All About the Rochester Gentrification Conference 2018

Dear Community,

What started out as a second edition of our very successful workshop: Let’s Talk About Gentrification Conversation in A Community Room; has evolved into a brand new half day conference coined The Rochester Gentrification Conference | Saturday March 24 at 441 Parsells Ave.

This is the first year of a planned annual conference that will bring the community together with a bevvy of community activists, organizers, and neighbors that are invested in ensuring that Rochester is accessible to all. Conversations and an expert panel discussion will be centered around fair and equal housing access, home ownership, real estate development, mental health, ending homelessness, decreasing poverty, and more.

I am super excited for this conference and I cannot continue without giving a huge shout out and thank you to Shane Wiegand of City Roots Community Land Trust. Shane was an attendee of our initial workshop and approached me after to discuss a larger collaboration. This collaboration has grown into a budding friendship and co-planning of this year’s conference.

About Shane Wiegand

Shane Wiegand is a fourth grade teacher in the Rush Henrietta Central School District. He attended SUNY Geneseo and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Childhood and Special Education and a Master’s degree in Childhood Multicultural Education. Shane and is wife Jennie live in the Beechwood Neighborhood. Shane serves as treasurer on the board of the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition, sits on the Connected Communities Housing Committee, and is the outreach chair of the City Roots Community Land Trust.

Shane has been a wonderful co-planner of  this year’s conference and I thank him immensely for being so easygoing, professional, and flexible to work with.

Sold Out

I am pleased to announce that this year’s conference is SOLD OUT! We asked the community to RSVP in advance as seating at 441 Parsells is extremely limited. Due to fire safety we unfortunately cannot accommodate walkins. If you have registered and are unable to attend we ask that you connect us ASAP

What is the Rochester Gentrification Conference?

The RGC is a half day community invited conference that has a goal to facilitate positive conversation and action around making Rochester accessible to all persons. The conference is free with a suggested donation of $5-10. Proceeds will support 540WMain & 441 Ministries. Learn more about 44 Ministries here.

This year’s theme will revolve around the essential question:

How do we promote inner city development without the displacement of our most vulnerable community neighbors?

The conference will be facilitated by Founder Calvin Eaton and through a series of mini presentations, QA sessions, and small group break out sessions; participants will be encouraged to unpack, expand their thinking, expand stereotypes and share ideas on how to promote the essential theme. The conference will end will a panel discussion of community leaders vested in making Rochester accessible for all citizens.

Will Food Be Provided?

We will have light refreshments and beverages provided courtesy Wegmans and The Gluten Free Chef. We ask that community members bring their own snacks, lunch and beverages. We also suggest patronizing New City Cafe which is next door to the conference venue.

How to Prepare

For those registered to attend the conference we recommend you bring:

  • an open mind
  • notebook/pen
  • business cards
  • suggested donation
  • *lunch and/snacks & water

Recommended Readings

We recommend that you reading the following resources prior to attending the conference.

  1. Compassionate Gentrification:…/compassionate-gentrification
  2. Rent strike: Living with rats and raw sewage, Thurston Road tenants demand apartment fixes:
  3. Thurston Road landlord’s companies have hundreds of code violations, as tenants start rent strike:
  4. Rochester tenants seek housing court to iron out apartment issues:


The 441 Parsells Ave location is accessible to all. We will have ASL interpreting free of charge at the conference.

About the Panelists

We are excited to have a roster of amazing panel speakers for this year’s conference. These panelists are community leaders, entrepreneurs and activists vested in carrying out the essential theme for this year’s conference. They include:

  • Diane Brunson
  • Paul Whitehouse
  • Jo Difiore
  • George Moses
  • Ray Ray Mitrano
  • Michael Patterson
  • Ryan Acuff

Calvin Eaton | Conference Facilitator & Co-Organizer

The Gluten Free Chef Calvin Eaton is an educator, chef, and writer who launched the website, the Gluten Free Chef Blog, in 2012 after years of living with the effects of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and celiac disease – conditions that are exacerbated by the presence of wheat, gluten, and dairy products in foods.

Mr. Eaton continues to raise awareness for holistic living, wellness, and education by curating a variety of workshops, classes, and networking events,  by Founding the mission based learning academy 540WMain in June 2016.(

Shane Wiegand | Co-Organizer

Diana Brunson | Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA)

Mrs. Diana Brunson known as “Lady Di” to members of Higher Heights Fellowship where her husband Bishop Julius V. Brunson is senior pastor is a Leading Lady in the Rochester community. She is gifted in many areas such as Organization Management,Administration, and Counseling.  She has completed Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and her Master of Science in Strategic Leadership at Roberts Wesleyan College.

She has more recently gained a NYS Mortgage Originators License and is working with The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) to assist low and mid income households to experience their dream of homeownership. She believes one of the purposes for which she was born
is to encourage, empower, and elevate people to their God-given destiny.

Paul Whitehouse

Since becoming the Executive Director of 441 Ministries in January 2016, Paul and his wife Lorraine have continued to embrace the 3Rs of Christian Community Development of Dr. John Perkins. They “relocated” to Garson Ave. in February 2017, and continue to work toward the remaining 2Rs of “reconciliation” vertically and horizontally between their neighbors, God and each other. They are committed to “redistribution” by seeing the entire neighborhood flourish; relationally, emotionally, and economically.
Jo Difiore | City Roots Community Land Trust

Joe is the Secretary of the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition as well as the President of City Roots Community Landtrust

George Moses | Northeast Area Development (NEAD)

George serves as the Executive Director of Northeast Area Development (NEAD) and the Executive Secretary for Connected Communities.

Ray Ray Mitrano | People for Parcel 5

Ray Ray Mitrano loves to participate in community events, performances, workshops, and group exhibitions. Interactive storytelling is a major part of what he does, whether it involves drawing, animation, education, performing, videography, or multi-media installation. His experimental work embraces collaborative improvisation within conceptual frameworks.

Michael Patterson | Rochester City Council

Michael Patterson was appointed to the Council to represent the Northeast District on December 17, 2013 to fill the vacancy created by Mayor Warren’s resignation from the North East Council seat. Councilmember Patterson serves the Council as a member of the Neighborhood and Business Development Committee, the Parks and Public Works Committee and the Employment and Economic Development Ad-Hoc Committee.

Ryan Acuff | Take Back the Land

Ryan Acuff is the Executive Director of Take Back the Land Rochester a Local Action Group of the Take Back the Land Movement which is trans-local network that spans across the country, from Miami to Portland.  The following are Take Back the Land’s principles and objectives.

Our Very Special Sponsors

We are extremely grateful for our sponsors for providing space (441 Ministries)(New City Cafe), food and beverage (Wegmans), City Roots Community Land Trust (Logistics/Organizing) and more. I would not be able to do the work that I do with 540WMain without the amazing support and collaboration with community partners.

441 Ministries

441 Ministries Beechwood is a Christian non-profit organization, which partners with local churches and other like-minded organizations to bring hope, healing, and holistic development through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Beechwood neighborhood of Rochester, NY.



Contact Us


Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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