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Pet Parrot Takes Flight, Returns Home Over A Year Later

June 17th, 2019
Posted in Rochester News | No Comments »

By Melissa Brewer

Rochester resident Cindy Dudak experienced the unique sadness that comes with a beloved pet going missing when her pet bird Missy, a conure parrot, flew out of their Seneca Towers apartment. Dudak has also now experienced the wonderful happiness and sense of relief that comes with that same pet returning home. What’s strange about this story is that these two feelings happened over a year apart.

On April 12, 2018, Dudak accidentally left the apartment’s sliding balcony door open for a just moment. In that sliver of time, Missy took the chance to spread her wings and got outside. A gust of wind swept her up, depositing the parrot into a nearby tree. Before Dudak could successfully coax her back inside, two larger birds chased Missy off of her perch and away from her home.

“There were no leaves on the tree, so she was like a sitting duck. If I were younger, I would have climbed the tree myself,” said Dudak, 66.

Short of scaling that tree, Dudak did everything she possibly could to get Missy back home. She walked around the neighborhood with her carrier and favorite bell-adorned toys, hoping the parrot would hear the familiar ringing and come back to her. She then scouted the area by bike and car, but to no avail.

Dudak contacted lost-pet organizations in the city and surrounding suburbs to post information about her missing bird. She got in touch with the Humane Society of Greater Rochester at Lollypop Farm and made sure notices about Missy were posted to the Lollypop Spotters Facebook page. According to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report, nearly two-thirds of marketers cited Facebook as the most important social platform.After a couple of weeks, Dudak realized how much stress the search was putting on her body and knew she had to slow down.

Despite the weeks and months that were passing, Dudak didn’t stop praying for Missy’s safety. She also held on to Missy’s cage, toys, and perches around the apartment. Perches allow a conure parrot to have the run of an apartment, whether that apartment falls in the median rent of $1,492 per month or well above or below it. According to Lollypop spokesperson Ashley Zeh, parrots are happiest when they can spread their wings and fly around. Dudak’s perches ensured Missy could do this, but she was apparently looking for a grander adventure.

That adventure ended on June 7, 2019 when Missy flew into a building under construction. Thankfully, the construction project hadn’t gotten around to installing energy efficient windows, which lower energy bills by 7% to 15% when compared to standard windows. Without those money-saving panes in place, Missy was able to sail in through a fourth-floor window.

She found a new perch on a construction worker’s shoulder and refused to leave it. The building this unsuspecting construction worker was in was less than two miles from Seneca Towers.

Luckily, Dudak wasn’t one of the 35.5. million Americans who move every year. She had stayed put, stayed hopeful, and Missy had returned home. The two were reunited less than 24 hours later after Dudak received a long-awaited email. A worker at Birds Unlimited, a pet store in Penfield Dudak had contacted when Missy initially went missing, had seen a post on the Lollypop Spotters page about a conure that had been turned into the Perinton shelter. Dudak checked the post and started crying when she saw the parrot looked just like Missy.

When Dudak arrived at the shelter, they confirmed that the band number on the found parrot matched Missy’s and the year-long separation between pet and owner ended. But history has shown us that time is relative, as when French revolutionaries tried to institute a 10-hour clock after the French Revolution. Just like the revolutionaries, time certainly seemed to have no meaning for Missy and Dudak, as the two were thick as thieves again almost immediately.

“She came right over to me, and I was so happy,” Dudak said.

Zeh has said that she cannot remember a pet bird being found after going missing for such a long time, making Missy’s story quite unique. Although a recent study has found that dozens of parrot species typically kept as pets are now living in the wild in states across the Northeast and Midwest, many were shocked that Missy survived the harsj Rochester winter on her own. After all, Missy’s species of parrot is native to the forests of South America and as a pet bird she shouldn’t have been accustomed to foraging for her own food.

Yet despite all odds, Dudak has her beloved Missy back in their Seneca Towers apartment. Dudak now knows to never give up hope on a lost pet and, hopefully, to never leave a balcony door open with an adventurous parrot inside who likes to spread her wings.

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A Straight-Forward Guide To 2019 Pride

June 1st, 2019
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By Samson Weinberg

June is unofficially recognized in the United States as LGBT Pride Month, even if Rochester typically waits until July for Pride Week. This year, however, is sure to have a Pride Month to remember, as 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that led to increased recognition and rights for LGBT people across the nation. However you plan to get involved this year, use these tips to make sure you’re celebrating Pride Month respectfully and supporting the LGBT community appropriately.

Make Mindful Merchandise Choices

Many companies and organizations have started to pick up on Pride Month as a commercially viable opportunity, meaning you’re likely to start seeing rainbow products on shelves everywhere. However, not everything with a rainbow on it means your money is supporting the LGBT community. The U.S. apparel market is expected to grow to an estimated value of $385 billion by 2025, and any apparel company with a good marketing team is going to start putting rainbows on their clothing if they notice it sells better around Pride Month. Whenever possible, try to support your local, smaller, LGBT-owned stores; you’ll be helping individual creators directly this way.

Give What You Can

While some progress has been made since the Stonewall uprising fifty years ago, many LGBT people still face discrimination and struggle on a regular basis. Pride Month is an excellent opportunity to support non-profit organizations that help improve life for the LGBT community and provide much-needed resources. You might even find yourself wanting to give more often; 55% of those who engage with nonprofits via social media have been inspired to take further action.

Not all organizations will require the same sorts of donations or support. Check with local organizations like the Out Alliance to see what donations are needed. Some will prefer physical items like food or clothing, while others collect money to help support LGBT families directly. Surrogacy for gay men typically costs anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000, and many look for financial support from local non-profits that you can help support with your donations.

Avoid Gatekeeping

If you plan on attending one of the many Pride Month events taking place over the next few weeks, either as part of the community or as an ally, remember that not everyone in the LGBT community is able to be open about that part of their life. What might look initially like a straight couple might not be, or they may be there to support a loved one. Pride events are intended to be supportive for all members of the community regardless of whether they can safely be out or not; make sure you’re doing what you can to make sure everyone feels welcome.

Many people see Pride Month as an opportunity to have fun, celebrate, and attend events decked out in rainbows. However, Pride Month exists for a reason, and on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, it’s important to remember why people are celebrating. Enjoy Pride Month responsibly, and be sure to support your local organizations and businesses while celebrating.

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Rochester To See New Affordable Housing Program And Plan For City Rezoning

May 30th, 2019
Posted in Rochester News, Urban Development | No Comments »

By Melissa Brewer

The city of Rochester is gearing up for a few major construction projects that are all looking to change its current landscape and affordability. One program that will shift the housing market in Rochester is the Mission-Based Affordable Housing Partnership.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James came to Rochester on May 18 to announce to program. According to the announcement, the program will grant up to $1.4 million to mission-based organizations that are looking to develop available land into affordable housing. Nonprofit civic institutions will also be eligible for the grant. This program will extend beyond Rochester into Erie county as well as areas of Central New York and the Capital Region.

When James visited earlier in the month, she met with local political and faith leaders at F.I.G.H.T Village, a champion of affordable housing in Rochester led by Minister Clifford Florence. The organization has been pushing for affordable housing in Rochester since the 1960s. Its challenges lie in combatting the placement of low-income families in cheap but old homes that present dangers such as lead paint, which is still present in about 57 million homes in the United States.

“We’re fighting with racism, we’re fighting with the lack of jobs, affordable housing, education. So the issues are the same as they were 50 years ago, but we have to have the will to do what it takes to change it,” Florence said.

With the new partnership, organizations like F.I.G.H.T will finally be able to give Rochester residents a permanent solution for stable and economical housing. Too often, homeowners facing financial troubles turn to temporary fixes such as hard money loans, which typically have a loan-to-value ratio in the 60% to 70% range. Now F.I.G.H.T will be able to give residents another option by working with trustworthy developers. These professionals can help guide organizations through the construction processes, which are often long and complicated. For instance, unlike traditional mudjacking where a minimum waiting period of 24 hours is necessary, builders can use raised concrete right away.

A typical family spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget — roughly $350 — on air that leaks into or out of the house through unintended gaps and cracks.Since there are around 17 million shipping containers in the world, and only 6 million of these in use — approximately 11 million shipping containers are currently unused and could be converted into affordable homes for people all over the United States.

The Flower City Habitat for Humanity and the Autism Council of Rochester are also partnering to bring housing for an underserved community in the city. The two organizations plan to develop autism-friendly homes for families that have children with autism.

Not only will the program get more families closer to being homeowners, the number of which in the country is down to 63.4% from 69% in 2004, but it will also provide the space and modifications that children with autism need.

Objects such as compression swings can help balance the behavior and emotions of children with autism, but they don’t fit very easily into a two-bedroom apartment. The housing will also include sound and light sensitivity and a stockade fence in the backyard that measures six to eight feet high to ensure kids don’t wander into the streets while they play.

The final piece of news in Rochester construction is the proposed Rochester 2034 comprehensive plan. This plan aims to increase density and create more varied uses for certain city arterials. According to city officials, the proposal won’t result in many dramatic changes, but will instead reinforce or restore the downtown area’s historic form and character.

The rezoning efforts would aim to balance the stark differences in poverty rates, education levels, unemployment, minority population share, and more seen between the neighborhoods with the highest and lowest demands. In the southeast and crescent, two areas that are polar opposites to one another, two-thirds of residences are rentals. This is higher than the citywide average and with 33% of renters moving every year, there isn’t much permanency in either of these zones.

No official zoning changes are underway now, but they will go be brought to the neighborhoods and go through normal approvals when it comes time.

The plan will also focus on street-level retail around the East End area, Sibley Square, and Midtown. Establishments like local restaurants and independent coffee shops, which have about $12 billion in annual sales, will help guide the rezoning process in these areas.

The proposal is both more flexible in regulations regarding minimum lot sizes and parking and more adamant about higher standards for the design of mixed-use and multi-family building projects. Although no details of the plan are definite quite yet, the city will hire a consultant to review its zoning code and map once the plan is adopted.

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How to Prepare Your Exhibit for the Corn Hill Arts Festival

May 29th, 2019
Posted in Art + Culture, Events | No Comments »

Even though most people know Rochester for Kodak or its signature garbage plate, more people have started to take note of Rochester’s thriving arts scene. From new featured art at the Memorial Art Gallery to the local artists showcasing their skills at its countless festivals each year, folks from across the state have indulged in the local art for which Rochester is known.

Now that the Lilac Festival has wrapped up for the season, it’s time to set our sights on the next upcoming Rochester-based event: the Corn Hill Arts Festival.

This annual event will be entering its 51st year as a Rochester staple event. Taking place in the Corn Hill district, hundreds of craft exhibitors and food vendors will peddle the best art and grub that Rochester has to offer.

This year, more than 325 artists are expected to line up and down nine streets to present and sell their best work starting on July 13.

But if you’re an up-and-comer, don’t worry: the festival will also feature its 11th annual display of the Emerging Artists Expo. This exposition is designed to celebrate emerging talent in young artists aged 15 through 25. The event will be taking applications until May 31, so be sure to submit your work before the deadline in only a few days.

The Emerging Artists Expo is a great opportunity for rising artists to showcase their work and begin interacting with the local community. Those who are accepted to present at the event will be given a 10 ft by 10 ft booth on Eagle street, giving them ample space to feature art and compete for a cash prize at the end of the festival.

“The Corn Hill Arts Festival is a perfect opportunity for young, emerging artists throughout Rochester to showcase their talents and highlight their impact on the community,” notes Denise Cook, the CEO and director for MVP Health Care.

If you’re one of the many artists attending the event, whether new or old, here are some of the top tips you can use to prepare your exhibit for the festival.

Consider the size of your booth

Artists will be given a booth that measures around 100 square feet. This will include any tables, staging, or other displays you want to incorporate in this space. The size is akin to those that you would see in trade shows. But while there are more than 252 convention centers for trade shows across the country, there’s only one Corn Hill Arts Festival. To make an impact with this crowd, you’ll need to use your space dynamically.

Your first step should be buying a tent to shield your guests and art from the sun and rain. This will protect your art from the glare of the hot sun and the sporadic rain that Rochester handles on a daily basis. While you might think your tent detracts from your booth’s aesthetic, this is a valuable tool for many artists. Try pinning your artwork on the walls of your tent and hanging dangling pieces, like wind chimes or jewelry, from its connecting rods. This will create an interactive space for your customers.

Create emphasis on certain pieces

While most artists typically showcase their art on a few tables, you can bring as many tools and displays as you want for your tent. This includes stacking boxes, drawers, shelves, and more. Though you shouldn’t make your tent look too cluttered, you can utilize these unique components to feature more of your artwork than you ever thought possible.

You can add points of emphasis in your booth by displaying art at multiple levels to highlight statement art pieces and organize like-groups. Many artists will organize their space through a number of different categories, including:

  • Color
  • Style
  • Medium
  • Collection
  • Price

Other artists may even include cultural sections that highlight their personal backgrounds. This offers a unique opportunity for the artist to make connections with buyers. For example, artists showcasing traditional Mexican art may feature a collection of unique pieces for a higher price. It’s estimated that Mexican-Americans make up the largest population of immigrants in the United States at 26%.

Use lighting

Even though the Corn Hill Arts Festival starts in sunny July, you might still need great lighting for your tent on dreary days. Try accenting your tent with stylish string lights or bright LED lights so your guests can still view your work regardless of the weather outside. These eco-friendly options shine brighter than incandescent lights and are a top choice for businesses looking to utilize signage and more. It’s no wonder LEDs are estimated to receive 53% of the global market for lighting. Even if attendance is low because of the rain, you can be sure that any attendee will be able to check out your art.

Add an interactive component

There will be countless vendors showcasing similar products at the festival. When you want your booth to stand out, you need to utilize any tactic you have at your disposal. One of the most simple ways to encourage people to visit your booth is by adding an interactive component.

This can be as simple or as big as you want. Many tradeshow exhibitors and vendors find that fishbowl lotteries are an easy way to pull a crowd. Those who are acquainted with the Corn Hill Arts Festival might even include a scavenger hunt associated with the event or other forms of group entertainment. The sky is the limit when it comes to showcasing your booth’s creativity!

Use printing

Even if your booth showcases the most beautiful, unique pieces of art, you may not make sales if your customers don’t know your name. When you’re setting up your booth, it’s vital that you invest in great signage to display your name or the name of your company. In fact, it’s estimated that half of all customers who patron a business — or in this case, your exhibit — entered because of its signage.

You should also be sure to include business cards for your customers. Even if someone doesn’t buy a piece of art today, that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Offer quality business cards with your contact information, including your social media handles. This will ensure anyone who comes to your booth will be able to find you later. They may even recommend you to their friends, potentially doubling your reach.

With only a month and some change to spare, it’s time to start planning. These are just some of the ways you can stand out at this year’s Corn Hill Arts Festival.

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Lilac Festival 2019: Your Guide On What To Do And Where To Eat

May 10th, 2019
Posted in Events | No Comments »

By Melissa Brewer

Warmer weather is finally starting to make an appearance in the city of Rochester and that can only mean one thing. Festival season is upon us.

To kick off a season filled with fun festivals for adults and kids alike, we have the 121st Rochester Lilac Festival. This iconically Rochester festival welcomes spring like no other event in the city with its array of fragrant blooms, lineup of performers, and gathering of food vendors. This year, the festival begins today, May 10, and runs through May 19. The festival grounds in Highland Park will be open from 10:30 in the morning until 8:30 at night every day in that period. Since roughly 40% of brides and grooms-to-be are looking for unusual venues that better reflect their personality — Highland Park could be the perfect location, so keep an eye out!

Now that we have the mundane details out of the way, let’s talk about the fun stuff. Read on to find out which events you have to go to and the tasty treats you can’t miss.

Fantastic Flowers

One of the biggest draws for the Lilac Festival is right in the name: the lilacs. With about 1,200 plants featuring over 500 varieties of lilacs, anyone coming for the beautiful bushes won’t be disappointed. According to Mark Quinn, superintendent of horticulture for Monroe County Parks, the lilac shrubs are doing wonderfully and the warming temperatures are helping them bloom on time.

There will be plenty of other floral features in Highland Park’s 150 acres of gardens as well. The park’s entrance at South Avenue and Reservoir Drive is home to an annual bloom of tulips, giving visitors a rainbow of colorful flora. You’ll also see plenty of blossoming magnolia trees, azaleas, and pansies while you walk through the park. Whether you’re a member of older generations that dominate gardening participation at 35% or of the younger generations that are showing an increasing interest in the green-thumbed hobby, you’re sure to love these blooms.

Exciting Entertainment

A festival wouldn’t be a festival without entertainment that gets you moving and grooving. This year’s Lilac Festival has 70 acts throughout the 10-day run that perform from early in the day until after the sun goes down. The performers are a mix of local and touring musicians, including Yonder Mountain String Band, Nobody’s Marigold, Soul Passenger, and many more. To learn about these artists and the other talented performers participating this year, contribute to Google’s 63,000 searches per second and look up the festival’s lineup for a full schedule.

For those looking for some adult-specific fun, the Special Events Tent will be hosting a couple of alcohol-themed events throughout the festival. There are more than 7,700 wineries across the country, but a select 36 of those local to the Upstate area will make an appearance in the tent on Saturday, May 11 at the Wine Tasting Expo. On the following Saturday, May 18, the tent will house a Craft Beer Expo to showcase the area’s beloved brewmasters.

Don’t worry, the kids won’t be left out of the festival fun. The annual Lilac Parade will be held on Saturday, May 11 and feature over 2,500 participants that range from dancers and costumed characters to marching bands and community organizations. On May 13 and 14, the beloved children’s character Arthur will make an appearance to read books and take photos with the little ones.

Tasty Treats

With over 40 food and drink vendors, you would probably need all 10 days to eat your way through the festival. One of the surest places to start your festival food tour is with a famous garbage plate from Nick Tahou’s. The Bacon Dog stand will be offering an equally indulgent Peanut Butter and Spicy Jelly Bacon Dog for anyone who’s had their fill of garbage plates over the years.

But who’s really tired of garbage plates? Certainly not us. For dessert, you can try the Rochester Garbage Apple from the NY Apple Factory. This homemade caramel apple is covered with leftover toppings from their other tasty apples, resulting in the same type of delicious hodgepodge that makes a garbage plate. With all of this tasty sugar, be sure to take care of your chompers and follow the recommended twice-a-day brushing. Otherwise, you might be cursing the festival for your resulting toothache and trip to your local dentist.

Dental issues aside, there’s even more food to enjoy at this year’s Lilac Festival. If you’re a part of the 90% of U.S. households that regularly indulge in a sweet, frozen treat and want to do the same at the festival, keep an eye out for a few key vendors and food trucks. Frozen Flavors will have a stand of their own and Kona Ice will be serving their colorful shaved ice this year.

The possibilities for fun are practically endless at the Lilac Festival. Whether you hop from one live performance to another or decide to sample every bit of food from the local vendors, you’re sure to make memories that will last a lifetime. Or at least until next year’s festival.

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Love Hate Tattoo Hosts 11th Annual Roc City Tattoo Expo

April 19th, 2019
Posted in Events | No Comments »

By Samson Weinberg

Tattoos are becoming more and more popular every year, with 47% of Millennials and 36% of Gen Xers saying they have at least one tattoo. In total, that turns out to be 45 million Americans with ink. This turns out If you have yet to get your first tattoo, your best chance might be quickly approaching, as local tattoo shop Love Hate Tattoo hosts the 11th annual Roc City Tattoo Expo. The expo features a variety of local and visiting tattoo artists, piercers, vendors, and more, and will take place between April 26th and 28th this year.

Eleven Years And Counting

Each year the popular expo has taken place, more and more visitors have stopped by to witness impressive body artists at work or get a piece done themselves. The expo has featured over 400 artists and gathered over 3,000 guests in previous years, and the number only continues to grow as the expo gains attention.

While conferences and expos are the most popular type of event to plan with 62.4% of organizers planning these types of events, tattoo expos like this one are less frequent. The organizer, Joseph DiProjetto of Love Hate Tattoo, has stated that he originally planned the expo eleven years ago as a way to gather some of his favorite artists. Now, the tattoo expo has grown to feature artists from as far away as Japan.

Tips For Attending

If you plan on attending the expo and getting a tattoo, it’s best to show up with a plan in mind. Many artists will have flash sheets available for quick tattoos at reasonable prices and will be accepting walk-up appointments. However, for those looking for a custom tattoo, a larger piece, or a more complex design, consider reaching out to your preferred artist in advance for an appointment. With how busy the expo is likely to be this year, this will give you a better chance at securing an appointment.

It’s important to note that up to 60% of men and women over the age of 60 suffer from varicose veins, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans have venous disease.

The event website features a growing list of artists who will be featured at the expo, giving you the opportunity to research their styles in advance. If you’re looking for a newer style, like the currently trending embroidery style of tattoo, be sure to ask your preferred artist in advance if they’re able to work in this style. Not every artist will be willing to try a new style in the expo setting, but it’s worth asking to get your preferred result.

More information about the Roc City Tattoo Expo can be found either on the event website or by contacting the Holiday Inn at 70 State St. Admission is $10 per day or $25 for the full weekend, and parking will be available.

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Tongue-Tie and Breast-Feeding: Rochester Doctor Discusses Ankyloglossia

March 30th, 2019
Posted in Rochester News | No Comments »

By Sammi Cohen

Ankyloglossia is a condition present at birth that can lead to serious problems for both a child and mother. Ankyloglossia is a scary medical term that not too many people are familiar with. This condition is more commonly known, simply, as tongue-tie, which affects between 4% and 11% of newborn babies.

When tongue-tie is present, an unusually short, thick, or tight band of lingual frenulum (tissue) tethers the bottom of the child’s tongue tip to the floor of his or her mouth. Tongue-tie complications can lead to speech difficulties, challenges with other oral activities, poor oral hygiene later on in life, and all kinds of breast-feeding problems for the mother. Children with poor oral health are already three times more likely to miss school later on as a result of dental pain, and tongue-tie issues can lead to even more problems down the line.

Children should begin regular dental visits at age one. Baby teeth begin to grow around six months and since breast-feeding requires a baby to keep his or her tongue over the lower gum, the baby might chew — instead of suckle — on the nipple, leading to pain for the mother and inadequate nutrition for the baby.

In late March, a Rochester doctor was featured in PEOPLE, covering ankyloglossia, the increased amount of cases, and how it can impact breast-feeding.

“We need to have careful strategies to properly assess, manage, and discuss with parents so they can make the best decisions,” said Dr. Casey Rosen-Carole, Medical Director of Lactation Services and Programs and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and OBGYN at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “My sense is that the increased diagnosis and management of tongue-tie in the past decade is partially due to increased advocacy, increased breast-feeding rates, less willingness to ‘just bottle feed instead’ and finally, groups of physicians who will work with families and lactation consultants to treat ankyloglossia.”

Here are some common signs and symptoms of tongue-tie:

  • A tongue that appears notched or heart shaped when it sticks out.
  • Difficulty moving the tongue from side to side or reaching the upper teeth.
  • Trouble sticking the tongue out past the lower front teeth.

Additionally, since vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million unnecessary deaths every year, it’s important to stay in contact with medical professionals. You should visit a doctor and/or dentist if any of the following are occurring:

  1. You’re struggling with your own tongue-tie issues.
  2. Your baby isn’t able to properly breast feed.
  3. A speech-language pathologist recommends getting your baby checked.
  4. Your child (if older) complains of tongue-related issues interfering with eating, speaking, or reaching his or her back teeth.

Though only 3% of patients who visit an urgent care center need to be diverted to an emergency department, it’s recommended to visit ankyloglossia and breast-feeding medical professionals if your baby is showing signs of tongue-tie or they aren’t able to properly feed.

Hoping to provide better care to infants and breast-feeding mothers alike, UR Medicine launched Rochester’s first physician-led outpatient practice dedicated to lactation medicine and breast-feeding. Dr. Rosen-Carole’s practice will provide women with medical care and support for breast-feeding problems before conception, throughout pregnancy, and after childbirth.

“We know the benefits of exclusive breast-feeding for the optimal health and well-being of babies, mothers, and communities,” Dr. Rosen-Carole said. “But each woman has her own unique goals and challenges for breast-feeding her child. My role is to provide the appropriate medical services and support to help her reach those goals.”

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NYS Construction Industry Has A Major Racial Disparity, Study Shows

March 20th, 2019
Posted in Rochester News, Uncategorized | No Comments »

By Sammi Cohen

People of color in central New York aren’t getting a fair number of jobs in the construction industry, a local study finds. According to a new study by the Urban Jobs Task Force and the Legal Services of Central New York, there’s a major racial disparity in the New York construction industry despite people of color making up a quarter of the state population.

Dodge Data & Analytics’ 2016 Construction Outlook report predicted 6% growth, with the value of construction starts reaching an estimated $712 billion. Researchers analyzed a group of construction projects taking place in New York state including the I-690 project, the Syracuse Hancock Airport Renovations, and the Lakeview Amphitheater in Onondaga.

Researchers found that 88% of the construction workers on these projects were white. Approximately 4% of workers were black or indigenous and only a few workers were Hispanic and Asian.

Although 3 million contract and temporary employees work for staffing companies in a given week, many of those employees ought to be people of color due to New York’s demographics. People of color make up 36% of the Syracuse population and 56.3% of the Rochester population.

“Workforces are white in Central New York and we’ve seen it driving by them,” said Andrew Croom, an attorney from Legal Services of Central New York who worked on the study. “Was I ready for how white they were? No.”

The U.S. construction industry is usually a good place for American workers to earn money. Construction projects have public money in them paid for by tax dollars, beneficiaries of government grants, or tax breaks. In 2016 alone, the construction market was worth $1,162 billion and the composite materials market is expected to reach $38 billion by 2023.

The lack of inclusivity in the industry is concerning for many reasons, but especially because it keeps impoverished New Yorkers from finding good-paying jobs. Up to 16% of Rochesterians are living in extreme poverty and 15% of those in Monroe County live below the poverty line.

“You know, living in a city that’s 50% minority and 50% white, I expected a project like I-690 that’s two blocks from my house to be represented by the city where it is,” said Croom. “And it was so far from that, that yes, I found [these] results shocking.”

Urban Jobs President Deka Dancil says there are historical reasons why many people of color aren’t working in construction. The construction of Interstate 81 caused economic and racial segregation, urban renewal, and redlining.

“[This] made the networks of minorities only be with other poor minorities,” said Dancil. “And the networks of white people, for people who had the paying jobs, [were] exposed to the construction trade. I tell you … my whole time growing up in high school, I never even heard a thing about it.”

Dancil also points out that barriers such as non-paid training, lack of transportation, and lack of childcare prevent those who are already living in poverty from getting into construction programs that could lead to higher paying jobs.

Croom says that there are ways to ensure inclusivity in construction projects. LA Metro in Los Angeles is creating workforce agreements within their PLAs and have unions in the community working together.

New York state could see more collaboration with unions and have them more actively recruit in the city with targeted training, Croom says. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh recently launched Syracuse Build in an effort to train those in the city who are looking to work on the I-81 project.

However, Dancil says she isn’t as optimistic after seeing years of meetings on the topic of boosting inclusivity in the construction industry. The voices of local residents need to join those of policymakers, she says.

“I think what it comes down to [is] that there has to be a big table,” says Croom, “there has to be collective action to say ‘we’re all here. We all want the same thing.’ So, we have to work together to make those policies.”

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Aldi’s In ROC: Grocery Chain Eyeing North Winton As New Store Location

February 28th, 2019
Posted in Rochester News | No Comments »

By Sammi Cohen

Aldi is the common brand of a German family-owned discount supermarket chain with over 10,000 stores in 20 countries. The grocery chain was founded by Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946 when they took over their mother’s store in Essen, which had been in operation since 1913.

According to the Democrat and Chronicle, Aldi’s is making its way back to the North Winton part of Rochester. Aldi’s has tried for years to open a store in the area, but were blocked by landlords and area residents. Still, the chain has to wait for Rochester to OK the signage before they start their remodeling plans, which would involve reconstructing the former Tops Friendly Markets.

“This is where it hurts,” said Mary Coffey, a co-chairperson of the North Winton Village Association. “Although we are thrilled to death about Aldi’s, the big concern is what is it going to look like?”

North Winton residents have expressed their disappointment over how the former Tops will be remodeled. The plans involve an angled roof and a combination of aluminum and masonry for the storefront veneer. Since 50% of all customers who enter a business do so because of the signage, the visual aesthetic is crucial for both organizations and consumers alike. To put it another way, nearly 85% of people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that signs can convey the “personality or character of the business.”

“Aldi has changed its traditional look and is going with something more modern,” added James Seitz, president of the Browncroft Neighborhood Association who opposed the original Aldi plan based on its design. “Some people have liked it, and some people think it’s too edgy for the street.”

According to Rochester City Newspaper, Flaum Management, the commercial real estate firm that owns the property, has committed to upgrading the landscaping and lighting across the plaza.

“We are committed to working with the neighborhood associations to create a property that works within the scope of the neighborhood,” said Loren Flaum, VP of finance for Flaum Management.

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As Opioid Addiction Crisis Persists, Local Greece Dentist Takes Action

February 26th, 2019
Posted in Rochester News | No Comments »

By Melissa Brewer

Local dentist Dr. Susan Bracker is taking action in the face of a national addiction crisis. She has vowed to run an opioid-free clinic in an attempt to lower the number of people who first experience the addictive drug through the prescriptions dentists give out after surgery. Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin. Sadly, as of 2016, about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin.

When patients enter Dr. Bracker’s practice in Greece, the first thing they see is a sign on the door informing them of the change in procedure. Dr. Bracker believes that her small notice on the practice door is more than an indication of how that specific practice operates, but a greater sign of the times.

“I think this has affected so many people. There’s not a person out there who doesn’t know someone who has died from addiction,” Dr. Bracker told 13WHAM News.

Across the United States, overdoses from opioids have been increasing in men and women in most age groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 42,000 people died of overdoses from prescription or illicit opioids in 2016 alone.

It may seem like this addiction crisis would only affect those who struggle to manage longterm conditions, such as the six out of 10 baby boomers who are predicted to manage a chronic condition by 2030. However, a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed the unexpected risks that prescription opioids from dentists pose to teenagers.

Every year, dentists pull 10 million wisdom teeth from patients who range in age from 13 to 30. About 80% of these patients fill the opioid prescription they receive from their dental surgeon. According to the recent study from JAMA, almost 6% of patients who fill the initial prescription are diagnosed with opioid abuse a year later. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 are among the hardest hit by the addiction.

Public health officials say that the best way to combat the crisis is to tackle the opioid prescription process, which is exactly what Dr. Bracker is doing at her practice. She is encouraging patients to turn to over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol and Advil. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, a review of over 460 studies showed that taking these two medications together in appropriate doses is actually more effective than opioid medication on dental pain and leads to fewer side effects. It’s crucial for medical establishments to keep deligent records of every patient — especially when it comes to prescription medications. According to the Gartner Group, 15% of all paper documents are misplaced and 7.5% are lost completely.

“I think we’ve been programmed that, unless it’s a prescription, it isn’t as good. In most of those kinds of extractions, you really don’t need it. Most kids heal really fast and easily,” says Dr. Bracker.

At Dr. Bracker’s practice, they only break their opioid-free policy in extreme cases. Even in these instances, Dr. Bracker only allows doses of the opioid medication to cover three days, well under the seven-day recommendation from the American Dental Association. When she prescribes opioids, she also educates patients on their addictive nature and advises to take them on a strictly as-needed basis.

As 99.7% of adults believe that a healthy smile is socially important, avoiding procedures that cause dental pain is nearly impossible. However, Dr. Susan Bracker has demonstrated that avoiding the use of dangerously addictive medications is entirely possible when those giving out prescriptions take control.

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Here’s How Rochester is Celebrating Black History Month

February 21st, 2019
Posted in Rochester History, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

By Sammi Cohen

February is Black History Month, and this year’s celebration is a special one for Rochester residents in particular. That’s because February 2019 is also the bicentennial anniversary of famed abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass, who later made his home in the Flower City. Not only is Douglass immortalized throughout Rochester in the form of statues for all to see throughout the year, but the University of Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies will partner with the school’s Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation library facility to showcase Douglass’s work and life.

Of course, this is not the only way Rochesterians are celebrating. Mayor Lovely A. Warren and Rochester’s Black Heritage Committee are hosting a month-long events program to pay tribute to our country’s proud black heritage. The City Hall Link Gallery hosted a special event to kick off the month with flair. Live jazz music by the Art Beaty Band could be heard as guests appreciated the artwork of 25 local African American youth and adult artists. Attendees also had the chance to sample a variety of specialty African American foods. Considering that an estimated 65% of American consumers purchased specialty foods in 2017, it’s likely the crowd left the event satisfied on several levels. The event may have passed, but the artwork will remain on display through the middle of March.

City Hall isn’t the only place you can experience incredible works of art, either. The Memorial Art Gallery also hosted a Black History Month event that included live jazz performances, art activities for children, storytelling, and even a Frederick Douglass impersonator. During February break, kids can also receive free admission to the museum with the purchase of an adult ticket. Since studies have shown that seeing a beautiful painting can increase the blood flow to the “joy response” part of the brain by 10% (the same effect you experience when you look at a loved one), this can be a wonderful cultural experience for families.

If art isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate Black History Month in Rochester. There are several gospel concerts planned throughout the month, including one that will take place in the City Hall Atrium on February 27 during the lunch hour. The U of R’s Tournees Film Festival features several selections for Black History Month, as well. The celebrations put on by the city actually continues into March, with the 16th Annual Black Heritage Gala on March 9 and the Community and College Gospel Explosion on March 30. The Memorial Art Gallery will also host a multi-screen film and video installation called Lessons of the Hour, which is inspired in part by Frederick Douglass, from March through May. Residents can also do their part to support black-owned businesses during this month by checking out Embellish Boutique, Simply Simone Naturals, the Arnett Cafe, and more. Black-Owned Business Rochester is an excellent resource to learn about other establishments in the area. Should you feel like staying home and tuning into some local programming instead, WXXI will broadcast television and radio programs throughout the month that feature influential black men and women.

Clearly, there are countless ways to celebrate Black History Month in Rochester, thanks to the city’s diversity and commitment to cultural appreciation and understanding. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about the iconic figures that have shaped the black experience, both past and present.

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Rochester History Reflected in Collection of Bus Passes

August 15th, 2017
Posted in Rochester History, Rochester Images, Rochester Subway, Rochester Subway Stories, Train/Railroad Stuff, Transit + Infrastructure | 2 Comments »

Gilbert Hunt was a trolley and bus operator with Rochester Transit Corporation for 40 years. His collection of transit passes is up for grabs. [IMAGE: From the collection of Gilbert Hunt]
By Mike Governale

Gilbert Hunt was a trolley and bus operator for Rochester Transit Corporation (the predecessor organization of RTS) from 1907 to 1948. When Gilbert retired in 1948 the Democrat & Chronicle published a story about him and his impressive collection of Rochester transit passes which he amassed over his long career. That collection is now up for grabs…

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Bike Share and You

January 9th, 2017
Posted in Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure, Urban Development | 5 Comments »

Map of potential bike share stations [PHOTO: Zagster]
By Matthew Denker

As some of you may have heard, bike shareexternal link is coming to Rochester.external link I’ve considered writing about it all sorts of ways. I thought about mentioning how manyexternal link other cities have it. Or how safeexternal link it is. Or even the specific plansexternal link for Rochester (warning: PDF). As you may have already guessed, I’m not about to do any of that. Instead, I’d like to discuss what bike share has meant for me over the past decade, and what it might mean for you too.

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Notes from the Fringe 2016: The countdown begins!

December 8th, 2016
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Notes from the Fringe 2016: The countdown begins!

Cirque du Fringe: MIRACLE CURE & Other Wonders from the Vagabond Caravan. [IMAGE: Provide]
By Joanne Brokaw

Rochester’s arts and entertainment community is in the final stages of preparation for the 2016 First Niagara Fringe Festival external link, which takes place Thursday, September 15 to Saturday, September 24, all across Rochester. There will be more than 500 performances at more than 25 venues in and around the city. And 170 of those performances are totally free!

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RocLinks 10/29/16

October 29th, 2016
Posted in Architecture, Art + Culture, Rochester News, Urban Development | 10 Comments »

Rendering of Parcel 5 Proposal by Fraser Smillie [PHOTO: DeWolff Partnership Architects]
By Matthew Denker

50 Shades of Eh?

Somewhat unexpectedly, a fifth proposalexternal link for Midtown Parcel 5 was submitted. Spoiler alert, it’s, how to be polite about this, different. Ok, fine, it’s terrible. It’s bad. It’s terribad. It might even be a false flag operation to make the submitted proposals look better. I don’t know, but inexplicably it’s being taken seriously by parts of the city which is creating unrestexternal link with other parts of the city. I’d be calling for the popcorn if this weren’t the future of the middle of our town on the line.

Read on for more of this week’s RocLinks…

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Rochester 1982

October 19th, 2016
Posted in Rochester History, Rochester Images | 14 Comments »

Downtown Rochester from the Cascade District [PHOTO: Rochester City Hall]
By Matthew Denker

While poking around the Rochester Image Database that the Monroe Public Library so lovingly maintains, I bumped into a series of 24 aerial photographs taken in 1982. That in and of itself wouldn’t be the most interesting thing ever, except the images portray Rochester in the middle of an incredible transition to be much closer to the city we know now than the one anyone might have recognized from before.

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RocLinks 10/15/16

October 15th, 2016
Posted in Opinion, Rochester News | 6 Comments »

Belnord Apartments in 1921 (now the Rite Aid at Monroe and Goodman) [PHOTO: Rochester Museum and Science Center
By Matthew Denker

Baby Steps

If you spend any amount of time looking at real estate in Rochester, you might discover that there are a non-zero number of vacant properties (although not as many as you might think). Others have noticed too, and a reportexternal link on them has been written by Monroe County. While some of their solutions are laudable, it seems that access to capital for renovations isn’t there. This is one of the biggest problems, whether it’s for home owners themselves or investors.

Read on for more of this week’s RocLinks…

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RocLinks 10/8/16

October 8th, 2016
Posted in Art + Culture, Other | No Comments »

Donuts Delite Ad. [PHOTO: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 8/29/60]
By Matthew Denker

Yum Part 1

It’s that time of year again. Fried cakesexternal link are in. And here are a bunch of delicious sounding ones.

Read on for more of this week’s RocLinks…

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