Author name: Peg Johnston

Big Bucks for Triple Cities: Innovation Districts

Strategic Economic Investment Plan Will Fund Key Projects in Binghamton, Johnson City and Endicott
Investment Complements "Southern Tier Soaring" – The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Empire State Development (ESD) today announced a call for proposals has been issued to implement transformative projects related to the $20 million Greater Binghamton Fund, a central part of the regionally designed Southern Tier Soaring economic development plan. The initiative will facilitate key economic development projects in Binghamton, Johnson City and Endicott in an effort to transform targeted urban centers, or "iDistricts," into communities where the next generation of workers want to live, work, and play. The fund will support innovative and creative projects, including mixed-use and commercial development, housing rehabilitation, and streetscape improvements to help catalyze the regional economic ecosystem through targeted downtown redevelopment. Submissions associated with this Open Call for Proposals are due no later than 4 p.m. on January 19, 2018. All eligible projects must be located within the geographic boundaries of the designated “iDistricts”.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The Greater Binghamton Fund will stimulate new investment and help to create sustainable downtown economies. This effort marks another exciting chapter in economic narrative of the Southern Tier which continues to take shape.”
Interested applicants are encouraged to attend any of the three public informational meetings for the Greater Binghamton Fund. Each will be co-hosted by Empire State Development, the Mayors of each “iDistrict” community and the Greater Binghamton Work Group:
Tuesday, December 12th:  3:00 p.m., Endicott Visitors Center, 300 Lincoln Avenue, Endicott, NY
Tuesday, December 12th:  6:30 p.m., Koffman Southern Tier Incubator, 120 Hawley Street, Binghamton, NY
Wednesday, December 18th:  7:00 p.m., Johnson City Courthouse, 31 Avenue C, Johnson City, NY

The Greater Binghamton Fund will support projects that fall within the geographic boundaries of the designated innovation districts which are anchored by significant economic drivers. These include the Southern Tier High Technology Incubator (Binghamton), the Binghamton University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (Johnson City), and the Huron Campus (Endicott), which is the site of Binghamton University's Center for Advanced Microelectronic Manufacturing (CAMM), and the recipient of a $20 million investment from New York State to conduct advanced research and development in flexible circuitry.
The Greater Binghamton Fund is an important part of the region's winning Southern Tier Soaring Upstate Revitalization Initiative plan which was announced by Governor Cuomo in December of 2015. The $500 million plan is working to grow the Greater Binghamton Innovation Ecosystem by establishing the region as a premier destination for talent, new business development and solidifying partnerships for commercialization of emerging technologies. The plan is also investing in regional strengths in advanced manufacturing, healthcare and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education as well as the supporting research and development capabilities of academia and industry in the region.
Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
Today's announcement complements “Southern Tier Soaring” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $4.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay for groundwork for the plan – attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest.
Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

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2018 United Cultural Fund Campaign

Broome County Arts Council Kicks off the 2018 United Cultural Fund Campaign

                  The Broome County Arts Council announces the kickoff of the 2018 United Cultural Fund Campaign. The United Cultural Fund, now in its 30th year, supports the Arts in Broome County through general operating and program grants to Arts organizations, individual artists andcommunity organizations who conduct arts events and programs. In 2018 the United Cultural Fund will surpass 10 million dollars in grants to the arts since its inception.

                  BCAC Board President, Susan Appe says  “The United Cultural Fund (UCF) is the way to support all arts in Broome County from the world-class performances of the Tri-Cities Opera to the cutting edge multi-media presentations like Installation|Music. Funding through the UCF encourages students in the Emerging Artist program and the Binghamton Youth Symphony, as well as supports the musicians of the Binghamton Community Orchestra, the Downtown Singers and the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, it further sustains the performances at EPAC, The Goodwill Theater, the Summer Savoyards, SPARE Productions, the ART Mission and Theater and S.R.O. Productions. The UCF funded the poetry of the Binghamton Center for Writers and individual artist like Scott Danzig, Lori Dayton and Brian Murphy to present to works to our community.”

Arthur Garrison, BCAC Interim Executive Director adds that, “Through the UCF the arts are brought to many more people by collaborative efforts with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Kopernik Society, the Phelps Mansion and the Southern Tier Solar Works. It helps produce art exhibits at the Roberson Museum, Vestal Museum and Nanticoke Valley Historic Society which are available to the entire community. In addition, at the Broome County Arts Council, we provide exhibit space to local artists, deliver seminars on the business of art and promote artists and arts events.”

The Campaign Goal for 2018 is $282,000.

Contributions to the United Cultural Fund may be made through the Broome County Arts Council website,  or can be mailed to BCAC, 81 State Street, Suite 501, Binghamton NY 13901.

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20 Gardens by 2020

As part of VINES' 10th Anniversary, we have launched a campaign to build 20 gardens by 2020. This expansion would not be made possible without the funding through a grant from the Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation. With volunteer help, we were able to build two new community gardens this fall. We built a garden on Park Street, on the West Side of Binghamton. We also built a garden in Johnson City on Sherman Street,  our first garden outside of the City of Binghamton.

Our gardens, continue to be built with more volunteers, more support, and in less time. Garden plot rentals are already being inquired at both of the new locations, and are already proving to be a valued community space.

Other planning is underway with our development and expansion of our community garden efforts. This includes Spring 2018 garden builds. Additionally, VINES is launching a Community Garden Proposal Application Process. This will help streamline the efforts of VINES to build gardens where they are needed, and where the community drive is there! If you're interested in proposing a garden project in your neighborhood, you can sign up to learn more information here.

We're so proud to be partnering with communities and agencies beyond Binghamton and could not have done this without our dedicated volunteers and community members. Thanks for your continued support since our first garden build in 2007.

—VINES Staff and Board

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Floral Park Public Art Dedication

–Johnson City, New York.

On Friday, November 3, at 1:30 PM Johnson City Mayor Greg Deemie will officially dedicate the murals at Floral Park to the children of the community by cutting a ceremonial ribbon at the park’s main entrance. Mural Fest 2017 marked the Village’s first foray into public art installations. Johnson City has been labeled the Health & Cultural iDistrict as part of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council’s regional plan. In support of this designation, the Village plans to champion public art installations throughout Johnson City. Studies have shown public art can be a high impact, low cost method to increase vitality, community cohesion and property values. Mural Fest 2017 was attended by an estimated 300 people of all ages from throughout the surrounding neighborhood.

Five permanent murals at Floral Ave. Park were created by the Dept. of Public Art (DPA), a volunteer organization that has more than 20 murals to its credit. "Johnson City is a great canvas for our public art and we look forward to more opportunities to transform the urban landscape," said Peg Johnston, one of the DPA's organizers. Lead artists on the project included Susan Champeny, resident artist from Massachusetts, Bruce Greig, master muralist from New Zealand and Binghamton, Judy Salton, member of the Cooperative Gallery, and Shawna Stevenson, graphic artist studying at Syracuse University. Over 1000 volunteer hours were donated to these murals and the Mural Fest activities October 7th.

The Dept of Public Art has received a grant from the Town of Union Community Development Block Grants funds that will be used for more murals. Additional funding was received from Broome County's Hotel/Motel Fund, The Chenango Co. Arts Council Decentralization Program a re-grant program of the NYS Council on the Arts, with support from Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature. Additional support for Broome County was provided by the Stewart W. & Willma C. Hoyt Foundation.

Visit and the Dept of Public Art facebook page for more information.

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Are you an Ally for Women Sexually Harassed?

This article from THE DAILY GOOD reports on several celebrities, including Anthony Bourdain and Jim Jeffries who are examining their role in propping up a culture where it is ok to allow women to be harassed. In the wake of the many accusations of sexual assault and harassment against Harvey Weinstein, a number of public personalities are shocked and looking at their own roles.

"Anthony Bourdain is the latest male celebrity examining his role in enabling the “Harvey Weinsteins” in his industry. In an interview with Slate's Isaac Chotiner, the renowned chef, author, and “Parts Unknown” host confessed to valorizing and enabling a “meathead culture” in the food world, citing the “sexualization of food” and the prurient portrayal of a (consensual) sexual relationship between a chef and a customer in his book “Kitchen Confidential.”


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Keep Halloween Scary, but Sober

Image by Pixabay Article by Caleb Anderson

Halloween is no longer just for kids. Adults are discovering the ghoulish glee that comes from indulging their most macabre fears in a safe but scary environment. There's no reason for you to miss out on the fun, even if you're in recovery. Here are some great ways to have a creepy yet clean All Hallow's Eve.

Go to a Haunted House

What could fit this fiendish season better than touring a forbidden setting filled with all sorts of creatures that go bump in the night? You'll find these frightening attractions popping up all over the place each October. Try a haunted hayride for a delightful variation that's better suited to the more claustrophobic among us. Revenues from seasonal haunted houses go to local charities, so you can feel good about giving yourself a bad fright.

Try a Ghost Tour

Most communities have one or two spots where spirits are said to glide through ghostly environs off-limits to those who are still alive. So why not tempt the fates by spending some time touring a few of these spectral places? Ghost tours offer a horrific helping of local folklore mixed with fascinating facts about a city's history and culture. Most of these events require you to do just a wee bit of walking, though some venues chauffeur their guests from one spot to another in climate-controlled comfort. 

Go People-Watching

All kinds of colorful characters come out of the woodwork on Halloween. Some spend the entire year crafting the costumes they wear on this special night. Others look demented and disturbed because…well, just because. Either way, you can have a blast by parking yourself on a city bench and watching folks stroll by. Just think twice before taking treats from strangers, especially if they vanish before your eyes.

Watch Frightening Films

Who knows mayhem and madness better than the staff of Rolling Stone magazine? So you can trust them when they tell you that a scary movie marathon is a superb way to give yourself goosebumps. Imagine being curled up on a couch in a dark room watching bad things happen to people other than you. That's an evening that's sure to please anyone. Just think twice before reaching out to hold the hand of the person next to you. You may find yourself touching something cold and clammy from the crypt…

Witness a Murder

No, not literally. We're talking about hosting a murder mystery whodunit where one of the guests ends up on the dinner menu and everyone else tries to find the killer before time runs out. These events have gone upscale in recent years, according to the writers at the UK publication Telegraph.  But you need not book a swank hotel to create the proper atmosphere for murder most foul. All you need is some basic props, a few willing victims, and a smidgen of creativity.

Tips for Staying Sober No Matter Where You're At

Perhaps your plans this year include time spent at a gathering where you'll run across alcohol or other stimulating substances. That's no reason to forsake your recovery goals. Here are some ways to stay sober on the scariest night of the year:

Have a friend by your side. He or she can help you to avoid temptation and issue a polite but firm "no" to those who try to steer you toward relapse.
Volunteer to help with trick-or-treating or another kid's activity. That way you can always say, "Sorry, but I'm going to be around a bunch of sugared-up preschoolers later on and I need to have my wits about me."
Wear a costume that precludes imbibing: 'I'd love to, but it took me three hours to get the death's-head makeup just right and I'm not taking any chances."

Halloween is all about having a good time, no matter how old you are. So stay safe and sober while you're indulging in a little spooky fun. You'll come away with great memories and the strength to face your future free of fear.

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The Playwrights & Artists Festival plays have been chosen!

News from KNOW THEATRE:  We asked playwrights and musicians to create works based on images of artwork .  The plays are blind-read, the best are chosen an produced.  Our friends at Strange Fangs Song Factory make arrangements with local musicians to compose original pieces.  We feature one artwork each night for three nights with the plays performed and the music played, and then we have a talkback with all of the people involved – artists, directors, musicians, actors, and you.

The shows are November 17, 18, 19 and 24, 25, 26  All performances are at 8pm.
The cost is $15 per night or $25 for the whole weekend.

Maria's Wish by Joseph Q. Daily
 – A Thorn
   by Seamus Lucason
 – The Last Virgin
   by Shirley Goodman

Disco Shrine by Gordon Lee
 – The Moka Pot
    by James Menges
 – Morally Inclined
    by Kris Tabor

Out of the Shadows by Orazio Salati
 – Dear Lentil
   by Kerri Quinn
 – Do or Don't Do
   by Adara Alston



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The Darkest City by Andrei Guruianu

"The Darkest City is a dialogue conducted in text and images between Romanian-born writer Andrei Guruianu and American photographer and visual artist Teknari. The Darkest City draws its inspiration from Teknari’s black and white photographs of the Southern Tier of New York, whose small cities and villages have at times been labeled by some as “drive through” kind of places. Once known for being the birthplace of IBM, the Endicott Johnson shoe factories that furnished boots for American soldiers in WWII, Guglielmo Marconi’s first radio tower, as well as the Twilight one series, large parts of the area now lie in disrepair, abandoned, a modern ruinscape. The claw marks are visible on the empty factories, boarded up storefronts, the houses and churches that have seen the rise and fall of industry. Despite the inevitable change and fresh coat of paint that comes with time, the image remains often dark and bleak, one that unfortunately is all too familiar when one conjures up visions of small town America.
As The Darkest City is rooted in the ancient practice of ekphrastic exchange and artistic dialogue, we invite readers along the way to contribute their thoughts and reflections and insert themselves into this narrative be it on art and aesthetics, on memory and loss, or on identity and a sense of purpose and belonging. In the following pages we ask you to consider along with us: What do our modern lives suspended between the metaphorical here and then look like, and how do we go about living them to their fullest?

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NYS Women’s Suffrage Centennial

Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation Present Exhibits and Programs Celebrating Haudenosaunee Influence

PHOTO: Mural at 213 State St. by Bruce Greig of Elisabeth Freeman on Soapbox, Suffragette, 1913

LOCAL NEWS: Binghamton Suffrage Anniversary Parade
Sat, October 7, 1pm – 3pm
Main St, Binghamton, NY 13905
A re-creation of the October 1913 Convention of NYS Women Suffrage Association parade held in Downtown Binghamton. This year's parade will reenact the original parade, as well as feature current groups interested in celebrating the historic anniversary of women's suffrage in NYS.

Seneca Falls, NY & Fayetteville, NY – Exhibits highlighting the influence of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women on the vision of the woman’s rights movement will open at Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls on October 7 and the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue in Fayetteville on October 14. Programs and dialogues at both sites will invite visitors to explore the often-untold story of Haudenosaunee influence, survival, and legacy. These Six Nations Confederacy women, with their legal, political, economic and personal authority, gave New York women a model to emulate.

Programs highlighting indigenous culture will begin the weekend of October 7-9 at Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Ranger dialogue programs exploring these issues will take place in the Wesleyan Chapel on:
• Saturday, October 7 at 11am and 2pm
• Sunday, October 8 at 1pm
• Monday, October 9 at 1pm

Children and families will also have the opportunity to create artwork around themes of trust and friendship and engage with a hands-on, outdoor timeline demonstrating the continuity of indigenous cultures in the area at the park.

A full schedule of events at both sites are available on their websites: and

The exhibits were created by the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation. This project was supported by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscious – a network of historic sites and museums dedicated to interpreting themes of human rights through dialogue-based approaches, with additional funding from Humanities New York and the Governor’s New York Suffrage Centennial Commission.

Related programming will be announced as Women’s Rights National Historical Park celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month in November and throughout the year as we work to better include the influence of Haudenosaunee culture in the story of the women's rights movement.

Follow us on Facebook (@WomensRightsNPS), Twitter (#WomensRightsNPS) and Instagram (WomensRightsNPS)

Join the Friends of Women’s Rights National Historical Park at If you would like to receive email announcements about other upcoming events, send an email to to subscribe.

All programs are free and open to the public


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The Gandhi Project

The Gandhi Festival March – Sun. Oct. 1, 2017 at 4 pm, gathering at the M.L. King Statue on the Riverwalk, near Court St. Bridge.

The Gandhi Project was launched in 2015, to focus attention on the potential of “ordinary people” to work for the common good.  Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) came to be called “Mahatma” (great soul) because of his ever-deepening social awareness, and his ability to teach others—through personal example—about a force more effective than violence.  Calling upon the power of “truth” (the Sanskrit word is “satya”) to transform unjust situations, Gandhi’s followers achieved the independence of India from the world’s preeminent colonial power.  Satyagraha (truth force) challenged India’s caste system as well, and has become an instrument of social transformation in societies around the globe—using respectful, courageous, and disciplined human power, rather than violence, to liberate humanity.

As we move toward Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary (Oct. 2, 2019) we call attention to ahimsa, non-violence, as a creative energy—validated by experience—to mobilize moral energy and challenge the indifference and selfishness expressed in racism, sexism, xenophobia, heterosexism, and apathy about poverty and injustice.

The Gandhi Project in New York’s Southern Tier has announced a “3-H Campaign” to address Health Care for All, Housing for All, and Hospitality for All:

Health In one of the world’s wealthiest nations a significant number are still deprived of a passport to heath care:  medical insurance.  Americans pay more, but receive less effective care, than other developed nations.  Our system is burdened by needless administrative costs and profiteering.  A clear, comprehensive system of  “Improved Medicare for All”— would make medical care a human right.  All would be covered through their life-spans.  Equitable taxes would cover the cost.  The Gandhi Project, with a majority of Americans, believes this is a moral imperative. 

Housing More people than we can imagine spend their nights—wintertime and summertime—not under sheets in a warm bed, but under bridges or in abandoned warehouses.  A great number of these are veterans, traumatized in ways beyond imagining.  Providing adequate shelter for individuals and families on the streets of America has proved difficult.  It will require serious investment.  We think people are worth it.  To care for those in greatest distress is the mark of a humane, mature society.

Hospitality At our best, Americans have learned to appreciate diversity as a great strength.  Many times, indigenous Americans extended hospitality.  Colonists did not always reciprocate.  In some moments, Americans acted generously.  At others, not so much.  Our Statue of Liberty has long proclaimed freedom to immigrants, but at times we have reneged on the promise.  When demagogues rouse fear, we can renew the American dream of welcome and hospitality.  We can lift one another.

Your Invitation  This introduction to The Gandhi Project is your invitation to join with us:  imagining, planning, walking, celebrating … embodying the dream of harmony and justice.

Resources  Here are some places to start:

Health Care for All: Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) is a non-profit research and     education organization of 20,000 physicians, medical students and health        professionals who support single-payer national health insurance. See their web site: .   On May 5, 2016, an esteemed group of physicians unveiled a detailed plan for single-payer health care in the U.S. To read the proposal, please visit:

Bernie Sanders’ just-published book:  Guide to Political Revolution  (Henry Holt and Co.,NY, 2017) has an excellent chapter entitled “Health Care for All” (p. 81 ff.)

Housing for All: Lack of income makes housing unaffordable for many.  Look at the Sanders book (see       above) for thoughts about guaranteeing livable wages. Many local organizations address housing issues, and work in different ways to expand housing opportunities.  You might contact one or more of the following:

First Ward Action Council, Binghamton, community-based developer and provider of   housing and housing services: .  Reach the Council            by telephone (607) 772-2850 or e-mail at It office is located          in a historic building it renovated at 167 Clinton Street in Binghamton, New York.

Broome Habitat for Humanity is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International.  It          partners with families in need of decent housing to build affordable homes. or e-mail:  Phone:  239-4783

Search online for “Broome County Homeless Housing Resources” and you’ll find a PDF     file listing numerous resource groups that provide services.

Hospitality for All: The American Civic Association assists refugees to find housing and welcome in the         Binghamton area.  Local churches and other groups assist in this process from time to   time.  Contact the ACA at:  or phone:  607-723-9419. 

To learn more about The Gandhi Project and/or non-violence resources, please contact: .  You can also be added to our e-mail list to receive updates and meeting notifications.  Download flyer below.

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