Ahhh! It has been a month without a post! How can that be?
March is by far the busiest month I have had in a very long time. I’m being fueled by PB&J’s and coffee… and my friends, wonderful boyfriend and family have come to my rescue many times. It has gotten so crazy that I have stripped my outfits down to one shoe / one coat style for the week and each outfit is washed, folded and ready to go for the entire week! The clothes effort is a big one – keeping things quality over quantity, sexy yet functional and stylish while maintaining a small, simple wardrobe is very hard but always something I strive for. It is hard when you go from construction to business to casual during your traditional work week… but I always like the challenge. If you’re looking for fashion / style inspiration, look no further to my newest favorite fashion icon, Garance Dore’.
I have a few things up my sleeve which I can’t explain at the moment but will announce shortly. I will say that all of it is much needed and wildly exciting. Here is a secret… check Buffalove Development on instagram hints. All of it is so much fun, crazy, stressful that at times I just turn this song on and dance for the entire thing!
A few things for all of you… I am now on snapchat. All the cool kids are doing it! Username: berniceradle , American Rehab Buffalo is airing on DIY Network again in April , and we’re officially almost ready to kick off the first every Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists event in PGH, April 8,9, 10! You should come but if you can’t, you can follow our preservation shenanigans here.
I have an important life update to fill you in on.
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 with 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!
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. ❤
Here is a slideshow of some of my energy efficiency photos throughout the years… XOXO!
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.
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 RadleThe planning board meeting is TOMORROW, Nov 5th. If you want to voice your concern, email these people – firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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.
CC: Mayor Byron W. Brown & Councilmember David Rivera
” EDUCATION IS THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON WHICH YOU CAN USE TO CHANGE THE WORLD.” – NELSON MANDELA
Lafayette High School is the beating heart of Buffalo’s West Side. It only takes a few moments of walking the hallways of this community institution to realize how unique our city is becoming, how much it is growing and the budding potential of our Cities newest residents. There are over 500 English Language Learners (ELL) speaking over 40 different languages at Lafayette High School this year, all having left their own homelands in search of a new life here in the United States. From Spanish to Karen, from Nepali to Arabic, Somali, and Burmese – Lafayette High School is a true melting pot of cultures, ideas and identities. These students and their families breathe new life into our historic West Side neighborhoods by opening small businesses, buying homes and sharing their rich cultural traditions with all of Western New York through cuisine, clothing and street festivals. And I would have to argue that the pulse of our city’s West Side renaissance is best measured every school day in the classrooms of Lafayette High School. And Lafayette High School is in trouble.
Over 2,000 refugees are settled in Erie County each year – that is more than any other county in the entire State. The vast majority of these new residents eventually choose to reside in the City of Buffalo and specifically in the neighborhoods of the West Side. Given it’s proximity to these growing populations, Lafayette High School has become the natural feeder school for almost all of the teenage immigrants residing in the region. All of these new ELL students are expected to adapt to their new lives in Buffalo, become proficient in the English language and pass complex exams in the same time period as native English speakers. This fact poses serious challenges for these students, their families as well as the school’s staff. And given the recent news that the Buffalo Board of Education has passed a resolution calling for the “phase-out” of Lafayette High School in a move to close the high school permanently as a public school – the entire Buffalo Public School District could potentially be affected by the obstacles to learning that these students face everyday at Lafayette High School. Despite the problems and challenges, there are solutions that Lafayette High School can implement to keep its doors open while effectively supporting and strengthening our immigrant population and the West Side community.
As with numerous public schools in the City of Buffalo, Lafayette High School has its fair share of problems. The most unsettling statistic is Lafayette High School’s graduation rate – just over 25%. But many of the influencing factors of this number are easy to diagnose and address.
Aging Out: Running Out of Time
A huge barrier to graduation for ELL students is age. Immigrant students are expected to attain the same level of achievement designed for native English speakers but in the same amount of time as their more proficient counterparts. Lafayette High School and its teachers work hard everyday to take it’s immigrant high school students from being illiterate to passing exams that regular US citizens are expected to pass – all in only a short few years. Sometimes, the ELL students even arrive illiterate in their first language, having never read or written. These ELL students are held back in the same grade for several years until they have learned the skills necessary to more on.
But once any student turns 21, they are forced to drop out from high school – which means they are denied the opportunity of graduation with a NYS Regents Diploma. A ELL students’ only option then is to take the limited GED courses offered. But unfortunately a GED Diploma does not provide the same amount of opportunities to a graduate as a NYS Regents Diploma in our society. The lack of a high school Regents diploma will negatively impact these ELL students for the rest of their life when applying for work, higher education and other opportunities.
NYSED Exams: Translations Needed
In New York State, students may take their State Regents Examinations in more than just English. If a student is an immigrant to the country, he/she might’ve learned Algebra before arriving here. With the exam translated into students’ first languages, students can prove to the State Education Department that they are competent in Algebra. On the day of the exam, a student can have the English version and translated version on their desk. Only one exam needs to be marked. In addition to having an exam translated, NYSED also offers bilingual glossaries for students to reference, while they take their tests.
Immigrants who mostly arrive in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica do not receive translations often. Currently, the New York State Education Department translates Regents exams into Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish. To give an example, the top languages spoken at Lafayette High School are Spanish, Karen (minority language in Burma), Nepali, Arabic, Somali, and Burmese. Lafayette’s languages are representative of other Upstate cities’ language groups as well.
As you can see, NYSED’s services for English Language Learners need to be expanded to serve the growing refugee populations in the West Side and other Upstate cities. The lack of these vital services to ELL students at Lafayette High School provides yet another impassable obstacle to our most vulnerable students.
It should be noted too that the New York State Education Department translates into only those languages because they are representative of the languages found in NYC. Spanish and Chinese account for 70% of all English Language Learners in New York. At Lafayette High School, Spanish accounts for about 30% of the population. From data available, there are no Chinese speakers at Lafayette High School.
Above are just a few of possible solutions to the challenges facing ELL students and the staff at Lafayette High School. There are many other issues not covered here however it is known that the school lacks resources including proper training and staffing. It is also important to note that there are success stories at other schools in NYS that the Buffalo Board of Education could use as case studies.
If the Buffalo Board of Education chooses to ignore the inherent hardships faced by ELL students at Lafayette High School, and at similar schools across Upstate New York, we will continue to deny our country’s newest residents the most fundamental aspect of the American Dream – the promise that if an individual works long enough and hard enough in this country they will succeed. A flawed and outdated system is preventing ELL students from even having a chance at accomplishing that dream, and Lafayette High School has become the Buffalo Board of Education’s scapegoat. If Lafayette High School is allowed to close not only with this issues not be addressed but that will be compounded when the current ELL student body are sent to other underperforming Buffalo Public Schools. You only need to take a short walk on Grant Street to see the potential of Lafayette High School’s ELL students. We need to make the right decision and give Lafayette High School, the students and staff the tools they need and desire to succeed.
Lastly, I am not a teacher but I am an invested community member who understands first hand that education can lift you up and out of poverty and create a pathway towards a successful life. I have researched and discussed these issues at length with teachers, students and local officials. The one thing that is clear is that the students, staff and dedicated teachers at Lafayette High School do not need to be given up on – they need more time and resources.
Sign out petition to keep Lafayette High School open and give the teachers, staff and students the time and materials needed to obtain success. CLICK HERE.
This is our little dollar house in Buffalo, NY. We are calling it our little cottage that could.
We picked up this little 1860’s brick cottage for $1 dollar. The house is steps from two local breweries, the best coffee shop in Buffalo and many restaurants and fun shops. This dollar house wasn’t a part of the Buffalo homestead program but instead, a private owner who was ready to spend 15K to demolish the house on his own. With a little convincing, it is now ours for less than a cup of coffee. It has a new roof, cool original brick inside and it is gutted to the studs. Sure it isn’t easy to renovate but the upside to this house is we can make it our own for less than what we would pay for a house that isn’t designed for our needs. We are currently in the process of design and we are aiming to make this a near net zero home while still retaining the historic character of the cottage. We cannot wait to create a modern yet historic transformation that will keep this house alive for another 150 years!
To follow up more about Dollar houses in Buffalo, check out this post I posted last year. Also, check out our buds Mike Puma and David Torke in the LA TIMES article about the Buffalo Homestead Program and their experiences here.