Getting involved in the Binghamton CCE

The Binghamton Center for Civic Engagement offers a wide variety of ways for you to get involved in the community and have a positive influence on Binghamton.  Whatever your cause, whether you have a passion for education, social justice, or the environment, the Center for Civic Engagement can provide you with a way to make a difference.

cce logo

 Here are just some of the CCE programs that could use your help:

Summer Opportunities:

Camp AmeriKids

Camp AmeriKids is a summer camp for children living with HIV/AIDS and sickle cell disease.  Volunteer counselors are needed to provide 24/7 supervision to a cabin of kids.  These counselors are expected to be energetic, caring, responsible, and fun, as well as serve as role models for the children they look after.  The counselors would be provided with room and board at the camp site in Warwick, NY.  Volunteers may apply for one or both of the two sessions that will run over the summer.  The first session runs from July 28th to August 4th and the second session runs from August 9th to August 16th.  Applications can be found on the Camp AmeriKids website:


Special Olympics

The event, in Binghamton, needs volunteers to serve as equestrian support, side walkers, handlers, program organizers, and equestrian judges.  The commitment would require 2-3 hours a day, 3 days a week, for 6 weeks.  No special experience is required, and volunteers will receive training on site.  Anyone interested can e-mail Theresa Pedroso at or call her at 1-607-727-7602.

 Year-round organizations:

Binghamton University Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity fights poverty and homelessness and attempts to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. They construct simple, decent, and affordable houses for low-income families around the world.  They depend on volunteer labor, as well as the donation of both money and materials to build and rehabilitate simple, decent houses alongside their homeowner partner families.  E-mail to get involved.


Volunteers for America

Volunteers of America deploys a variety of programs in an attempt to break the cycle of poverty.  They provide housing and support services for homeless individuals and families, care and educational programs for at-risk children, crisis assistance that includes food and clothing, homelessness prevention programs, and Working Wardrobe for adults seeking employment. For more information, contact Lisa Cioci, MSW by e-mail at Lcioci@voawny,org or by phone at 607-772-1156.


Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton provides a safe and supportive environment where children can receive help with their schoolwork, interact with other children, engage in innovative programming, enjoy sports and other recreational activities.  For reasons beyond their control, many of the children who come to the Boys and Girls Clubs find themselves in situations that are often unsupportive, neglectful, and sometimes even dangerous.  These children are provided with a secure and positive environment.  Contact Kelly Nord at if you’re interested in becoming involved.

Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition

The Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition focuses on development under the three E’s of sustainability: Economy, Environment, and Equity.  This is also referred to as the triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profits.  The BRSC looks to apply these concepts in practical ways that bring us towards a more sustainable culture, serving as an incubator for sustainable community development projects.  Executive Director David Currie can be reached at for more information.


S.O.S. Shelter, Inc.

This agency provides 24 hour/365 emergency hotline and residential shelter, comfort, and safety for victims of domestic violence, as well as non-residential services such as advocacy, outreach, support groups, community education, and supportive counseling.  Interns and volunteers for the organization can shadow shelter workers, assist with shelter needs, participate in provision of shelter services, and assist with community outreach and the tabling of events.  E-mail to find out more.


More information about these organizations, as well as many more organizations, can be found on the CCE website:



The Department of Public Art

The people of Binghamton sure love color (most likely compensating for the over abundance of grey skies). There are several fantastic murals around the area that are attributed to the community’s Department of Public Art or DPA. This community serving ad hoc group has come to determine that its not so easy mission is to enhance the visual appeal of Binghamton, while educating the masses on art, and restoring the city’s sense of pride. While the group’s goals of enhancing the city seems to be a lofty challenge, they are actually quite successful at accomplishing feats such as attracting talented artists such as world renowned airbrush artist, Bruce Greig, and the Jablons, who now undertake tile mosaics in the Binghamton area.

The people who put it all together

Mark Bowers, the regional pedestrian/bicycle coordinator for the NYSDOT Region is one of the founding members of the DPA alongside Peg Johnson, a board member at the Center for Art, Culture, and Gender, and Kady Perry (no…not Katy Perry), a graduate from Binghamton University. Bowers sees public art as integral to the make up of the community, and feels it’s important to get the public involved, stating “Far too often, people come and tell a neighborhood or tell somebody this is what you need and you don’t grow that up from the people who live in the neighborhood or in the area…one of things we’re trying to do now is engage more neighborhoods and more community people and find out how public art can help them.”

What the group has accomplished

Apart from the collaborative work of Mark Bowers and Kady Perry on the Binghamton greenways, and the workshops by Bruce Greig, there are a number of great, eye-catching projects which the DPA has engaged in, such as facilitating work on the flood wall on Water Street, working with the PWC scholars from Binghamton University, who together were able to donate money, pay the artists, and provide students to paint the flood wall to create a mural, and much more.

DPA Art 1

A mural painted by the DPA’s Kady Perry with Bruce Greig

How do I know if I can get involved?

Well you can easily get involved even if you are only good at drawing stick figures. The DPA does not screen people in search of high end artists, but does evaluate their credentials in order to determine which projects the volunteers are best suited to partake in. Interestingly, in August of 2013, the DPA hosted workshops where Bruce Greig taught locals how to create their own airbrush murals helping to enhance their skills. By volunteering with the DPA, students interested in fine arts are given a wide-range of opportunities, from exploring and becoming involved in the Binghamton Community to making connections with successful artists and volunteers who are already involved in the DPA.

Bruce Greig demonstrates his airbrush ability

Bruce Greig demonstrates his airbrush ability

There are also several opportunities for students who do not have an artistic background to become involved. Students with a background in web design or graphic design can assist in building a website for the DPA while students who have a background in social media can help publicize and promote the group to increase engagement and spread the group’s ideas. Students can even help in marketing and promoting the artwork, itself. All in all there are a lot of ways to volunteer and help the DPA.

By volunteering, students can make an impact

DPA Art 4

Students making airbrush murals at a workshop taught by Bruce Greig

We’re a long way from integrating the University and its students and the community together. And I think art is a way we could help bridge some of those differences,” says Mark Bowers, “…the community should be your (students’) laboratory.” The DPA offers students the opportunity to get engaged with the community that is often far too distant from them, as well as help shrink the gap between the community and the University. The ideas students learn should be applied to the outside world, beyond the walls of the University, and becoming involved in the DPA is a ticket to putting those skills to practice.”

 Link to the DPA’s Facebook Page:

First Fridays

Ask any Binghamton University student about all the different places to go in Binghamton, and a “motley” of responses will come up. “I really like Tom & Marty’s but it’s kind of small” or “JT’s is cool, especially friday nights because where else do you get five dollar fish bowls? NO WHERE”, “Paradigm, have you seen that old woman bend!?” and the classic “PASQUALES!”.


In general this is the extent of knowledge that the average Binghamton Student possesses, at least the freshmen, when it comes to the city of Binghamton (ask them to write a five-ten page paper and they can do it in a night, but ask them about the city of Binghamton and you’ll get as informative of a response as asking Charlie Sheen why he is bi-winning). Held within a few block radius of state street, is the entire purpose of a city, to serve alcohol to people, unless of course they are underage **ahem**. It may come as a surprise but perhaps to the non partying type or even the late night armchair connoisseurs, there is hope in the form of First Friday.

What is First Friday one might ask?

Well, it is an art walk, ran by the Gorgeous Washington Street Association, between the hours of 6 and 9 when art galleries throughout Binghamton are open to those who want to peruse the collections.

Where does this take place?

It takes place throughout Binghamton; including State Street, Washington, Court, Chenango, Gaines, Front, Lewis, Main, Prospect, Riverside, and various others locations throughout downtown Binghamton.

I am interested, how do I get there?

As many Binghamton Students know there are a number of busses that go downtown. The Westside bus stops at the Downtown Center which is near State Street,  the DCR goes into Downtown Binghamton,  and the ones that go to the westside are, Westside and Leroy.

Also during the warmer months in Binghamton there’s a “free trolley along the First Friday route that you can hop on or off as you wish, as well as historic city tour while on the trolley.”

*Pro Tip* download the schedule online, or get the app “University Nightlife”, it includes the full bus schedule and various cab numbers in case you’re too cool for the plebeian lifestyle of taking the bus.

 —Fair warning, cabs are at least four dollars, each way and they will want a full cab—

What else goes on?

 Glad you asked. The people who attend First Friday get to partake in the general gallery hopping and art openings. As well multiple music and theater shows that go on.

 For those with fancier tastes there are even fine dining establishments, cafes, various forms of  entertainment and merchant’s special events

What do people think of it?

While many people assume that the only way to have fun in Binghamton is to drink yourself into oblivion, a number of Binghamton students actually go to First Friday. One Binghamton University student described First Friday as a “rare treat, that is very worth the hassle of getting ready earlier in the day”. She even recommended it to the people who enjoy late night debauchery, because “you are already downtown and don’t have to fight your way on to the bus”. So go for some Art, and then maybe go bowling because thats what people do right?

Another Binghamton student, a junior in the School of Management, pointed out that “culture can be found anywhere, even here” he went on further to explain how, like many older students he “just got tired of drinking every weekend, and that going out to appreciate art and the city itself helped to mature [himself], plus otherwise I would just sit at my apartment when I don’t want to drink, this gives an alternative”.


What can I expect to see when I am at First Friday

Just  look at the pretty pictures


 I want to go! Where do I find out what specifically goes on for a specific First Friday?

 Simple! Just go to

There are new specific events that take place each month. Bookmark the link and and keep up on all the happening for First Friday

Congratulations! You now have no excuse to only see Binghamton as an alcohol dispensary!


Now that you have finished reading this; don’t go on 4chan, reddit, or facebook, just do something productive or go outside. In other words;


Binghamton Notables

There have been many notable people who were born in Binghamton or lived in this area at some point in their life.  These people range from athletes to movie stars to famous educators and inventors.  The following list is just a handful of people associated with the Binghamton area and some of their accomplishments. Enjoy!

Edwin A Link

Edwin Albert Link was a famous engineer that still to this day has had a huge impact on the world.  He was born in Huntington, Indiana and moved to Binghamton when he was 6 years old.  Link was very interested in underwater exploration, as well as aviation.  He is credited with the creation of the flight simulator, which is used by numerous different organizations all around the world to train pilots to fly or to conduct various research projects.  He has plaques dedicated to him in the engineering building on Binghamton University’s campus and the field that the Greater Binghamton Airport lies on is named after him. In 1981, Link died right here in Binghamton while undergoing cancer treatments.

Billy Martin

Alfred Manuel “Billy” Martin Jr. was not born in Binghamton nor did he grow up in Binghamton.  He was a professional baseball player in the MLB and when he retired he managed the New York Yankees for several years.  After Martin left baseball and stopped managing he moved just north of Binghamton where he lived until his tragic death by car accident in 1989.  He was pronounced dead right outside of Binghamton at a hospital in the neighboring town of Johnson City.

William Bingham

William Bingham was a politician from Philadelphia and was part of the United States Senate.  He purchased the 10,000-acre patent for the land on which present-day Binghamton resides in 1786.  He built settlements around the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers.  To honor this man the city in which these settlements were built was named Binghamton.  There is also a residential dorm building on Binghamton University’s campus called Bingham hall.


Jon Jones is one of the most electrifying fighters in the UFC.  He was born in Rochester, New York and grew up right outside of Binghamton in Endicott, New York.  Jon had success as a fighter from an early age.  In high school, he was the 2005 New York State wrestling champion.  He continued his success on the wrestling mat for Iowa Central Community College and became the National Junior College wrestling champion.  After college, Jones began training in MMA and shortly after signed with the UFC becoming the youngest fighter on the roster.  He dominated fighter after fighter until he became UFC’s youngest champion in 2011.  Athleticism runs in Jon Jones’ family.  Both of his brothers are in the NFL.


Arthur Jones is the brother of MMA fighter Jon Jones and New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones.  He played college football at Syracuse and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2010 NFL Draft.  He now plays for Indianapolis Colts.  In 2012, Jones earned his first Super Bowl ring with the Ravens.  In this game he sacked 49ers quarterback and had a fumble recovery helping his team win the game.


Chandler Jones is a defensive end for the New England Patriots, as well as the brother of MMA fighter Jon Jones and Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones.  Like his brother, Chandler Jones played football for Syracuse University.  The New England Patriots selected him as the 21st overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.  Jones does not have a ring yet like his brother, but he is still young to the league.


Not all Binghamton notables have to be human!  Animals also sometimes share the spotlight with our famous celebrities.  This horse, known as Exterminator, was born in 1915 and was owned by Willis Sharpe Kilmer.  He was an American Thoroughbred racehorse with 50 first place wins and 17 second and third place finishes.  This record included many major wins in big races.  He was the winner of the 1918 Kentucky Derby and in 1922 he won Horse of the Year honors.  Exterminator was retired in 1924 at the age of 9.

iPhoto Library

Rod Serling worked in American show business.  He was a screenwriter, playwright, television producer, and narrator.  Serling is most famous for his television series, “The Twilight Zone.”  He was born in Syracuse, New York in 1924 and moved to Binghamton in 1926 where he spent most of his youth.  Serling started off working for radio companies in New York City and later moved to television in Cincinnati.  He was very involved in politics and also spoke all around the country at several colleges teaching weeklong classes on film.


Another notable of Binghamton is Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Richard “Dick” Stack founded this sporting goods store in Binghamton, New York in 1948.  There are now over 500 locations nationwide with over 25,000 employees.  This chain also owns Golf Galaxy, Inc.  This is a chain of stores specializing in golf equipment and apparel.


Johnny Hart was born and grew up in Endicott, New York.  He was a famous cartoonist who created American comic strips.  His most famous comic strips are called “B.C.” and “The Wizard of Id.”  He also wrote many controversial strips that heavily incorporated Christian themes and messages.  He won several awards from the National Cartoonists Society, as well as the Swedish Adamson Award, which is an award given to notable cartoonists.

Temple Concord

Even among the stately single-family and historic homes on Riverside, Temple Concord stands out from the crowd with its brown stone and castle like structure. Built in 1898 as formerly the Kilmer Mansion, religious services were instituted in 1951 after the establishment of the temple. It is the only Reform Jewish synagogue in the greater Binghamton community. As its popularity grew, a social hall, sanctuary, Hebrew and Judaic schools, and a library were all supplemented to meet the growing needs of the congregation. The synagogue takes “a liberal approach to Judaism, finding a meaningful way to combine traditions with the modern world”. Today, there are endless activities at the temple that Binghamton students can become engaged in.


But why even get involved when there are so many religious groups on campus?

Becoming active in a religious institution outside of campus will give you more insight into what life is like beyond the university for local residents. For those who yearn to say they did not just “study at Binghamton” but lived here, engagement in a neighborhood religious institution will definitely make you feel like a local. Being religiously active also leads to more a connected and positive outlook on your community. By becoming spiritually involved, you are contributing something unique.


So… are there any community service options?

If community service is an interest, Temple Concord offers several opportunities:

  • Their congregation is a part of CHOW, or the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. CHOW feeds the hungry of Broome County through a system of over 30 food pantries and 35 soup kitchens and community meal programs. Temple Concord runs a pantry in conjunction with this charity which is open on Thursday evenings from 5:30-7:00 pm. They even supply their congregants with a list of needed food items. The website provides a contact email address if you are interested in volunteering.
  • Every 6 weeks, congregants volunteer in the Canteen Lunch Program at Trinity Church. This program provides a hot meal on Sunday at noon for between 80 and 100 people each week. Different religious groups switch off Sundays preparing and serving the meal. They also have an ongoing rummage sale store which is usually the first Sunday of the month from 10-2. The sisterhood runs it, and could usually use help on Sunday mornings as it serves a large population.
  • Each year, they run an annual “Whale of A Sale“, which raises money for the synagogue, that takes place in November. The sale is in the social hall and runs for a week. It normally takes a week to organize the merchandize, and extra hands are always needed. If any of these interest you, Temple Concord is always happy to see new faces come and serve the community.


How about the religious options? How can I participate/volunteer?

 For those students looking for alternatives to the religious offerings on campus, Temple Concord has services every Sabbath on Friday night and Saturday morning. The sanctuary is small yet intimate, fitting around 200 congregants comfortably. They have also had soloists at Shabbat evening services who were Binghamton University students. It is a paid position and they are always looking for more musicians.

  • If you enjoy working with children, the synagogue is open to volunteers for its religious school on Saturday mornings and Hebrew program on tuesday and thursday afternoons.
  • If you want to enrich your Jewish learning, religious and bible study is offered every Saturday morning in the library from 9:15 am to 10:30 am. It is stated on the website “You do not need to know Hebrew to attend our sessions. All you need is an inquiring mind with a willingness to learn and something new and different”.
  • Temple Concord also hopes to attract more college students, and would like to organize receptions and programs to reach out to younger people after service or some other time. They currently have an intern who works on organizing the archives of the entire Jewish community.



There is a bounty of social events at the congregation that are either celebrating the Jewish holidays or just bringing its patrons closer together. Whether it be an essay contest or a dinner to honor the holiday or Purim, there are always happenings at Temple Concord and ways to be involved in the community. It is an incredibly welcoming congregation, with members that come from all walks of life. It is not just a synagogue, but a spiritual home and a connection to a heritage.


History of the Kilmer Building

     On the corner of Lewis and Chenango Street in downtown Binghamton stands an enormous building that towers over the rest of the city. This particular building standing at six stories high, and resembles nothing like that of its surroundings. Although it is now renovated into a modern upscale restaurant, it used to be home to one of the most successful patent medicines ever sold: Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root Kidney, Liver and Bladder Cure. The successful merchandising empire of Swamp Root can be accredited to one individual who used his creative advertising and went on to become a millionaire: Willis Sharp Kilmer.Swamp Root Kidney, Liver & Bladder Cure

Where did Swamp Root come from?

     The origination of the Swamp Root legacy can be traced back to Sylvester Andral Kilmer. Born in 1840 in Cobleskill, New York, Kilmer was interested in homeopathic medicine and traveled around the country in order to learn various techniques. Kilmer was met with success when he moved to Binghamton and became a traveling doctor, going to patient’s homes and providing remedies. By creating laboratories to manufacture his products, he was able to quickly spread his products all over town. Some of his medicines included Ocean Weed Heart Remedy, Indian Cough and Consumption Cure, Female Remedy, Autumn Leaf Extract, U & O Ointment, Prompt Parilla Pills, but the most famous one was known as Swamp Root Kidney Liver and Bladder Cure. Many people claimed that Swamp Root’s curing abilities came from the high alcohol content, when in fact, it had a very small percentage of alcohol as an ingredient. It consisted of oil of Juniper, swamp sassafras, mandrake root, valerian root, skullcap leaves, cinnamon, aloe, and sugar. As Kilmer gained recognition for Swamp Root, his brother, Jonas Kilmer joined and helped run the business in 1878, eventually buying out his brother’s share of the company.

How did Willis Sharpe Kilmer take over the business?

     Willis Sharpe KilmerAfter taking ownership of the company, Jonas Kilmer invited his son, Willis Sharp Kilmer to take over the advertising department of the business. As a recent Cornell graduate, Willis Kilmer single-handedly transformed the advertising business by using new innovative ideas to spread information about Swamp Root. Since advertising was a relatively new field during the 1900s, he needed connections in order to get the word out about Swamp Root. He married his first wife, Beatrice Richardson and used her father’s connections as a newspaper executive to print pictures of Swamp Root in local newspapers and eventually made it possible to print it nationally. It was a very risky move for the company and Kilmer almost bankrupted the business, until all of the orders came flooding in. Within a couple of years, the Kilmers were shipping Swamp Root all of the country and even to Europe, Asia, and Australia. Once he gained more enterprise, Kilmer created an almanac where a picture of a different one of their medications appeared on every page and described the ailments it would cure. As the demand for Swamp Root increased, Kilmer felt the pressure to expand his productive and hence the Kilmer building was created in 1903. Standing at six stories high, it was made of stone faceted walls and covered 72,000 square feet. This magnificent structure glorified Binghamton’s increasing Swamp Root industry.

Modern day Kilmer Building

What type of criticism did Kilmer receive?

     As a successful business entrepreneur, Willis Kilmer dealt with a lot of backlash and criticism from the local media. In their advertisements, Kilmer encouraged people to send urine samples in order to be evaluated for Swamp Root treatment. A story published claimed that their evaluations were not thorough because even when horse urine samples were sent in, they were still prescribed Swamp Root. However, this did not decrease any sales for Kilmer and his empire continued to grow throughout the country. Another competitor known as Guy Beardsley, editor of the Binghamton Evening Herald, published a story that claimed that Willis Kilmer and his young ward, Ester Wadsworth, were seen together at a racetrack in New Jersey and accused them of having an affair. Press Building on Chenango StreetThe story enraged Kilmer and he swore that he would destroy Beardsley by forming his own newspaper. He needed to have the tallest skyscraper in Binghamton, and therefore constructed the Press Building on Chenango Street. The twelve story building towered over the city of Binghamton. Kilmer even added an extra story to ensure that it would be even taller than the Security Mutual building, the largest one at the time. It became home to the Binghamton Press and grew to be the largest newspaper in the area, successfully putting Beardsley out of business.

What happened after Swamp Root?

     Along with his manufacturing of patent medicines, Kilmer also focused his efforts on breeding horses and created Sun Briar Court, where he could train his race

Kilmer's Mausoleum in Floral Park Cemetary

horses. His two main horses, Sun Briar and the Exterminator, went on to become two of the most famous race horses in history and earned over $200,000 in purse money. After expanding his empire along the entire East Coast and creating the Binghamton Country Club, Kilmer died of pneumonia in 1940. He is currently buried in Floral Park Cemetery in Johnson City, New York. 

What is the significance of the Kilmer building today?

     The Kilmer building holds a special part of Binghamton’s past. After Kilmer passed away, ownership changed many times, but eventually was bought by Frank and Lynn Whitney and ultimately renovated into a local space for businesses to lease. Some businesses that are currently located within the Kilmer building are the Goldsmith, Remlik’s (which of course is Kilmer spelled backwards), and Kilmer Brassiere and Steakhouse, and CMS Imaging Solutions. By restoring the architecture and magnificence of the building, the Whitneys were able to revive the prosperity of the enormous building.


Buying Local

Buying Local

By Hannah Watrobski

Have you ever wondered what happens to your money after you pay for something at the store?  Do you know where it goes?  There are two broad categories of stores at which you can shop.  You can buy products locally or from a big business (such as Walmart, Costco, or Taco Bell).  When you buy products locally the majority of the money you spend stays in the local economy.  However, when you buy products from a big business, the majority of that money leaves the local economy.  Why is this important?  If you are not feeding your local economy, your city can become what is known as a ghost town.  This means that your community would be completely run by big corporations and that connection with members of your community and anything unique your community has to offer, will disappear.  Now, I am not saying that local business needs to drive out big business.  I am not saying big business is bad.  All I am trying to help do is to create a shift: buy 10% locally and 90% from big business.  Even numbers as small as that could create a big difference!
whole in the wall
I met with David Currie who is an active member of the city of Binghamton to gain greater insight as to why it is important to buy local and what is being done to create this shift to buying local more often.  One important reason to do this is that it creates jobs for people in the area.  It will also keep the area unique.  People do not want to travel to a place where they can shop at stores that can be found anywhere, Walmart, Target, Macy’s, they want to travel to a place where they can discover new things.  Examples would be restaurants that are different from the ones they see at home and unique shops as well.  This can happen if people help the local businesses of their community survive by buying 10% of everything locally.

Understanding Buying Local


I asked Dave, “What can we do in Binghamton to make the shift to buying local?”

Dave said, “Buying local is what they call the import substitution model in terms of economics.  That model essentially says that we want to make more things for ourselves and when we expect we can do that, we import less.  When we import we’re spending our dollars somewhere else; wherever we’re importing from.  The example that I use to explain this is soap.  Most of us are familiar with soap and we use it.  What if everyone in the Binghamton region decided we are only going to buy Binghamton soap?  We would create some jobs.  I don’t know how many, let’s say three jobs.  Soap is relatively easy to make, some of the materials that make the soap might be imported, some might be procured locally, but in any case we have created three jobs simply by reducing the amount of importation by substituting the number of imports.  Now, those three jobs, those three people, spend their money in Binghamton because they’re local, because they work here.  That in some way is a way to understand what’s called the multiplier effect.  The multiplier effect means the more the money circulates in the economy, the greater its impact on that economy.”
Number 5
How much of the money stays in the economy if you buy from a chain? 
What about if you buy from a local store?

“If you buy from a chain about 30% will stay in the local economy and 70% would leave, whereas if you buy local about 70% will stay local and 30% will leave.  I’m simplifying here but you get the idea.  We also find that local companies and their employees also donate more to local nonprofits versus big business.”

What is being done and how to help

“Most of the money leaves the economy when we buy online at sites such as  It’s much easier to click and buy the book online rather than pick up the phone and call the local book store, even though you can get it for roughly the same price.  We don’t really think about it much, but we can change that behavior.  We can change this behavior through marketing.  It’s a marketing problem, so we need a marketing solution.”

What is this marketing solution?

“Be Local Broome is a campaign to help solve the marketing problem here in Binghamton.  We’ll have individual members and business members.  Be Local Broome is a brand so there will be decals on products in local stores.  There can also be pins advertising the brand that employees wear.  This platform allows places, including non for profit organizations, to be able to have any deals or discounts they want and to advertise local events among other things.  The website will contain a directory, searchable by category, for local stores in the area.”
Loft at 99
How can students at Binghamton University become involved in Be Local Broome?

“We have not yet figured this out.  But there will be a way.  There will be a requirement that at least some of the students have cars.  They need to be able to canvas areas and drop off packets of information to local places as to why they should join this campaign.  Students can be involved in the long term by evaluating a brand by the number of times it’s seen in the street, on television, and online.  Students would survey this.”

“Buy at local shops, dine at local restaurants.  Stop buying online.  This will hurt our local economies more than the chains.”  The change starts with you.  Become involved in Be Local Broome or start buying at local shops!  Make the decision today to help support your local economy to help you now and to help others in the future.
riiverread books

Old Barn Hollow


photo 4.JPG  photo 1.JPG

Located on 1217 Vestal Avenue is a store that is not only the cutest shop you’ll ever see, but is also the favorite store of President Harvey Stenger’s wife, Cathy Frankenbach. What is this store called?, you might ask. This store is called Old Barn Hollow, and it is Binghamton’s first and only locavore store, meaning that their food consists of locally grown or produced food.


What is special about Old Barn Hollow?

Well, with Old Barn Hollow, you can influence the Binghamton economy by buying local. All of the food sold at Old Barn Hollow is grown within a hundred mile radius of Binghamton. It is also very easy to get to. The Broome County Number 5 bus stops right in front of the store ( and yes, there ARE buses that go to places besides State Street). Old Barn Hollow has a lot to offer students; there is an academic CSA (Community Supportive Agriculture) that is only available to students. This is a way for students to receive fresh, organic, in-season vegetables by signing up to get weekly boxes of produce. The owner of Old Barn Hollow, Raren Allen, states “This saves a lot of time and a lot of money. You are buying in bulk without having to get the bulk yourself. It makes Old Barn Hollow a one-stop shop. You can get your eggs and your milk here, and pick up your lemons that we wouldn’t otherwise put on our shelves because it isn’t grown within a hundred mile radius. You can still get lemons and avocados and bison burgers here”.


Why does Cathy Frankenbach like this place so much?

“ I was teaching fourth grade in Buffalo when Harvey [Stenger] got this job here…I was getting my fourth graders very involved in an organization in Buffalo very similar to VINES (Volunteers Invested in Neighborhood Environments) who works with Old Barn Hollow. They really have committed to only selling things that are from the area; there are a lot of great things about Binghamton, and you just have to find them, partly because things are spread out a little bit”. Old Barn Hollow does a lot of good in this community, and if the wife of our school’s president loves it, then it probably a place worth checking out.


Is there anything I can do to get involved with Old Barn Hollow?

Yes, there are so many opportunities available through this amazing store. Not only can you volunteer directly with the store, but they can also connect you to local farms that need extra hands, especially during harvesting seasons. This not only helps you “learn the ways of the land”, but also can teach you great marketing and advertising skills.


Wow, this place sounds so cool!

It is pretty cool, and it is a great place for students to go. This store sources from certified organic farms and sustainable farms that are not certified organic but do not use pesticides. It also happens to be the only certified gluten free bakery in the county, with an upcoming expansion project. Old Barn Hollow sells local, organic, delicious food. What more could you ask for in a store?


Interview with Raren Allen- Owner of Old Barn Hollow

I know the mission of Old Barn Hollow is locally grown products, could you tell me a little more about your goals?

R: Well, we started at a Farmers’ Market, and there is a huge drive to buy local. Our farm started in 2008, when we started manufacturing jams and jellies; our store itself opened in 2012. People are learning about the benefits of locally grown food, and we wanted to have that available to the community more than just one day a week. So, we developed Old Barn Hollow, and all of our food comes from a radius of about a hundred miles from Binghamton. We source primarily from organic farms, but also from sustainable farms that use no pesticides but are not certified organic. We have a really great variety of items, and it changed all the time because everything is local. It changes seasonally, it changes weekly; we get new vendors all the time.

Binghamton students don’t always know of all there is available in the Binghamton area, and I think it’s important that places like this are highlighted.

R: The Broome County bus number 5 stops just in front of the store, it is easily accessible to students. We have the only certified gluten free bakery in the county, so this is a good resource for anybody that is on a gluten free diet. Right now, we just make cookies, and the cakes and bread are special order. We are planning an expansion project which is going to quadruple our space, our baking time, and what not.

Is there anything you would want the students of Binghamton University to know about Old Barn Hollow?

R: We also offer a CSA (Community Supportive Agriculture) that is designed for students, you can sign up for a small CSA only offered when students are attending BU. You get a big box of vegetables, whatever is in season that week. This box is packed full of great stuff, and it way cheaper than going out and buying the items individually. All you do is come and pick it up and your grocery shopping is done. We also offer a food co op; you can shop in your pajamas, pick whatever you want, and at the end of the week the shopping cart closes and the box gets shipped to us, and you can get everything you ordered here. This saves a lot of time and a lot of money. You are buying in bulk without having to get the bulk yourself. It makes Old Barn Hollow a one-stop shop. You can get your eggs and your milk here, and pick up your lemons that we wouldn’t otherwise put on our shelves because it isn’t grown within a hundred mile radius. You can still get lemons and avocados and bison burgers here.

If somebody were to want to volunteer here, would that be possible?

R: We have a lot of different options here, we can do volunteer work. We also help locate farms that are looking for volunteers, especially during harvest season, that is when it is hard for them to keep up. We can help make that connection and the students can learn the ways of the land. It can also help students improve in other areas; it can help with marketing skills and advertising, and all other great techniques you can pick up.

photo 4.JPGphoto 1.JPG    photo 2.JPGphoto 5.JPG


Interview with Cathy Frankenbach

Cathy Frankenbach

Old Barn Hollow is one of Cathy’s favorite shops, and she sat down to talk about the store, and about buying local and students’ involvement in the city of Binghamton

Cathy: I think Old Barn Hollow is such a good place to go. It’s very small but they offer so much there.

Old Barn Hollow is scheduled for an expansion. They have the only certified gluten free bakery in the county and they plan on quadrupling their space.

C: Yes, when I was there, there was a basket of power bars, and I picked them up and was able to see that they were all produced within a hundred mile radius of Binghamton. You would probably know the answer to this, I don’t know if anything actually comes from their own kitchen.

It started out as a small farm; the owners of Old Barn Hollow went to Farmer’s Markets and sold their goods, and they wanted to provide the people of Binghamton with a place they could go to buy locally grown food more than once a week. Now, they continue to grow their own products, but they also bring in food from other farms, if they are within one hundred miles.

C: The reason I found it, because I’ve only been here for a little over a year and a half, I was teaching fourth grade in Buffalo when Harvey [Stenger] got this job here. I was teaching my fourth graders about Buffalo (where the economy is much like Binghamton’s after their steel mill shut down) and there is a big movement for urban farming and community gardens to take the place of abandoned houses and repair the blight that is very present in the city. So, I was getting my fourth graders very involved in an organization in Buffalo very similar to VINES (Volunteers Invested in Neighborhood Environments) who works with Old Barn Hollow, the two people who run the urban farm in Binghamton right off Susquehanna Boulevard, are Binghamton University graduates. One of them graduated in 2009, and found them when I came here and wanted to know what Binghamton has to offer in terms of urban farming. When I moved here, I contacted them and started working on the farm. I know that a lot of what they harvest, especially in late summer/ early fall, goes to Old Barn Hollow. They sell a lot of their produce to some of the local restaurants. They are a great connection, and when I learned that they were bringing a lot of their products to a place called Old Barn Hollow I was very interested in finding it. I was looking at your website, and for Humans of Binghamton I saw that someone said that there are a lot of great things about Binghamton, and you just have to find them, partly because things are spread out a little bit.

Yes, and there has been a big initiative to buy local.

C: Right, I think that’s very important, and that’s what I love about Old Barn Hollow; they really have committed to only selling things that are from the area. There are all these resources available, and no one would really know about it unless there was a store like this. Even some of the brewers that are opening downtown, and places like Java Joe’s, it starts to establish a culture that everybody wants in downtown Binghamton.

Do you think Old Barn Hollow is an important resource for students to know about?

C: That’s a given,and I understand, especially for underclassmen, when you come to college you’re pretty much contained and you have pretty much everything you need on campus for your day to day academic life. Maybe part of it is transportation, but it’s very important. Both Harvey and I are very proud of the university students’ involvement in volunteer work, both on and off campus, and I’m always hearing stories of students showing up to help with big projects.

Old Barn Hollow can also provide students with volunteer options. They can connect students with farms who need extra hands during harvesting periods.

C: The one thing that I found during my first year here is that it is sort of hard to find places where I could volunteer and things to get involved with, everything was sort of scattered. But there are organizations that try to unify the volunteer opportunites, which is good for you guys as students. For me, VINES was a great find, and so much of what I’m interested in has been connected. And even from an economic standpoint, it is so good for students to go downtown and find places such as Old Barn Hollow.

Old Barn Hollow even provides students with resources such as the academic CSA, which allows students to receive a box of in season fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.

C: The elementary school that I volunteer at was one of the pick-up spots for that over the summer, and this is a perfect example of how getting the word out is important, and helping people know that it’s there. We just want to open peoples’ eyes to better nutrition and a healthier lifestyle.

Thankfully there are places like the Food Co Op on campus to get students on board with that.

C: It’s a great thing that we have that on campus. And BU Acres, up on the top of Bunn Hill, is a house with a white picket fence and a Binghamton University sign, and it is a gardening project that was started by a faculty member years ago. Now the people who took over it are a couple of Binghamton University students, who are both seniors now, decided to take over the land, clean it up, make new garden beds, and plant vegetables that can be used to provide the dining hall with fresh vegetables. This past summer was their first harvest, and I don’t know how far it has spread on campus, but they need a ton of help. What’s tough about something like this is that so much of it happens in the summertime and a lot of the student population is away in the summer. In the spring time, every Saturday and Sunday she needs help turning soil over and helping out with anything.

Is that the type of thing that could be put on B-line?

C: I don’t know how she advertised but she had a list of people that helped her last year. There’s always stuff to do because they’re just starting out. It’s getting to be that time to start thinking about the garden.

Is there anything else that you would want people to know?

C: I would want people to know what was really going on in Binghamton. The location of Old Barn Hollow is just beyond where people normally drive, and it’s easy to miss. It’s sort of off a beaten path, but I think some of the best things in Binghamton are sort of hidden. You just have to look around and ask people questions.


Beauty in Binghamton

A city can be greatly defined by the architecture of the buildings it holds. Many people fail to recognize and appreciate the architecture of the buildings that Binghamton has to offer. One of the most recognized and famous architects in New York State, Isaac Perry, designed and built a number of buildings in the area. Some of his most famous designs include the New York State Inebriate Asylum, Phelps Mansion, Broome County Courthouse, and a number of churches in Binghamton including Saint Patrick’s Church on Leroy Street. Perry has also designed a number of buildings in New York City, and he was asked to complete the New York State Capitol building in Albany. He is one of the most decorated architects in New York State and he spent a lot of his time in the Binghamton area.

Isaac Perry

          Isaac Perry

Isaac Perry was born in 1822 in Bennington Vermont. He grew up designing and building staircases with his father, but he really wanted to become an architect. Perry met a man named Joseph Turner who had the vision for the Inebriate Asylum. At the time Perry had no experience in architecture and had never designed a building before. With Turner’s assistance Perry ended up designing the New York State Inebriate Asylum and moved to Binghamton to oversee its completion. Perry moved here just at the start of when Binghamton began to prosper and grow exponentially. He quickly designed many other buildings in the area and was a major contributor to the growth and development of Binghamton into what it is today.

Inebriate Asylum

                              Inebriate Asylum

The Inebriate Asylum in Binghamton is one of the few of its kind. It was designed to help people with alcoholism. They treated alcoholism as a disease and it was one of the first places to do so. The building was built mainly out of stone and brick and is considered tudor castellated architecture. The building is very large, but is no longer in use. The building is currently undergoing renovations with the hopes that it can be used for the Binghamton clinical campus and physician assistant program.

            Churches have always been marvelous architectural structures. The purpose of each varies depending on the location and design of the church. One of the architectural marvels of the Binghamton area is Saint Patrick’s Church on Leroy Street. Built by Isaac G. Perry in the late 1800s it is one of the oldest churches in the area. The Saint Patrick’s Church in Binghamton was built in Norman style architecture. The church is still being used today and is a very popular landmark in the city of Binghamton.

            Saint Patrick’s church has a bell tower and two side towers right at the entrance of the church. This church has no buttresses and this gives it a more boxed shape look. The thin columns of the church lead up to pointed archways. The nave of Saint Patrick’s church has a patterned and vaulted roof with a pointed archway at the very front just above the choir. Above the side archways on the second level are stained glass windows that allow for light to illuminate the church during the day. Saint Patrick’s church does have a number of lights and chandeliers in it to help illuminate the church. The vaulted ceiling and crossed arches are similar to many churches and cathedrals throughout the world. Isaac Perry designed this church to last a long time and is very similar to the other buildings he has designed.

Saint Patrick’s church is a Catholic church that still holds mast regularly. There are many pews that all face the main choir at the front. Above the main entrance is where to organ is placed. There are stairs to the right just through the entrance that lead up to the organ where the organist will play songs during worship. There are also pews up next to the organ for people in the choir to sing while the organ is playing and to lead the church goers during songs of prayer.  The front choir holds a very elaborate alter and a main podium for the pastor to breach during service. Also on the main choir there is a bath that is used for baptism. At the front left side of the church there is a statue of the mother Mary. Above the main alter there is a large stained glass window with a pointed archway.

The Inebriate Asylum and Saint Patrick’s church are two of Isaac Perry’s best architectural works in Binghamton. The asylum is no longer in use and is currently undergoing renovations, while Saint Patrick’s church is still active and holds regular masts. There are a large number of pews lined in the nave of the church or cathedral for the worshipers to sit in that all face the main choir. There is also an alter at the front for the pastor to use during services. Saint Patrick’s church is mainly made out of brick, wood, and concrete. There is also some marble on the lower part of the entrance hall. Isaac Perry was one of the greatest architects in New York State that decided to do a lot of his work in Binghamton. Without people like Isaac Perry Binghamton would not be what it is today.