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GardenAerial : An Introduction

June 6, 2012

(First off I have to post an apology for the awful delay in getting any posts up in quite some time. It appears that sometimes things need to marinate in my head for quite some time. With that said boy do I have some tremendously exciting updates to share!)

I am exceptionally excited to announce that I have joined the team of GardenAerial here in Rochester, NY as the Associate Director of Administration & Community Engagement!

GardenAerial you ask? Garden Aerial is a project of tremendous ambition and inspiring vision which involves both the preservation and greening of the historic High Falls neighborhood, here in the heart of Rochester, NY.

Those who know me well, understand that High Falls holds a very sacred place in my heart, and it is my belief that it distinctly affects the attitude and overall sense of belonging and connection to Rochester. High Falls represents the birthplace and origins of our city from the creation of “Rochesterville” back in 1817.  Nathaniel Rochester first viewed the falls and purchased a 100 acre tract of land on November 8th, 1803 and realized their potential for powering flour mills. This is where we earned the name “Flour City” as we became the nation’s largest producer of flour back in 1838.

I am a firm believer that neglect, deterioration, and a lack of vision for this neighborhood over many years has in part contributed to fellow Rochestarians feeling a lack of pride in our city. It should come as no surprise that if we neglect the core and birthplace of our city that a feeling of discontentment and alienation exists.

I have felt a strong desire to invest myself in efforts to improve this neighborhood ever since I watched it falter as an entertainment district back in the 1990’s. That sense of connection was strong enough that I suggested development efforts as part of my Capstone Proposal when I first started my Masters degree at RIT back in Spring of 2010. Ironically, I went a much different direction with that project but one that still involved researching methods and case studies of proven economic strategies that benefited local businesses and explored the relationships of community building through the creation of public spaces and technology.

So today I find myself working for a project that has the ability to forever change and reshape this community in a way that honors its heritage and history and create culture.

GardenAerial seeks to honor the High Falls neighborhood:  “through stewardship, innovative design, and community outreach we seek to preserve its natural and historic resources, and cultivate its transformation into a world-class public green space.”

It’s time to envision something great, something that requires imagination combined with determination in an effort to build a “sky garden” and world class green space here in Rochester, NY. It’s only appropriate considering the fact Rochester was also later known in the mid 19th century as being “The Flower City” after the Flour processing moved east and flower nurseries boomed in our city.

For now you’ll find me hard at work at in the offices of GardenAerial located on the historic Browns Race in High Falls. I will seek to honor our city, community, and history and create a place where everyone can find a sense of belonging, connection, and place. I am incredibly thankful to Lewis Stess and Michael Philipson for this incredible opportunity.

Come imagine a greater Rochester with me, one that builds on its past and leads us into the future!

High Falls “then” photo from Flour City

GardenAerial –

Flour City Post –

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2012 10:18 am

    Well done Benjamin! Great role for you. I need an update/introduction to the project at some point. I met With Lewis a year ago or more, but never followed up to keep up-to-date… Sounds very cool.

    • June 6, 2012 3:36 pm

      Thank you Chris! I’d love to catch you up to speed! Lets set up a time to meet at some point in the near future!

  2. June 10, 2012 4:47 am

    Congratulations on your new role! That’s very cool and your excitement comes through in your writing. Loved the photo and postcard comparison.

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