Coming together through music

(Parting Shots) Help raise money for pancreatic cancer research, more Plantagon and the Two Row Wampum

Every week in this space, the Syracuse New Times will give you a piece of our mind. For what it’s worth.

Coming Together Through Music

By Jessica Novak

Most of us take far too much for granted. We waste time holding grudges, complaining and thinking of things we want or think we need, materialistically and otherwise. My band, Master Thieves, is guilty of this as well, sometimes losing sight that we are the luckiest people in the world to make music together, as a group that has become a family.

It’s for this reason especially that we were at a loss when we heard that our bandmate Chuck Dorgan might have to miss one of our biggest shows yet, headlining the legendary The Lost Horizon this Saturday. His sister, Stacy, lives in Germany with her husband, Ingo, and their two children. Ingo is battling stage four pancreatic cancer. They’re not optimistic.

The news hit hard. I’ve never met Stacy, Ingo or their children, but I’m close enough with Chuck to know that they must be incredible people.

We considered postponing the Lost Horizon show. Chuck started the band and is, without a doubt, the heart and soul of it. He is the ultimate cheerleader and supporter, dedicated to pushing us forward. Yet, as we thought about what he wants for us all as a band, we realized canceling or moving the date would give in to the sadness, the loss. That’s not the answer.

The answer is to every day recognize the gifts we have that we fail to honor in the way we should. The answer is to play the show with more energy, conviction and love than before and to spread that energy to as many people as we can. Sometimes the greatest happiness is simply a cold beer, a good friend and some rowdy rock ‘n’ roll. These are things we can provide and share with others.

We’re going to play the show, and I hope people come and help raise money for  Chuck’s family and pancreatic cancer research as well as awareness about the terrible disease. I also hope it helps people remember how lucky we are to breathe, walk, talk, dance, celebrate and connect on a daily basis. We take each other for granted, and we shouldn’t. “Love is life / life is love” and we need to make the most of every drop.

Follow Jessica Novak on Facebook at, on Twitter at and on Instagram at @JessRock87.

Show details:

Who: Master Thieves; opener: Mike Powell.
When: Saturday, April 19. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
Where: The Lost Horizon, 5863 Thompson Road.
Tickets: $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Available at and
Donations accepted at:

Here’s hoping plans for local high-tech vertical greenhouse take root

By Renée K. Gadoua

Leaders of the Onondaga Nation and their Swedish partners in Plantagon recently started planting seeds for a possible sustainable, high-tech vertical greenhouse to be built in Syracuse.

The Plantagon project has the backing of the Onondagas for its commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of food production. But no local proposal yet exists, nor has a feasibility study been conducted or possible investors identified.

Even though local plans are vague, the topic is trending. NPR last week reported on a Chicago project using garbage to fuel vertical farming. The entrepreneur is repurposing a former meatpacking facility into an energy self-sufficient food production operation housing nonprofits, for-profits and educational enterprises. Read about it online at

Recent stories highlight projects under way in Scranton, Pa.; Singapore; and Japan. Last month, Green Spirit Farms, of New Buffalo, Mich., announced plans for a 300,000-square-foot vertical farming operation in an empty factory near Scranton. It’s said to be the largest vertical farming site in the country. Read about it at

We’ll be keeping an eye on developments in this industry.

Two Row Wampum

two row wampum

A film shot during the summer’s Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign will be shown 2:30 p.m. today at Moon Library, Room 110, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

The film, “Guswenta: Renewing the Two Row Wampum,” was named best short film in March at the Rated SR Socially Relevant Film Fest in New York City. Filmmaker Gwendolen Cates shot the film during the 28-day trip from Onondaga Nation waterways and down the Hudson River.

Robin Kimmerer, director of the SUNY ESF Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, and Hickory Edwards, a member of the Onondaga Nation’s Turtle Clan and Two Row lead paddler, will speak after the screening.

The New Times covered the historic event, with stories in Syracuse, Albany and New York City. The project’s goal was to remind the community of Europeans’ 400-year-old promise to respect the culture of the indigenous peoples and to commit to stewardship of the Earth. This agreement was commemorated in the Two Row Wampum.

Renée K. Gadoua is a freelance writer and editor based in Manlius. Follow her on Twitter @ReneeKGadoua.

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