2015: My Year of Insanity (And Oddly Enough, My Saturn Return!)

If you know me, you know that I have lived a life of extreme poverty and all the shit that comes along with that. Foster homes, abuse, hunger… been there, done that. However, there is no doubt that 2015 has been the hardest year yet.

Let’s sum up the year. Right around January 1st, my marriage came to an abrupt end. I watched six seasons of Gilmore girls in one month and cried so hard I was in a constant state of dehydration.  My commitment to run for common council vanished instantly. My engagement in community issues slowed to a crawl. It forced me to nearly shut down and completely restructure Buffalove Development. In February, my father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer, forcing us to put my very sick mother in a nursing home in May as we watched him rapidly decline. This year, I lost a great friend, my grandfather and just this past week – my father.

I’ll spare you the details but know that I am ok….tired and drained… but ok.  When the divorce news hit me, it hit me hard. I immediately retracted – I pulled in what was most important and gave up everything else. I fell to my knees – hard – but refused to give in. I used every ounce of my energy fighting to maintain a life and business built for two while trying to redefine myself and my message – post divorce – and add balancing the daily family struggles that come from having two very sick parents. There were times where I felt like my energy would never return, my excitement for life would be permanently shadowed and that my resilience was not strong enough to withstand everything being thrown at me. Everyday was a new challenge. Everyday was a roller coaster. I kept telling myself this was just “stormy weather”… (thanks Nate!)

I get my determination to move forward from my father and my inner “always positive” attitude from my mother. Regardless of the pain from so much loss, I know that somewhere there is a silver lining in all this – somehow, for some reason, this was meant to happen. I am a firm believer in the universe guiding you. I always have been. Follow the golden rule and ride the wave. Be who you are and do what your heart (and brain!) tells you to do. Where you invest your love, you invest your life… right?

So here is my inner positive. It seems as though the stormy weather has subsided. The divorce is finally done, taxes are done (which was a huge conundrum in itself), my father and grandfather are finally at peace and my business is once again moving forward… all of which seemed to come together in the last few months. Buffalove is all mine. My mom is stable and comfortable… She is well taken care of. I have a great new job at City Dining Cards that I love. I was just appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals by the Mayor, was a keynote speaker for the Restore Omaha conference and in a few weeks – American Rehab Buffalo will debut. My sister and I are closer than ever, too. I now have Drew Brown in my life – a self made man from the east side who climbs the tallest mountains, makes his own pocket squares and loves me incredibly. I’ve never met someone so perfect – humble, confident, passionate and sweet.

So…. I wouldn’t be who I am without sharing wisdom, lessons and positive thoughts. I thrive on advice from others, why not give some? I know everyone goes through things – we all have stories and stressors in our daily lives – and support is critical to a successful outcome. Here are a few positive take aways.

Gain wisdom but don’t be afraid to take risks. Look, we live and we learn, right? But had I known what I know now about divorce – would I look back three years ago and say no instead of yes? NOPE. No Way. I would totally do it all over again! Don’t say no in the future because you’re jaded. It won’t be fair to you or the opportunity in front of you.

Divorce is absolutely the worst. A divorce is like a death. If you’d like a few important pieces of advice… Don’t drive and cry – you’ll nearly kill yourself. Surround yourself by amazing friends. Get a good lawyer. Don’t be afraid to kiss someone else. Do not blame yourself. DO NOT FEEL GUILT OR SHAME. (Which I still deal with!!!) and most importantly, do whatever makes you happy providing it isn’t super heavy drugs or alcohol. My sister gave me that advice and I swear by it. Shop, cry, watch gilmore girls, eat, drink… whatever. Do it. I did all of the above and I bought myself a very beautiful leather bag and a pink kayak.

Don’t be afraid of new love. When I met Drew, it took me some serious time to really let him into my heart. I knew he was worth it from day one but I just needed time. When I finally told myself to let go of the weird invisible barriers that only I could see or feel, I fell in love. I would not have made it through this year without him, there’s no doubt about that.

Take the extra time needed for loved ones. I spent more time with my father this year than I did in 10 years. Kathy Mecca told me that I would never regret the time I spent during the last moments. She encouraged me to embrace them as much as I could. She was totally right – today I find myself looking back on those last moments – taking my dad grocery shopping, bringing cheesecake to him in the hospital, getting Baconators from Wendy’s… at the time, it seemed like a burden but it wasn’t. On the last day of his life, I brought him a sweetness_7 coffee, the public and block club (for reading!) and fresh picked tomatoes from my garden. I didn’t have to do it but I wanted to and I am glad I did.

Random important life lessons: Make up a will, assign yourself a health care proxy and buy life insurance.

LASTLY, GIVING THANKS: To everyone who has been a part of my life this year – thank you. I cannot say that enough!! The words of wisdom and encouragement kept me going through the toughest times. To friends who were at the wedding: If you were at the wedding and I haven’t said much to you about anything this year – know that grief is a strange thing. Don’t take it personally, please. To my favorite people: Lynne, Aunt Joni, Chris, Drew, David, Nate, P, B, Derik & Jess, Sue, Van, Erica, and everyone else who picked up the phone to hear me sobbing on the other end, dropped everything to have a beer with me and did random check ins… thank you.

It is September. I have a lot of catching up to do but I can’t help but think that fall and winter should be pretty awesome.

With Love,

Bernice

P.S. 2015 represents my 28 & 29th year on this planet which oddly enough is my Saturn Return. Coincidence? I think not.

A little Bernice Wisdom & Some Buffalove. 

There’s a lot going on right now in my life (two deathly sick parents, major life changes, a new job, etc….) and I don’t have time to write it all up – but I will in due time when the dust seems to settle a bit more.

In the mean time, I’ll just leave this #buffalove photo and some “Bernice” wisdom I tell myself everyday these days to get me through…

When in doubt, always follow your heart and trust in yourself and the universe. Life is short so take full advantage of every moment and don’t EVER hold back on love.  Most importantly, even the most concrete plans can (and likely will) change but that is OK, too because something bigger is in the works that you may not even know about yet. Lastly, above all the stress and noise that wears you down, realize that the best way to get through it all is to spend your life with people who make you laugh, support you no matter what and make you feel happy on the inside… And keep those people close!!!

XO!

buffalove!

 

Huffington Post “lifestyles” video debut! 

Hi everyone!!! 

Today Huffington Post posted this 4 minute video about me and what I do in Buffalo, Ny. Preservation is sexy and very important in our resurgence as a city. Preservation helps support local jobs, keep rentals affordable and adds an unbelievable amount of value and pride to our community.

I’m glad to be a small part of a giant effort here to make the Queen City even stronger! Go Buffalo! 

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7466052

  

Important Life Update: Bernice Gets A New Gig!

Hi Everyone!

I have an important life update to fill you in on.

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I have spent four great years at Buffalo Energy doing energy efficiency projects statewide with some of the best people I have ever met. And I spent four years before that at Horizon Realty managing the largest energy efficiency retrofit project in the City. That is EIGHT YEARS doing energy efficiency work in historic multifamily buildings. EIGHT YEARS!

Well, I am shifting career gears a bit – Friday, April 24th 2015 will be my last day at Buffalo Energy and really my last day as a paid professional in the energy efficiency world.

Whoa. That is pretty scary to say out loud… All my work and speaking gigs with NESEA, WNYSEA, Solar Tour, etc… I love and am loved by the energy efficiency industry. We do great work that helps the environment and our community. Why would I leave it? Well, I love what I do but honestly – I am ready to make a big change. My goals have been thrown out the window due to circumstances beyond my control which has left me with an empty slate and has given me the opportunity to redefine myself. Dream big.. then get ready, aim and fire!

It isn’t the change that is scary, it is how you deal with it that matters the most, right??!!

So what’s next?!?!

Most people would assume I would go into real estate development however, I have something even more exciting in the works!

I have accepted the “Regional Director” position 423088_10151328478746320_1343596390_nwith City Dining Cards and will be working to sell unique customer loyalty solutions for local businesses in cities across the rust belt including Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and many others. If you don’t know about CDC, check them out – they (or should I say “WE”?!) are a group of great people doing very innovative “pro local” work across the US! This means I get to meet and help support local business owners across the rust belt!

This new endeavor is the perfect segue into my ever expanding love for cities, planning and community! It helps me to connect the dots in unique ways, meet great local business owners, talk up Buffalo across the rust belt and to learn what other cities are doing to build communities.

Given my natural love for buildings and preservation, I will never leave buildings entirely!!!

I will still be busy with doing house rehabs for my company Buffalove Development and preservation initiatives with Buffalo’s Young Preservationists… and American Rehab Buffalo is set to air sometime soon on DIY Network – hopefully in May!  All three things will keep me PLENTY busy in the preservation / buffalo buildings world… I will just have a different day job, I suppose!

CONTACT INFO:

Email: berniceradle@gmail.com

Instagrams:berniceradle / buffalovedevelopment / citydiningcards

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/berniceheartsyou

Website: www.berniceradle.com

Lastly but most importantly, I wouldn’t be able to do this nor would I even be here without the support, love, time, energy and money from literally hundreds of people. It really does take a village and I am so grateful for being surrounded by so many incredible people who continue to believe in me. I won’t name names but y’all know who you are. ❤

Onward!!

With Buffalove,

Bernice

Here is a slideshow of some of my energy efficiency photos throughout the years…  XOXO!

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Millennials In Buffalo? YEP!

The kids are taking over Buffalo! One house, one chicken coop and one loaf of bread at a time. 🙂

I am being serious! Read this article. This article in the Gothamist really captures why Buffalo is an incredible place to live, work and play. In Buffalo, we have arts, culture, cheap rent and the ability to create our own work because it is an affordable city to live in. We are truly a soulful city filled with great people and dense, walkable neighborhoods!  #buffalove #buffalostyle

“The new American Dream is not owning a $200,000 house or owning a very expensive car, but owning something that matters more to you that’s accessible,” she says. “I think the whole American Dream is really shifting, but the problem is in big cities you can’t get that.”

“According to census data analyzed by the New York Times, from 2000 to 2012 the number of college graduates between the ages of 25 and 34 moving to Buffalo jumped 34% – more than Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.”

Read the article here: http://gothamist.com/2015/01/28/millennials_buffalo.php

Thanks for the Buffalove, Gothamist!

Photos of young Buffalovers from Summer 2014. (My birthday party!) 10547336_10152508495326075_1852112944617892265_o 10410163_10154871938285085_1544344788711901953_n 10492087_10154407877880085_1583498299318958518_n

Buffalo takes on Detroit: 36 Hours In The Motor City by Bernice Radle

You have stolen my heart, Detroit.

Bernice Radle at the Michigan Central Station
The Michigan Central Station

Here is what happens when you put four people who love planning, cities, buildings and the rust belt together in a car. We drive 5 hours to Detroit, rent out a kick ass industrial loft space, wander around town checking out bars, shops and historic sites, tour a once forgotten Kresge Mansion now being renovated by a 30 year old and meet with Mark Nickita (architect, owner of Pure Detroit and Mayor of Birmingham MI), inside the Guardian building – an art deco masterpiece! It was a trip for the memory books. You can see photos from our trip here.

Here are my top three take aways from our 36 hours in Detroit.

Buffalo is Detroit’s sister city. Hands down. Our radial street grid, friendly mid western attitude and blue collar approach to life is nearly identical. We both can see Canada from our windows, we share Lake Erie and we share similar boom / bust  / rebirth stories. Detroit is definitely Buffalo’s older, bigger Brother – the industrial strength attitude is very masculine, IMO. Sure, Detroit is bigger in size and in population but we can learn a lot from one another and we are only a 5 hour drive away!

TRUE GRIT. With slogans like “Detroit Hustles Harder” and “Detroit Vs. Everybody”, it is clear that Detroit has embraced their true grit and entrepreneurial spirit and that nothing, including their steep decline, will stop them. A rising tide raises all the boats, was the mentality from many of the local folks we spoke with. Sure, there is a long way to go and a lot to accomplish but we left feeling a great deal of confidence in the future of the Motor City. Detroit is tough and resilient!

Detroit is ALIVE. All the articles you’ve read about the vacancy and decline is true however, many fail to notice or mention the incredible amount of life that Detroit has. We saw signs of it everywhere – from a 30 year old buying a Kresge Mansion to the emerging Michigan Avenue retail corridor… the entrepreneur spirit is alive and well in the Motor City.  The downtown is beautiful – the storefronts are lit up with lights, the ice skating rink was packed at midnight and even their top millionaires are working together to privately pay for a light rail system along Woodward Avenue. Heck, even billionaires own community gardens in Detroit.

In case you want to travel to Detroit and don’t know what to do, here is a list of all the places we went to in 36 hours. It was a true sprint!!

  • Industrial Loft Space – Check In (Air B&B)
  • Corktown Tavern
  • Gaelic Irish Center
  • Slows BBQ
  • Michigan Central Station
  • Mercury Bar
  • Motor City Wine Bar
  • UFO Bar
  • Downtown Detroit – Ice Rink / Fox Theatre / Woodward Avenue
  • Detroit Institute of Bagels
  • Brush Park
  • Kresge Mansion Tour – Arden Park
  • Eastern Market
  • Guardian Building / Talk with Mark Nikida
  • Mid Town – City Bird / Nest / Shinola
  • Traffic Jam Restaurant
  • Greektown – “Detroit Vs. Everybody” Store

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Peter H. Brink Award for Individual Achievement in Historic Preservation – Bernice Radle

Bernice Radle accepts the National Trust for Historic Preservation award in Savannah, Georgia.

Peter H. Brink Award for Individual Achievement in Historic Preservation

Bernice Radle
Buffalo, New York

As a founder and managing director of Buffalove Development, Radle has taken a creative and hands-on approach to preservation in Buffalo, working to restore four homes that were at risk of being demolished, while also changing the preservation conversation in the city.

Bernice Radle accepts the National Trust for Historic Preservation award in Savannah, Georgia.
Bernice Radle accepts the National Trust for Historic Preservation award in Savannah, Georgia.

We Want Great Urban Design : Tell Tim Horton’s To Adjust Their Current Design Proposal!

Today, I wrote this letter to the City Planning Board as an alternative option for the proposed Tim Hortons on Niagara and Albany. (See article about proposal here!)  It is my hope that our leaders will ask Tim Horton’s to redesign this project into a more urban space that better aligns with our community vision. Full Letter Here: Tim Hortons Alternative Proposal by Bernice Radle
The planning board meeting is TOMORROW, Nov 5th. If you want to voice your concern, email these people – tchwalinski@city-buffalo.com, nmarrero@city-buffalo.com, darivera@city-buffalo.com, bbrown@ch.ci.buffalo.ny.us

James Morrell – City Planning Board 901 City Hall Buffalo, NY 14202

Re: Tim Horton’s Proposal for Niagara & Albany Street

Dear Mr. Morrell,

I write to urge the City Planning Board to ask for adjustments to the site plan of the proposed Tim Horton’s at Niagara and Albany streets. Simple, effective design changes will help better align this project with what the community has envisioned.

The current design disregards three important planning initiatives that citizens have worked hard to create:

  • Buffalo Green Code. The proposal casts aside the placemaking principles embodied in the Green Code. The goal of the Green Code is to enhance our urban fabric with dense, mixed-use buildings, built up to the sidewalk, with parking hidden away. The current proposal is suburban, not urban, which is inappropriate for the West Side.
  • Vision Niagara. The proposal does not reflect what the community has envisioned for the Niagara Street corridor. Through numerous community meetings, Vision Niagara has helped generate consensus around reinforcing our walkable, mixed-use neighborhood; embracing heritage buildings and landscapes; and enhancing the corridor’s relationship with the Niagara River. The current proposal falls short of these goals.
  • Complete Streets Policy. The proposal puts the automobile before people, and is in conflict with City plans now underway to make Niagara St. more safe and comfortable for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and the mobility impaired.

The solution is pretty simple! A few simple adjustments can better align the Tim Horton’s proposal to the community’s design expectations:

  • Relocate the proposed retail building to the corner of the lot at Niagara and Albany streets, with zero setbacks from the front and corner side lot lines.
  • Locate all parking and drive-through areas to the rear and interior side of the building.
  • Increase the percentage of fenestration along the front facade to 70%, measured between two and eight feet above ground level.

With such a simple adjustment, the project will immediately begin to follow the principles citizens have laid out in the Green Code, Vision Niagara, and Complete Streets Policy. This simple change will meet the community vision, as well as rely on design precedents for Tim Horton’s central city locations throughout North America, including in Buffalo. The urban Tim Horton’s in the newly opened One Harbor Center follows the community’s expectations, as should this proposal.

Please help our community restore a mixed use, walkable neighborhood that embraces smart growth and good urban design. We hope you will listen to the wants and needs of the community and demand excellence as our community continues to grow.

Thank you,

Bernice Radle

CC:       Mayor Byron W. Brown & Councilmember David Rivera
map TimHortons THsiteplan