I meet Seamus at the Filling Station in Larkin Square, where he holds his unofficial (and often official) office hours. The meeting in part is penance for some long-ago (and long-forgotten) boyhood mischief that incidentally targeted my family home. I extend forgiveness on behalf of my family, and Seamus and his freshly unburdened conscience sit down with me.
“I’m a connector,” he tells me early in our conversation, and I know I’ve found the right person to kick off the Buffalo City Lights journey. He’s already given me a half dozen names to follow up with, and we’ve only just begun. As the music director and emcee of events at Larkin Square, he gets a lot of credit for the burst of life that’s cropped up in the Larkin District over the last few years. A veteran of the event business, Seamus doesn’t shy away from the spotlight, though he’s quick to point out that he’s the only part-timer on the team of four making things happen in Larkinville.
Like many of us, Seamus is a Buffalonian repatriate, returning home after years spent out of state. He left his career in event management for Minor League Baseball teams to focus on community development in Buffalo. He founded The Good Neighborhood (TGN–“Gathering for the Greater Good”) and began organizing concerts and events to support local nonprofits. His exclusive focus on local offerings and his instinct for throwing a good party has made for great success. “Music relaxes people,” he says brightly. “So it’s a great way to connect them to the causes in the community.”
Buoyant, well connected, and totally plugged in to the music scene, Seamus is a natural fit for Larkin Square. The work is different from much of the cause-related event planning he does on behalf of TGN, but the free public concerts and other activities in Larkin Square are more than just a perk for employees in the Larkin District. Seamus is keeping up the spirit of the old Larkin Soap Company, whose motto was “Opportunities Provided, Visitors Welcome.”
“We want the people living in nearby neighborhoods to know that this is an open space, and that it’s their space too,” he emphasizes. This year they’re stepping up efforts to diversify the crowd base with themes like the second annual East Side Night and the inaugural Latin at Larkin Night.
Seamus is working to build community by bringing people together around music and food, along with other fun activities, and he envisions Larkin Square as a central hub to connect people from all over the region. Catch him in action on Food Truck Tuesdays and Live at Larkin on Wednesdays starting June 1st. And don’t miss his live performance at the Live at Larkin finale on August 31!
Seamus’s work with TGN continues, and the fourth annual Buffalove Fest, which features many local nonprofits and has raised thousands of dollars for the zoo, will take place at the Buffalo Zoo on May 27th.
Stay tuned for more Seamus in the next post, which will highlight his work as the co-founder of Slow Roll Buffalo, the city’s weekly community bike ride that’s more than just a joyride. Cheers!
By Natalie Photiadis, Buffalo native and recent repatriate interested in community development and sustainability.