHOP LOCAL

IMG_7418 IMG_7420

If you didn’t want to shop before {and who doesn’t want to shop}, you want to shop now. {Or this Saturday, 6/28 at SUPER SATURDAY.} Ask for your Rewards Card when you cash-out. I promise, the reward to both you + to our community is not just worth it. It’s immortal.

Thank you to Megan + to VOA for hosting me this past Thursday! See you guys soon.

#shoplocal

#donate

#giveback

#breakthecycleofpoverty

#VOA

XO.