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Creative Casey's Blog

Monday, September 30, 2013

Painting Crosswalks in the Pocket

While attending the North Winton Village neighborhood arts festival in early September my friends and I came across a booth for The Pocket Neighborhood Association, They were seeking volunteers to assist with a creative crosswalk project for their neighborhood. Since I enjoy volunteering and prefer projects that give back to the community and integrate the arts I knew this was a project I had to participate in.  So, after my early morning 5k run this past Saturday, I conned my friend Marcy into volunteering with me.

One of the things I love and appreciate about the city of Rochester is that there are a lot of neighborhood associations that focus on bringing people together and beautifying their neighborhoods. Since I'm just outside the city limit there isn't a neighborhood association, but at least my neighborhood is close knit.

Marcy and I planned on volunteering from 11-1pm giving me time to rest and prepare for my big birthday bash later that night; however the best laid plans often get sidetracked.  We were told to come any time during the day to help out, but when we got to main street we realized that all 3 crosswalks were already being finished up. So we walked and viewed them all then went to a community park the association had made and had lunch with everyone. They had speakers from the city and thank you speeches and by the time we got to starting the last 3 crosswalks on Atlantic Ave. it was 12:45pm.  So, Marcy and I ended up helping to paint one crosswalk which took until 4pm.  It was an awesome experience. We had the crosswalk with all of the youngsters helping us out so that was cool and fun. What I didn't realize was how difficult it is to paint on pavement. It took a long time and many coats. In addition, standing and kneeling on pavement for a few hours is also painful. I looked like an old person hobbling around after we were finished.

Below are some pics of all of the crosswalks and the crosswalk we specifically worked on. We painted with permanent road paint so they will be there for years to come and the city promised to touch them up if needed over the years.  We got a lot of positive comments from the cyclist, pedestrians and vehicles driving by while we were painting.  Another neat aspect is that I drive by the crosswalks often on my way to and from work and when I bike to the library so I too will get to reap the joy of seeing them in years to come.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dirty Girls, Cirque Du Fringe and Stop the Trafficking

Fun, fun and more fun is the focus of this blog entry. Below are some updates on the neat adventures I've been lucky enough to partake in over the past month.

1.My friend Amanda and I participated in the Dirty Girl 5k run that was held in early September in Buffalo, NY. This was a fun run to benefit women's breast cancer research.  This was insane!  There were thousands of women there to run throughout two days.  The parking was crazu and the registration on race day was extremely disorganized. It caused us to miss our running time but that was okay as they weren't organized and we just hopped in the night heat 15 minutes later.  Let's just say when they mean you get muddy, you get MUDDY!  Whereas in the zombie 5k you got completely muddy, then rinsed off and so on, in this race you got muddy and then more muddy. I ended up with mud in places I never thought I'd get mud.  It took 6 q-tips to get the mud out of just one ear!  This was a really fun race that I'd recommend doing one time.  The worst part of the entire thing was afterwords as it was a cold day, mud is cold, and you had to wait coral style forever to get into the shower tent which was just garden hoses shooting freezing cold water at you.  I had the worst Raynauds attack and it was painful. We had to go get hot chocolate afterwords to just try and warm up.

2. Rochester began the First Niagara Fringe Festival, last fall. It ended up being a hit so they brought it back this year. It's a 10 day festival with 360 performances in 28 venues throughout the city. Many events are free and others are low to medium cost. I saw Bandaloop, last year at the festival and they were performing again so I asked some friends if they wanted to go.  In addition, I heard about the Cirque du Fringe, performance for the festival and one of the showtimes was right after Bandaloop.  So my friends Marcy and Sara and I ended up going to both shows on a perfect Indian Summer fall day. It was a beautiful Friday night and stayed in the 80's well into the evening.  There were tons of people milling about downtown for all of the different performances going on that night. The vibe was a bit like a mini NYC night.  Both shows were awesome but the Cirque du Fringe was amazing!  I didn't know my one friend had also read the book "The Night Circus", but as we were walking through the Magic Crystal Spiegel tent area heading into the 100 year old circus tent she said, "This reminds me of the opening line in The Night Circus 'It appeared from nowhere'" and that is exactly how it seemed that night. It was a magical evening topped with Abott's ice cream at 10pm during intermission.

3. This past Saturday I participated in the Stop the Trafficking 5k run hosted by Angels of Mercy, Inc. The organization that I volunteer for their "Dress A Girl Around the World" program.  They have been planning this run which was their first race for about 6 months now and all of their hard work paid off yesterday. For a first event they had around 200 total runners I believe (a 5k and tot trot), lots of spectators and plenty of volunteer. The weather though a bit chilly was beautiful.  The event was very well organized and went smoothly. The after run food tent was more of a feast!  There was also raffles for prizes such as a signed Amy Wambach (she is originally from Rochester) jersey and framed photo.  It was neat because I ended up seeing a woman from work there and she runs really fast (she placed 2nd overall for females) and then I saw my counterpart from St. John Fischer College (and found out she had run the Rochester City Marathon last weekend that I volunteered for) and she was there as a personal trainer for another woman who works where I work.  It was fun to support each other at the run.  I beat my personal best time! I got 24.56 min.! This was very exciting. Of course I felt like vomiting at the end but was really proud of myself. I finished 5th place overall for females and 31st out of 148 runners.

I have one photo and here are some links to the D&C article about the race. And a video from a Hollywood Celebrity (Keesha Sharp- she is originally from Rochester) who supported the cause. 

*** Next up: I went with Amanda a week ago to volunteer for the Rochester City Marathon. We of course landed the top of the Ford St. bridge spot which stunk because it was a very cold day to be standing outside for 4 hours waving runners in the right direction, cheering them on, and ringing a cow bell non-stop. It was however very when Amanda asked me to run the Monster Scramble 10k on 10/20 through Mt. Hope Cemetery in costume I said yes! I must be nuts!  Stay tuned to see if I survive the 10k run!

Mandala- Tree of Life

In the art therapy group I facilitate for college students this week's directive was to think of stressors in your life that are holding you back from living the life you want/or to be the person you want to. They were told they could use any form of art medium, colors, lines, shapes, images and so on to depict this directive. 

Above was what I worked on while they were creating. I try to work on something relatively simple that is easy for me not to invest in so that I can observe the group members while they are creating. It's also interesting to see which groups ask the facilitators about what they created. I also try to create something that is more of a metaphor to the directive and use it to tie into the theme.  I ended up creating this mandala. I used watercolor paper and watercolor in the background. Then started making a flower with embroidery thread and a needle, then another flower, then some sprouts, then some roots. In the end I poked some holes through the yellow (sun) portion of the mandala so that if you hold it up in the air or adhere it to a window the sun will shine through.  This is the first thing I've created in a while since I've been back to work full time and taking night classes. It felt great to create!

Oil Pastel Self Portrait

I was having a difficult time finding inspiration for an art therapy project for my private practice work in a local group home with adolescents with disabilities. I remembered that my friend Joyce has an amazing Pinterest account and went surfing on it.  I found the above project on one of her art therapy boards and decided to use it. Most of the material I already had; oil pastels, fabric, white paper, buttons and colorful yarn. The only things missing were the black poster board, burlap and plastic large dull needles (all of which were found at Michaels Craft Store).  

I made this sample to show the group and asked them if it looked like me. They said yes. :)  I then told them that they were going to make their self portrait today. We did each step together and they did an amazing job on theirs. Most were even able to use fine motor skills and use the needle and thread and cut out their self portrait.  I hope to see them hanging the next time I'm there for a visit.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Little Free Library

I'm sooooo excited to share this project with everyone!  It's been a month in the making.  Anyone  who knows me knows that I love to read and always have at least one book if not many going at a time.   Most people would never know that as a youngster I was placed in remedial reading for a short period of time. For a while everyone thought I could read but the school realized that I had just memorized what was being read to me.  My family moved and we attended a different school when I entered fourth grade. I tested out of remedial reading at that time but was put in the lowest reading group that year.  However; by the beginning of fifth grade I was in the highest reading group and never looked back. I took AP English as a senior in HS and tested out of a class for college. I've been a voracious reader ever since and when given the opportunity to spread literacy to my neighborhood I found it a match made in heaven. I love to get lost in a book, to relax and forget about any worries for a little bit each day.  Beyond art and creating, reading is my break from reality that keeps me grounded.

Back at the end of June at the Altered Book Workshop I went to, I met Linda and latter her husband Roger. If you recall from an earlier post when visiting their home Linda show me this Little Free Library that her husband made. She told me about the project and it's mission and I was hooked! I told her I wanted to make one and thus I set out to do it.

The Little Free Library Concept:

The Beginning 
"The originators of this social enterprise are Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, both of whom have several decades of entrepreneurial and international experience.  They first met in 2009 while exploring the benefits of green practices in small businesses, discovering that they shared a commitment to service and the quality of community life around the world."
Little Free Library is Non-Profit Tax Exempt Mission
"Little Free Library, Ltd. began in 2009 as a program of the non-profit, tax-exempt organization Wisconsin Partners for SustainAbility, which has incubated several nonprofits projects and organizations.  Incorporated in Wisconsin, Little Free Library has a board of directors and a clearly defined non-profit mission.  "
Their Mission is:

  • "To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide."
  • "To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations."
This information was taken from the Little Free Library website. To find out more about this project or to create your own go to:
I started this project at the beginning of August. The library itself took a couple of weeks to put together  and paint. The bench and stool took an afternoon and the putting together of everything (gardening, rocks, library installation) took about half a day.  One of the best parts about this project was that I pretty much built the entire project ncluding the landscaping for $15.  I used all scrap materials I had around the house left over from other projects. The door was an old window from my house. Neighbor Bob had roofing paper and some quarter round trim that he donated.  My dad hunted down and lugged the river rocks up to Rochester for me. My mom brought up some perrenials and the greenhouse at Nazareth College donated the rest of the perennials.
Perhaps the best part about this entire process is that it brought together an entire community and beyond. Books were donated from my mother's co-workers,  my co-workers and their children, and from my book club group. Like I mentioned previously, some of the materials were donated or found.  I cut and designed the little library myself but needed my dad to help put it all together. Neighbor Bob saw me dangerously using my circular saw and struggling to put the bench together one afternoon and offered an extra set of hands to complete the bench.  Then my mom and dad donated part of their weekend to come up and help me install the library and complete it with the landscaping. (Their thank you was a homemade dinner followed by Netsin's ice cream.)
The library has been up for about 24 hours and a ton of neighbors have come by to look at it and comment on it.  Sometimes I'm nearby and talk with them and other times I'm in the house and hear them praising the concept and library through my house windows.
One of the first things everyone asked me when I mentioned that I wanted to create a Little Free Library was "Aren't you afraid someone will ruin it?"  The answer is no. I'm an overall optimistic person and believe if you make something beautiful and put good intentions out there that everything will work out the way it was meant to. Besides I have plenty of neighbors around at all hours and I know they will keep their eyes out and make sure nothing happens. 
The last part to complete this project is that I've created a half sheet flyer that I'm going to copy and bring around to all of the homes in my area (which is a lot) to help spread the word.  I hope the neighborhood enjoys it!

Thank you to all of you awesome people who helped to make this project amazing!
p.s. Makerspace would like to work with others in the community to make more Little Free Library's. You can contact them via their website: or  Rob directly @ 

                                      (Five Eight Five) 210-0075

Update 9/5/13: 2 days in and there's evidence that it's being used!

Here is my flyer that I walked around and put in mailbox's. I only did my block (started with 60 flyers) and was 6 flyers short. Boy even I didn't realize how many houses were on just my block (not including my entire street which is another 3 blocks long!)  It was pretty cool because I met some new neighbors along the way.

** Updates:

 A friend of mine texted me this picture she saw while in Buffalo. She said it was outside of a church near the Frank Lloyd Wright houses. 

Check out these other blogs from an aquaintaince regarding Little Free Libraries: