Voices: Building the New Rochester

Words and Photos by Richard Glaser

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

— Margaret Mead

Forty Rochesterians braved a December snowstorm on a weeknight in 2014 to attend RocGrowth’s first event at a downtown coffee shop. The free craft beer and snacks were an incentive, but the attendees were there for something more: they came to listen to the co-founders of a successful software company and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs and creatives. They were seeking community.

Our city is undergoing a transformation from an industrial economy to a high-tech one. We are coming to terms with the racist and discriminatory practices of the past and forging a more just and equitable future. We are attempting to elevate creative individuals with innovative ideas to positions of leadership and influence in government, non-profits, the arts, and business. I’m honored to be a part of RocGrowth, who is playing an essential role in this transition and building a community of innovators, entrepreneurs, and artists who are creating the “New” Rochester. 

We produce events that instigate “creative collisions,” aiming to bridge barriers and foster collaboration among individuals. RocGrowth Candids features dozens of interviews with accomplished innovators that are recorded and disseminated publicly through our website and social media platforms. 

At all the events, we provide community organizers and entrepreneurs seeking some form of support with an opportunity to present. We partner with other community organizations, such as TEDxRochester, ad hoc when the formula of one-plus-one is greater than two. This is easy given our transparency and open, collaborative approach.

Healthy and vibrant cities have abundant opportunities for people to form networks and feel a sense of belonging. They embrace diversity and foster inclusion. RocGrowth expands on this, bringing a greater equality of race, class, gender, and age. Our events are free and open to the public, and we are proud to claim that we have achieved a degree of diversity that is, unfortunately, not common enough in Rochester. We are trying to change that.

RocGrowth is run by passionate volunteers who love Rochester and believe we can shape its future. Since we are financially independent, we have more flexibility to experiment and remain responsive. It’s allowed us to achieve sustained growth and enthusiastic support which affirms that we have the finger on the pulse.

We embrace Flower Power and want to contribute to its success. It is an entrepreneurial endeavor that aims to inform and support the creative talent in Rochester: we have a natural kinship.

We encourage you to join us by registering at www.rocgrowth.com, following us on social media and attending upcoming events. Join us at First Thursday Creative Collisions, RocGrowth Coffee, and RocGrowth Candids. We’d be honored to help amplify your contribution to the “New” Rochester.



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