By Seamus Gallivan
Our September Friendraiser at the Sportsmens Tavern this past Wednesday goes down as the longest one to date – thanks to the dozens who came early and stayed late! I don’t recommend putting in eight-hour shifts at bars too often, but in this case, the cause was just, as some of our most dedicated Good Neighbors brought a lot of love and good info to share from the get-go – too many to name them all, but we had tables full of info on causes ranging from Music is Art and the Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo & Erie County to initiatives on identity theft and paper shredding events from the Buffalo Better Business Bureau, while representatives from organizations such as the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York shared details of upcoming gatherings in the neighborhood, and Buffalo First! and Elmwood Village Creative both pushed the Grow Local Social Media Forum they co-hosted the next night. And many hours later, just as we had one foot out of the door, two surprise guests walked in and kept the place open for a few more laughs in the name of new friends…
I’ll happily admit to not being the first to arrive, as Kaitlin Frisicaro has displayed such a passion for getting involved with The Good Neighborhood. She was featured two weeks back in Anna Miller’s Where the heART Is column for her bringing to Buffalo a campaign she saw in New York City called Love Yourself, and laid out a table full of t-shirts and paper on which even some of our most stubborn attendees took time to write a reason they love themselves, folding it into a heart and putting it into a jar to be submitted to the greater campaign. Personally, I can be cynical about stuff like this sometimes, wanting to focus on efforts of greater impact, but seeing grown men cave in and fill out the paper then walk away with a smile was a cool sight.
Free Henry guitarist/vocalist Alex Foote will vouch for the power of the campaign – after pulling off a fun jam session that crossed originals with covers from Johnny Cash to U2 with fellow Henry Pat Mannella on drums, the Ifs’ Geno McManus on vocals/guitar, On the Sly/Effective Resolution’s Andrew Moore on mandolin/guitar/vocals, and Autopunch’s Luke Hammill on bass, Alex bought one of the Love Yourself t-shirts and reported that he got a bunch of compliments on it at the band’s gig in Allentown on Friday night.
After Moore stirred the room with a solo set that included the debut of the “Slylettes” – Kaitlin, Anna, and his better half Tina Reitz singing backup vocals – the gathering got a second wave in the form of 464 Gallery owner Marcus Wise and his ELAB crew, including recently featured Empowering Neighbor Dana Saylor, who all rolled in like a ball of fun and took up residence on the renovated second floor, inspiring another late arrival, urban farm education advocate Robert “Rojo” Joseph, to take to the stage and keep to jam going with a little help from his new friend Pat on drums. Dana has since asked for Rojo’s contact info, for what I wait in anticipation to find out…
That crew had come and gone when Kaitlin, nearly the last one to leave as well, had packed up the goods she brought and wished farewell to bartender Jeff Hall and cook Greg Smith when a couple walked in asking, “We’re here for The Good Neighborhood, is the bar still open?” With an easy grin, Jeff said, “Absolutely,” and Kaitlin happily re-opened her offerings to allow Andrea and Bill Milleville to express how they love themselves, for which Bill brought back that response of just going along with it at first but afterward genuinely digging it. We learned that Andrea and Bill had first participated in The Good Neighborhood when they attended one of our Speakeasy Sunday shows at Pearl Street Brewery benefiting the Give for Greatness, as they’re fans of one of the featured bands, Erie Lackawanna Railroad, along with other fellow favorite local acts on the local scene such as Son of the Sun. A social worker at Hillside Children’s Center, Andrea explained that they’d hustled to the Sportsmens from the Stone Temple Pilots show in Niagara Falls to learn more about The Good Neighborhood. Although they missed everyone but Kaitlin and I, I’m confident in saying they left with a decent idea and a definite good impression.
One of the Good Neighbors they missed was Neil Carroll of Nickel City Graphics, a creative agency with a focus on design and video for web to promote companies in Buffalo. Neil earns our Friendraiser Focus because he’s a go-to guy for Good Hood event poster design who made it two Friendraisers in a row, brought the good word on another good community event the next night in the Grow Local Social Media Forum, and hammed it up with a good few folks who were strangers before he walked in, with whom he’s followed up since – I can speak to Neil’s ability to network as I first met him when he co-hosted a business mixer for Buffalo First!, one of many nonprofits for which he’s done work.
One of Neil’s top clients is Green Options Buffalo, for which he’s provided a range of services from designing the original logo for Flying Bison Rusty Chain beer, which kicked partial proceeds to GO Buffalo, to creating print projects and video features. We worked together last year on their Biketoberfest fall fundraiser, and the experience was so much fun that I employed him to design the program for The Good Neighborhood’s Home for the Holidays concert series benefiting Compass House.
“When I first started out, I had some intention doing nonprofit work almost as marketing tool as much as anything else,” Carroll said. “It was all pro-bono early on – I was gonna have an annual project for some lucky nonprofit, and wound up working with both Buffalo First! and Green Options, which has become one of my better clients. I didn’t even realize at first that it’s not that they don’t deal with money – they’re just not seeking to profit from their venture. I’ve been able to get some great work through them – in a field that can definitely be very shallow, it’s nice to actually be doing some stuff that makes more of a different, positive impact, instead of just making you buy a widget at the mall. With Green Options, there’s a lot for me to do, and their mission is something I definitely believe in as well – now, it’s grown into something bigger.”
Neil’s next project for Green Options is part of a multi-grant umbrella campaign with Buffalo CarShare on transportation issues – walking, biking, and taking public transportation to work, school, and play, as well as an educational push for complete streets legislation. Enjoy some of his past video work below, and check out more of his work and get in touch at www.nickelcitygraphics.blogspot.com.
That’s enough namedropping for one Friendraiser follow-up – if you were there and didn’t read your name mentioned here, make some more noise next time! Stay tuned for an announcement of a bit of a different angle to our October Friendraiser – based on the written feedback we collected, people are digging the networking focus of the event, which we’ll step up next month. Drop us a line anytime with any ideas as to how to make this event better for all involved.