Author Archives: Haley Doran

About Haley Doran

I'm a writer, a blogger, a social media strategist, a theatre enthusiast and a creative.

Slumbers soothe young adults

By Haley Doran

Rochester-based Slumbers, an alternative indie rock band, is familiar to the Ithaca, N.Y. music scene after getting their professional start in the area in 2015.  The group features original music that describes the minds of young adults.

Slumbers includes Claire McClusky, an Ithaca College student, bassist and singer; Emma Willer, a Belmont University student, singer and guitarist; Sabrina Nichols, a Rochester Institute of Technology student, singer and guitarist and Stephen Ferm, a Rochester Institute of Technology student and drummer.

The band released their album “Come Over” in November.  Nicols said they can relate a lot of their success to the honesty heard throughout their music.

“I think we just talk about ourselves and it’s stuff that we can relate to,” said Nichols. “We’re regular people so people can relate to it. We also listen to a lot of rap music, so maybe that has something to do with it.”

Although honesty is at the core of their music, the group said it can often be difficult to share such intimate pieces of their lives, especially when performing in their hometowns in from of a familiar crowd.

“It’s definitely scary but it’s gotten a lot easier, especially because we’ve become friends with a lot of other bands,” said Willer. “Our friendships are getting really close because we’re very open and together.”

Nichols said the band uses their music as a vehicle for audiences to understand that many people go through similar situations.  Their current music touches upon issues like social anxieties and the search for happiness.

“I want our fans to not feel alone,” said Nichols.  “A lot of people go to music shows to be part of a community, and they also like the music.  Even though they’re from all over, you like the same thing and you automatically have this group of people that can talk about the same things.”

The sense of community that Slumbers has gained through their experiences in touring, especially in Ithaca, keeps the band confident and fresh.  

“Moving around and meeting new people is my favorite part,” said Ferm.  “We’ve met so many cool people through the band.”

The music they produce changes through their exposure to different places and experiences they have had along the way.

“Recently, I’ve thought a lot about different adventures we’re gone on and I’ve been writing a lot more upbeat songs,” said Willer.

Slumbers is able to share these new experiences with their growing fan base, as they have a new album that they hope to record in the summer and start their tour.  They are heading to the U.K. and Amsterdam, Canada, Rhode Island, a few cities in New York and are ending in Ithaca.


Yoga Farm: ‘Sanctuary and Playground’

By Haley Doran and Emma McQuade

In a mission to help students find their goodness, Yoga Farm, a wellness center in Lansing, N.Y. offers educational classes and workshops to students seeking courses in yoga and meditation.

Christopher Grant and Daniela Hess, co-directors of Yoga Farm, founded the wellness center in the spring of 2015 after listening to the call of Spirit.

“For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be a part of a group of people who were living and learning together – diving into some of the deeper truths about what it means to be a human – seeking something beyond,” said Grant.  “I always had a sense that there was something beyond.”

Yoga Farm is a welcome environment where students can follow three different approaches to find their goodness. The center offers group yoga: private instruction, including yoga, meditation and coaching: and courses centered on a theme.

“People come here to remember their goodness and their lightness – lightness is playful,” said Hess.  “I help people fall in love with themselves, like I mean really fall in love with themselves.”

In addition to their regular classes and workshops, Yoga Farm hosts the Sacred Sunday Community event every Sunday, open to all community members.  This event allows community members the opportunity to have a deeply personal experience with body, mind and Spirit.  Sacred Sunday is a three-part event, but the community can come at the beginning of each hour.  The first hour consists of prayers and practices called Ho’oponopono, then gentle community yoga and the finally a meditation.

“People who come every week get a completely different experience and it’s like church without the ‘churchyness,’” said Hess.  “It’s beautiful – it’s this sacred morning for anybody regardless of your denomination or affiliation, religions – it doesn’t matter.  We’re really connecting with the thread that weaves itself through everyone and it’s our goodness and our grace.”

Hess said the practice of yoga and meditation is often seen as serious to Western people.  She believes Yoga Farm guides students through the true nature of Spirit.

“It’s not always serious here, people something have it that the spiritual path has to be very quiet, a lot of bowing and ‘Namaste’ – there is that,” said Hess.  “But the nature of Spirit is playful and that’s something here in the West that I see people have forgotten.”

Penne Barresi, a student at Yoga Farm, says that yoga can be useful in everyday life.

“For me it’s being in the present and it not only works my body physically, it wakes my body up emotionally and spiritually and allows me to combine those things and stay present,” said Barresi.  “When I’m sitting in traffic, trying to get some place and I can take a breath, reconnect my breath and be OK.”

For full story click here.

Cornell’s mission to reduce, reuse and recycle

By Haley Doran and Emma McQuade

At Cornell University, over one million disposable cups are used on campus each year.

In an effort to combat this issue and promote the recycling of all recyclable materials, Cornell University took part in RecycleMania, an eight-week competition for colleges and universities across the United States and Canada aiming to promote waste reduction activities on campuses.

Mark Hall of the R5 Operations, a department dedicated to support the university’s mission to keep the campus safe, attractive, functional and efficient, said the university has been involved with RecycleMania for four years.  Hall spearheaded the “Kick the Cup” event on campus three years ago, which allows students the opportunity to have free coffee, tea or hot chocolate every Wednesday for the duration of the competition if they provide a reusable cup.

“I enjoy doing the outreach,” said Hall.  “I get to meet all the students and tell them this stuff.”

Each week, participating schools report their amount of recycling and trash, and are able track their efforts in comparison to other campuses.  The university ranks highly in waste minimization and waste diversion every year, even as the competition gets intensive.

“We’ve always been in the top 20-25 percent,” said Hall.  “The good thing is that more schools are getting involved, which pushes our ranking down but I think we’re doing fine.”

Students at the university, including Andrew Peterson, a computer science major,  welcome the efforts to promote recycling materials.  Through the university’s events like “Kick The Cup” and “RecycleMania GameDay Basketball,” aimed to make students more aware of waste used on game days, students understand the importance of recycling.

“Everyone here seems onboard with it,” said Peterson.  “The campus just does a great job of encouraging it and with events like these, it’s easy – they make it easy for you.”

Rene Tsukawki an English major at the university and visitor to the weekly “Kick The Cup” event believes that recycling is vital to helping the environment.

“I think people take for granted a lot of what we have right now and it’s because the generations before us lived a certain way,” said Tsukawki.  “I might not be alive by the time it takes effect but if it’s only a few moments of effort on my part, just throwing something in the right bin or taking a few extra steps, to guarantee that other people will have a better environment, then why not?”

Zoe Watkins, a government major and frequent visitor to the “Kick The Cup” event said that the most important thing to remember impact recycling has on the world.

“It’s something that can be easily changed and has a large impact on the whole world, not just our campus,” said Watkins.  “It starts with us.”

For full story click here.

South Hill Forest Products inspire student learning

By Haley Doran and Emma McQuade

Since 2007, Ithaca College students in the Non-Timber Forest Products course have traded in the traditional college classroom experience for a more hands-on approach, becoming creators and entrepreneurs of non-timber products.

The course meets as a group once a week for a four-hour business meeting for South Hill Forest Products, a student-run company that produces all-natural maple syrup, honey and edible oyster mushrooms along with other products for purchase online and at many local businesses.

Katy Stringer, a senior environmental studies major and teaching assistant for the course, said that the projects completed are unique because they are student-conceived.

“The students are operating as employees of the business as well as to some degree, their own managers,” said Stringer. “They are the ones who are doing all the labor, as well as finding the consumers who are going to purchase these products.”

In order to maintain the business and expand beyond the products they already create,  students participate in projects and workshops that teach how to make wood carvings, maple syrup, soaps and salves.

Sam Donato, a senior environmental studies major and teaching assistant for the course, said that students on any given day, might work on one or two teams focusing on different aspects of the company.

“A day in this class could find you deep in the woods somewhere, or in the lab working on paper or somewhere around town searching for products,” Donato said.

Much of the budget for this business and class is funded through the Environmental Studies Department.

“Every year we do make a decent amount of money through selling our products to various local businesses and consumers but we also use a great deal of money,” Stringer said.  “The cost is high but in experiential knowledge it’s rich.”

The most popular product the company produces is maple syrup. Tori Chamberlin, a senior environmental studies major and teaching assistant for the class, said that a typical boil lasts a day or two. This year, the group started their boil on a Sunday and continued outside boiling until the following Thursday.

“It’s a really neat opportunity to be out in the woods with people who you might not be familiar with,” Chamberlin said. “This year we had a 100 hour boil, and 100 hours later, you come out as best friends – it’s a great teamwork and team building activity.”

Donato said the production of maple syrup is the most intensive but most rewarding experience.

“It’s constantly got us moving: doing cool things in the forest, sitting by fires, boiling maple syrup, collecting it from trees, filtering it and bottling it,” Donato said. “The whole process is very inclusive and intensive, but very fun.”

South Hill Forest Products will hold its annual Maple Open House on April 23, 2017 that will showcase the sugar bush and provide tours, games and food.

For full story click here.

Ithaca’s first plant-based cafe to open on the Ithaca Commons

By Haley Doran and Emma McQuade

Traveling at warp speed, Ithaca’s first fully plant-based café will open March 25 of this year. Tammie Olsefki, known for her business, Star Truck, is the sole proprietor behind Ten Forward Café, located just above Autumn Leaves Bookstore on The Commons.

Born and raised in Ithaca, Olsefski went vegan at age fifteen when she bought her first cookbook and began cooking plant-based foods. “I got even more into cookbooks and cooking in my early twenties,” Olsefski said. “That led me to the desire to do a food business kind of thing.”

Along with her passion for food, Olfeski grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and was a big fan of sci-fi shows. A few years ago, she began listening to Carl Sagan’s podcast Star Talk, which led her to open her Star Trek-inspired food truck, Star Truck.

Star Truck has been open for two and a half years now and offers all plant-based comfort foods like mac and cheese, nachos and barbecue tacos. Last summer, Olfeski discovered that the space above Autumn Leaves was available and decided to evolve her food truck business into a café.

“I got super inspired by the space and I thought that I had something to add to it,” she said. “I think this is one of the coolest places to hang out on The Commons.”

Olfeski reached out to Autumn Leaves Bookstore owner Joseph Wetmore to pitch her idea. According to Wetmore, the space has been a series of different cafes run in different styles over the years, although none have been too successful.

However, Wetmore believes Olfeski’s plan will resonate with the Ithaca community. “I’m really excited to see Ten Forward come in,” he said. “I know she has a great reputation from her food truck and I know she has put a lot of thought and effort into this.”

Like Star Truck, Ten Forward Café will feature Star Trek-themed names and decorations. Olsefski plans to offer the same plant-based mantra as her truck, and will offer sandwiches, soups and banana-based milkshakes.

“It’s hearty, healthy plant based food that’s focused on low sugar, low salt, low oil and naturally cholesterol free,” said Olsefski.  “There aren’t any full plant based restaurants here currently, it’s the premiere café.”

Sheena Heise, manager of Press Café, located in Press Bay Alley, is a frequent customer at Star Truck. The truck has been parked outside Press Café for the past two summers and brings brought in a good business with the local community. Heise was interested in tasting Olfeski’s twist on vegan food and soon began eating there five times a week.

“Tammie’s general personality and disposition is really inviting and the food is really good,” Heise said. “It’s quality at a decent price, and she makes it available for anyone with dietary restrictions and she’s located at a place downtown that’s easy to get to.”

The truck, however, is very weather dependent and is closed in the winters. For this reason, Olfeski hopes her customers will be able to go to Ten Forward Café when they cannot go to Star Truck.

As far as her competition is concerned, Olfeski says her café is unique because it offers an atmosphere that is different from other cafes in the Ithaca area. “I feel like this space is more of a community space,” she said. “You can come and eat or just read books and have coffee.”

For full story click here.

Best Tony Performances

The Tony Awards are in 5 days and what better way to celebrate than watching some the best Tony performances:

17. “You Don’t Know”/”I Am the One” from Next to Normal, 2009

16, “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray, 2003

15. “Forget About the Boy” from Thoroughly Modern Millie, 2002

14. “Magic To Do” from Pippin, 1973

13. “Ragtime” from Ragtime, 1998

12. “96,00” from In the Heights, 2008

11. “Anything Goes” from Anything Goes, 2011

10. Bernadette Peters sings “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, 2003

9.”All That Jazz”/ “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago, 1997

8. “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George, 1984

7. Christine Ebersole sings “The Revolutionary Costume for Today” from Grey Gardens, 2007

6. “Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises, Promises, 1969

5. “Tomorrow”/”You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”/”Easy Street” from Annie, 1978

4. Patti LuPone sings “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy, 2008

3. “A New Argentina” from Evita, 1980

2. “I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line, 1976

1. Jennifer Holliday sings “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls, 1982

Tune into the Tony Awards June 12th 8pm EST on CBS.

2015 Showstopping Playlist

It’s been a great year of diverse theatre! Here’s a roundup of this season’s best numbers: