Rochester's High Falls, once the cradle of the region's industry, now the cradle of a green movement

The High Falls district is a wonderful historic area of downtown Rochester that has long struggled for an identity.  During the 17th and 18th Century, it was the cradle of Rochester’s industry as the mighty Genesee River was funneled off into Brown’s Race, powering gristmills that led to Rochester being christened  the “Flour City.” Soon, other businesses cropped up around the gristmills, such as one of the world’s largest button factories, the Eastman Kodak Company and the Genesee Brewing Company. Click here for the history  and a walking tour of the High Falls and Historic Brown’s Race District.

In recent years, the district no longer had the same high traffic it once did, and excluding a recent attempt to turn it into an entertainment district, it has lain fallow, waiting for the right opportunity to flourish.  Recent endeavors to renovate buildings there and turn them into mixed-use complexes offer encouragement that this will be one of Rochester’s next growth districts.

One visionary company that has seen the possibilities of this district is the Philipson Group, a  marketing, design and  event planning group that is the driving force behind the upcoming Greentopia Festival taking place on September 17-18 in the High Falls District.  This will be an event unlike any other you’ve attended because of its focus on ecology, sustainability and environmental best practices. This event will also become  a “launchpad” for a new initiative to transform the Pont de Rennes Bridge into a suspended arboretum and park. “GardenAerial,” its prospective name, will be designed to encourage foot and bike traffic, showcasing the district’s history and its beautiful 96′ urban waterfall.

It is exciting how many organizations have gotten behind and are partnering on this initiative, demonstrating this region’s commitment to the environment.

There’ll be an exciting lineup of speakers both days.  Saturday will feature an array of Eco Quick-Talks, and on Sunday, keynoters Ed Begley Jr., Actor and Activist (live via Skype), Bill McKibben, Author, Educator and Environmentalist, Paul Watson, Animal Rights Activist and Conservationist (via skype), Patrick Cullina, V.P. of Horticulture and Park Operations (via skype) and Michael Cooper, Civil Engineer at Bergmann Associates will share insights. During the afternoon on Sunday, a variety of enviro-mentor panels gather speakers discussing green topics and issues.  All  speakers are encouraged to use a “TedTalks” style of fast-paced engaging presentation and the topics cover everything from waste reduction, urban living, health and wellness and alternative energy to green homes and more.

Attendees are also invited to “Bike the Bridges” on Saturday, September 17 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for a scenic tour of the area (be sure to see brochure and to sign waiver), and there’ll be plenty of music (more than a dozen groups will be performing), food (including culinary demonstrations by local chefs on the use of regional products) , kids’ activities, exhibitions and vending of consumer-oriented green products and technologies, and a showcase of alternative fuel low-emissions vehicles.

This event is free and open to the public and takes place in the High Falls Historic Browns Race District of Rochester.

I hope you’re as excited about this event as I am and I look forward to seeing you there.

P.S. If you’re there on Sunday, September 18, I’ll be participating on an enviro-mentor panel from 4 to 5 p.m. in the main room at the Center at High Falls.  The topic I’ll be covering will be “Sustainable Finger Lakes: The Greening of a Tourism Treasure.”  Check out my “video postcard” that will be part of the presentation and that offers a snapshot of a longer piece I’m working on that will include interviews and more tourism-oriented businesses.

Photo and text copyright 2011©Carol White Llewellyn.


"Down Time" for Silver Ball Tournament Players

Professional baseball was born in New York City in 1845 when members of the Knickerbocker Base Ball* Club formed and began formalizing the rules of the sport.  The game  has changed, along with its rules, uniforms and etiquette since those early days, but true baseball aficionados can see the game played in its original 19th Century form at Genesee Country Village & Museum‘s premier vintage baseball park.  Each year, a dozen teams from across the northeast gather in Mumford, NY to play the three-day round robin-style National Silver Ball Tournament.

In 2011, the tournament takes place from Friday, August 5 through Sunday, August 7 at Genesee Country Village & Museum, located at 1410 Flint Hill Road in Mumford.  Spectators can catch the games between between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Major Event Admission rates apply: Adult $16, Youth 4-16 $10, Seniors 62+ or students with ID $13, children under 3 admitted free.

If this article was of interest, you may also enjoy the Travel Maven’s 2009 Article on Genesee Country Village, the National Silver Ball Tournament and Laura Ingalls Wilder Day.

For more on Vintage Baseball, visit the Vintage Base Ball Association’s website.

*Baseball was originally written as two words.

Photo and text copyright 2011 © Carol White Llewellyn.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, I wish you a safe and Happy July 4th!

The museum documents great moments in aviation history, such as Curtiss' July 4, 1908 flight

On  July 4, 1908, Glenn H. Curtiss piloted his plane, the “June Bug” across Pleasant Valley a distance of 5,090 feet – 1,810 feet farther than required to win the first leg of the acclaimed Scientific American trophy. This was the first officially-recognized, pre-announced and publicly-observed flight in America.The next year, he won the trophy by flying his plane, the “Golden Flyer” a distance of 24.7 miles to establish a new world distance record.  A replica of the plane can be found at the museum.

The Glenn H. Curtis Museum is  located at 8419 Route 54 in Hammondsport , NY. It’s open May through October, Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From November through April it is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  Admission is Adults $7.50, Seniors (65 and over)$7.50, Students (7-18)$4.50, Children (6 & under) and Members Free. They also offer a family rate of $20/family an adult group rate of $5/adult and a student group rate of $2.50/student.

Click here for the Travel Maven’s post on the museum with narrated slide video.

Just had to share this wonderful video called “Build Myself” that my friend, Debra Ross of Kids Out and About created to feature the many activities (over 60 shown in the video!)  in and around Rochester that can be done with your children or grandchildren.  The music was written and performed by Mark Asch, a member of the kids’ rock group, Starfish, that performed here in Rochester recently.

My daughters and I had a blast helping her shoot the scene at Highland Park during the Rochester International Lilac Festival where the balloons get to fly free.  Great job, Deb!

Be sure to check out Debra’s website for other wonderful ideas of things to do with children!  You can also subscribe to her newsletter for a weekly update of giveaways, news and  things happening in the Rochester area.

This reproduction of "The June Bug" actually flies!

Father’s Day was just around the corner and I was stumped on a gift for my husband.  He’s not a big fan of receiving clothes as gifts, and his habit of simply buying the things he wants left the “Dad gift list” pretty empty.  Suddenly, I recalled a friend’s recommendation of the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammondsport, NY.

Glenn Hammond Curtiss became a local “speed prodigy” while in his teens when he began designing, building and racing bicycles.  By the time he was 24 years old, his bicycle company was well-known for producing bikes under the brand name of “Hercules,” and he used his mechanical prowess to add engines to the bikes, creating some of this country’s early motorcycles.  In 1907, he added a V-8 engine to a bike and was tracked at 136 m.p.h., bestowing on him the name of “The fastest man on earth.”  His exploits in speed attracted the notice of the early adventurers in aviation, including Thomas Scott Baldwin, who hired him to add a V-twin engine to his “lighter-than-air” dirigible.  Curtiss joined the Aerial Experiment Association and was working elbow-to-elbow with visionaries, such as Alexander Graham Bell, who saw the promising future of aviation.

Watch this short narrated slide show to get a snapshot of this amazing man’s life and a peep at one of the region’s truly fascinating museums:

At the museum, we get a peek at the life and times of an amazing man from Hammondsport

The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is fittingly housed in what resembles an enormous airplane hanger.  Not only does the museum celebrate the man and display his many achievements …bicycles, motorcycles, early airplanes and seaplanes, WWI fighting planes, RV trailers… it also shows how his creations influenced society (he was the first to train female pilots) and history. Through photos, personal items and historic memorabilia, we get a look at the times and life of Glenn H. Curtiss, the fastest man on earth.

The Glenn H. Curtis Museum is  located at 8419 Route 54 in Hammondsport at the south end of Keuka Lake (GPS coordinates: 42.235548N 77.135839W). It’s open May through October, Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From November through April it is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  The fee for admission is Adults $7.50, Seniors (65 and over)$7.50, Students (7-18)$4.50, Children (6 & under) and Members Free. They also offer a family rate of $20/family an adult group rate of $5/adult and a student group rate of $2.50/student.  If you’re wondering whether to take your children or grandchildren, most kids will be enthralled!

P.S.  We all had a blast and between the trip to the museum and lunch on the terrace of “The Switz,” (The Switzerland Inn Restaurant) overlooking Keuka Lake, I think he’d say it was one of his best Father’s Days ever!

On Saturday, when we attended the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, we meandered into Rochester Contemporary Art Center (ROCA) which was displaying their 6x6x2011: Global exhibit.

ROCA's walls host over 4000 pieces of art

Over 4000 pieces of art adorn ROCA's walls during 6x6x2011

This exhibit – now its 4th Annual – is not only fun, it’s a brilliant fundraiser for ROCA. Each May 1, artists from around the world deluge ROCA with their work, created in a 6″ x 6″ format.  This year, over 4000 pieces were received from 36 countries and all 50 states creating an irresistible montage of work that runs floor to ceiling along the enormous expanse of ROCA’s wall. The works run the gamut of media … 3D, animé, cartoon, digital, oil, pen & ink, quilting, stained glass, watercolor and any other you can imagine. All are donated by celebrities, international and local artists, designers, college students and youth.

What makes this exhibit so unique is that the price  – a mere $20 per piece – allows anyone can to become an art collector.  The work is displayed anonymously, so you won’t know whose you’ve purchased until you plunk down payment, get a red dot to reserve your piece and turn in the work’s number for the artist info sheet.  The seduction factor to own a piece is very high, especially when you see the enormous selection, including works that look suspiciously like the style of an artist whose work you think you recognize.

In my case, I purchased an Asian-inspired piece called “Childhood Memory” by  local artist Ning Su. The information sheet on the work my daughters selected, was mysteriously marked “anonymous,” but the work  looked like it had been drawn by one of their favorite animé artists. You never know!

The 6x6x2011: Global exhibit runs through July 10, 2011 at Rochester Contemporary, and works can be purchased at the Gallery or Online, and the work can be picked up at the gallery between July 10 and July 12 or mailed to you for an additional $5.  The Rochester Contemporary Art Center is located at 137 East Avenue between Scio and Gibbs Street in Rochester and is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $1 for Non-members and free for Members.

P.S. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite pieces online! The artists that come in first, second and third place win cash prizes.

Photo by Carol White Llewellyn.  Copyright 2011 © Carol White Llewellyn.  All rights reserved.

This summer, over 1000 museums are participating in the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Blue Star Museum” program. Through this program, active duty military personnel and their families are entitled to free admission at museums across the U.S. between Memorial Day (May 30) and Labor Day (September 5), 2011.  Finger Lakes regional museums taking part in this program include:

If you or an immediate family member is on active duty you can take advantage of this program by showing a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card, or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, including those stamped URW and DB. Active duty military includes Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve members and up to five immediate family members. Please see the chart of the acceptable IDs (PDF).

For additional information on this program, visit the site’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Next Page »