Where Do I Park When Visiting 540WMain? | Updated

Where Do I Park When Visiting 540?

The #1 question we get is where to park at 540.  Rest assured we’ve got you covered!


When visiting before 5 PM:

Patrons visiting 540WMain between the hours of 9AM-5PM should use on street parking on West Main and Madison Street until further notice.

When visiting  5 PM and later:

We have our very own parking lot on the side of our building, with a beautiful mural on the wall painted by Wall Therapy & Her Voice Carries.  When you see the mural, you’ll know you’ve arrived at the right place!

There is also ample parking on the side of West Main Street directly in front of our building, as well as on King Street.

Directions to The 540WMain Parking Lot
  • “Coming from West Main Street, drive down King Street to Yak Alley,
  • Make a left on Yak Alley and then another left turn down Spies Alley”
  • Drive straight down Spies Alley until the alley way ends, and then turn right into the parking lot.
  • The west portion of the lot faces West Main Street, and you will see the mural as you continue to pull in.

540, Inc Partners with ROC Real Capital to Manage & Rebrand the Former Frederick Douglass Resource Center

We are pleased to officially announce our partnership with ROC Real Capital to manage and rebrand the Douglass Auditorium at 36 King St

Dear Community,

I’ve am so excited to finally share what is most likely one of our worst kept secrets ever. 540, Inc has partnered with real estate developer Matthew Druin owner of ROC Real Capital, LLC to manage the re-branded Douglass Auditorium at 36 King Street. Through this partnership Calvin Eaton will serve as the Director of the Douglass Auditorium and handle the day to day event management and booking of the theatre and art gallery space along with the 540, Inc team. The benefits of this partnership are two fold. 540WMain will have access to a larger space to hold lecture style courses and presentations. The community now has a  low cost, inclusive and accessible theatre space that is now available for rent by groups and organizations committed to the arts and social justice. The fact that the theatre lives right around the corner from 540WMain Communiversity is simply the icing on the cake. Matt Druin and I feel that this partnership will honor the original intent of the building and enrich the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood by bringing more arts and culture to the district.

What’s Next

The community should stay tuned for the launch of a dedicated website, Facebook page, and logo for the Douglass Auditorium. The website will be the main source of information for the space and be the portal for community members to see the master calendar and book the theatre for plays, lectures, and other events that are curated for a theatre environment.

Open House
We will have a First Friday Community Open House & Special Art Exhibit on Friday April 5th | 6pm-10pm

About the Douglass Auditorium

The Douglass Auditorium at 36 King Street (formerly Frederick Douglass Resource Center) is 80 person auditorium/theatre and event space operated by 540, Inc. Housed within the building are the headquarters of the pharmacy tech startup PharmAdva, LLC as well as office spaces that are open to be leased.
The mission of Douglass Auditorium to provide a low cost, inclusive and accessible theatre space to groups and organizations committed to the arts, culture and social justice.

About ROC Real Capital

Matthew Drouin, Owner is a full time real estate investor and REALTOR with 12 years of acquisition, disposition, development and management experience in Rochester, NY. Matt seeks to help others grow in their real estate investing career as well as serve communities with the best real estate service available. Learn more: www.rocrealcapital.weebly.com

What Happened to the Frederick Douglass Resource Center

The Frederick Douglass Resource Center opened in 2009 and was a not-for-profit, cultural organization and community center committed to articulating the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass and sharing African American heritage and culture. The Center was suppose to offer cultural tours, invigorating programs, dramatic interpretations, and historical reenactments to bring to life African American history and social movements for positive change. The facility originally  included the  auditorium with a seating capacity of 80, exhibit space, a computer lab, and a reference library. The building was constructed on the site of what was once the West Side School for Boys with public and private funding including grants from Wegmans, The City of Rochester and more.

About $1 million in funding went into establishing the Frederick Douglass Resource Center, but the building and the intentions never quit took off. Errol Hunt, who was the property owner and former pastor of Rochester’s African Methodist Zion Church said in a statement in 2018 : “We have not found the funds to keep it open, maintain some type of a staff and therefore you have ceased operations.  However the center was vacant for most of it’s tenure and never materialized into the community and cultural institution for what it was built. Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Duffy was the mayor when the Douglass Resource Center opened. He says it was supposed to house artifacts of the abolitionists but for reasons that are unclear, the resource center sat vacant for most of it’s tenure until it was sold in late 2018.



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Photo credits: Michele Ashlee


How big is the auditorium/theatre?
The Douglass Auditorium seats approximately 80 people.
Is the building and theatre accessible?
The building is accessible as well as the theatre and bathrooms. All spaces open to the community are accessible?
How much does it cost to book the theatre for events? 
  • The basic rental fee for the auditorium is $350 per event/use.
  • The art gallery space is available for $55 per hour ( and can only host photoshoots)
Why types of events are best suited for the theatre?
The only space available for event rental is the 80 seat theatre. The theatre is best suited for lectures, presentations, small plays, screenings, and panel discussions. The art gallery is available for photoshoots only.
When is the auditorium open for a walk through? 
The auditorium is available for walk through by appointment. Beginning Friday April 5th the theatre and art gallery will be open the first Friday of every month.
What are the general amenities of the auditorium? 
  • public wifi
  • seating for 80
  • accessible facility and theatre seating
  • projection and A/V
How can I reserve the Douglass Auditorium?
Individuals looking to rent Douglass Auditorium should contact Calvin Eaton, Executive Director of 540WMain at info540westmain@gmail.com // 5850-420-8439 or submit the webform below:


  1. Million dollar Douglass center sits vacant | Spectrum News 
  2. Susan B. Anthony Walking Tour
  3. Roc Parent 

Kappell Incident a Wake-up Call for All of Us | Guest Blog by Rebecca Johnson

Kappell Incident a Wake-up Call for All of Us | Guest Blog by Rebecca Johnson

The turmoil surrounding weathercaster Jeremy Kappell’s statements on WHEC-TV last week raises significantly bigger issues about our city than just the nature of one individual’s brief verbalization. I’ve been listening to and reading about the opinions of white people and of people of color. According to comments I’ve read, the preponderance of white folks seem to think that Kappell did not intentionally say the word “coon”. Some do acknowledge the possibility that Kappell may be racist and that he may have accidentally let private sentiments show, as in a Freudian slip. But most whites have trouble believing that Kappell – whether “racist” or not – would think it professionally safe to utter such a word on TV in Rochester.

Many African-American commenters think Kappell did utter the word intentionally. In other words, their experiences in Rochester are so permeated by racism that they think Kappell would think it is OK here in Monroe County to say this on TV. People may never agree on whether Kappell said the word intentionally. But I’d like to hope we can agree on what is glaringly obvious: Most white folks have no idea how painful and frightening it is for African-American commenters to live with the racism they experience every day in Rochester. (And their pain, fear, and justified anger are compounded by the deep and horrible history of racism in the US).

If the experiences of reasonable, well-intended African-Americans in Rochester make them think that a well-known white weather reporter can get away with saying “Martin Luther Coon King” here in Rochester – and if the experiences of reasonable, well-intended white Rochesterians lead them to think intentionally saying in this would be career suicide here – then ALL Rochesterians urgently need to pay attention.

The many ugly racist remarks that have been made about this incident provide unarguable proof that racism is indeed alive, pervasive, and very dangerous in Rochester. Our community needs to address:

  1. The deep divide between the perceptions of racism by people of color and by white folks, because of our lack of contact with each others’ very different experiences, and
  2. The serious threat that racism presents to the well-being and very lives of Rochester’s people of color.

But it’s not just people of color. Racism severely threatens the future of all of us. It is urgent for the future of our entire community that we see this for what it is and change it. Please watch for upcoming opportunities to discuss this and other experiences of race in Rochester. We must learn the truth about each others’ lives – and then we must take action.

Additional Reading

  1. What did that meteorologist say that got him fired? Listen to Jeremy KappellDemocrat & Chronicle

  2. New York meteorologist fired after using racial slur on air : CNN

  3. ‘OMG I Didn’t Mean It Like That!’: Intent vs. Impact, Which Matters? : Only Black Girl

  4. What Does White Supremacy Look Like : 540WMain

About Rebecca

Rebecca Johnson is a Rochester resident and community leader.


Top 10 Most Viewed 540Blog Posts of 2018

The best thing about 540, Inc for me is not only our dedication to people centered spaces but our digital content. 540’s diverse array of digital content is what truly makes our organization special. From twitter, to Facebook to instagram, and 540Blog learning is the foundation of all we do and at the core is powerful thought provoking content.  This best of list includes The Top 10 Most Viewed 540 Blog Posts of 2018.

Top 10 Most Viewed 540Blog Posts of 2018

10. Speaking Out Is Scary | In 2019 Do It Anyway 

by Calvin Eaton | (84 views)

9. Why Black Male Representation Matters In Education

by Calvin Eaton | (89 views)

8. A Child Who Lived with Autism: Why Person First Language Matters

by Calvin Eaton | (93 views)

5. Spotting Our Own White Privilege 

by Erin Egloff | 230 views

4. I’m White and I Screw Up a Lot 

by Erin Egloff | 267 views


2. An Open Letter to St. John Fisher President Gerard J. Rooney

by Calvin Eaton | (1,717 views)

1. An Open Letter to Arena’s Inc. 

by Calvin Eaton | (4,401 views)


An Open Letter to Arena’s Inc. | by Calvin Eaton

An Open Letter,

Dear Arena’s Inc.

It was with great joy that I made a casual visit to your East End location this past Friday. With vacation time on my side I could finally cross your prolific gift shop and floral boutique off my grew up in Rochester but never visited list. Initially this visit was pleasant and business as usual from a local neighborhood establishment. A friendly greeting from the front desk clerk, my eyes wide and in awe after circling the lower level and gazing at all the gifts, trinkets, and plants in abundance; thinking who would be the best recipient of a well thought out gift from a local staple. It wasn’t until I attempted to venture upstairs that my visit ultimately led to this letter.

Before I could set foot on the top step, I was hastily stopped by a gentleman that approached me from behind friendly yet firmly telling me that before I could wander the second floor, I would have to remove my shoulder bag and set it behind the front counter. I initially gave pause to the request but in place of “making a scene” or seeming difficult quickly agreed to the request with a smile. Had it not been for the sole other patron in the shop, I more than likely would not have given this interaction a second thought. You see this middle aged white woman had also wandered from the first to second floor with not one but two bags on her shoulders. She apparently hadn’t been sequestered to remove her everyday luggage and was allowed to shop uninterrupted and without the same scrutiny as I, a black young black man had received. This scenario on the surface seems rather trivial. What is the big deal you may ask? But after reflecting on the situation and facts from my vantage point for the rest of my visit and into the rest of my day; several issues and unanswered questions remain.

Was I racially profiled? Is the most pressing question that I was left with after exiting your store. This burden in itself is tough enough as a man of color but even more disconcerting facing it after leaving an establishment that is literally down the street and around the corner from where I live, work, and walk daily.

The second question is: Why wasn’t the female customer also asked to remove her bag before she was allowed to the second floor? Did your two staff members miss her by mistake? How could this be since the two of us were the only customers in the store at the time?

Additionally, if this is standard practice and policy why is there no posted signage informing customers about the no bag policy? Why was I treated differently in that moment from another customer?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. Only theories based on anecdotal evidence. However this incident and these thoughts are daily burdens that black and brown residents have the burden of facing as we navigate Rochester spaces and increasingly; East End establishments that are quite literally gentrifying right before our eyes.

I write this letter not to accuse but to take a stand for myself and many others who have encountered similar treatment in Arena’s and other places in Rochester but chose to remain silent. This and many other microaggressions are one of many that happen daily that for the sake of being politically correct, for the sake of niceness, for the sake of turning the other cheek we are culturally forced to give establishments like yours the benefit of the doubt. Our silence leads to unanswered questions, broken egos, and hurt feelings. We vent to our friends. We vent on social media. We vow never to return again. But this silence fosters nothing but more complicity, more status quo, and more allowances for racism to fester and divide our City.

I write this letter openly to share my one experience. To be transparent and let others know that it is ok to speak up. To let you know that my voice matters. My feelings matter and that as a customer and more importantly as a human, I deserve to be treated the same as everyone else. I do not deserve to be treated differently, or thought of differently, because of the color of my skin.

This letter is a letter to foster positive yet difficult conversation on how we as a community both in the East End and at large are treating each other through our daily interactions and in the policies we create and promote in our places of business. I hope that your staff and owners join me in this conversation.



Calvin Eaton

Founder & Executive Director

540WMain Communiversity


An Open Letter to St. John Fisher President Gerard J. Rooney

An Open Letter,

Dear President Rooney,

My name is Calvin Eaton and I am an antiracism educator, activist and founder of 540WMain Communiveristy (www.540westmain.org). I can say that like many in the Rochester community; I am appalled and angry at the public vandalism and desecration of the Douglass Statue by St. John Fisher students Charles Milks and John Boedicker.
As an university leader I am confident that you do not need me remind you of the legacy of Frederick Douglass in Rochester as well and the 200th anniversary celebration of his birth and legacy that these statues represent for our City. The fact that white students affiliated with St. John Fisher College would have the audacity to tarnish this celebration and legacy in such an abhorrent way is not only devastating but speaks to the need for more education, training, and awareness in the local college community and Rochester at large.
Even though these students and their actions are independent of the values espoused by St. John Fisher College we as a community hold you equally accountable for how your students interact with our community. This incident cannot be swept under the rug.
It is our hope that you plan to publicly speak on this incident, are transparent as to how these students actions will be addressed and will work with our community in making sure that an incident like this does not happen again. Civil Rights leaders fought for centuries to ensure that incidents like this are a thing of the past; yet here we are repeating history with white men that should know and be doing better.
Additionally, I am open to connecting you with partner organizations working to dismantle systemic racism in our community and beyond. As a University leader it is incumbent upon you to lead by example to ensure that all members of the St. John Fisher Community understand that this level of hatred and racism will not be tolerated.
We look forward to your reply and are watching closely.
With Love,
Calvin Eaton



**Announcement** 540 at The Yards Hiring Part-time Class Coordinator

We are pleased to announce that 540, Inc is seeking to fill the position of Part-Class Coordinator for our brand new satellite 540 at The Yards

About the Position

The Part-time Class Coordinator position is integral to the success of 540 at The Yards. A qualified candidate:

  • Will begin in February 2019
  • Must be able to work at the Rochester Public Market
  • Roughly 7-10 hours per week // on Sundays between 8am-3pm
  • 17+ (with valid work permit)
  • Must be able to submit atleast three professional references
  • Qualified candidates will have strong customer service skills, a dynamic personality, willing to work with strangers
  • Skills in food service, front desk, barista, are beneficial but not required

Ways to Apply

  1. Submit the form below
  2. Submit a cover letter and resume to info540westmain@gmail.com
  3. Call 585-420-8439

Download a PDF copy of job announcement  FLYER   

Download a PDF copy of Class Coordinator Job Description 


Now Hiring | Freelance Maker Community Educators | 540 at The Yards

Are you an artist and/or maker interested in community teaching?
540 at The Yards is seeking maker centric freelance educators for Sunday afternoons (1pm-3pm) in February and March 2019 to teach maker themed classes for children and adults.
Submit proposal to info540westmain@gmail.com or by using the form below:

^^ classes must range $15-$30 or less


540, Inc. Announces 1st Satellite Location | 540 at The Yards Beginning February 2019

We are pleased to announce 540, Inc.’s very first satellite location

540 at The Yards

540 at The Yards Announcement! from 540WMain Communiversity on Vimeo.

Watch the video above to learn more about this exciting partnership between 540, Inc. and The Yards. Learn more below and stay tuned for more details over the upcoming weeks.

Save the Date

540 at the Yards Launch Party | Sunday February 3, 2019 | 4pm-6pm

About 540 at The Yards

540 at The Yards is a satellite location of 540, Inc. focusing on low cost single session classes based in the arts and wellness.

Where is 540 at The Yards?

540 at The Yards is located within The Yards Collective. The mailing address is 50-52 Rochester Public Market Rochester, NY 14609

What is The Yards Collective?

The Yards Collective was created in 2011 as a collaborative art space founded by strong female identifying makers looking to offer a supportive artistic and inclusive space. The Yards Collective now operates under a dedicated director and hosts over a dozen permanent studio spaces along side a communal work space, gallery area, and wood-shop that are all available for rental. Learn more about The Yards Collective at their website: www.theyardsrochester.com

What happens at 540 at The Yards?

As a larger satellite classroom, 540 at The Yards hosts 540WMain Communiversity’s low cost single session classes every Sunday. These classes range from Hip Hop Cardio and All Abilities Yoga to Intro to Watercolor Painting and DIY Kombucha Making and more. In addition to classes, 540 at The Yards is a location of the gluten free chef’s Vegan/GF Pop Up Bakery which runs during the normal 540 at The Yards hours of operation.

What are the hours of operation?

540 at The Yards hosts classes every Sunday from 8:30-3:00PM

Is 540 at The Yards disability accessible?

At this time 540 at The Yards location is not accessible to community members with mobility needs or who utilize a wheelchair.

Why does 540WMain Communiversity need a satellite location? 

540WMain’s growth over the last two years facilitated the need for larger space than that exists at the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood location. This need espoused the original vision of 540WMain’s Founder to collaborate with other creatives, visionaries, and leaders and expand 540WMain into a brand (540, Inc.) that has satellite locations in underserved neighborhoods in Rochester and beyond. 540 at The Yards is the first site of this envisoned expansion. 

Will 540WMain still have classes?

Yes. 540WMain will still offer weekly classes, events, and programming rooted in:

  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Workforce Development
  • Historic Preservation

How can I apply to teach a class at 540WMain and/or 540 at The Yards?

Apply below using the form below


540WMain Receives Awesome Microgrant for Courtyard Teaching Garden

We are pleased to share that the Courtyard Teaching and Nutrition Garden has received a micro-grant from Awesome Foundation Rochester


The courtyard garden project started in 2016 and since then we have been slowly working on it’s completion in a very grassroots way. Co-designed with Jeff Frisch and Rawson Duckett the Courtyard Teaching and Nutrition Garden will serve as an auxiliary classroom for 540WMain as well as house our garden teaching and nutrition program. The $1000 micro-grant received from Awesome Foundation Rochester will move us one step closer to completing the project.

Join us in person for the official photo and check unveiling Wednesday October 31st at 11:30 AM at 540WMain 

Press Release

Brick-building takes on a new meaning for Calvin Eaton of 540WMain Communiversity, the second recipient of the Awesome Foundation Rochester’s $1000 micro-grant award. Funded to support Calvin’s work to complete the masonry for a courtyard teaching area, the space will set the foundation for an outdoor garden and education space.“We are so excited to finish this project and work with our community to create a
courtyard teaching garden,” said Calvin Eaton, Executive Director of 540WMain. “We can’t wait to start offering classes on growing your own food and learning more about nutrition. It is something that our Susan B. Anthony neighborhood is eager to enjoy.”

“We are delighted to fund Calvin’s awesome project that supports the health and vitality of the community,” said Jill Freeman, Dean of the Rochester chapter of the Awesome Foundation. “Calvin’s courtyard teaching and nutrition project was chosen because the trustees agreed that reducing food insecurity and promoting nutrition through gardening and other classes is pretty awesome.”

Created to ‘forward the interest of awesome in the universe $1000 at a time’, the Awesome Foundation Rochester is part of a global community of individuals who seek to spread awesome in their communities by personally funding awesome projects. Launched in 2009 by a
small group of Bostonian’s eager to spread joy in their hometown, the Awesome Foundation has grown to 89 chapters around the world that give $1000 grants to individuals in their communities, with no strings attached. This loose confederation shares ideas and best practices, but each chapter is autonomous, with money pooled from the coffers of ten trustees and distributed to winners via cash or check. There is no tax-deduction, no 501c3 status, and all funds are managed by individuals in the community willing to donate their money to support great local projects, quickly and easily, with as little paperwork and process as possible.

The Awesome Foundation Rochester will provide $1000 micro-grants every other month, and the next awardee will be chosen on December 18th. Anyone interested in submitting a creative, intriguing and awesome idea can fill out the simple online questionnaire at
https://www.awesomefoundation.org/en/chapters/rochester (the deadline for the December award is December 10th, 2018). Ms. Freeman launched the Awesome Foundation with co-deans Dan Schneiderman, co- chair of the Maker Faire Rochester, and Kelly Cheatle, Artistic Director of Airigami.

As Ms. Cheatle explained, “Too often an awesome idea gets stuck in the ‘idea’ stage simply due to lack of funding. We’re really excited about how accessible these grants are and we’re looking forward to unlocking more creative projects and other sparks of joy here in Rochester.”
Individuals with quirky, smile-inducing, curiosity-enabling, joy-making projects are strongly encouraged to apply. Awesome projects can be related to technology, art, science,community development, and more, and are only limited by the applicant’s imagination and

For more information and examples of other funded Awesome Foundation project around the world, go to https://www.awesomefoundation.org en and get inspired


Introducing 540WMain’s Tried & True Classes

Since 2016 540WMain Learning Academy has offered over 100 low cost classes and events for the Susan B. Anthony Preservation District and the Rochester community. During this time we have had hits and misses, trialed and erred and understand what classes work well in our communiversity™ at this time and which classes we might revisit later.

Below is a list of our Tried and True classes. These classes are offered most regularly in our community classroom and (for a fee) can be brought to your office, organization, classroom, or community space

**ASL interpreting can be arranged for all classes at an additional cost

Submit the webform below if you are interested in booking a private class at 540WMain or your organization:

American Sign Language for Beginners I & II | Instructor: Sarah Vitberg

Focuses on the basics of American Sign Language through fun interaction and socialization.
Students leave with a new appreciation for the language as well as resources to help them continue to grow as a beginner signer. This class is geared towards those 18 and older. (2hrs)
Black History Didn’t Start w/ Slavery: History We Never Learned | Instructor: Calvin Eaton
A candid and engaging workshop about the America history we never learned. (2hours)
Herbal Medicine Making | Instructor: Samantha Lynn
Samantha Lynn Owner/Operator of Wholistic Herbals discusses different ways to extract herbs and their constituents for health! Students learn how to make simple tinctures, teas, decoctions, and oil infusions. (2hrs)
Hip Hop Cardio | Instructor: Marcus Bowens
Students dance to hip-hop beats while burning crazy amounts of calories in the process. This class is perfect for all levels and those ages 12 and up. (1hour)
History of Veganism In Black Cultures | Instructor: Calvin Eaton
This workshop explores and deconstructs the history of vegan culture across black cultures throughout history in American and around the world and how the themes of blackness and veganism have intersected throughout the ages. (2hrs)
How to Be A Social Butterfly | Instructor: Calvin Eaton
Intro to Intersectional Feminism | Instructor: Mercedes Phelan
Explores the concept of feminism in the United States, the movement and its intersection with race, gender, class, and ethnicity. The history of the feminism movement and its exclusion and inclusion of non-white and non-cisgender women will be unpacked. Students are tasked with exploring their own personal biases and individual actions they can take to be more inclusionary in their feminist interactions. (2hrs)
Introduction to a Minimalist Lifestyle | Instructor: Amy Cavalier
Teaches the basic tenants of the concept of minimalism and how to move towards living a minimalist lifestyle one step at a time. Students explore tips on how to get to the bottom of all that clutter and find a way to re-purpose or ensure it will find reuse, rather than disposing of it in a landfill. This class combines classroom style presentation, audience sharing, and interactive learning. Students leave armed with the basics of beginning a personal minimalist journey. (1.5hrs)
Intro to Sugar Cookie Decorating | Instructor: Theresa Sloan
Students walk you through four simple and fun decorating techniques for their sugar cookie decorating needs. Students will learn about royal icing techniques and leave with a top notch sugar cookie recipe and infographic. Perfect for friends, partners, and parent/child pairs. (2hrs)
Infusing Honey for Health | Instructor: Samantha Lynn
Samantha Lynn Owner/Operator of Wholistic Herbals discusses different ways to extract herbs and into honey for medicinal use. (2hrs)
Introduction to African Drum Playing | Instructor: Joe Starling
Focuses on the identification and techniques used to play various traditional African drums and is taught by drummer Joseph Starling. (1hr)
Mental Health Disparities in Black Community
According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.
Why is this the case?
What are some of the most common mental health disorders among African Americans?
What other mental health disparities exist in the black community and what can we do to change the statistics?
How can we begin to heal and erase the stigma associated with mental health in the black community?
This class explores the concepts listed above. (1.5hrs)
Spiritual Defense for People of Color | Instructor: Iya Brenda
Teaches how to incorporate simple spiritual practices that can help relieve stress, anxiety, and increase overall well-being, and provide spiritual protection.(2hrs)

Yoga Beats & Soul™Yoga Beats and Soul™ is a hybrid yoga and movement class designed to tone the body and ease the spirit. The class consists of basic asana posture, repetitive percussive movements, and some integrative flow to balance the demands of the asanas and recenter mental focus. YBS is beginner friendly and great for individuals that enjoy light cardio and free movement. (1hr)

Professional Classes

Intro to Writing for Black Women & Girls | Instructor: CaTyra Polland
Designed to teach women & girl writers of color how to start a career in writing and/or progressing to the publishing stage. (1hr)
Intro to Grant Writing | Instructor: Calvin Eaton
This presentation styled class teaches working professionals and business leaders the basics of writing grants that will get funded. Students learn about writing a solid needs statement, funding sources and the basics to writing grants that will be funded. This is a intro theory/information styled class **no actual grant writing will take place.(1.5hrs)

Intro to Resume Writing | Instructor: Calvin Eaton

This presentation styled class teaches working professionals the basics (do’s and dont’s) of writing successful resumes. This is a intro theory/information styled class **no actual resume writing will take place. (1.5hrs)


540WMain Seeks (High School) Baking Apprentice

Dear Community,

I am pleased to announce that 540WMain is officially hiring for a brand new internship position

Baking (Highschool) Apprentice Intern

About the Baking Apprentice

Under the direction and supervision of the Executive Director/ Gluten Free Chef (ED) the Baking Apprentice will learn and be able to understand the process of gluten free and vegan baking as it intersects with events and programs at 540WMain. The apprentice will assist in baking and baking production for in house events, pop up events, and community outreach events where baked goods are featured.

About the Apprenticeship

The Baking Apprentice will contribute to the successful development and growth of current and future culinary events and activities at 540WMain Community Learning Academy. Under the direction of the ED the apprentice will be taught the skills and experience needed to complete small batch gluten free and vegan baking. The apprentice will learn customer service, culinary, management, and small business management skills.

Length: Summer, Fall, and/or winter semesters 2018 | Unpaid | Credit bearing

Ideal candidates: Students interested in Customer Service, Baking, Culinary, Front Desk Management, and Pastry Production

We are soliciting notes of interest from local high school and home school students in Monroe County that have the following qualifications and more:

  • Ability to take direction with a positive attitude
  • A passion for serving people
  • Must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines, while maintaining a positive attitude and providing exemplary customer service.

Learn more

To learn more about the internship those interested can download a copy of the internship description below:

Interview for the position

We are holding open interview for this apprenticeship Saturday June 16 // 12-2 PM at 540WMain. Parents and students interested should register by emailing info540westmain@gmail.com

Apply for the position

Please submit the web application below as well as a resume to info540westmain@gmail.com

I Don’t Feel Like Performing by Calvin Eaton

it’s all a performance

and I don’t feel like performing today

The following message was originally sent to students in my Exploring African American Food Culture Through Food: 1619 to Present at St. John Fisher College. It encapsulates my overall feelings over the past few days.

Hello Students,

I am sending this note as I grapple with many mixed emotions. This week has been emotionally taxing for me to say the least; only adding to a backlog of months of uncertainty, grief, death, and killing of Black lives at the hands of law enforcement. It is not my style to pretend to be unaffected by it all and despite the many tools that I’ve accumulated over the years to say that I am unaffected by yet another local instance of inhumane police sanctioned violence would be disingenuous at best and a lie at worst. This week particularly yesterday I have not felt much like performing. Although we are all conditioned that the show much go on no matter what, in this particular moment for me the performance of it all in the face of deep emotion and feeling seems more egregious and disingenuous than ever before. Added to all this is the burden of internalized guilt of having any of these feelings and emotions in the first place.

One thing I’ve learned and practiced more during this the last six months of this pandemic is the importance to make space for and sit with uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, and emotions. All feelings are valid and none of us, not even myself are inherently bad or wrong to not feel like being bothered or not want to carry on in the performance of life when so much around us is crumbling, corrupt and very wrong right before our eyes.

All this said, despite my initial feeling I intend to carry forward with our class tonight.  It is important for me to meet this moment and these feeling head on with honesty and authenticity instead of pretending they don’t exist.

What you can expect is a discussion and format that will look very different from the lesson plan that I originally planned. I am not exactly sure what I will say or for how long we will engage but what I can say is that I have to meet this moment with truth, honesty and transparency. Our community and our world is in turmoil and we don’t need to perform through it all without acknowledging our feelings and emotions in the moment.

I look forward to sharing more and seeing you all online via Zoom at 6:15 PM

Professor E.

If you need support in processing complex feelings and emotions do not hesitate to contact the following resources:

sit with all the emotions
it’s ok to not be okay
it’s ok to tell people you’re not ok
you don’t need to pretend to be happy all the time
especially not during global pandemic
and wanton violence on a daily basis
it’s ok to not be okay

About 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 virtual non-profit organization and antiracist education brand that promotes justice for all. The organization encourages individuals to broaden their horizons and learn more about multidisciplinary issues and topics that impact the world. 

Still thinking about how you can support antiracism education? 

Your support goes directly to providing new, dynamic & affordable class content, the planning of a rigorous antiracism facilitation training program, and the hiring of a grant writer.

1) Join our growing membership base at patreon.com/540wmain
2) Contribute to our ongoing annual fund at rally.org/540wmain

  1. Visit our blog for over 700 social justice focused posts from our Founding Director, contributing writer Chris Thompson, and various guest writers.
  2. Morethanisms podcast a series created by Calvin Eaton that unpacks social and cultural issues that impact black and non-black millennials of color.
  3. Discuss books relating to antiracism in our Unpacking Book Discussion Series. Join at facebook.com/groups/540unpacking
  4. Check out our on-demand class library to learn about structural racism, environmental justice, and more.

Knowledge is power, educate yourself with 540WMain

The Value of Black Teachers by Chris Thompson

The Value of Black Teachers 

I didn’t know until this year how immensely privileged I was during my high school and academic years. In grades K through 8, I was in upstate New York, first in Colonie/Albany, and then in a rural town in Fulton County, with a brief stint in Syracuse. Fulton County had/has an active KKK chapter there. I am not sure who was a member as there was more corn than people in the county, and I was the only Black child in the school district until 8th grade, so there were more klan members and corn than there were Black folks. My teachers were 100% white, so white that it was not unusual for the history teacher to go off-textbook and say that the Civil War was about “states’ rights” and not slavery, or for the English teacher to go on a 15-minute rant about the evils of communism if Dukakis were to be elected president. 

When I moved to Baltimore, the whiteness of my teachers went from 0% to sometimes 100%. I was in two high schools my freshman year. In both, I had 30% to 50% Black teachers. My guidance counselors were Black. My principals and vice principals were Black. I was more amazed that a school could be large enough to warrant a vice principal than I was that they were Black. After all, I was in Baltimore; why WOULDN’T they be Black? I gave no thought to my Black algebra, Latin, American history teachers. In fact, the only white teacher I remember having my first year was my German teacher. My entire high school career, I had one white math teacher. 

Upon attending Morgan State University, a white teacher was an anomaly, but my teachers were even more diverse. We had Indian, Chinese, Japanese engineering professors. We had teachers from Nigeria and Ethiopia and Uganda. College life was difficult. Our electromagnetics teacher banned use of our precious TI-85 calculators (which was great since I couldn’t afford one). We had to solve complex calculus and differential equations BY HAND. Our final was oral, and I failed the course my first time taking it. Our English teachers had write things out instead of typing, and if we so much as scratched out a word, points were deducted. I cursed a lot of my teachers throughout my career; all their perceived harshness garnered me not-so-great grades (2.85 GPA), but they also yielded 3 international internships and a decent career corporate engineering job with a major company weeks after my December graduation. 

My post-undergraduate career was standard, with the usual microaggressions that go along with being young and Black and in a corporate job. I was mistaken for the custodian twice in a week one time. A lot of people asked how I got the job, whether there was a waver for the Bachelor of Science requirement, whether I had military experience which counted as education. One “colleague” actually COULD fathom that I went to college, but when asked where I went and I proudly said Morgan State University, he rolled his eyes and said, “Morgan? Really?” Keep in mind that this individual never went to college. I could have told him about how my entry salary was $3,000 more than my white colleagues the same year or how I’d seen more of the world my junior and senior year university summers than he’d seen his whole life, but I bit my tongue, because I didn’t want to get fired, but I digress. 

How does my academic career make me spoiled? I saw the statistics, but just talking to my friends, I realized that some of them have never had a Black or even Brown teacher their entire academic life. Even friends from New York City, a metropolis that is known for its diversity, maybe had a gym or English teacher or substitute, but many of their faculty was as whitewashed as their McGraw-Hill American history books. I took my privilege for granted. 

I think about it, and most of my math and science teachers were Black, and I have a decent 20-year career in engineering and technology. Most of my English teachers were also Black, and I took up writing, a hobby that has gotten me quite a few paid writing gigs. This speaks nothing of how those teachers helped me outside of the classroom. I appreciated my Trigonometry teacher who delayed a test for me because it was the same day that we were being evicted from our house. My first academic advisor fought hard for me to get free on-campus housing when I didn’t have a home to go to, all while I was trying to hide that fact from everybody. An engineering teacher whose class I had not even taken yet secured financial aid for me when I lost my scholarship. It is only my speculation that I may not have gotten that much help had I gone to another school, but given how others have fared without that attention to their on- and off-campus life, I feel quite certain. 

I try not to conflate correlation and causation, but I doubt that I would be where I am were it not for the multicultural faculty who educated me. Studies even show that a diverse faculty is beneficial to everyone, not just Black students. White students enjoy a much more fulfilling academic career with more teachers who don’t look like them. We focus so much on drilling STEM into our children, but another important aspect is who is giving them their lessons. As schools open up at whatever spectrum of online to in-person, It matters greatly that their teachers reflect the broader world if they wand a well-rounded education, and I feel that we are doing a great disservice to our youth by not providing that to them.

About Chris Thompson

(he/his/him) Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog he currently writes and regularly posts on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon. Chris is also a regular contributor for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is http://www.chroniclesofnonesense.com

Still thinking about how you can practice antiracism in your every day life? 

Your support goes directly to providing new, dynamic & affordable class content, the planning of a rigorous antiracism facilitation training program, and the hiring of a grant writer.

1) Join our growing membership base at patreon.com/540wmain
2) Contribute to our ongoing annual fund at rally.org/540wmain

  1. Visit our blog for over 700 social justice focused posts from our Founding Director, contributing writer Chris Thompson, and various guest writers.
  2. Morethanisms podcast a series created by Calvin Eaton that unpacks social and cultural issues that impact black and non-black millennials of color.
  3. Discuss books relating to antiracism in our Unpacking Book Discussion Series. Join at facebook.com/groups/540unpacking
  4. Check out our on-demand class library to learn about structural racism, environmental justice, and more.

Knowledge is power, educate yourself with 540WMain

2020 Gentrification Conference rescheduled to April 9-10, 2021

Hello Friends and Supporters

It’s been awhile since most of us have connected and we hope you are finding moments of joy amidst the madness of the world. We wanted to share a brief update about the 2020 Gentrification Conference

conference rescheduled to next year

After many months of living through COVID we were thinking like many of you that we would be able to hold a dynamic conference this year in the fall and had rescheduled the conference to September 19, 2020. Now that we are closer it has become clear that trying to reimagine the conference amidst covid will require thoughtful consideration, intention and more time. It is for this reason that our planning committee has decided to reschedule this year’s conference to

what’s next

We will have more information about next year’s event in the forthcoming months. In place of the September 19 conference date we will be offering a new virtual class called Redlined Neighborhoods and the Environment from 1-3 PM. This e-class was designed this past summer by Adam Hopson our first ever environmental justice intern. Adam will be taking the lead on facilitating this first iteration of the course as part of his professional development. We are offering you first chance at registration for this new e-class at no cost to you.

The Sexist Flap Over WAP by Chris Thompson

The Sexist Flap Over WAP 

After three months of consuming a healthy rotation of quasi-apocalyptic news podcasts, the first half of Public Enemy’s discography, and Rage Against the Machine’s Battle of Los Angeles, I broke the cycle with a summer jam that everyone (over the age of 18) can enjoy: Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP”. These, of course, are initials. You can go look up what WAP means on your own. It does NOT mean “wireless application protocol”, which is incidentally the avenue by which I saw the video.

Some are not happy with the video and song for many reasons. For the most part, people take issue with the lyrics’ frank subject matter and accompanying visual explicitness. GOP congressional hopeful James P. Bradley “accidentally” heard “WAP” and had the time to tweet out:

“Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion are what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure. Their new “song” The #WAP (which I heard accidentally) made me want to pour holy water in my ears and I feel sorry for future girls if this is their role model!”

James P Bradley: https://www.lamag.com/culturefiles/wap-cardi-b-megan-thee-stallion/

It is amazing how a song by two women can make a man slide into misogyny and thinly veiled racism so quickly. Also, “accidentally”? Was he looking for a derogatory term for Italian people, misspell the term, and just stumbled upon the song? Did he listen all the way through to realize that it is not, in fact, a song disrespecting the people of Rome? Because after about minute 0:25, you can surmise what the subject of the song is.

This conservative man’s view is not new, nor is it exclusive to the politically conservative, though. Whenever a woman rapper comes out with a sexually explicit song, erstwhile “progressive” men and women deride the song for the same reasons, with the same amount of anti-blackness, but at least they don’t lie about “accidentally” finding the song. They speak of how the artists used their bodies and “exploited” themselves to get to the top of the charts. They speak of how “unfair” it is that they are so popular, yet artists like Noname or Rapsody get little to no airplay. I know these criticisms are permeating out there, because I used to be a purveyor of such misogynoir, and I remember the last time two artists cause such a stir.

When I was in college, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown were the popular women rappers who were famous by talking frankly and explicitly about their sexuality. Some people did not like that at all. I made the same argument about them just using their bodies for attention and exploiting themselves. I put them down while talking about underground rappers with more skill. Just replace Noname and Rapsody with Bahamadia and Rah Diggah. And back then, just like now, the people, especially men, eviscerating famous women rappers’ lyrics could recite the lyrics to Akinyele’s “Put It in Your Mouth” and Notorious BIG’s “Dreams” forward and backward. They don’t bat an eye when the Yin Yang Twins craft a song whose entire theme is speaking heavily in hushed tones into a woman’s ear about their enthusiasm to show her their manhood. They get hyped when Miami bass music blasts and Luther Campbell is directing thong-clad women to do nearly acrobatic feats with their legs and torsos.

Even “backpack” rap is no stranger to sexual songs. Run The Jewels’ “Love Again” is a 21st Century ode to fellatio so popular that El-P reproduced it with cat sounds, and it is actually better than the original. Hip-hop’s rawness is the beauty of it. Artists speak on subjects descriptively and frankly, and the better ones weave their lines into a volatile rhythmic tapestry. Sex is one of those subjects, and it shouldn’t be a major controversy when a rapper talks about sex well enough to get attention. Except it seems when women do it, it’s a problem.

I do understand that this can be a sensitive subject, as women, and especially Black and Brown women, have historically been hypersexualized and exoticized by Western society. They were often not viewed as human being so much as ravenous succubi. Enslaved Black women would be raped by the slavemasters and then accused of enchanting or tempting their attackers by the slavemaster’s wife, which would invite more abuse against the victims. Saartje Baartmann was paraded around Europe naked because of her curves, and then she was not even given the dignity of a proper burial when she passed away. Today, Black girls in school are often seen as older than their white counterparts punished for their own bodies as they go through puberty. I can’t count how many times my cousins would be accused of being “fast” and be told to “tone down” her dress, which was usually jeans and a t-shirt.

Despite the history of women being exploited and sexualized, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are sexualizing themselves. They are in control of the narrative. They are taking agency of their bodies, and they are doing what they want to do with them. Most adults are sexual beings. There should be no reason we cannot talk about sex, and we shouldn’t be so offended by Two Black and Brown women creating entertainment by bragging about their own sexuality. So it raises the question: these men mad because “WAP” is sexually explicit, or are they just mad that they are not doing the sexualizing this time?

…Also, why exactly is Kylie Jenner in the video? That part, I don’t understand. Every other guest was doing flips and splits. She just walked down a hall. Maybe they needed a Pepsi hook-up.

About Chris Thompson

(he/his/him) Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog he currently writes and regularly posts on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon. Chris is also a regular contributor for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is http://www.chroniclesofnonesense.com

Still thinking about how you can practice antiracism in your every day life? 

Your support goes directly to providing new, dynamic & affordable class content, the planning of a rigorous antiracism facilitation training program, and the hiring of a grant writer.

1) Join our growing membership base at patreon.com/540wmain
2) Contribute to our ongoing annual fund at rally.org/540wmain

  1. Visit our blog for over 700 social justice focused posts from our Founding Director, contributing writer Chris Thompson, and various guest writers.
  2. Morethanisms podcast a series created by Calvin Eaton that unpacks social and cultural issues that impact black and non-black millennials of color.
  3. Discuss books relating to antiracism in our Unpacking Book Discussion Series. Join at facebook.com/groups/540unpacking
  4. Check out our on-demand class library to learn about structural racism, environmental justice, and more.

Knowledge is power, educate yourself with 540WMain

Goya Away! Boycotting Brands Is a First Amendment Right by Chris Thompson

Goya Away! Boycotting Brands Is a First Amendment Right

A few weeks ago when I saw the hashtag #GoyAway trending, I thought that perhaps this was a new action by my Jewish family to rightfully ask gentiles to leave them alone for a minute. Because let’s be honest: gentiles have been bothering the Chosen People for a good 4,000 years in some way or another. Then I quickly learned that #GoyAway is a portmanteau of “Goya Away”, since the company’s CEO full-throatedly endorsed donald trump in a speech on the White House lawn, during a summit that also included the Mexican President. So if anyone is in the need for a few cans of beans or some Sazon, I have some that I would like out of my house, because I will not have Goya products in my house.

Before I get into why I’m boycotting Goya, Let me explain how absurd it is for Goya to be in the same room with the presidents of Mexico and the USA. The meeting was meant to endorse a North American trade agreement. Because despite all of the demonization trump has done of Mexican people from day one of his campaign (or rather anyone he thinks is Mexican), the US and Mexico have a long history of inter-border trade of goods and labor, both over and under the table. This is because we share a border, and the US has done a lot to shape that border, including annexation. Regardless, here we are, and it is foolish to think that trade will not happen. It is better to have a policy in place than to simply foment enmity between two bordering countries. So the big question is why was anyone from Goya there? Goya is not Mexican. It is an American company, founded by white Spanish immigrants. Sure, you may find a can of Goya pinto beans or a bottle of Adobo in a lot of American Latinx homes, but they didn’t bring those in from their home lands. Goya is as American as rice in a burrito. It seems that the only reason anyone from Goya was there is because trump and his inner circle are so ignorant that they assume that all “Spanish” = “Mexican”, Goya appeals to Spanish speakers, and this is a Mexican-US trade deal. Either that, or the administration, knowing his base, is using Goya to ventriloquize his talking points so as to clumsily deflect accusations of anti-immigrant racism, much like his base uses Candace Owens and any other “free thinking” Negro to prove that they are not racist. Regardless of the intent, I have two free boxes of Sazon in the cupboard, free for the taking.

A violation of Free Speech?

Now that the word is out that Goya is run by a trump supporter, the call to boycott was swift. Good. Despite the CEO’s claim that a boycott is a violation of his First Amendment rights, it is not. Boycotting IS a First Amendment right. People seem to think that speaking your mind means also freedom from social consequences from what they said. EVERYONE has a right to free speech, including people with whom you do not agree. I am not legally compelled to buy a bottle of Adobo if I do not wish to do so. I can forego that and purchase the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, oregano, and cumin and mix it myself. It is also interesting that people claiming that a boycott is a violation of free speech are also the same people who burned their Nike gear after they penned an advertising deal with Colin Kaepernick.

But what about the employees?

Whenever say I no longer patronize a business, whether big or small, I get met with this statement in some form or another. When I swore off Chick Fil-A, Starbucks, Yuengling, but even more so when I promised to not set foot in locally owned establishments. What about the employees who are just trying to get by? This is just concern trolling, as vapid as the “ambulance” argument put to protesters who may block an intersection. No one who brings up the “poor employees” actually cares about the welfare of the employees of a business where I no longer spend money. If they did, they would be more concerned that employment is so tenuous. They should be asking why there isn’t a good enough safety net for the community so that a job loss wouldn’t upend someone’s life so drastically. Instead, they are using them as hypothetical baby rabbits over a wood chipper to try to get me to feel guilty about choosing how to spend my own money. All the while, they are likely treating those “poor employees” like trash.

They never treated ME unfairly.

I don’t care. When a local bartender threw racial epithets at two of my friends and then kicked out all of the black people in the bar, while the owner watched it happen and didn’t lift a finger, I promised to never go to that bar again, and I told everyone I knew about their horrid service. Plenty of folks chimed in to say that they had never seen such behavior at the bar, so it couldn’t have happened. None of those folks were at the bar that night, nor are they Black women, so why WOULD a racist bartender treat them poorly? It is very “Allegory of the Cave” to claim that something isn’t a certain way just because you personally have not experienced it. When a minority group speaks, perhaps listen to them.

So you’re swearing off [X] because of this one thing? Isn’t that immature?
A friend of mine refused to go to a pho restaurant for 4 years because one day, the server mixed up his order of extra noodles on the side. Another friend will not go to an ice cream shop because she claimed the server gave her “an eye”. In college a guy would somehow find a reason to complain about the service of the big box chain pub we would go to weekly. People stop going to stores and restaurants for a myriad of reasons. That an owner compared Black folks to monkeys or sexually harassed customers or supports a queerphobic organization seems like a pretty good reason to not want to ever go there again. I appreciate respect as a human over your missing extra straw or whatever.

Boycotts don’t work anyway

I could point to the Montgomery bus boycott to prove that wrong. It lasted 15 days, and in that time, not only did the bus company desegregated its buses, the action inspired hundreds of more boycotts throughout the South and other segregated areas of the country. The Civil Rights Movement was fueled on actions like this. That was 1956, though. In modern times, Boycotts have pressured companies to cut ties with the NRA, designers have foregone using real fur in their products, Ivnake trump’s fashion brand has been pulled from shelves, Seaworld stopped breeding Orca whales in captivity and stopped its dolphin shows. Boycotts work.

The power of the wallet can resonate as loudly as a picket line. Sometimes, in the times between when we can make our voices heard through voting, this pocketbook activism can be the most we can do to make our voices heard. No one can force you to from a business, and there should be no shame in investing the money you earned into places that invest in (or divest from) issues about which you care.

About Chris Thompson

(he/his/him) Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog he currently writes and regularly posts on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon. Chris is also a regular contributor for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is http://www.chroniclesofnonesense.com

Still thinking about how you can practice antiracism in your every day life? 

Your support goes directly to providing new, dynamic & affordable class content, the planning of a rigorous antiracism facilitation training program, and the hiring of a grant writer.

1) Join our growing membership base at patreon.com/540wmain
2) Contribute to our ongoing annual fund at rally.org/540wmain

  1. Visit our blog for over 700 social justice focused posts from our Founding Director, contributing writer Chris Thompson, and various guest writers.
  2. Morethanisms podcast a series created by Calvin Eaton that unpacks social and cultural issues that impact black and non-black millennials of color.
  3. Discuss books relating to antiracism in our Unpacking Book Discussion Series. Join at facebook.com/groups/540unpacking
  4. Check out our on-demand class library to learn about structural racism, environmental justice, and more.

Knowledge is power, educate yourself with 540WMain