What and where, is Healthy Blocks?

Swillburg Neighborhood Branded Street Signs

Focusing on strengthening assets, Healthy Blocks works to improve resident confidence. This leads to their greater economic and social re-investment to improve the neighborhood’s image, encouraging homebuyer interest and supporting long-term residency. NeighborWorks® Rochester’s other lines of business also contribute to the success of Health Blocks; for example, home improvement loans are offered to all Healthy Blocks neighborhoods, past and present, for a further reduced rate and with a waived application fee. Healthy Blocks measures its impact through tracking house sale data (including asking and sales prices and days on market) and taking resident confidence and property conditions surveys in years one, three, and five. Our “legacy neighborhoods” and the projects organized by Healthy Blocks are:

Swillburg Neighborhood (2005-2010)

  • Implemented a “unifier” project to visually connect the area – decorative house plaques with the Swillburg logo, still in use today
  • Organized a ‘group purchase’ of driveway replacements for homeowners and landlords, which came at a discount from the contractor
  • Helped residents plan and build a gazebo in Otto Henderberg Park, used for concerts and social events
  • Installed branded gateway signage around the entrances to the neighborhood, giving Swillburg a distinct “district” feel
  • Saw the average house price increase from $48,000 to its more historic value of $82,000 by the end of the Healthy Blocks term
  • Membership in the Swillburg Neighborhood Association increase by more than 40% and resident participation in social activities increase by 20%
  • Realtor’s Association uses the name “Swillburg” when selling property in the area

Brooks Landing Neighborhood (2007-2013)

  • Helped organize annual community skate parties at the Genesee Valley Park skating rink
  • Held a barbecue and music event at the University of Rochester footbridge for students and community members
  • Implemented 10 Makeover Madness matching grants for residents for exterior home improvements
  • Held an pop-up art gallery on Genesee St. for First Friday featuring neighborhood artists
  • Planted over 200 perennial plants in the spring of 2012, and over 300 daffodil and tulip bulbs in the fall

 The Pocket Neighborhood LogoThe Pocket Neighborhood (2008-2013)

    • Launched an identity/marketing campaign using the residents’ choice of name, “The Pocket”, including logo creation and street banners along Atlantic Ave.
    • Organized the installation of colorful, artistic crosswalks along Atlantic and E. Main designed by a local artist and painted by residents
    • Helped to create a community garden on a vacant lot on Heinrich St. and organized its further expansion later by adding six new raised beds, constructing three new public sitting benches, and planting over 400 daffodil bulbs
    • Installed over 200 matching house plaques, over 75% of the neighborhood
    • The average sale price per square foot of homes increase over 20% between 2008 and 2012 

The Triangle Neighborhood (2014-present)

  • Launched the initiative in 2014 with a “Taste of the Triangle” party drawing over 150 participants and engaging residents, local businesses, and community partners
  • Installed four artistic bike racks at the Culver-Merchants Point created by local metal fabricators
  • Completed a branding campaign including the neighborhood’s name, logo, brand statement, and website that has begun to be used widely around Rochester
  • Designed, printed, and began distributing Welcome Wagon packets and gifts to new neighbors in the Triangle
  • Held multiple social events including three pub crawls featuring Triangle Merchants Association member businesses and a pop-up First Friday gallery in a vacant commercial space with partners from Gallery Q and Image Out
  • Helped to form and engage a Triangle planning group that meets monthly
  • Between 2014-2016, average home sale prices, resident confidence, feelings of safety, and ‘house proud’ levels all improved significantly
  • Other community projects, including gateway signage, a mural, and micropark at the Cobblestone house are underway

NeighborWorks® Rochester Helps Bring Free Solar to Triangle Family

Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative has been active in The Triangle neighborhood of North Winton Village, working to improve property conditions, neighborhood image, and resident engagement. Part of the work of Healthy Blocks has been focused on making the neighborhood greener through various projects: tree plantings, clean sweeps, free home energy assessments through Green Jobs/Green New York, connecting residents with loans and grants for energy improvements through New York State’s EMPOWER and Assisted Home Performance programs, and more! Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester has helped neighbors invest more than $63,000 in environmentally-friendly energy improvements in the Triangle neighborhood alone. NeighborWorks® Rochester has also shown a commitment to bringing renewable energy to the City of Rochester and Monroe County. Our organization partnered with ROCSPOT on its last two Solarize the Flower City campaigns, which held public solar orientations and helped hundredboswell-familys of Rochesterians sign up for free solar audits.

During this time, NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to partner with the Rochester Area Community Foundation, NeighborWorks® America, and GRID Alternatives to fund and implement 5 free rooftop solar installations to low-to-moderate-income families in the City of Rochester. This pilot program, the first of its kind in the City of Rochester, also includes a workforce development portion, where students in community college solar programs can participate in the installation of the panels and earn a certificate that indicates real job experience to potential employers. Using this model, the first two installations were completed on City homes in November of 2015.

At the close of 2016, NeighborWorks® Rochester celebrated the third installation—on a home in its very own Healthy Blocks neighborhood! Julie and Pat Boswell—pictured with baby Carey and pup Ava—received their 10 solar panels on December 21st from installers they describe as efficient and professional. The panels, which have a lifespan of 20 years, will save the Boswells $40/month in utility bills. Combined with the energy-efficiency improvements they received through the EMPOWER program, their monthly bill will be significantly lowered, helping both the environment and their bottom line. “I never thought this could happen,” says Julie. “I never would have thought this was an option if NeighborWorks® hadn’t reached out to us.”

solar-roofGRID Alternatives is in the process of identifying and scheduling the final two low-mod solar installations, which are slated to be completed by spring of this year.

Investing in The Triangle through Leadership Training

Part of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks program is investing in resident leaders who can work to transform their community from the inside-out. As part of this goal, every year we sponsor a team of residents and City stakeholders to attend NeighborWorks® America’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI), a three-day event focused on training emerging leaders in skills for community organizing and neighborhood revitalization. This year’s attendees were Triangle residents Mikey Rodriguez, Julie Boswell, and Lorna Wright. Stakeholder attendees were: Baye Muhammad, the City’s Commissioner for Neighborhood and Business Development, LaShunda Leslie-Smith from Connected Communities, and Maureen Duggan from Rochester’s Community Design Center.

During the training, attendees took classes on building on community assets, organizing volunteers, marketing your neighborhood, sharing your success stories with the media, and other critical topics taught by experienced and knowledgeable faculty from all over the country. They also had to opportunity to share stories and ideas with other groups. In total, 110 teams from the nation – over 1000 participants – attended the event.

As a follow-up to the CLI, NeighborWorks® America provides a small grant opportunity to each team to put a resident-driven community project into action. This year’s team has chosen to pursue painting a community mural on Culver Road, the main gateway street for both The Triangle and Beechwood neighborhoods. The mural will bring the community together, both by addressing residents’ concerns about the street-facing facades of Culver Road commercial spaces and by adding unique and recognizable place-making elements to the The Triangle. Congratulations to all the attendees!

Healthy Blocks Celebrates its Landscaping Contest Winners

NW_hale04NeighborWorks® Rochester is delighted to celebrate the completion of a collaborative home improvement project in The Triangle, its current Healthy Blocks target neighborhood. Late last year, NeighborWorks® Rochester held a raffle contest for all homeowners in The Triangle who had closed on a home improvement loan in 2015. The winners of the raffle, Joyce and Neville Hayle, received $500 from Healthy Blocks for front yard landscaping material, which was matched by in-kind services provided by Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care. This landscape project was completed in August. The Hayle family made use of a NeighborWorks Rochester’s Home Improvement Loan to install a new sidewalk and to rebuild and repaint their porch, among other repairs. Now, with the added landscaping from Broccolo, they can enjoy a well maintained, beautiful home for many years to come.

Laurie Broccolo (pictured with Joyce and Neville left) and her family have been an enormous asset to the work of NeighborWorks® Rochester in The Triangle neighborhood and elsewhere. In addition to doing the work on the Hayles’ house, they contributed time and resources to the St. Mark’s & St John’s EDEN community garden at the entrance of Farmington Park, which produces hundreds of NW_hale02pounds of food per year and is regularly identified by rNW_hale01esidents as an important neighborhood asset.

NeighborWorks® Rochester invested over $150,000 in home improvements in The Triangle neighborhood in 2015.

Healthy Blocks Announces its Bike Rack Artists!

www.ssrphotography.com
www.ssrphotography.com

MSA Logo

NeighborWorks® Rochester is thrilled to announce the local artists who have been chosen to design four bike racks to be installed in The Triangle of North Winton Village this August, via the Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative Program! The goals of this project are to create bike parking where there currently is none, to improve access to the businesses located at the apex of the Triangle neighborhood, and to enhance the neighborhood’s unique image. Two of the racks will be fabricated by MetalSomeArt, a collaboration of Clay Lieberman and Matty Soanes, and two will be created by Jesse Hughson, Skillhoarder and creator of CyrCraft Customs. These racks will installed by the City of Rochester in four strategic locations in the business district area of Culver-Merchants.

Beer Stein MSAMetalSomeArt was founded by Matty and Clay (pictured top) in 2013, though both have a decade of metal fabrication experience. Operating from their workshop on E Main, they create handmade belt buckles, metal-plated leather journals, custom sculptures, and more. Recently, they designed and constructed the trophy to be given to the winner of Rochester Real Beer Week’s “Best New Beer of 2015” (pictured right). Matty and Clay’s racks (without giving away the surprise!) will incorporate minimalist, industrial, functional and modern design concepts.

Immanuel Baptist Bike RackJesse Hughson lives in Beechwood and is an artist who specializes in metal fabrication, prototyping, sculptural work, CNC machining, electronics, woodworking, and more. Through CyrCraft Customs, he builds, engraves and adds LEDs to Cyr Wheels, a specialized type of full-body gymnastics equipment. His past work also includes a bike rack he built for Immanuel Baptist Church on Park Avenue (pictured left). His fabrications for the Triangle will bring creativity and life into the area.

Healthy Blocks looks forward to the completion of this project and the increased aesthetic appeal and bicycle traffic it will bring to The Triangle!

Ceremony to Kickoff Earth Day Celebration

11884952_465122370314642_1826571326288146815_oCollaboration Helps to Build Healthy Neighborhood 

NeighborWorks® Rochester is pleased to announce that, along with St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church and Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care, a ribbon cutting ceremony to kick off Earth Day will be held at the Merchants Road Community Garden. The event will be held on Friday, April 22nd at 10:00AM at the Garden, also known as the Garden of E.D.E.N. II, 622 Merchants Road, Rochester, NY.

The garden is a project initiated and maintained by the St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church community with support from FoodLink. Recently, NeighborWorks® Rochester secured a grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation for the Merchants Road Community Garden for enhancements, including a shed and garden tools as part of their Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative.

The garden is located within Rochester’s Triangle Neighborhood of North Winton Village. This community is the focus of the Healthy Blocks program, which seeks to stimulate changes that restore and sustain neighborhood pride and confidence by working together with residents, businesses, and landlords.

In addition, NeighborWorks® Rochester coordinated with the City of Rochester to remove and replace existing features like the entryway pillars, signs, and fencing. Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care has provided technical assistance and additional resources to create landscaping at the garden that promotes the plant and animal life while making the space more inviting.

Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester stated, “This garden is a perfect example of a cooperative effort of residents, merchants, businesses and the city to enhance a neighborhood that is in transition. The collaboration of all the parts will work to strengthen civic involvement, pride in the community and encourage reinvestment. We were especially thankful to St. Mark’s and St. John’s and Broccolo for partnering with us to make this garden a successful neighborhood project, which provides benefits beyond the growing season.“

“It was our pleasure to be involved with the Garden of E.D.E.N,” said Laurie Broccolo, President of Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care. “We want to help educate the community about growing food, including the plants that attract pollinators, which are necessary for success. Connecting people to nature is a personal passion and goal for me. Helping our community to enjoy the benefits of gardening and growing plants is near and dear to my heart.”

Last year, close to 850 pounds of produce was harvested from The Merchants Road Community Garden, with a portion of the harvest going to a local food bank. Local residents who volunteered received a $5 voucher each time they volunteered at the garden, to be used at any local farmer’s market.

 

Celebrate Park(ing) Day in our Pop-up Park!

Park(ing) Day pop
Park(ing) Day Pop-up Park to be located at 1090 Culver Road, Rochester

NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative will provide a temporary public open space – a Pop-up Park – to foster community in a city neighborhood and celebrate Park(ing) Day on September 18th. Park(ing) Day is a world-wide initiative which allows residents, businesses, community organizations, etc. to collaborate and transform a parking space into a temporary public green space. This urban oasis will take place at 1090 Culver Road, Rochester, in the parking lot of Rochester’s only remaining cobblestone structure. This space exists within the Triangle Neighborhood (bordered by Culver, Merchants and Main Streets), which is the focus of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Health Blocks Neighborhood Initiative.

The Park(ing) Day event will allow neighbors and the public to socialize in a relaxing outdoor setting which includes food, drink, history and games. Thanks to Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care who will provide greenery to help make the otherwise empty lot into a Pop-up Park.  The event will be held from noon to 6:00 P.M. and will include ice cream from Eat Me Ice Cream and espresso from Ugly Duck Coffee. The first 50 Triangle residents will receive a free affagato – a coffee and ice cream confection. They will also be available, along with ice cream and espresso, for purchase. The Landmark Society of Western New York will also be there to provide historic photos and a history of this unique building, while Reconnect Rochester will provide a mini-golf course and Park(ing) Day bus stop cubes to add to the fun.

WHAT: Park(ing) Day Celebration

WHERE: 1090 Culver Road, Rochester

WHEN: Noon to 6:00PM

HOW: Free to all, espressos from Ugly Duck Coffee and ice cream from Eat Me Ice Cream available for purchase

 

 

Spring Revival- New Community Garden & Community Kick-off Event

Image

After a long vacancy, the empty lot at 622 Merchants Road recently became a community garden once again. The garden is a result of a partnership between St. Mark’s & St. John’s Episcopal Church, Foodlink, Covenant United Methodist Church, the City of Rcohester and Healthy Blocks. The garden contains 16 raised beds, flower garden, a picnic table and a tool shed in the near future. Our United Way Day of Caring volunteers from Paychex and New Directions helped clear the lot and build the raised beds all in a day!

This garden is the church’s second growing site after a very successful initial effort on church property. With the generous donation of materials by Foodlink, a portion of the food produced goes to those in need. Food is distributed locally through various food pantries, including the one found at St. Mark’s & St. John’s.

Neighbors are encouraged to participate in the community garden throughout the growing season. Volunteers may join Mike Finn, lead garden coordinator, this Friday at 10am to plant seeds in the raised beds. The garden will have scheduled harvest days where the food is weighed before being distributed. Gardeners also reap some rewards for their efforts by taking fresh produce home with them!

Gardening plus several other eco related topics will be featured at “Taste of the Triangle” on May 31st, from 11am-3pm. This event will feature free food tastings from local restaurants, live music, as well as community and “green” resources. The Merchants Road garden coordinators will be at the event ready to chat about the project.

For more information about the garden or “Taste of the Triangle,” please send me an e-mail or give me a call: mkraines@nwrochester.org 325-4170 ext. 317.

Happy Gardening!

Michelle Kraines