Next Buffalo speaker

Adam Hayes

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September 14, 8:30am • Marcy Casino • part of a series on Chaos

Welcome to our Buffalo Is Creative Changemaker of the Month of August  2018, celebrating the inspiring organizations working hard to make Buffalo better. Learn more about our project here:

We’re happy to share the story of The iXpress Art Program of Aspire WNY who creates opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to further enrich their lives by providing arts experiences. Learn more from Heath Bartel, an Art Facilitator at iXpress:

Meet Ciara Clemons, our CMbuf featured teammate of the month! She answered 20 questions so the next time you see her at an event you can bring her a mug of her favorite tea.

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  1. Dog or cat? Well I’m not really into either, but if I have to choose: Dogs. I can totally see myself with a tiny Yorkie.
  2. Phone call or text? Phone call – gotta save my thumb energy for writing and blogging for The Crafty Jawn Co.
  3. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla– I have just now as an adult began to appreciate the pallet value of chocolate so I’m not totally against it, but I’m still a simple vanilla girl ‘til I die.
  4. Morning or evening? Evenings– despite how much I try to be a bright and early hustler my dosha is totally in vaca time. I come alive closer to the 2nd half of the day.
  5. Facebook or Twitter? Facebook- it keeps me connected to my family. My 70 year old Uncle Artie wouldn’t know know what to do with a Twitter. lol
  6. Ice cream or frozen yogurt? Ice cream. The aftertaste of frozen yogurt confuses me.
  7. iOS or Andriod? iOS! Android makes no sense.
  8. Big party or small gathering? I love both! Parties no matter the size are my jam. I love hosting.
  9. Coffee or tea? Tea. Chamomile with a splash of almond milk & both honey + sugar. Heaven.
  10. Jogging or hiking? Jogging helps me think and enjoy my surroundings. Running through neighborhoods I don’t live in is fun, too– I like to scope out houses for porch + landscape inspiration.
  11. Hamburger or Taco? Hamburger. Although I’m not too crazy on meat these days, when I do indulge a great well done blue cheese burger with all the fixings hits the spot!
  12. Money or free time? Free time– money is most certainly appreciated but time can never replaced. As a mom, time with my daughter, Nilah, is the most important part of my life.
  13. Amusement Park or Day at the Beach? Day at the beach- I am not a voluntarily get on rides just to be scared to death type of gal. Beach body + mimosas please!
  14. Toilet paper: over or under? Over. I get much satisfaction out a good ole’ toilet paper spin.
  15. Rain or snow? Rain. A good thunderstorm always reminds me of God’s power.
  16. Singing or dancing? Both! I sing a lot and dance in private of course.
  17. Horror Movie or Comedy? Comedy. Stomach hurting laughing comedy.
  18. City or Countryside? Ehh…I can do both. Having a balance of both would be ideal. There are moods when either can really cater to your productivity.
  19. Winter or summer? Summer. Snow and I aren’t cool.
  20. Beer or wine? Wine- it makes me really sleepy but beer I just can’t even.
  21. Ninjas or pirates? Pirates only because my mother is obsessed and I’m all about making her happy. 

Welcome to our Morning Person interview series, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

This month we’re happy to share an interview with Dennise Rodriguez, a UX Designer at PLS 3rd Learning.

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What is your special creative force?

Being born and raised in a family-owned print shop in Camuy, a small town on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, my creative energy comes from my island upbringing and cross-cultural life experiences. Having worked, lived in, and traveled to multiple states and countries, I believe my creativity draws from things I have seen and experienced. I have used that explorative drive to help me excel as a Graphic Designer for various firms and agencies in FL and NY and now as a UX Designer at PLS 3rd Learning, and education firm in downtown Buffalo. I think the thing that makes my work special is my ability to use my experiences to come up with innovative designs that bridge the gap between functionality and design aesthetics.

In the spirit of August 2018’s theme, CMcommunity, can you share an example of how Buffalo and the community here is important to your work and life?

Because of Buffalo’s recent cultural Renaissance, I have had the opportunity to experience a variety of new places, peoples, and events in the city. When I moved from Florida 8 years ago, I went out of my way to find and join the art community. I met Marcus Wise, former owner of 464 Gallery, and quickly joined the Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo (ELAB) group. Doing so gave me the chance to meet other artists, be involved in creative events like Music is Art and City of Night, and host my own solo art show. My involvement with this group helped me learn about other community groups like Girl Develop It! (GDI), Yelp Elite Squad (YES), Buffalo Scholastics Rowing Association (BSRA), The Foundry, and AAF Buffalo. Being apart of these Buffalo-based communities have helped me stay connected to and inspired by the city.

What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?

Since I started working as a UX Designer for PLS 3rd Learning, I have had the privilege to work on a variety of education-based projects. One of my favorite, large scale, projects I am currently working on is the Future Ready PA Index, a school evaluation tool for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. My role is to improve the user experience and functionality of this tool so that educators, parents, and students can use it successfully. I am really looking forward to seeing my company’s work go live later this year.

Where in Buffalo do you go to be most inspired?

I don’t think I necessarily have a specific location in Buffalo where I go to get inspired. The outdoors, in general, is my most inspiring place. I love that Buffalo has a lot of options for enjoying the outdoors (especially in the summer) some within a short drive or walk from my house in North Buffalo. I really like attending cultural events at Bidwell Park and Delaware Park, appreciating the history of Forest Lawn and Buffalo’s art galleries, exploring parks like Glen Park, the Tiff Preserve, and walking along the Outer Harbor. Having lived and traveled to many places in my life, having the ability to walk in such a historical beautiful city that is surrounded by a natural wonder (Niagara Falls) and parks is inspiring in and of itself. I really like the combination of nature and rustic architecture here. Though I have been here 8 years, I still think it is pretty cool that I can usually see wildlife every day, wave at giraffes while driving past the zoo, or admiring turn-of-the-century homes as if I am in a living museum. Buffalo itself is inspiring.

Thank you, Dennise!

August 2018′s theme is COMMUNITYA community is a reflection of what we crave: belonging. Belonging is the heart of human connection. Our hardwiring is to be social creatures, to need one another. We cannot become our best selves without feeling like we belong to a tribe that sees us, respects us, and lifts us up. A sense of belonging can be fostered in many ways: food, music, volunteering, a cause. You can scan a room and see a diversity of backgrounds, ages, and skill sets—yet the common thread is shared desires and aspirations. It’s magnificently profound how simple this connection is, how deeply we all crave it, and how it changes the trajectory of our lives. The work of community is when a person walks into a room with fear and self-doubt, only to leave with a new narrative and a feeling of possibility and hope. We can give that experience to one another. It’s the work of being human. This month’s global exploration of Community was chosen by our Philadelphia chapter, and illustrated by James Olstein 👋 High five to MailChimp, Adobe, and WordPress.com for fueling our global creative community.

Welcome to our Buffalo Is Creative Changemaker of the Month of June 2018, celebrating the inspiring organizations working hard to make Buffalo better. Learn more about our project here:

We’re happy to share the story of Gardens Buffalo Niagara, who is working to create more vibrant and beautiful communities by sharing our gardens. Hear more from Jim Charlier, Vice President and Marketing Committee Chair:


Meet Lori Schkufza, our CMbuf featured teammate of the month! She answered 20 questions so the next time you see her at an event you can bring her some coffee from Bosnia. 

1. Dog or cat?

Small to mid size dog, pugs and Australian Shepherds always.  

2. Phone call or text?

Text. I’m that person who chants- don’t pick up, don’t pick up- when I have to make a call.

3. Chocolate or vanilla?

Vanilla when it comes to ice cream, chocolate for everything else.

4. Morning or evening?

Mornings, especially when they can be a little lazy with an extra cup of coffee. If I can allow myself an extra hour in the morning to watch an episode of the Great British Bake Off or The X-Files before I start work, I feel great.

5. Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter. I like having character limits. And it lets me be friends with artists I love but wouldn’t encounter in my day to day life.

6. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?

Ice cream. Frozen yogurt is a scam.

7. iOS or Andriod?

I’ve only ever for been iOS, I probably couldn’t function with an Android.

8. Big party or small gathering?

Small gathering, preferably with small plates.

9. Coffee or tea?

Bosnian coffee. If that’s not available, like Dale Cooper I take it black as midnight on a moonless night.

10. Jogging or hiking?

Hiking. Put a weeks worth of food in my bear vault, pack a map and a book and I’m set.

11. Hamburger or Taco?

Hamburger. I bought the Bob’s Burgers Burger Book thinking it would be a fun joke and it’s become my most used cookbook.

12. Money or free time?

Can’t have free time without the money, sadly.

13. Amusement Park or Day at the Beach?

Day at the beach. Quick dips, sitting in the sun and a good book. A day at the beach also doesn’t give me motion sickness.

14. Toilet paper: over or under?

Over. You know it’s touching the wall when it’s under.

15. Rain or snow?

Thunderstorms.

16. Singing or dancing?

Neither. I possess neither rhythm nor the ability to hold a tune. I’m impressed by people who can do either.

17. Horror Movie or Comedy?

Thriller. I love a murder mystery.

18. City or Countryside?

I think a 70/30 split between City and Country is my ideal.

19. Winter or summer?

Summer, cause it’s good camping season and rhubarb becomes available again.

20. Beer or wine?

Beer. Wine gives me the worst headaches whether I have a sip or a whole bottle.

21. Ninjas or pirates?

Pirates seem to have more fun. And they get to sail around aimlessly.


Thanks, Lori!

Welcome to our Morning Person interview series, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

This month we’re happy to share an interview with Tori Claflin, Assistant Events Coordinator at Albright-Knox Art Gallery.


What is your special creative force?
So much of my work as an event planner is the mere consideration of others. I regularly ask myself questions like: Who will attend? Why are they attending? What can we do to make sure these folks feel comfortable? For this I think hospitality is the driver of my creativity.

In the spirit of July 2018’s theme, CMintention, can you share an example of what motivates you and your creativity?
Fostering honest and real human connection is a huge motivator. In event planning, it’s most rewarding to see people open up in an atmosphere you’ve created, especially by those who may have been intimidated at first. The same applies to anything else in my life; whether I’m cooking a meal, organizing a seating chart, or more recently, managing the production details for a short film, I’m always thinking about the ways in which people can be brought together as a result. I’m not a creator in the most traditional sense, but these small acts feel like creative victories.

What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?
Right now I’m learning how to grow food on my porch. I was lucky to get kale and beet seedlings from a friend and it has been such a joy to watch them grow. I want to one day open up a farm-to-table business, so this seems like a good start.

Where in Buffalo do you go to be most inspired?
I hold no allegiance in this regard as Buffalo has so many inspiring sites! I will say that I have experienced many wonderful Saturday mornings at the Bidwell Farmer’s Market that have felt like a reset button. Or the quiet moments at golden hour in silo city.

Thank you, Tori!

July’s theme is INTENTION If you look closely, you can see the intention behind the action, a project, or a sassy tweet. Intention is palpable. A hand-written thank you resonates in our hearts more strongly than an email. One person standing for something pales in comparison to a community fighting for something. Beautiful work is not on accident. Beauty grows from the seed of a clear intention. How do we get better at setting clear intentions?The same way we improve at anything: with practice, self-awareness, feedback from friends, and learning how to show up more wholeheartedly.Click here to join Buffalo’s event on July 13th.This month’s global exploration of Intention was chosen by our Nashville chapter, and illustrated by Nik Daum. Thank you to MailChimp, Adobe, and WordPress.com for supporting our global creative community. ❤️

Welcome to our Buffalo Is Creative Changemaker of the Month of May 2018, celebrating the inspiring organizations working hard to make Buffalo better.

We’re happy to share the story of Starlight Studio & Art Gallery, a cooperative environment that supports adults with disabilities in their artistic development. Through technical assistance by professional artists, on-site and off-site exhibitions and other opportunities for representation and sales, the Starlight artists hone their artistic interests, become stronger advocates and better integrated citizens.

Hear more from Carrie Marcotte, Director of Starlight: 

Welcome to our Morning Person interview series, introducing stellar members of our CMbuf community. Make sure to update your profile for an opportunity to be featured on our blog, newsletter and social media accounts!

This month we’re happy to share an interview with Emma Brittain, a Ceramics Instructor at Locust Street Community Art Center in Buffalo, NY.


What is your special creative force?

I am an achingly empathetic person. I don’t like shallow social interactions and platitudes. My soul needs the acknowledgement of suffering and I also have an unyielding need to be a witness for beauty. That drive to be a witness for both pain and beauty ends up being a special creative force for me. When I can combine my knowledge of the deep truth with a surrender to the deep beauty of life and create art from that place it is profound.

In the spirit of June 2018’s theme, CMcraft, can you share an anecdote about how you work on improving your craft everyday? 

I think the biggest thing I do throughout my everyday life is cycle back to the question “What gives me life?. I’m constantly trying to recenter myself on the things I love. But I hold that in tension with trying to secure myself into a schedule. So I make time to look at birds and lie in my hammock but I also force myself to sit in my dusty studio on sunny days because I need both freedom and structure.

What project are you working on right now that we should all know about?

Right now I’m putting together a body of work based on the children of Buffalo and positive representation of minorities. I hope to include pastel drawings and ceramic pieces to show traditionally but also I plan on making clip art, coloring pages, and stickers. My goal is to spread both the deep truth and beauty of kids who are underrepresented in our media.

Where in Buffalo do you go to be most inspired?

My places of inspiration change but that revolves around where I can find the most natural, authentic feeling of what it means to be human. So I greatly enjoy Tifft Nature Preserve and Delaware Park where I can connect to the Earth. But I also am deeply moved by interacting with children and relearning how to live from them. My work at Peace of the City Ministries and at Locust Street Community Art Classes has given me much of that.

Thank you, Emma!

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