The Year in Review – 2015

It’s been an incredible year for Greentopia! We’ve achieved some milestones and are creating real change here in Rochester. Watch our 1 minute video infographic which covers just some of our achievements this year.

And, if you’d like to support these efforts into the future, please consider making a donation now.

And thanks for your support. It means the world to us and it also means a better city – for all of us.

Greentopia Premieres New GardenAerial Promotional Short Film

If you missed us at the Futures Summit at Monroe Community College, you missed:

  • a. a great event
  • b. the premiere of our new short film featuring the GardenAerial! Not to worry, you can check out this new film now.

This film gives a 5-minute overview of the entire GardenAerial project. It features stunning new footage of the High Falls and Gorge and testimonials by some of our citiy’s most influential leaders in government, education, innovation and business. Please take a minute (well, 5 minutes, actually) and feel free to share with your networks. We really want to get the word out about this transformational project and we think this film does a great job doing that.

Once you’ve seen the film, if you are inspired by the message and if you ‘believe in the GardenAerial’, please consider giving a donation so we can continue the work of Greentopia.

Many thanks to Don Caspar at Epic 10 Films and also to J.R. Kraus and crew at 57th Street Productions and WXXI for providing a stunning clip of the falls seen from the base of the gorge! We’d also like to thank: Maggie Brooks, Lovely Warren, Bob Duffy, Jim Senall, Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, Ram Shrivastava, Kayla Jenkins and Lisa Roy Baron for appearing in the film.

Again, enjoy the film, share it with your friends and colleagues. We’d also love to hear your feedback!

GardenAerial is a capital project of Greentopia

NEW GardenAerial Short Film Premiering in October – Check out this Trailer!

We are so grateful to Don Caspar of Epic 10 Films, J.R. Kraus of 57th Street Productions and the entire cast and crew that made our NEW GardenAerial promotional film possible. We’ll be mounting a couple of trailers here in the coming weeks and then premiering the short film at our Greentopia | FUTURES SUMMIT, Cities of the Future at MCC on October 21st. Our cast includes: Bob Duffy, Maggie Brooks, Lovely Warren, Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, Jim Senall, Norm Silverstein, Ram Shrivastava, Lisa Roy Baron, people who work, live and play in High Falls, and our Co-Founders, Lewis Stess and Michael Philipson.

We also captured some VERY sexy drone footage and created a musical score composed especially for the film. The big star is, of course, our magnificent gorge and falls! Enjoy this preview and watch for the full film release on October 21st!

Bitcoin FAQs

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is an innovative payment network and a new form of currency; the first decentralized, digital currency. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to operate with no central authority, banks, or middlemen managing transactions. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public and transparent, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin, and everyone can take part. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses by utilizing instant P2P transactions, worldwide payments and zero or low processing fees.

How will donations received via Bitcoin be used?

Using Coinbase, Friends of the GardenAerial can accept donations directly from the digital wallet of donors via computers, tablets or smartphones. Coinbase also allows Friends of the GardenAerial to instantly convert the digital currency to dollars. For donors, using Bitcoin ensures that 100 percent of every donation goes directly to Friends of the GardenAerial programs and projects. Donations can be made online by visiting

What is Coinbase?

Coinbase is the world’s most popular bitcoin wallet. Coinbase makes it easy to securely buy, use, and accept bitcoin currency. Over 7,000 developer apps, 37,000 merchants and 2 million consumers currently use the Coinbase platform worldwide. The platform also makes it easy and safe to send smaller donation amounts as Coinbase has waived all transaction fees for registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations accepting Bitcoin through its merchant tools.

Who can donate bitcoin to Friends of the GardenAerial? Can I donate from outside the US?

Bitcoin is a global payment network, and accepting it enables Friends of the GardenAerial to accept donations from anywhere in the world. If you have an internet connection and a bitcoin digital wallet, you can donate bitcoin to Friends of the GardenAerial.

Will Friends of the GardenAerial make a profit from users’ donations?

No. As a non-profit organization, Friends of the GardenAerial does not make a profit from its activities.

Are US donors eligible for a tax deduction when they make a donation using bitcoin?

In March, the IRS issued guidance that bitcoin is to be treated as a property for Federal tax purposes. Learn more here.

Given the IRS guidance that bitcoin is to be treated as property, donating bitcoin offers compelling tax benefits. Donating appreciated property to charity is an often-overlooked tax strategy. It allows taxpayers to deduct donated property that would otherwise be subject to capital gains tax.

When you make a donation with your Coinbase account, you will receive an email receipt of the transaction.

Donors should consult with a tax advisor for properly recording this donation on personal tax return.

How do donors use bitcoin?

Getting started: Bitcoin payment is different from other payment forms in that donors must send funds to a specific order address. Donors who wish to give to Friends of the GardenAerial via bitcoin must first obtain the specific order address by visiting our site.

Donating: Once the donor proceeds with the contribution, he/she will be presented with a bitcoin address and a 10-minute payment window. Donors then use their bitcoin wallet to send funds to the address within the given time window. Donors can also log into their Coinbase account to complete payment.

Finalizing the transaction: Donors will receive a confirmation email once the recipient is in receipt of the payment (within the allotted time.

How can I buy Bitcoin?

Visit for information on how to buy, sell, and make purchases/donations with a Bitcoin wallet.

Where can I learn more about Bitcoin?

For more information on Bitcoin, you can review this frequently asked questions document at

Friends of the GardenAerial Now Accepts Bitcoin Donations

As part of our 2015 Annual Fundraising Campaign, Friends of the GardenAerial has become the first not-for-profit organization in the region to accept Bitcoin donations.

Working with Coinbase as our preferred Bitcoin payment processor, Friends of the GardenAerial can now accept donations directly from the digital wallet of donors via computers, tablets or smartphones. Coinbase also allows the organization to instantly convert the digital currency to dollars. For donors, using Bitcoin ensures that 100 percent of every donation goes directly to Friends of the GardenAerial programs and projects, as Coinbase has waived all transaction fees for registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations accepting Bitcoin through its merchant tools.

Questions about Bitcoin? Check out our FAQs Page.

Our goal is to make it as simple and inclusive as possible for donors to support our work. We look at Bitcoin as an innovative new kind of currency and believe that accepting it will diversify our reach and engage different audiences into the mix of people who help fund our organization. We are excited to be part of a growing movement in the non-profit sector accepting Bitcoin donations. Among the best-known global organizations accepting the currency are United Way International and Greenpeace.

We at Friends of the GardenAerial have a history of seeking new technologies and innovative strategies to both increase donor engagement and reach new audiences. If there’s an opportunity to implement these strategies and increase fundraising potential, we are going to try to do that.

Donate Bitcoins


“Aerial” Photo Shoot

“Aerial” Photo Shoot

Tomorrow, we will have our official photographer, Walter Colley, headed up in helicopter to pass over the gorge at High Falls to snap some fantastic pictures of the entire area. We would like to extend an invitation to any and all people to come take a break and be on the Pont de Rennes Bridge at 11:15am to be involved with the fly-over shoot.

If you’re in the area and want to be a part of a great photo-op, please feel free to come check out our first truly “Aerial” adventure!

ROC Transit Day!

ROC Transit Day!

ROC Transit Day is Thursday, June 19


If you’ve ever thought about trying public transportation, ROC Transit Day is for you. Take the leap with thousands of other Rochesterians as we go car­free in support of a greener, healthier community. Organized by Reconnect Rochester, the campaign challenges Rochesterians to leave their cars at home and use public transit for the entire day. But in addition to riding the bus, ROC Transit Day promises a bevy of fun activities.


For one thing, you’ll be able to use your RTS fare card to redeem exclusive deals at participating shops and restaurants around town. Volunteers will also be giving away free prizes on random bus routes all day. Rochester’s lovable soccer mascot, Rex the Rhino will lead families on bus tours to Sahlen’s Stadium. And new this year, a city­wide treasure hunt will send teams on a wild series of bus rides in an effort to claim a hefty cash prize. There’s just one catch… no cars allowed. To claim this jackpot you’ll need to use the bus system, walk or bike.


The day will come to a close with a HUGE swing dance event on the steps of the Rundel Memorial Library building between 4:30­6:30pm. Bring your friends & family and witness 40+ energetic Groove Juice Swing dancers as they twist, twirl, flip, and triple­step to the classic sounds of Smugtown Stompers on the sidewalks around the Rundel Memorial Building. The Friends & Foundation of Rochester Public Library will host a used book sale and games for the kids, and Le Petit Poutine and Stingray Sushi food trucks will be there too! For complete event details and to find out how your organization can get free ROC Transit Day fare cards, visit

Lisa Roy Baron – Call to Action

As the newly appointed Chair of the Board of the Friends of the GardenAerial, I am looking forward to being part of the transformation of the High Falls District. Early settlers were attracted to High Falls because of its power. The power was harnessed to launch Rochester into the industrial age and today we can use its power to launch an urban renaissance.

Our greatest challenge is building the relationships and collaborations that are essential to the success of the GardenAerial project. Creating a public green space that will encompass the perimeter of the Genesee River Gorge and potentially create access to the river is no easy task. It is a group effort.

In the late 19th century, business leaders, philanthropists, humanitarians and public officials began to champion the need for extensive public space. They hired Fredrick Law Olmsted to create a park system and his first recommendation to the Park Commission was to focus on acquiring and developing generous public parks along the Genesee River, the city’s greatest natural resource.

We believe that the GardenAerial project is a logical extension to Olmstead’s vision for a green corridor along the Genesee River. As a community we can do this. We have the talent and resources to get the job done.

Become a member of the GardenAerial

and be part of a movement toward a sustainable resilient Rochester.

Green Visions Update

Green Visions Update

We have now planted our initial seedling group of over 9,000 plants and they are happily growing away at the Garden Factory, our greenhouse partner for the Green Visions project. We will add several thousand more seeds which will be planted directly in the ground during the spring planting.

In addition, we have met with the Harley School and Enrico Fermi School (School #17) and are beginning to identify collaborative opportunities for students at each of these institutions. There are exciting things ahead for Green Visions so stay tuned, follow us on Facebook and sign up to receive our newsletter.

One of these days, Spring will actually arrive. We are all chomping at the bit to get out into our gardens, dig in the earth and get our hands dirty!

FlourGarden Breaks Ground!

FlourGarden Breaks Ground!

groundgreakingWe are so proud to announce that FlourGarden has broken ground! Today, almost 100 people braved the cold first day of Spring to attend the ceremony at 81 Browns Race. We even welcomed a class from the Enrico Fermi School #17. Thank you Dr. Spezio and third graders and their wonderful teacher for introducing a new generation to High Falls!

The very first phase of the larger GardenAerial project is now underway. It took a lot of man (and woman) hours to finally get to this point. Really, it did take a village – dedicated and passionate staff and volunteers; donors and sponsors who believe in the vision of GardenAerial; support from State and Local government entities; and a dedicated Board of Directors who lead the way.

There were many challenges along the way, to be sure, but slowly, surely, the ideas and the efforts expended by a dedicated group of people and organizations are beginning to take hold. We are moving towards a re-invented city and we are proud to be among the people making that change.

Democrat and Chronicle Article
Time Warner Cable Video
WROC Channel 8