Tag Archives: neighbors

Eastwood powerhouse Rebecca Fuentes

I met and wrote about Eastwood neighbor Rebecca Fuentes some time ago, but it wasn’t until we took the Community Foundation’s “The Leadership Classroom” course together that I got to know what a quiet powerhouse she is. Taking the course meant showing up for most of a Saturday, once a month for nine months. Plus there was lots of extra work to do putting together our grant proposal. While others fell away, she hung in there for the whole thing and we were able to secure funding for signs, banners and other improvements for Sunnycrest Park.

During the many workshops of the leadership class, I got to know Rebecca better and was seriously impressed by the many challenges she has faced and overcome, her willingness to persevere, and her deep compassion for those who suffer injustice.

It was Rebecca who you saw on the front page of Sunday’s Post-Standard. Read the story (below) and you’ll agree that Rebecca has once again been like a dog with a bone; she doesn’t give up until she’s made a positive difference in someone’s life.

She’s done all the heavy lifting. Now it’s our turn to add what amounts to a couple mouse clicks and maybe one minute of filling in an online form to simply request that the NY State Fair not approve Peter Karageorgis’ application to sell chicken – or anything – at this year’s fair. New York Staters have a proud history of opposing slavery, now called human trafficking. We can continue that history. Please read this letter from Rebecca:

Hi friends,
I want to share this link to the story of workers who were exploited at the NY state fair. We were lucky to support these workers in their fight for justice.
The reporter was told that the vendor already sent an application to sell at the fair and that they are reviewing his application..
I am asking people to please send a message to the NY state fair to not allow this vendor to come back to the fair.
You can sent a message to the fair here:
We are working on setting up also an online petition so that the fair denies his application and also make sure that this won’t happen again to any other workers.
thank you so much.

Rebecca Fuentes, Coordinator

Workers’ Center of CNY
232 E. Onondaga St.
2nd. floor Plymouth Church
Office (315) 218-5708
Cell    (315) 657-6799
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A city united through performance art

The upcoming A-OK Weekend – that’s Acts Of Kindness – is a fabulous opportunity to get to know our city better. If all we do is read about what others in other neighborhoods are doing that weekend, it’s a start. But if we go visit other neighborhoods and get to know some other people, how much better!  There are more and more fascinating things going on at the neighborhood level, and one of them I learned about recently.

A couple weeks ago, I was standing around at the Arts & Crafts Festival, dressed up like a flamenco singer, when I happened upon Dan Ward and a fellow who was introduced to me as Dennis Heaphy, of the Heaphy tinsmithing family here in Syracuse. Turns out, Dennis is three things interesting to me:

  • The resident tinsmith for the Statue of Liberty (read more)
  • A flamenco aficionado who had just been to the extremely narrow Ñ tapas bar in SoHo (so narrow, its name is only one letter long!) where he had been captivated by the same flamenco dancer, Rebeca Tomás, that we’d gotten to know the previous month.
  • The same fellow I’d been looking for to make replicas of the speaking tube whistle that neighbor Sig Snyder had given me when we discovered speaking tubes in our walls (they’re all over the city, by the way – you might have one, too, if you live on the second floor of a 2- or 3-family house!)

So a few days ago, Dennis stopped over to discuss the speaking tube. I think eventually he’ll help me put this whole thing together so it works again. But the really important thing I learned while standing out on the front porch is that he’s a singer and songwriter who loves theater and who has composed a song entitled No Matter Where You Put It© for the upcoming Tipp Hill Music Festival on Saturday, September 18.

So tell me folks, isn’t this city becoming cooler by the minute? Don’t forget, we also have the neighborhood-uniting Art In Motion Spectacular coming up on Saturday, Sept 11 at 2 pm in Armory Square.

I encourage anyone from Eastwood to visit other neighborhoods and especially their festivals. Not going to them is like never making it to Niagara Falls even though you live in Syracuse. Such a pity.

Who’s my neighbor?

We awoke in the middle of the night to a thunderous crash that sounded so close, I thought a tree had come through our roof. Within seconds, however, we saw the cause of the sound: a car across the street had plowed through a utility pole and hit a tree. Live wires were down in puddles and our neighbors were already out there, calling to the people inside the car, telling them not to move because of the wires. They kept talking to them while apparently someone else called 911. I called, also, not knowing if they’d been able to. The rescue squad arrived within a very few minutes.

Believing that the best help we could be was to stay out of the way, we stayed in our house. The rescue squad pulled one person and then another out of the wreckage, the police had arrived, we could do nothing. Of course there are many more details to a situation like this, but my purpose here is not to report. We all know, all too well, about accidents.

The next morning, I felt a great need to be around my fellow beings, my neighbors. We walked to Cafe Kubal for a cup of coffee. We walked to Mother’s Cupboard and sat at the counter, to be close to strangers and to watch one of the best shows in town (the chef). We chatted with a young couple who were seated right next to us. It was good.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my neighbors. I don’t necessarily agree with all of them about every subject, but that doesn’t matter. We’re blessed with good neighbors, people who care about each other. I will never forget the sight of my neighbor, picking his way through puddles with a live wire somewhere there in the dark, getting close enough to that car to call in words of warning and encouragement.

My neighbors are the people who I want around me when the world seems to have turned upside down, even if for a short time. My neighbors are the people waiting in line at the cafe and the young people at the diner counter and the old folks pushing strollers and commenting to us on our vegetable garden. They are the young people walking down the road with earplugs in or skateboarding on a warm summer evening. They are also the people of all types that have been coming to the accident spot, to look, to think, to pray, to talk with the friends or family they brought with them. Some come alone, and cross themselves.

My neighbors are also the people who must ride their wheelchairs in the streets because the sidewalks are in such disrepair. Since this city does not repair sidewalks and then bill the property owners, there are very few blocks where anyone can trust that the walk on the sidewalk will not be fraught with some level of danger or difficulty. The most courageous people I know are those who get around our neighborhood in a wheelchair. But all of us are at peril on some of these sidewalks.

As I watched the heart-wrenching scene unfold in the near-dark the other night, I winced as I watched the stretcher being rolled along the sidewalk to the ambulance. I know that section of sidewalk – it’s a mess. I could feel the pain of being jostled over it.  The street is a mess, too, given that drainage in this block is so poor the water and ice that pool here eat away at the asphalt. Neighbors speculated about the deep puddles at Northcliffe and Homecroft having possibly caused hydroplaning that may have contributed to the accident.

I hope we can start to think more about some responsibility to our neighbors. A little conversation across generations, an effort to fix sidewalks and cut hedges away from them, some pressure put in the right places to get four-way stops at every intersection on Northcliffe Road. Of course there’s more, but if each one took on just one project, one phone call, one extra word to greet a neighbor… it would make Eastwood even better than it already is. Life is too short to believe our neighbors don’t matter.