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What is going on lately at our Gell Center?

The following blog post was written by Kathy Potetti.

Every April, The Gell Center of the Finger Lakes opens its facility for the season – through the end of November. From Writers & Books in downtown Rochester to the Gell Center is only a 45 minute drive south. This breathtaking, scenic drive is captivating with the rolling hills so green and lush this time of year. When I actually arrive at Gell, I’m already in a tranquil state of mind.


The first program this season was entitled Behind the Scenes, at the Gell Center on Sunday, April 12th. How does a play go from the page to the stage? This collaborative program with Bristol Valley Theater directors Karin Bowersock and David Shane, and actors, plus two local playwrights, Bill Capossere and Mark Jabaut gave us a sampling of this process during the afternoon class. This was a new initiative really captured the creative process and the writer/director/actor relationship. It was a wonderful afternoon had by all! We look forward to more collaborative programs with BVT.

This past Sunday afternoon, June 14th, we hosted another new initiative entitled: A Day of Celebration for our Veterans, their families, and friends: Writing the Military Experience. I sat in the Gleason Lodge writing this blog while the Veterans were on the deck with Norm Davis’ Poetry Writing Workshop. It was an afternoon of writing workshops in various genres in a relaxed, rural setting, which everyone enjoyed!

Gell porch

I’m always amazed each time I come here how truly inspired I am. When I arrived at Gell this past Sunday I looked upward into the lush, green Bristol Hills from the deck of the lodge and thought of how breathtaking this view is during each of our four seasons: lush and green during the spring which fades to a lighter, dryer look during peak summer months, then changes abruptly to a canopy of brilliant fall colors, to a blanket of fallen snow, untouched during the winter months.

The Gell House is booked quite steadily this season with writers-in-residence from across the globe. Why here of all places you may ask? The natural beauty of the Finger Lakes Region in upstate New York, that’s why! During the summer there are two weeks of youth writing camps, where they are transported from Writers & Books in Rochester to the Gell Center in Naples, NY each day, and we are also hosting two yoga groups that return annually since this particular venue has met all of their needs.

The fall season still has space available either in the Gell House, or the Gleason Lodge. If you’re considering hosting your event at the Gell Center, or would like a tour of the facility, please contact Kathy Pottetti at (585)473-2590 or Please visit our website at for further information.

Thank you.

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D&C article about Joe Flaherty

Joseph Carney

June 17, 2015 –  The Democrat & Chronicle’s Robin L. Flanigan interviews our Founder and Executive Director, Joe Flaherty, about his childhood, the strong influence that literature has had on his life, and his upcoming retirement in June of 2016.

Read Robin Flanigan’s article here, or check out a hard copy of the June 17, 2015 edition of the D&C!  Iconic founder of Writers & Books to Retire

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ROC Transit Day: A Personal Odyssey

by Christine Green

What a day! I started ROC Transit Day at Collegetown near Strong Hospital and the University of Rochester campus. My friend, Kelly, met me there and our adventure began…

1) Bus 50: My first Rochester bus ride. I felt like such a goof! How have I lived in the Rochester area for 14 years and not ever rode a bus? Well, there I was on my way to the Rochester Public Market via the downtown Transit Center. Of course, the public market is an adventure in and of itself…we sampled mulberries, bought fruit and veggies, purchased a hanging basket of flowers, ate empanadas, and drank carrot juice. We participated in a workshop organized by Foodlink and learned all about how to eat healthy on a budget.

2) Bus 39: Next we chose to catch the number 39 at the corner of Trinidad and Union. Sounds easy, right? Well, we couldn’t find the bus stop sign! A quick and simple call to RTS connected me to an extremely kind and patient representative who directed me to the stop and called the driver so that he could be on the lookout for us. I wasn’t too hard to spot since I was the crazy lady carrying a potted plant and waving my bus pass in the air.

3) Bus31/Transit Center: We met an awesome guy named Louis at the Transit Center. Louis told us all about how to take a bike on the bus, even taking the time to show us how the mechanism works. After we boarded the bus we saw him help a lady with two children and stroller, folding and stowing the awkward gadget while she held her very sleepy toddler in her arms. We also met a kind young lady who let me put my plant on the seat next to her (I think my new nickname is officially Crazy Plant Lady), and I met a kind elderly lady who even rose from her seat to say good-bye when we had reached our stop. Lots of good people. Bus 31 took us to Park and Goodman where we fueled up on bread from Great Harvest Bread and perused Parkleigh.

4) Bus 47: At this point I was officially tired and a *wee* bit cranky from the heat. When our bus arrived I was more than happy to board the clean, air-conditioned, and shaded bus back to the Transit Center.

5) Bus 50: Our last bus ride! This bus took us back to Collegetown where we officially ended our day’s adventures.

I learned a few things about the Roc transit system and about public transportation in general.

I learned that the RTS bus app and the customer service at RTS are top-notch. We had a few hitches here and there, but for the most part we made it everywhere we wanted to go using this app and calling into to RTS. I also realized how very little I know about Rochester, something I want to remedy. Now that summer is really here I hope to spend more time exploring the city and seeing the sites. I learned, too, that three bucks will take you all over the area all day and you don’t have to spend a dime on gas. Pretty sweet deal, if you think about it. Oh, and take it from the Crazy Plant Lady, portulaca plants can take some rough handling on several bus rides.

A few tips for those who want to ride the bus around Rochester (or anywhere, really): Be like Louis. For many people riding the bus with strollers, wheel chairs, groceries, and small kids can be difficult and possibly overwhelming. Lend a hand, give up your seat, offer a smile. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seriously, EVERYONE we interacted with today when we needed directions or help were more than willing to offer advice and assistance. Finally, plan ahead. Sure you can use your smart phone or the trip planner screen at the Transit Station, but if you are able to plan out your route and stops before you leave you’ll definitely save time.

Thanks to RTS, Writers & Books, and the Rochester Brainery for asking me to help out today!

Christine Green is a writer and personal assistant in NY. She has been published in Story Bleed, Genesee Valley Parent, aaduna, the Democrat and Chronicle, the American Cancer Society’s Choose You Blog, Healthy Urban Kitchen, Germ Magazine, The Light Ekphrastic, & Naptime Notebook, and Mused Literary Review. She has essays in the anthologies Mother Muse and Motherly Musings. She hosts Words on the Verge, a monthly literary reading and salon in Brockport, NY.

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ROC Transit Day: Overheard on the Bus

by Joe Orman

This is a story about a fairly regular experience to many of us in the city- a ride from one stop to the transit station to another stop on the other side of the city. The ride was nothing special- it was an uncomfortably hot Saturday afternoon on Monroe Avenue. I planned on taking a bus from the Spokes and Ink Art Festival, to Pittsford Plaza to see a movie, back to U of R. It would take approximately 10 minutes to get to the plaza, and over an hour to get home. I prepared myself for a bus ride like most people, running a mental check as I stepped out of my dorm room.

Phone, Wallet, Keys, Bus Pass, Headphones

I then made 2 mistakes.

The first was missing my bus on Monroe. When I was born, I was graced with my mother’s terrible vision and my father’s abhorrent sense of direction, which makes traveling in the City my daily source of puzzle-solving mental simulation. I was lost in an article on phone as the bus slowly creeped by on the opposite side of the road, and I felt several IQ points leave my mind as I registered what had happened. One short call to my Uncle later, I found myself in another car, discussing movies and how I was going to get home later. I told him that I had already found a bus that ran later that day (which was a lie), and said my goodbyes as we pulled into the plaza. I found myself standing outside the theatre a few hours later, with just enough time to grab food and rush to the bus stop. I sat next to several Wegmans employees as I ran another mental check.

Phone, Wallet, Keys, Bus Pass… Oh no.

My second mistake was forgetting my headphones, or so I thought.

If you are anything like me, you always have a pair of headphones on you. It’s the perfect way to make a walk pass by, a voicemail private, or- in many cases- to block out background noise. As a regular rainy day commuter and user of RTS, I join the ranks of many who choose to block out the daily conversations of the Rochester Community and listen to some of the terrible sounds that make up my music choice. As I boarded the bus, I was prepared for the next hour to feel like a decade, but what I found was exactly the opposite. Here are a few things I overheard and saw on my ride that made me seriously rethink why I chose to block out the sounds of the City while getting around:

  • A child subjecting his father to a barrage of “Why?” questions. Things like:
    1. Why does that man have no hair?”
    2. “Why is that lady sleeping?”
    3. “Why are you covering your face?”
    4. “Why is that boy trying to hide his laugh?”
  • A bus driver telling a young woman which door to exit from to avoid a massive puddle the size of Ontario.
  • 2 buses honking playfully at each other, trying to play “chicken” at a stop sign.
  • 2 childhood friends catching up on their lives, discussing everything from their mothers to jobs to who would make a better parent, they both decided it would be the other.

That Saturday, while sweaty from the sun and with the taste of stale popcorn still in my mouth, I learned an important lesson about public transit. RTS connects neighborhoods, communities, and most importantly, people. I chose to ride the bus to remind me why I chose to call Rochester my home, a place abundant with culture, industry, and character. So I challenge you as you read the thoughts of an idealistic 20-year-old as your bus bounces along the road or as you eat your unhealthy lunch in your office, to unplug, and look at our City with fresh new eyes.


Joe Orman is a Central New York native studying Anthropology and Legal Studies at the University of Rochester. This summer his he serving in the Rochester Urban Fellows Program under AmeriCorps Vista at Refugees Helping Refugees on South Avenue. You can find him regularly at the Highland Park Diner, The Little Theatre, Pittsford Cinemas, Java’s, and on the airwaves at 10pm on Mondays as a student radio jockey for WRUR 88.5FM. He fell in love with Rochester once he discovered the accessibility of art and music in the city, and as one of the many members of the Rochester community without a car, he hopes to explore as much of the city by bus and bike as possible.

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ROC Transit Day: “10 surprising ways to get to the Bug Jar”

by Joe Orman

As I stepped out of my dorm and towards the bus stop in front of U of R’s Rush Rhee’s Library, I caught a lucky break. Bus #19 had stopped for the driver’s break, meaning I could ride from U of R to Mt. Hope to South Ave, eliminating the uphill walk I had braced myself for. I stepped on the bus, and noticed that there was no driver. So I waited, and by the time she had reappeared, waited some more, and put the bus in gear, I missed my second bus. “Ok”, I thought, “No problem, I can catch another, I won’t be late”. Then the bus took a right at the bridge at S. Plymouth, and I realized that I was on 19X Plymouth to Downtown. I quickly got off the bus and walked back to Mt. Hope questioning my ability to function as an adult. As I now sit In Saxby’s Coffee staring defeated at my bagel, I realize that the problem that most of my friends and I see with RTS is that it is not built for the average brainless college student. In order to better serve the Rochester community, RTS must college-proof its busses and routes, ensuring that from RIT to St. John Fischer, students everywhere are able to navigate our city while simultaneously being completely unaware of their surroundings.


Some suggestions include:

Signs on the sides of busses that hit you in face in order to be sure you know which bus it is.

An app that gives you direction in Buzzfeed titles (“10 surprising ways to get to the Bug Jar”).

Direct stops at your favorite college hotspots, because it’s not like we have school transit to Wegmans and Downtown.

Turning the buses into a taxi service, since that’s the only thing we seem to understand.


I hope RTS will listen to my suggestions as I board the 9:38am #45 from Mt. Hope and Elmwood…. I mean the 10:02am…


Joe Orman is a Central New York native studying Anthropology and Legal Studies at the University of Rochester. This summer his he serving in the Rochester Urban Fellows Program under AmeriCorps Vista at Refugees Helping Refugees on South Avenue. You can find him regularly at the Highland Park Diner, The Little Theatre, Pittsford Cinemas, Java’s, and on the airwaves at 10pm on Mondays as a student radio jockey for WRUR 88.5FM. He fell in love with Rochester once he discovered the accessibility of art and music in the city, and as one of the many members of the Rochester community without a car, he hopes to explore as much of the city by bus and bike as possible.