Saturday, October 28, 2023

Ujima Theatre program puts kids on center stage


Three young actors are taking a break from rehearsal for the original play they wrote and will perform at Ujima Theatre, 429 Plymouth Ave., this fall. Dunbar Theatre Arts Youth Program is an after-school performing-arts program teaching kids ages 12-18 how to sing, dance and act. The company is known for its traditional African and African-American storytelling but includes aspects of Puerto Rico, Iraq and other cultures. At the end of the program, the kids get to perform in front of friends, family, and staff. "What the Dunbar project wants our students to take away is confidence. Confidence in their abilities. Confidence in themselves and what they bring into every room,” Program Director Gabriella McKinley says. By Ariel Scarbrough

Thursday, October 26, 2023

GObike recruits local artist for bump-out project

By Angela Caico 

       GObike began construction of its latest bump-out project on Oct. 3 at the corner of Carolina Street and Prospect Avenue, but this time it’s teamed up with Starlight Studio to add a unique element to the design.

      For the past few years, GObike has been installing temporary traffic-calming measures such as bump-outs and pavement markings at high-traffic intersections in Buffalo. One common complaint from residents was that the configurations were unsightly. That’s where Starlight came in.

          Starlight Studio and Art Gallery is a program that works with developmentally disabled adults who are passionate about creating art. It provides an ample workspace for them, assists with getting their pieces included in exhibits and coordinates sales of their artwork.

          Starlight Studio Director Carrie Marcotte says that when they were tasked with choosing an artist’s work to incorporate within the bump-outs, Shamika Long was an obvious choice due to her distinctive use of patterns. The artwork will be painted onto the street by neighborhood volunteers with a special paint called StreetBond that is expected to last three to five years. 

Carrie Marcotte gives details on the project:

          The project was funded by Expanding Access to Arts, a re-grant program of the New York State Council on the Arts. GObike Executive Director Justin Booth says the paint will be used to delineate where cars are supposed to be, and to create extra space for pedestrians. Ultimately, GObike is hoping the city will invest in making these installations permanent.

            “Our goal is the make our streets safter for people to walk, people to bike, and for the people that live here, as well as slowing down traffic to make it safer for drivers as well,” he said.

            As a West Side resident and member of the local block club, Booth says that people were concerned about the corner looking like a construction site. Based on that feedback, GObike decided to turn this project into an attractive neighborhood amenity instead.

            Council Member Mitch Nowakowski, who lives right around the corner from Prospect and Carolina, says he’s been focused on investing in these types on non-profit organizations and projects because the West Village is a narrow and dense district that thrives on its walkability. GObike, he says, has creatively found a way to make the neighborhood safer and more pedestrian friendly.

            “This is something that’s really evolved over the course of three years, and I’m thrilled that now it’s going to have a public art element to it,” he said.

            The project was expected to be completed by mid-October, however due to inclement weather and a delayed shipment of paint, the anticipated completion is now by the end of the month. Starlight Studio looks forward to collaborating with GObike again for future projects.

            Marcotte says GObike wants the bump-outs to be prominent and have fun with them.

            “They can certainly be painted one color, but GObike would really like to have the funding to have them be these really decorative areas,” she said.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Newest public mural represents local residents

Marcus Chambers walks his dog past the West Side's newest mural, on the southside of the Lyndon B. Johnson Apartments, Main Street and Humboldt Parkway. The mural was created by Canadian artist Aaron Li-Hill to represent the people living in the area. Emerson Barr, executive director of the Buffalo Arts Commission, says that Mayor Byron Brown is active in the public art sector. “He has contributed funding to the Public Art Initiative, and he has played a role in the increase in art installations citywide,” Barr says. Most  murals are privately done, Barr says, but some are facilitated by the Buffalo AKG Art Museum’s Public Art Initiative. By Kelly Ackerman


Thursday, October 19, 2023

PUSH homes on track for year-end completion

 By Brittany Whalen

            PUSH Buffalo is making strides in finishing construction of its anticipated West Side Housing Project this fall. After delays in the project, the anticipated finish date still stands for the end of 2023.

            The planning of the West Side housing project began in 2017 and the construction began in spring of 2022. Dawn Wells-Clyburn, executive director of PUSH, says the project faced many delays coming off the heels of the pandemic.

“We’re about 80 percent finished with the project. Our goal is to have the homes finished by the end of the year. If there is a delay, it will only be by a month or two,” Wells-Clyburn said.

            The 49-unit housing project has been a tremendous need in the community for many years. The construction sites are located on Massachusetts, West, Parkdale, and West Delevan avenues and Rhode Island, Hampshire, Congress, and 14th streets. Wells-Clyburn said the finished units have been fully occupied as the construction comes to an end. All the buildings have rooftop solar panels and will be all-electric. Wells-Clyburn sustainability was a major goal in the design of the buildings.

“Our major goal was to use the green infrastructure installs to help with flooding being so close to the lake and to be more eco-friendly,” Wells-Clyburn said.

With soaring rent prices, the project has been welcomed by West Side residents. Common Council Majority Leader, David Rivera, says the project has done more to help with the quality of life of West Side residents.

“People are excited for it. Vacant lots are being brought back to life. There is more investment in businesses and homes. People are moving back to the West Side,” Rivera said.

            The unit rental prices are anticipated to be $610 for one bedroom, $730 for a two-bedroom, and $825 for a three-bedroom. Heat and electricity are included in the price of rent.  Affordable housing is not a unique need only on the West Side. According to the average price for a 2-bedroom apartment in New York in 2023 is $1,313 a month. Janayia Capers, organizer  for Housing Justice at PUSH, says the need for change is rooted in organizing communities to push for rent control and advocate for lower utility bills.

“PUSH is on the West Side. If we are successful here in Buffalo, we’ll use our organizing methods in other parts of the state. We work with other organizations such as Housing Justice for All,” Capers said.

            PUSH Buffalo has been successful in the West Side of Buffalo building affordable units but the project is not likely to expand after construction is completed.

“What we’ve done is provided a model to anyone, anywhere, could use. Right now, we’re looking into retrofitting some of the older homes we had before with green energy technology that was not available in the past. Currently, we have the West Side homes project and we’re focused on perfecting what we already have,” Wells-Clyburn said.  

            PUSH will continue to own the buildings for the long term after construction is finished. Applications are still available through Jan. 8, 2024 by contacting the West Side Homes rental office located at 43 Mortimer St. in person or by mail.


Sunday, October 15, 2023

Burgos hair salon brings a little Puerto Rico to Niagara St.

 Efrain Burgos celebrates Hispanic heritage with his son Alexandre with a display room in his hair salon, 472 Niagara St., containing items he has collected from his home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, over the years. When Burgos moved from Puerto Rico to Buffalo in the 1980s, he opened one of the first Hispanic hair salons in Buffalo. When his first son was born in1990 began bringing back items such as musical instruments, paintings and figurines from San Juan every time he visited to put them in his salon. Burgos started doing this because he missed his home but also understood Buffalo was his new home, so this was a way for him to combine the. This summer, Burgos remodeled his storefront through a $40,000 grant from Erie County. He says his was the first Puerto Rican hair salons in Buffalo. Now there are many. “It makes me feel proud and makes me feel like I contributed something to the area,” Burgos said. By George McClendon Jr.

Bflo Pizza Bistro throws new shape into pizza

Bflo Pizza Bistro, 388 Porter Ave., is a new pizza shop that opened earlier this month. Bflo Pizza Bistro belongs to Chris and Samantha Flynn. Chris is the chef who makes the pizzas and other foods like pasta and fresh salads. But his pizzas take on a unique style not found in other pizza shops in the neighborhood. His wife, Sam, is the one who takes the orders, works the register, and makes desserts. Chris started making pizzas during Covid. He got into the pizza business because numerous people were telling him after seeing his pizzas that he should start selling them. Bflo Pizza Bistro is open from 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and 1-8 p.m.Fridays and Saturdays. By: Ariel Scarbrough



Sunday, October 8, 2023

Plants need special care in winter months

Put a Plant On It owner Johanna Dominguez


By Andrew Forsyth

            As seasons change, gardeners must know the best methods to winterize and weatherproof their gardens. When to plant, when to stop planting, and when to expect weather changes all play a massive factor in gardening.

             Special attention must be paid to both outdoor and indoor plants in the fall and over the winter.

            It is essential to weatherproof outdoor plants, although Johanna Dominguez, the owner of Put a Plant On It, 715 Elmwood Ave.,  says changing patterns for indoor plants in the winter is also crucial.

            Cutting back on watering and giving the plants more indoor light and attention is vital to sustaining an indoor plant in the winter. During the winter season, indoor plants do not get nearly as much light due to filters in windows. Dominguez recommends intentional and artificial lighting such as grow lights for indoor plants during the winter.

            The needs of a plant differ from region to region, so it is essential to know what is best for the area you live in, she said.

            “It is really easy to overwater plants, it is easy to over fertilize, it is a little bit more nuanced taking care of an indoor plant, compared to outdoor plants,” Dominguez said.

            When it comes to outdoor plants, there are many more factors to consider, such as weather patterns, soil health, fluctuating temperatures and pests.

            “This will likely be an El Nino winter, which in the past means that there is a likelihood that we may experience a milder winter than normal. The National Weather Service seasonal outlooks call for a greater chance of above-normal temperatures for the winter and less precipitation,” Dr. Stephen Vermette, professor of Meteorology and Climatology at Buffalo State University, said.

            There are many different philosophies to winterizing gardens as well. It used to be a method where you remove all of your perennials from the garden, though now the formula is to leave any hollow stalks, as beneficial insects will winter in them.

            “It is kind of like closing /not closing the garden. Things like hostas that have really big leaves, when they fall they can smother the area, so you wouldn’t want to remove that large foliage that decomposes slowly,” Patti Jablonski-Doplin, general manager at Urban Roots, 428 Rhode Island St.,said.

            Any trees and shrubs can be planted until the end of October because you want them to be able to build a root system before the spring. Fall and winter are good times to amend your soil to see the deficiencies. It is good to amend in the winter, as the soil will return healthier in the spring.

You don’t want to fertilize in the fall. It will trick plants into thinking it is the growing season, and they will come out of dormancy. The most that Doplin recommended was composting the soil for some nutrients. You just want to establish the root system in the fall.

Staying aware of fluctuating temperatures during the fall season is also essential. When temperatures are high, water a lot. A minute or two is not enough. Water slowly and deeply. As temperatures cool, they will still go into dormancy as usual. However, if you have a particularly windy section of your property, you should put burlap or cloth around certain plants to avoid wind burn.






Saturday, October 7, 2023

Kavinoky to stir passion among young theater-goers

 Kavinoky Theatre’s new Executive Artistic Director Katie Mallinson arranges a display promoting a recent production. Since taking on the role in August, Mallinson’s number one priority has been attempting to fill the venue’s 250 seats, which she says has been especially difficult post-pandemic. With the decline of newspapers also came the disappearance of traditional printed advertisements, write-ups and reviews. And as the theatre enters its 44th season, Mallinson hopes to introduce the passion for live performances into the culture of younger generations through digital communication and word of mouth. “It takes time. There’s no one-size-fits-all,” Mallinson says. “it’s going to be a lot of baby steps and relationship-building with different audiences to get them here.” By Angela Caico