I was born in Buffalo, where my Dad’s family lived, in 1971, was adopted by my parents, Jane and Larry Glazer, and grew up in Pittsford with my 2 younger brothers, Rick and Ken. Around the age of 11, I began to notice the loss of so many area farms to housing developments, including the sheep farm that abutted our backyard. By the time I graduated from high school in 1989, the farm had become houses. Having always felt drawn to nature, I felt a deep sense of loss about this and it became a dream of mine to one day be able to save land for its own sake.
I attended New England College, in Henniker, NH, graduating in 1993 with a Bachelor’s degree with honors in Art History. I moved back to Rochester in 1997. In 2005, I was married and in 2009, my husband Tom, and I welcomed our twin daughters, Ava and Beatrice. It was during this period that I became aware of the widespread use of pesticides. Despite their dangers to human health and to the environment, they have become ubiquitous in our culture. Since then, one of my missions has been to educate others about their dangers and to offer alternatives to pesticides. You can read more about these efforts here and here. In March of 2020, I sponsored a one-day workshop with Empire State Consumer Project to bring Chip Osborne of Osborne Organics to Rochester to teach municipal grounds supervisors how to control weeds and pests without chemicals. I’m pleased to say that a representative from Penfield was in attendance!
On June 3, 2010, my family and I moved to Penfield, into a stately farmhouse built in 1847 on Five Mile Line Road. Known as The Higbie Schrader House, situated on the remaining 3 acres of the formerly 200 acre farm, only minutes from family and amenities, in my opinion this was the best of both worlds!
Having always been a history buff, I began trying to piece together the background of our “new” home by searching through files at the town’s Local History Room and in the Monroe County Clerk’s Office, at Oakwood, Gloria Drive, and St. Joseph’s cemeteries, and in old newspapers through the County library system until I had a fairly complete understanding of the families who had lived at ‘The Old Homestead’, as I like to call it. A great thrill was when 2 women of the Schrader family who had grown up here in the 1950s came over for a visit; to learn about this place directly from people who had lived here over its almost 2 centuries was fascinating! While I was doing all this research about the history of our home, I was also learning about the broader history of Penfield: how it came to be settled, who the people of interest were, as well as the marks they left on this town during their lifetimes. I developed an appreciation for Penfield as well as a vision for what it may have been like, but was also able to see where important parts of our tangible history have been lost. It caused me to begin questioning why decisions were being made that might jeopardize the character that remained in Penfield. I also began to realize the lack of identity Penfield has been suffering from. No longer mainly an agricultural town, no longer the world’s growing hub of the Clematis vine, it appeared to me that due to our historic Four Corners being transformed into a high-speed thoroughfare and by a decades-long lack of creative leadership that Penfield needs to re-invent itself again. Dental offices, chain stores, and medical buildings only go so far towards making “a place” into “a community.”
Prior to moving to Penfield, when my daughters were 3 months old, I started a small business formulating natural baby care and household cleaning products; I called it ‘Sweet & Woodsy Aromatherapy’. Starting a business while raising children was something I’d witnessed my mother do during my childhood, so it was an obvious step to take, even if I was sleep-deprived! For the next 7 years, I was a “solo-preneur”…wearing all of the hats required to move “Sweet & Woodsy” out of my house and into the world. In addition to having an online store, I took my products to the Fairport Farmers Market on Saturday mornings for 4 seasons…which I absolutely loved! I enjoyed the personal connection with customers and being part of a community of local artisans and farmers. When I needed business advice, I was lucky to not only be able to ask it of my mother, but also of my father and grandfather, both of whom had started their own small businesses that grew to be very successful. In 1939, my grandfather and his oldest brother started Great Lakes Press, a printing company that went on to print Champion catalogs as well as ice cream cartons, puzzles, and all manner of printed materials. It was located on Central Avenue in Rochester on the same block where Panther Graphics is now. My father was one half of the founding partnership that started Buckingham Properties in 1970, which now owns and manages some of the most iconic buildings in Downtown Rochester. My mom’s company, probably most-widely known as ‘Home Trends’, started in our kitchen in the 1980s. Initially, she offered cookware for the newfangled microwave oven, then created a trio of mail-order catalogs for home and garden. A great thrill for my Mom was when she partnered with actor Dom Deluise to sell his cookbook on the pages of the HT catalog! In August, 2014, my Mom joined me at my booth at the Fairport Farmers Market to help me sell my products. A thrill for ME and a real vote of her confidence in Sweet & Woodsy Aromatherapy. Throughout my childhood, each evening found my parents discussing their days at work; every Saturday lunch we shared with my Grandfather began with him asking my Mom, “So! How many orders did you get this week?” It wasn’t until I started my own business that I realized how much I had learned from the three of them just by virtue of being at the table while they talked.
My life as I knew it changed forever on September 5, 2014, when my parents were killed in a plane crash. Unfolding across television screens internationally, it was a devastating event that has taken a toll on me, my family, and my parents’ wide network of friends and colleagues. My family and I were lucky to have the support of so many people in the Rochester community and beyond to help us get through this waking nightmare. People we knew and complete strangers came to pay their respects, and the stories of how my parents impacted the lives of others steadily poured in. I had no idea their reach was so great: from their employees to their friends to the Governor of the state of New York, we heard words of sympathy and inspiration. I am STILL hearing occasional memories from people who are strangers to me, almost 6 years later. It wasn’t just being successful business owners that made my parents well-known and well-thought of. It was that their belief that “giving back to the community that made your success a possibility” was their mantra, and they manifested this belief through community giving and authentic engagement. This belief had been instilled in my brothers and me from a young age. Upon my parents’ deaths, I had to find some way of turning what could be deemed a tragic event into one that would highlight what extraordinary people my parents were. I also had to figure out how I was going to move forward. My children had just turned 5: allowing the impact of this event to take me down wasn’t an option, but trying to find the positive was. I decided that the best way for me to honor the memories of my parents and to find a path forward for myself would be to take up the legacy of community giving they embodied in life and left behind upon their deaths. This was an opportunity to support the issues close to my heart that would be of benefit to the wider community, but always with credit to my parents and their example, and their largesse for making it possible.
In late 2015, an 18 acre plot of land came up for sale just to the north of my house. Knowing that the 43 acres of farmland at the intersection of Five Mile Line and Atlantic Ave, which was directly to the south of us, was going to be turned into houses and not wanting to be surrounded by more development, I put an offer on it. When it was accepted, I learned that 4 developers had also submitted offers, but the owners chose mine due to the fact that I bought the land with the intention of saving it. This former farmland, with wetlands and woods, that had once been slated to become a daycare center with large parking lot, home to all kinds of wildlife, was safe! A lifelong dream of mine had come true, thanks to my parents. YES! Soon after, I was invited to meet former Penfield Supervisor, Irene Gossin. Self-styled “eco-politician”, upon her election to Town Supervisor in 1971, Irene was the first woman elected to run a government in Monroe County and only the second Democrat elected in Penfield’s history (although I have been unable to find a record of who the first Democrat was). Irene Gossin was instrumental in protecting much of the green space Penfield now enjoys and in seeing the value in historical structures, like Fort Schuyler in Ellison Park and Dayton’s Corner Schoolhouse at the corner of Plank Road and Creek Street. Irene spent 10 years as Supervisor and 8 as Monroe County Legislator. The Penfield Democratic Committee knew that Irene had not yet been recognized for her service by the Town of Penfield and that, at 96 years old, time to do so was running out. Unfortunately, I learned, there had seemed to be some reluctance to recognize Irene’s successful career as a Democrat from our elected Republican officials. Within minutes of meeting Irene and hearing her story, I was impressed and knew we were kindred spirits. I decided over the course of a few days that the land I had bought would recognize her in some way. Over the next 7 months, until her death on June 20, 2016, I spent a lot of time with Irene, learning about her personal and political life and relaying the details of how her Preserve was coming along. Initially, I had been completely unaware of who Irene was, but as we got to know each other, I realized how connected she and I actually were through family, community, and political relationships: my Grandfather and Irene’s husband, Alex, had graduated from Franklin High School in the same class, and a cousin of my mother’s had debated Irene when she ran for Congress and he stepped in on behalf of Republican candidate Frank Horton, whose campaign manager he was at the time! These are just two of the connections we discovered we had, providing Irene with an understanding of who I was and me with confirmation that this was what I was meant to do.
It was during this time that the fight to save Shadow Pines from development began. I would bet dimes to donuts that when people think of Penfield, two places that immediately come to mind are Shadow Pines Golf Course and the Clark House. I was proud to join with a group of other concerned Penfielders to work to save these 2 iconic Penfield properties from development. After keeping this issue at the forefront of town-wide discussion for more than 2 years, we were able to mobilize a record number of residents to come out to vote in favor of keeping this area undeveloped. The experience I gained from being a part of this public fight is a key factor in my decision to run for Town Board. I had the passion to save both the land and the old building (a Penfield historic landmark, no less), but the actual experience of bringing this issue to both the town leadership and its citizens provided me a lot of opportunities for public speaking, for learning to interact and converse with those who don’t agree with me, and to participate in voter outreach not unlike that of a political campaign. Since our “Save Shadow Pines” group consisted of residents of all political stripes, my participation proved that I can work with those of differing mindsets to further a common cause, and to great success. The most important thing I realized, however, is that as residents of the same place, no matter where we land on the spectrum of political ideology, it behooves us to work together to create the best living environment we can. All voices need to be heard and represented in a town, not only the voices of the party that holds the power.
Mindy and Sweet & Woodsy Aromatherapy
2 thoughts on “Meet Mindy MacLaren”
Wow , what a great summary and honor to your parents and nature. A live well lived. Can not wait to see and hear a new fresh perspective in the Penfield town board. You have our vote ! Go Mindy
Thanks, Mike and Vicki!