Flowering Upper Monroe

Flowering Upper Monroe

Acro Yoga at the Butterfly Garden 7/6/16

A small but dedicated group helps keep the flowers of Upper Monroe and Cobb’s Hill blooming.

corner of Monroe/Culver 7/6/16

The area of Cobb’s Hill near Lake Riley is an urban oasis. The pulse of the basketball games. The electricity of urban softball under the lightsKick Ass croquet on Monday nights. The frisbies frisbeeing.

And this year’s The Show on Monroe was to behold.

But parks and gardens get trashed and neglected. butterfly

Last week coming back from good news at Good Luck, I met five members of the Upper Monroe Neighborhood Association who, along with others, tend to 5 urban gardens on Upper Monroe every Wednesday from 6 -7 pm: off Labernum next to the 7-Eleven; on Belmont across from Jeremiah’s, next to the Welcome to the Upper Monroe Neighborhood sign at the corner of Culver and Monroe, the garden at Monroe and Engle Place, and the Butterfly Garden near the Norris Avenue entrance to Cobb’s Hill.

group darkened

Butterfly Garden at Cobb’s Hill, top l-r: Scott, Jane; bottom: Mary Ellen, Charlotte, Nancy, David [photo: one of the RocSpot solar cooker guys] 6/29/16


Scott Kroner at the garden on Labernum/Monroe next to the 7-Eleven 7/6/16

It’s hard work — especially in 80 degree heat — but a labor of love with lots of comradeship. The reasons don’t need much explanation. Scott Kroner (who many know from Masterminds and the Upstate NY Interscholastic Chess League) said this is what you do for where you live. The others chimed in: this is how urban communities are built and sustained.


on Belmont across from Jeremiah’s: “Full of sculpting and loving” (group caption) (standing) Matt Lochee and H. Elizabeth Alcott (kneeling) David Kramer [Photo: Sean Cilano]

Passerbys always give a big thumbs up.  And maybe pick up that next piece of trash on the sidewalk.

On the way back from Labernum, I met three artists at the outside tables at Jeremiah’s. They were more than happy to pose next to the garden. But Elizabeth (of Henna Rising) fretted that she has never been to one of the spruce ups.

No problem. Just send the article to friends on social media and you did your share for the evening.  Owner of Apple Tatoo, Matt Loochee said he would do the same and would be 100% sure not to drop his cigarette on the ground. Sean Cilano, an art teacher and MSEd, took the nicely composed picture of the Belmont garden.

RocSpot jugglers and solar cookers 6/29/16


with Joanne Wu (aloft) [Photo: Rachel]

Back at Cobb’s where the group was giving the Butterfly an extra water dousing, I met people practicing Acro Yoga.

The week before I had met members of RocSpot turning trash into outdoor solar cookers (smores galore) with nary a carbon footprint in sight. One man gladly took the group photo op of the gardeners.

Tonight, led by Dr. Joanne Wu, the Acro Yoga group gathered at Cobb’s to gracefully contort themselves into mind clearing and health building yoga poses and asanas.

gropu yoga

After but a brief lesson, I was able to lift Joanne onto by shoulders, throw her high over my head, and deftly catch her returning to earth. Not quite and my two strong spotters are outside the picture frame.

One yogi had the good idea of a group photo op at Butterfly. And Joanne said she would circulate the article.

So next Wednesday bring a little equipment and find the gardeners who rotate weekly from oasis to oasis. Or just contact UMNA to see the schedule.  The reasons why don’t need much explanation.

Just SOME more on Upper Monroe and Cobb’s Hill

Monroe shows itself off as the road to Rochester

Ultimate spring fever at Cobb’s Hill

Porches: from Upper Monroe with Love

Rochester’s own street ball Rucker League

The Cobb’s Hill tragedy of an “invisible man” ten years later

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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