On the second floor of Midtown Plaza, taking up a small amount of the space that the old Scrantoms once inhabited, is one of downtown's best (and most needlessly) kept secrets. In its 20-year existence, owner Nel Adams' Village Yarn Shop has done time in Village Gate (hence the shop's name) and on Monroe Avenue, but for the last decade or so it's been cozily nestled into the upstairs corner that also houses Jeff's Books.
Alyssa Foos has worked at the Village Yarn Shop for the past two years and hears the phrase "I didn't know you were back here!" regularly. The shop is primarily frequented by downtown workers, though many in the know make the trip to Midtown for the spectacular array of yarn, which ranges from the most luxurious natural fibers (angora, alpaca, mohair) to the increasingly popular novelty threads (ribbon, eyelash, faux fur).
Knitting became all the rage a couple years ago, with classes and Stitch-n-Bitch type groups sprouting up everywhere (the Village Yarn Shop offers a class of its own on Mondays). But Foos has noticed that business has died down slightly over the past year, though she doesn't blame it on the evolution of a trend, since she says knitting will always be a fashionable form of self-expression.
She attributes it instead to the growing exodus of downtown businesses and their employees, a sad fact that has adversely affected many companies within the Inner Loop. But the Village Yarn Shop's loyal fan base continues to get the word out, resulting in orders from as far away as England.
The Village Yarn Shop, as well as other local fiber arts groups, will participate in the Rochester Museum & Science Center's 2005 Artistry in Thread Festival, Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, in RMSC's Eisenhart Auditorium.
For further information about the Village Yarn Shop, call 454-6064.
--- Dayna Papaleo
Dust in the wind
The report came with all the obligatory components of the scary environmental story: the unpronounceable toxics, the proclamations that they're everywhere even if you can't see them, and the environmental groups calling for government to do something.
The study, available online at www.safer-products.org, found a witch's brew of obscure chemicals in typical household dust at about 70 homes coast to coast. Among the main culprits? A fairly new bunch of chemicals designed as flame retardants and added to typical household items.
So how scared should you be? It's probably a little too early to tell, since several of the chemicals have only been around for a few years. But research conducted so far links many of them with all kinds of unpleasant effects, from cancer to birth defects to nervous system damage. And some share the quality that eventually helped DDT get banned a few decades ago: they persist in the environment and build up over time in people's bodies. That makes these "persistent bioaccumulative toxic chemicals," or PBTs for short, particularly dangerous to nursing infants who can get proportionately higher doses from their mothers' breast milk.
That's one of the reasons the City of Buffalo passed legislation phasing such chemicals out in December. The Citizens Environmental Coalition is using this new report to urge similar legislation from Albany and push for the formation of a statewide flame-retardant task force.
They may have an ally in local Assemblyman David Koon, whose house was one of two in the Rochester area to participate in the test.
Looking for quality organic veggies? How about lectures on Christianity and the environment, alternative building conferences, or demonstrations about how to make biodiesel?
Then you'll be interested in the latest offering from the Center for Sustainable Living for everyone from small farmers to tree-huggers to the earthy types in all of us.
The Center's 20-page booklet of 2005 season activities hit the shelves at Abundance Cooperative Market in Rochester and Lori's Natural Foods Center in Henrietta over the weekend, as well as area libraries and the Rochester Folk Art Guild's East Hill Farm in Middlesex (where many of the events take place).
The chapbook sports about 10 pages of events running from April until September, plus a directory of related services.
Can't find it? Send a dollar to cover postage to the Center for Sustainable Living, PO Box 10836, Rochester, 14610, and they'll mail one to you.
--- Krestia DeGeorge
People are people
It may have been St. Patrick's Day, but March 17 wasn't just for the Irish this year.
That was also the day that several prominent figures in Rochester's Latino community announced the formation of Latinos for Duffy, a campaign effort on behalf of former police chief and Democratic mayoral hopeful Bob Duffy.
In a press release, city school board member Domingo Garcia calls Duffy "the person that we believe has the best understanding of the issues affecting all city residents, but in particular, those of the Latino community." County Legislator Jose Cruz and activist Julio Vasquez also had words of praise.
The reactions from the two other announced campaigns, those of Tim Mains and Wade Norwood, were starkly different. Asked if they had planned something comparable, Mains for Mayor Co-Manager Aaron Wicks replied in an email "The answer is 'yes, absolutely.' We are actively seeking the support of Rochester's many communities. We cede no ground to anyone in our effort to bring the entire city together behind Tim's positive vision for Rochester."
Meanwhile, the Norwood campaign's Chris Christopher wrote tersely of Norwood: "His support cuts across every demographic." She then took on the "Latinos for Duffy" effort by writing that the Norwood campaign feels "it was inappropriate and even offensive for three people to put forth the perception that they speak for an entire community."
"We all --- citizens, elected officials, journalists --- do well to remember that no community is monolithic in its thinking. It is clearly Mr. Cruz, Mr. Garcia, and Mr. Vasquez's right to support any candidate of their choosing, but it is wrong to assume that they speak for all," she wrote.
"So the answer to your question is no --- we will not be doing a Latinos for Norwood event. Neither will we be doing a Whites for Norwood event or a Blacks for Norwood event. We are People for Norwood."
--- Krestia DeGeorge
In the Annual Manual 2005, included in the March 23 issue of City,there were several errors that need correcting:
In the festivals chart, called "The big picture," the information for Clarissa Street Reunion and Carifest was garbled. The correct information is: Clarissa Street Reunion, on August 20, takes place in the Clarissa Street neighborhood, with musical performances. For information: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.csrc.info. Carifest, a Caribbean-themed festival, is on August 13 at the High Falls Festival Site. For information: 254-7569.
The Rochester International Jazz Festival is older than we gave it credit for: It's now in its fourth year. And an RIJF artist's name was spelled wrong. The trumpeter's name is Cuong Vu.
Finally, the Rochester MusicFest, scheduled for July 16 and 17, is a festival for contemporary and legendary r&b.