The Ultimate WNY Summer Bucket List

I love summer in New York and making a bucket list every summer helps me make the most of it! There are a few things on my list every year, as well as some new adventures I’ve been waiting for warmer weather to try. This year, I want to focus on exploring Western New York, instead of trying to plan a plethora of weekend trips. Buffalo is an incredible city in the summer and with more friends moving to Rochester, it makes sense to take advantage of all the (585) has to offer too!

This Summer in Buffalo:

  1. Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square
  2. Hertel Ave (Must-dos: Lake Effect’s new scoop shop, Poutine and Cream, and Lloyd’s)
  3. Silo City
  4. Buffalo City Hall Observation Deck
  5. Wilkeson Pointe
  6. Tifft Nature Preserve
  7. Erie County Botanical Gardens
  8. The Victory Gardens at Oxford Pennant (open from May 20th to July 3rd!)
  9. WNY Book Arts Center

In Rochester I Want To:

  1. Visit Rochester’s breweries
  2. Public Market
  3. Fuego Coffee
  4. Glen Edith Coffee
  5. Upper Falls
  6. Rochester Subway and Broad St Aqueduct
  7. Chimney Bluffs
  8. George Eastman Museum
  9. Highland Park

The Stuff in Between:

  1. Kayak in Oak Orchard Creek
  2. Go fishing
  3. Spring Lake Winery
  4. Chestnut Ridge Park
  5. Bike rides (although I’m going to need a bike for this 🤔)
  6. Lockport Caves
  7. Spruce Lake at Holiday Valley
  8. Go on a picnic

I’ll be documenting my bucket list progress on Instagram and would love it if you followed along! What new places are looking forward to exploring this summer? Let me know what you think I should add to my summer plans ☀️

The Answer is Yes: Made in Buffalo with Seth Godin

Buffalo was once a center for industry and innovation, and as this city moves into the future, it is also remembering that past. Don’t believe me? Then clearly you weren’t a member of the sold out crowd gathered at the Albright Knox to hear Seth Godin speak at the first event in the Buffalo Jewish Federation’s Made in Buffalo speaker series.

I was lucky enough to attend as a guest of Telesco Creative Group, who created some truly amazing deliverables for the series. I really owe the team at Telesco, especially Julia, so much. Not only for the opportunity to attend Seth’s Made in Buffalo event, but for taking a chance on a barely-out-of-college graduate who randomly emailed them and making me feel like a part of Buffalo’s growing creative community.

Seth Godin sees the world differently, and he’s really good at encouraging other people to do the same. Nothing Seth said was new in a “groundbreaking research” kind of way, but everything he shared felt exciting and fresh because of how he said it. Who else would start a marketing presentation at the Albright Knox Art Gallery with pictures of bats? No one. Why pictures of bats? Because bats look like bats, until you turn the pictures upside down, and then they look like the coolest partying animals EVER. Who even thinks like that?!

Seth Godin. The view from here.

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Seth does, and for an hour on Thursday night, he made 350 other people think like that too.

Seth’s focus on community, or “tribes,” is reflective not only of his Jewish heritage but of his Buffalo upbringing as well. All around the world, including Buffalo, people are flattening the bell curve. Instead of mass marketing products to the masses, successful companies are innovating products that appeal to smaller groups of people. The proof is in organizations like Instagram, Warby Parker and Chobani (all brands I LOVE, by the way), all making billions of dollars because they don’t need to appeal to everyone. Just a community of people who will become brand champions. Who needs traditional marketing when you have the power of word-of-mouth testimonies? These products and brands are “remarkable,” or “worth making a remark about.”

You can see this phenomenon in Buffalo too, as specialty shops pop up on Main Street, Hertel Ave. and Elmwood Village. Do I stop into the home goods stores? You bet, and I tell other people about them. The punk-rock jewelry shop? Maybe not, but they don’t need me, because they have their own community of brand champions.

Seth calls this take on business the connection revolution, an economy based on coordination, trust, permission, the exchange of ideas, generosity and art. Instead of products made for average people, which led to a “surplus of stuff and a shortage of attention,” there are brands for weird people, focused on interesting change for the better.

This new economy needs us to be fully present, in a way that is hard in today’s society. It needs us to act as if we won’t be judged. It needs us to live by the Italian phrase “salto mortale.” This translates literally as “deadly jump,” but Seth doesn’t want us to die, just take a risk. He’s asking us to put our emotions into our work, to innovate now. Not when we think we’re ready, because we’re never really ready (and it’s “always too soon,” but when we’re prepared.

We can’t do these things alone; we need our tribes of weird people who are just like us. When similar people connect, when they feel special and recognized, they have a power that a mass of average people can’t begin to imagine.

Seth asked us to clap slowly together, which took us around 7.5 seconds, similar to most audiences. It reminded me of something my college ballet professor would have us do: standing in a circle, eyes closed, she asked us to all jump simultaneously. No cheating with heavy breathing or moving around. Just feel each other and jump. It sounds bizarre (and very Ithaca College theater arts) until it works. And then it feels like magic. That’s the power of connected people with something in common.

Seth sums up his focus on connections with this: “People like us do things like this.” This statement is what gives brands like Harley Davidson their power (and revenue). They make millions promoting not products, but a way of life. They tell “people like us” how to “do things like this.” Harley Davidson became the leader of this group of motorcycle misfits.

Buffalo has “people like us” – both as a whole (we are the City of Good Neighbors, in good times and bad), and in our smaller tribes. We need leaders to tell us what to do, how to come together. Seth called on us to be those leaders, in a time when Buffalo is recreating itself as a better version of its past glory.

As Lenard Bernstein said, and Seth reminded us, “I’m no longer quite sure what the question is, but I do know that the answer is yes.”

Keep Walking, Keep Talking

Every year, 50,000 new cases of HIV are reported and at this rate, AIDS will become the worst epidemic in human history as it claims as many as 100 million lives by 2020. HIV and AIDS affect communities around the globe, including Western New York. Let’s keep walking and keep talking in our fight for a world without HIV and AIDS!

AIDS Walk Buffalo | Keep Walking Keep Talking | Succulents and Sunnies

This year is the 25th Annual AIDS Walk Buffalo. On May 6th, walkers will gather to raise both funds and awareness in a celebration of life and strength at Hoyt Lake. The walk’s goal is to raise funds that help members of our community who live with HIV or AIDS with medical care, case management, counseling, housing assistance and nutritious meals.

Interested in participating? Learn more about walking or donating on AIDS Walk Buffalo’s website: bit.ly/AIDSWalkBFLO!

AIDS Walk Buffalo | Keep Walking Keep Talking | Succulents and Sunnies

A Winter Wonderland

Winter finally arrived in Western New York today. Here in Niagara County, snow totals are fast approaching 18 inches and the snow is showing no signs of stopping. We haven’t had this much snow in a long time, so of course the first thing I did when I got home was cover my camera in a plastic bag and throw on the Bean Boots for a little trek around the yard.

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Winter Storm Stella | WNY | Succulents and Sunnies

Thinking Spring 🐥

The weather has dipped back into the teens, but our early taste of balmy weather has me thinking spring! I love the refreshed feeling that comes with the rainy, warming weather of April and May. There are so many parts of spring that make me happy, from the chicks at Tractor Supply to the days warm enough to take a run in shorts.

Buffalo has so many great restaurants with rooftop patios and outdoor seating that goes to waste for half the year. The first weekend that outdoor tables are set feels like a city-wide party filled with string lights and gorgeous sunsets. This spring, I’m excited to enjoy the patios at Templeton Landing, Deep South Taco and A. B. V.

Last Wednesday I stopped at Tractor Supply solely to check on the chick situation. There weren’t any chicks yet, which meant the time I spent on the drive there crafting an Instagram caption was for naught. But lucky for me and my springtime obsessions with all cute little animals (baby cows, baby bunnies and baby goats 😍), Tractor Supply is both on the way home from work and right next to the gym!

Warmer weather makes me want to never step foot on a treadmill again. I can’t wait until a few miles on the canal doesn’t leave my nose feeling like it’s going to fall off. I know Murphy is excited for days that stay lighter longer so he gets a walk more than once a week. The first few weeks of open windows, open barn doors and no winter coat are always welcome, especially in Buffalo.

Succulents_and_Sunnies_Thinking_Spring_Murphy

While some parts of spring cleaning aren’t so fun, I love taking everything off the shelves to dust and putting photos, books and keepsakes back in a completely new way. I stopped at Target yesterday for face wash and walked out with half the homeware department, I swear. I then spent hours changing out stacks of books and frames. My next step is printing new images for all these frames; currently, I’m looking at a cute child I’ve never seen before eating a dripping ice cream cone.

What are your favorite parts of the new season? Let me know in the comments below! 👇

Back in the (716)

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As much as I love Ithaca, I really missed Buffalo the last few years. Now that graduation is over, I’m settling into the life of an unemployed college graduate (and if anyone knows of anyone that needs a social media marketer, digital media coordinator or marketing associate, let me know). While unemployment has its downsides – like having no income and ungodly amounts of free time, with which I’m marathoning NCIS on Netflix – I am also able to spend time exploring the places that I’ve missed so much while at school.

In June, I went to Food Truck Tuesday twice. That’s two more times than last summer, when I was living in Ithaca. Friends and I perused Larkin Square before heading down to Flying Bison for drinks and cornhole on a beautiful evening early in the month.

Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square

Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square

Food Truck Tuesday at Flying Bison Brewery

Canalside has changed so much over the last four years and I finally have the chance to enjoy it! Mom, Dad and I celebrated Father’s Day with a walk along the inner harbor from the marina to Riverfest Park and dinner at (716). We watched the sunset and the beginning of the silo illuminations from three of the park’s colorful Adirondack chairs. A few weeks later, I took advantage of Canalside’s free concert lineup with friends when Frankie Ballard came to town. Both nights, the park was filled with people taking advantage of the water, the free exercise classes and the metro.

Buffalo's inner harbor

Buffalo RiverWorks from Riverfest Park

Canalside at sunset

Grain elevator light display at dusk

USS Little Rock at dusk

Canalside during the Frankie Ballard concert

Canalside during the Frankie Ballard concert

Over the next few weeks, I’m aiming to visit Elmwood Village, Allentown and a few museums. And after that, I will hopefully have a job!

Millennials Are Feeling the Buffalove

city-of-buffalo-skyline

Google the phrase “buffalo millennials” and about 350,000 results are found. Many of these results are articles from bloggers and news outlets trying to explain the recent draw of Buffalo for millennials. Recent college graduates usually consider moving to major cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles after hanging up their cap and gown, but according to a New York Times article analyzing a recent American Community Survey, Buffalo’s population of 25- to 34-year-old college grads grew by 34 percent from 2000 to 2012. Not even New York, Chicago or Los Angeles claim increases as high as this.

Educated millennials are calling Buffalo, the second largest city in New York State, home for many reasons; chief among them is the availability of jobs. With Governor Cuomo’s promise of the “Buffalo Billion,” a state investment of a billion dollars over the next decade in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls region, plans are being made and implemented for new medical, technology and energy facilities. These centers will create thousands of new, specialized jobs that require educated employees, likely to be millennials. Forbes reported a 9 percent increase of millennial jobs in the Buffalo region from 2007 to 2013 and this percentage will continue to grow due to public investment and the private expenditures that will follow. Although not often considered a college town, Buffalo is home to many private and public universities that offer both employment and graduate education opportunities.

Due to Buffalo’s reputation as a city fallen on hard times, the city makes for inexpensive living, creating a haven for millennials. The Urban Homestead Program sells houses to qualified buyers for the whopping sum of $1, plus required closing costs. Even if you can’t manage to get one of these homes, buying a fixer-upper in an up-and-coming neighborhood is more than doable on a recent grad’s budget. If owning a home isn’t your ideal, rent remains reasonable in the city and nearby suburbs. Entertainment options throughout the city are often free, and if not, they don’t cost much at all. Local favorites include the Chippewa District’s bars, clubs and restaurants; ice skating, canoeing, and the Naval and Military Park at Canalside; Food Truck Tuesdays and more at Larkinville; as well as free concerts at venues throughout the city all summer long.

Buffalo residents can all feel the energy and affection that surrounds this city – what locals call “Buffalove.” The region has a long, colorful history that includes the Erie Canal, diverse immigrant populations, U.S. presidents, Frank Lloyd Wright, steel mills, Fredrick Law Olmstead, a World’s Fair and Niagara Falls. These and many other happenings have shaped Buffalo into a cultural hub with gritty, loyal citizens who will stand by their city’s past, present and future. Recently, Buffalove manifested in the Pegula family’s purchase of both the Buffalo Bills (NFL) and Sabres (NHL). This family has invested in “OneBuffalo,” a slogan representing the united community of the region; they are breathing new life into the city with HarborCenter, the downtown hockey complex, as well as other developments. OneBuffalo signifies the movement towards an even better Buffalo, a movement fueled by a renewed interest in this beautiful city by young, educated residents who can make a difference.

Many Ithaca College students and graduates are clamoring for internships and jobs in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. These individuals may fail to realize the price of living fast-paced, demanding and expensive lives in the big city. Buffalo embodies many characteristics millennials look for when moving around after college; this city deserves the chance to show you a little Buffalove.

Photo: http://www.bnmc.org/