2017 began with a hike in the snow on New Year’s Day after 2 hours of sleep of my first night out of partying Index Art Center and then after Newark Print Shop–which are not activities I typically participate in but where I got to meet cool, artistic, creatives and talented in and of Newark. Rebecca Pauline Jampol, Lowell Craig, Janetza Maria Miranda, Randy Harris, Wyl White, Stephen McKenzie, Lisa Conrad, Daniel James Flynn and so many more.
Other highlights this year:
January–I marched in the Women’s March in Washington, DC, went roller skating BBP SKATINGand line dancing Newark Symphony Hall.
February–I performed my story with domestic violence in Midlantic Theatre Company, Newark, NJproduction of The Vagina Monologues where I met and became friends with Al-mujudillah Thompson,Thee Nie Victoria,Nichole Michelle, and Gerit Quealy.Volunteered at the New Jersey DevilsPride Night for Newark Gay Pride and met Sharronda Wheeler and Lakeva Love.
March–I went to Mayor Ras J. Baraka State of The City meeting, left inspired to do something great in #Newark. After introducing myself to him, Newark Centric City By BrickCity Emigree was born and began documenting and chronicling Newark in the ways mainstream media was blatantly ignoring. A promise still being fulfilled today. Also this month became friends with the awesome Kirsten Giardi of the Newark Public Library and met Peter Jimenez Pozo of the really must go to Jimenez Tobacco. The month concluded with volunteering for the Newark Arts Honors Gala which is so worth it to meet and mingle with some of the best creatives.
April–I was introduced to LeRon Lee by Jeff Billingsleyof COBBLESTONE MULTIMEDIA to appear in a PSA about domestic violence with other equally awesome women and thrivers Nicolette Lynch and JP Scott. It was also during April, I logged 25 miles on my bike in one day and overcame my fear of riding in the streets with members of the Brick City Bike Collective. I also spent time at GlassRoots learning to make glass beads.
May–wrote and published a blog piece after attending the grand opening of the Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center and seeing up close the work of Asia D. Smith, Keesha Eure, and TJ Kettles and heard the powerful poetry of Kween Moore. It was also there I met and exchanged my first hug with Newark’s Queen Amina Baraka & the Red Microphone. And saw myself in that video mentioned above. I also organized the first community 3D Modeling and Digital Printing with Keary Rosen workshops at Express Newark.
June–I created and hosted the first book reading ever Newark Riverfront Revival of Gerit Quealy’s A Botananical Shakespeare and live art workshop by Malik Whitaker (Thank you Marcy S. DePina) It was during this time I got to meet the super cool Jillian Rock.
July–The #WhoThePeopleInYourNeighborhood#NewarkEdition Interviews take off big time. That month alone I interviewed: Kristyn Barr-Scorsone of the Queer Newark Oral History Project, Brian Gonzalezand Darryl Scipio of Newark Chess Club, the awesome realtors Nekita Martins and Nelson Mota, volunteers at Newark LGBTQ Community Center (that now has a new home at Newark Public Library), Steven J. Mars of QXT’s (Official) Celestial Stage and so many others. Other highlights were: attending the weeklong commemoration events of the 1967 Newark Rebellion and meeting and hearing first hand accounts of those who lived through it Junius Williams, Lawrence Hamm, Mayor Sharpe James and relatives of those who were senselessly killed and those who still bring racial issues to light today: People’s Organization for Progress (Photos/Videos). This month also allowed for to contribute my social media skills by capturing the Newark Gay PrideParade and meeting folks like the Founder of June E. Dowell-Burton, Advocates Gary Paul Wright, Erin D Bush, James Cramer, Prince Derek Doll.
And the month, thanks to Lovari it was also highlighted by seeing myself in Saladin Newark music video Reversal of Fortune that introduced me to Michelle Monique Meacham, Keesha Williams, Nancy Vazquez, Middy Murdock, Tonia Champagne and others.
August was another eventful month where I got to hear the awesome singing voices of Leah Jeneanne, Elijah Bland and The Ubuntu Theory, hear the spoken word of Margie Johnson, James Rashad, Kween Moore, Sean Battle thanks to Trevor Phillips bringing Down Our Neck To The Woods to the Clinton Avenue Community Sound Stage. Also this month, I led a Newark trivia game during Lauren Craig 100 Things Newark virtual launch at EQUAL SPACE and then there was Mayor Ras J Baraka Annual Family Reunion where I captured a short video interview with him. And I cannot forget how much fun I also had at DreamPlay Media #RooftopSessions Video shoots at Catas, the dance parties at Newark Public Library, Yendor Productions of Pia Wilson, Down Neck and BELIEVE IN NEWARK Night Under The Stars where I met Viva White and last saw The late great Rodney Gilbertreveling in the night. It was also during this month I was happily introduced to Nakeicha Adams-Wilsonwho owns the fab Mocha Lounge and Muta El-aminwho wrote Munsters Under the Bed and so many more Newarkers. Oh and I learned I was accepted into mLeadership Newark—a goal I had for years.
September I attended my first ever Newark International Film Festival gala, learned how to make a ring in 5 minutes with Jae Quinlan of The Artisan Collective at Halsey Street Festival, learned how to fly a drone thanks to Isaac Jimenez, attended The Mayor’s Women Luncheon. Once again, my interviewing and social media skills were put to good use when wrote and published a week-long series on Newark Arts and captured Wegotus KIDZ DanceFest Newark at Vailsburg Park. It was here I met Big 7the Founder of Newark Illustrated LLC ,City Council candidate Terrance L. Bankston, and EYES LIKE MINE INC. Founder Krystle Allen. My forays on a kickball team ended this month too but Bella Nails, Closet Savvy Consignment, Corey Lewis, and others made up a great team. September also introduced me to the very honorable Feed The Souls NJ and it’s founders Keiona Josey and Madeline Pugh.
October began with the launch of my Newark Centric City Events where I led attendees at a series of visits and activities at Mocha Lounge, Newark Museum, Blaze Pizza (Newark), art making with Slim Suli Artand Yvonne Onque of God-S Wearable Art, drone flying at Military Park, and arcade games at Barcade. I also went on Leadership Newark retreat where I got to meet my fellow co-horts Porché Hardy, Amina Hylton, Bri Ross, Marleny Cruz Esther Lewars Shelon EdwardsSusana Holguin-Veras and others as well as our leader Celia M. King and her team Laureen D. And Michelle. And no October is not complete without volunteering for Newark Arts annual Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival which was even more fun than last. It was also my first time attending a Newark Circle of Sisters meeting which I plan on doing more of in 2018. Newark Centric City hosted another outing and this visit included a tour of the Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center which well received by those who came.
November introduced me to the Free Press and their lobbying efforts and new friends Amy Newell, Peter Ortiz, and Rose Mosley. I also went to my first We Cry Out Open Mic founded by Mayowa Okubanjo. My social media skills were tapped again when Carrie Puglisi asked me to help cover La Casa de Don Pedrobenefit. I connected with some fine artists and the movers and shakers of Newark. I also said goodbye to the late great Rodney Gilbert who touched many people and leaving a legacy like no other.
December provided me with opportunities to connect and network with fascinating people at events like Newark Community Economic Development Corporation gala, A Night of Newark, Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations at City of Newark, NJ – City Hall as well as the Kwanzaa celebration hosted by the Friends of the James Brown African American Roomat the Newark Public Library. I also have been busily creating content for and spreading the word of my businesss Newark Centric City.
I am sure I missed a few things and know I did not tag everyone who has converged with me this pretty darn good year, but you can find a bunch of posts on my Instagram @BrickCityEmigree and @NewarkCentricCity. Lots of of videos can be found on the Newark Centric City By BrickCity Emigree YouTube page and longer interviews on the WordPress page.