Thursday morning I ran into Chris Van Veghton near the Vermont Triangle Community Garden, at Vermont and 17th Streets. Chris is one of a stalwart crew of neighborhood volunteers, and an important force binding the Vermont Triangle Block Club together. Folks like this, in neighborhoods all over the city, are the often unsung heroes who try to keep city life livable in spite of an under-resourced City Hall that struggles to keep up with basic, bare-bones services.
A broom and dustpan in hand, Chris was making sure that the streets surrounding the community garden were presentable for this weekend’s Garden Walk. We joked that one of the best things about Garden Walk is that, at least once a year, the city looks good. But in and around the Vermont Triangle, it looks pretty nice year round, and better every year.
When you think Garden Walk, what first comes to mind for most people is Little Summer Street, right across from the Richmond-Summer Senior Center, where many pick up Garden Walk maps, or the parkways section of the Elmwood Village. And those areas are indeed beautiful. But to me, the blocks around the Vermont Triangle, especially Brayton Street, have always been “Downtown Garden Walk.” This year perhaps never more so, with the Garden Paint Out in the community garden Saturday morning (here and also see below).
This area was an early center of reinvestment and revitalization activity. The Vermont Triangle Community Garden was a pioneering Grassroots Garden. The tire planters on the surrounding blocks were done by the block club. Buffalo Rising has already taken note of activity on Ripley Street. Other recent projects nearby include a small, accessible and environmentally infill house on 16th Street (which I wrote about for Buffalo Spree) by Tim Sick and Sal Zambito, a nice recent rehab of a charming red house a few doors down, and the large, multi-family building on the corner of Vermont and Brayton by realtor Dave Weitzel featuring unique corner artwork depicting the streets in the neighborhood (in the background of the picture below).
Green has always been a theme there. Urban Roots is a block from the community garden, as are green building gurus Jeff Brennan and Dave Lanfear. Now on the same block is the headquarters of Grazing Buffalo Sustainable Landscaping and now a breakthrough green parking lot that is grabbing a lot of attention.
Recently, even the school has been getting in on the action. The Frankie-from-the-Neighborhood (the ironic nickname of the Buffalo mayor who famously, in the “urban renewal” era, signed the death warrant of his childhood neighborhood) Sedita School is one of the Say Yes Buffalo community schools. They have invested in programs at the school, hired Navigator Daytuan Antonetti and recently added a Grassroots Garden on the school grounds, as part of Grassroots Gardens school gardens initiative. Later Thursday I got an email from Chris Van Veghton saying that volunteers had been out re-painting faded crosswalks near the school:
Check out the new crosswalks being painted on Vermont and the cross streets on either side of Frank Sedita School! Say Yes program set this up with collaboration from GObike Buffalo. Very nice addition to the neighborhood which will hopefully contribute to traffic slowing! I told them we were very jealous as the block club had tried for many years to get some traffic control, stop sign or crosswalk done at Vermont and Brayton, which is a school bus stop. The GObike rep said she would take a look at it and see if she could do something to help, and she would let me know. Nice to see the neighbors out helping to paint the crosswalks!
Say Yes Community School program is out every Tuesday and Thursday this summer in front of the school. Today was second hand clothing giveaway, which they will try to do each time, and free bottled water and popcorn. This coming Tuesday 7/31 from 12-1 will be yoga…if it is a big enough group, they may come over to the community garden. Thursday 8/2 is airbrush painting (10AM to 2PM). Neighbors are welcome, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, if questions! Full community school program will restart 9/15, look for further announcements!
I stopped by to check out the crosswalks and sure enough, there they were. A car was approaching so I watched what would happen. It came up to the crosswalk and… made a classic Buffalo “rolling stop.” As important as visible crosswalks are, changing culture may take more than paint, right?
Don’t miss what’s new in and around the Vermont Triangle during Garden Walk.