Fall Into Biking This Autumn In Newark

This three part series will feature four biking groups who are not only bike riding but raising awareness of some kind.

Part 1 features two biking groups brining attention to tough issues Newark residents, particularly young people and women are facing. Parts 2 and 3 will feature biking groups trying to make Newark a more bike-friendly and accessible city for all.

       I like social justice and I also like biking, but I am not one of those riders who enjoys advocating or riding alone and whenever I can avoid the streets if I have to ride solo. Sometimes, though I am I alone in advocating for what I believe in. Sometimes I am not. That’s why I excited to learn about the upcoming group rides that are happening starting September 30th and lasting throughout the month of October.

On September 30th Girls On Bikes is leading a tour of Central Ward celebrating the green spaces of Newark. Meet up is at 275 West Market Street, Newark at 1030am. It’s not just for girls.

In 2016, Kala La Fortune Reed founded this organziation. A total of four board members and and 15 representatives dubbed, Biker Babes make up this organization whose mission “is to build up a generation to create a culture a of unstoppable women.” When I asked how, Kala explained to me that these community they serve is beset by many obstacles and adversities such as poverty, no access to healthy food and the inabilities to purchase bikes. This means “girls and young women are not participating in recreational activities in the public.” The organization, seeks to remedy that by “curat(ing) many programs for middle school to college students located in Essex County of New Jersey.” Kala shared that they “form workshops and host events in our community to have a hands on influence on girls and young women in order to tackle the adversities they face.”

Another biking group here in Newark, is The Down Bottom Bike Crew. DBBC was founded by members Enok Gavilanes, Jessica Valladolid, and Christian Rodriguez. They have 15 members and are currently based out of the East Ironbound with aims, “To empower young people to become civically engaged, two wheels at a time.”

How you ask? Christian Rodriguez of ICC explained, “DBBC is a mentor-ship program involving participants (youth aged 8-17), as well as facilitators from Ironbound Community Corporation and volunteers/ bike enthusiasts whom reside in Newark or are friends of the neighborhood. Participants come together to learn about bike mechanics, repairs, and bike safety.  The Bike Crew participates in bike-a-thons as well as ride-alongs in and around our City of Newark. The Crew has also been involved in the push for the preservation of public housing in Newark since most members reside there.

DBBC aims to create a safe space for young people to create and share a dialogue regarding their life experiences within their neighborhood and their vision for the future of their own community. Biking together creates a stronger sense of community as well as social-emotional health, repairs are driven by a framework of project-based learning, and our bike-a-thons will challenge and expose the crew’s understanding of Public Health as well as Environmental Justice within their community.”

Rodriguez acknowledges those who have donated whether in their time, repair tools and bikes.

 

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Newark CentricCity Events Launch Oct. 1

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Newark CentricCity Events is about getting people to attend and participate in outings, activities, events and happenings curated by Suzanne Joblonski with collaborations with the Newark community.

She created Newark CentricCity Events as a means to promote Newark, the adopted city that she fell in love with after attending many Newark Bears baseball games dating back to 2009 while still living in New York. Not believing the negative hype of what the news was reporting about this city and it’s people, Suzanne began exploring this city on foot and public transportation. That led to posting photos and reflections on social media and blogs to chronicle what the media was blatantly ignoring.

In March 2017, one month shy of her year anniversary as a Newark resident, she began amping up her free publicity of who and what is making Newark shine brightly for not only Newarkers to see, hear and learn about their fellow residents but also the world. She often hears from people she should be the city’s ambassador dubbing her Miss Everywhere as she is everywhere. She encourages you to follow her on one of her many sites and explore #EverythingNewarkEveryday both virtually and in real life.

Become an Newark Arts Ambassador

All week (hopefully) you have read my interviews with the staff of Newark Arts and their roles within the organization.

Today’s blogpost will feature Project Associate, Nikki Horwitz who is responsible for many things in the organization, but I will focus on her management of the many volunteers or Ambassadors as they call them.

Horwitz explained the process of how to become an ambassador, why they are so vital in this organization and while not paid, but provided with numerous benefits and opportunities.  For instance, I became an ambassador as a way of getting acclimated in Newark after I moved there. That was over a year ago. I have since made some new friendships, have been exposed to different forms of arts, met well-known to up and coming artists, and learned valuable skills such as outreach, marketing, networking, event planning and more. It also looks very good on my resume, but also inspired me to create a daily social calendar of events happening in Newark that this organization now fully promotes on their website as well.

With the Open Doors Citywide Festival coming up, the organization depends on it’s ambassadors to assist well before the commencement of this four day event. Horwitz explained this can take many forms. From distributing informational handouts throughout Newark and beyond, identifying spots for exhibits, recruiting new ambassadors, reaching out to artists and so much more.  If you are interested, send her an email nikki@newarkarts.org or by signing up online.

For Ambassador Paul Dennison said he volunteers with Newark Arts because “I wanted to find a way to support the arts.” He cited his favorite way is doing so is during the Open Doors Citywide Festival. “This includes supporting the (participating) galleries by doing set ups prior to the event with clean up, arranging the art pieces.”

Throughout the year, there are still plenty of opportunities to volunteer for Newark Arts. I would encourage you to do so for the reasons I provided, but also be a part of something great now that cultural plan for Newark was announced this week.

 

 

Opening The Doors To Newark Arts

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Today’s blog post features an interview with Newark Arts Marketing Manager,         Lauren Craig.

We talked about how Newark Arts is opening the doors for artists of all types, gallery owners, curators, Newark residents, visitors to Newark, people that work in the city and beyond.

This year marks the 16th year of Newark Arts Open Doors Citywide Festival that Craig promised will be the “best year yet. You will be amazed at the star power at this year’s Open Doors.”

In case you did not know what Open Doors is: Craig explained, it’s a citywide arts festival in Newark, “where all the doors of the studios, galleries and lots of popups are open. This year it’s October 12-15th. We invite the community, not just the Newark community, but statewide and the surrounding areas to come and visit see all that Newark Arts has to offer.”

A little different this year  while the participating venues will be open all throughout the festival each day there will be cluster for a particular area. Follow Newark Arts for up to date info and details.

October 12th

University Heights District: Fownders

October 13th Market Street District: Gallery Aferro, Art and Artifacts of Newark, Index Art Center

October 14th

Halsey Street District that includes the Newark Print Shop, City Without Walls including the popular Murals and Martinis Tour that concludes with a sneak peak into to soon to be opened The Grammy Museum and more.

October 15th

Gateway District , Project for Empty Space;  Ironbound and Military Park District

Other ways this not for profit agency is opening the doors to arts in Newark is by providing and administering of ArtStart grants to artists of all types that work with the community and youth. Craig explained, “It is a selection process that gives artists anywhere from $3,000-5,000 to fund their program.” She added, “That (these grants) have funded a lot to well-known art organizations in Newark, (such as helping getting) the Newark Print Shop started. This year there 16 recipients.

Another way is through partnerships with companies and organizations such as Newark Downtown District and Greater Newark Visitors Bureau. Craig said, “We’re the promotional power behind different events that we partner with.” They post and share what’s happening mostly through social media as it’s the most effective way to reach people. I would definitely encourage everyone to like and follow as well as check out the Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival.image001 (1).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newark Creates A Vibrant Art City

In yesterday’s blogpost, I mentioned that Mayor Baraka was scheduled to make an announcement of Newark’s Cultural Plan known as Newark Creates under the Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5) in City Hall. And he did to a packed room.

Continuing with the introduction of Newark Arts staff, please allow me to introduce to you Susan Schear, Deputy Director.

Schear explained to me as a Deputy Director she “wears many hats” but this post will be about Newark Creates. Many meetings were held throughout Newark, where the staff listened and collected community input on what they want for their city. She says, “we focused tremendously on the neighborhoods” as every neighborhood in Newark has different wants and needs. These conversations engaged the community to “design neighborhood community conversations to gather insight on access (needs, barriers, goals, visions) to arts and culture for stakeholder groups.”

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Newark Arts Builds Bridges In Newark

As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came upon a post that was captioned “Art builds bridges.” This statement cannot be more fitting as Mayor Ras J. Baraka of the City of Newark plans to announce the Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5) report on September 12th at 1130am in City Hall.

The leading organization behind this is Newark Arts. Everyday this week I will feature and introduce you to staff.

Today I introduce you to Executive Director, Jeremy Johnson and Executive Assistant to Jeremy V. Johnson and Office Manager, Ruby Annette Evans.

In an interview  with them, they both reiterated the mission of Newark Arts, “Powering the arts to transform the lives who work, live and play in the great city of Newark, New Jersey.”

Johnson explains, “We are like the electricity that powers the house and without the electricity, they (appliances) don’t work. We bring the power to the arts, funding to the arts, art folks together by helping make Newark a city of the arts that brings it to Newarkers and people beyond Newark.”

He adds, “Newark Arts helps facilitate this by bringing together people and initiatives that help make the city stronger through lots of partnerships. He says, “We are like a bunch of artistic cats. We corral them together.”

He emphasizes that this could not be possible with their greatest ally, The Mayor. Mayor Baraka, who is an artist himself from the beginning of his administration has supported the arts in all it’s forms. He created The Office of Arts, Cultural Development and Tourism that is led by Gwen Moten.

Newark Arts also helps artists by giving them a voice. Evans who is the “eyes and ears keeping him apprisedof all matters” of Johnson, says, “We are the mouthpiece for artists who might not have the opportunity to be seen, heard, or for people to witness their great work and contributions here in the city.” She emphasized that “If they (artists) connect with us, then we can connect them to other opportunities.” She cited the example when “corporate sponsors call looking to fill their walls and spaces” the organization in turn reaches out to the artists.

After speaking with Johnson, it is evident his love for the arts and Newark are one in the same. He says, “Art helps the economy and make our city grow, healthier, safer, more beautiful, more educated, a more prideful city.”

He cited a number of ways that this is already happening to a city that has had it’s unfair casting of negative perceptions over the years. On any given Thursday summer evening, there is NJPAC’s Sounds of the City. Other days dogs are bringing their humans to the movies at The Newark Museum and the next day gathering with folks watching the eclipse and learning from the astronomers at the museum’s planetarium. When driving, drivers can take in Gateway To Newark (Portraits) mural along McCarter Highway or a number of them on once blighted buildings around the city.

As Newark moves forward, Johnson does have a wish list for Newark Arts and the city. They include: “More young people to have more arts in their lives by having people invested in the city’s youth join and participate in the Newark Arts Education RoundTable (NAER), that are making things happen.” Another is for “artists that call Newark home and will remain their home as they build their craft as they find art lovers to enjoy their art.” For neighborhoods: “to have funding and dollars to bring art to far flung areas of Newark that don’t always get the attention and help they need…who could be inspired by art if they could access it more.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Reflection On Why I #❤Newark

20170831_003935In the last few months, I have become a rather recognizable face in Newark. Some know my name, others do not, but follow me on any one or all of my social media pages. I did not intend for that to happen, but with some (okay a lot of) motivation by friends, the constant negative media reports and love for my adopted city–someone had to step up and advocate and showcase the Newark I like so many who live here, LOVE.
I began informally chronicling Newark for 8 years ago as a response to my New York friends thinking I was crazy visiting this city for what initially was Newark Bears baseball games. They, like I heard and read what the traditional news was reporting about what was happening here, but I never observed any of that on my excursions to and from Newark Penn Station. I would always pick different ways to walk whether it was up Market Street turning right on Broad Street or along McCarter Highway. After awhile, I became curious to see what else was happening in this city. I learned about Newark Riverfront Revival’s $5.00 boat tours along the Passaic River, The Newark Museum, NJPAC‘s Sounds of The City free summer concerts The Newark Public Library, and much more. That October weekend, I had read a listing about the Newark Arts Open Doors, I found myself inside the WBGO studios, The New Jersey Historical Society–where a quote from Frederick Douglass was posted in one of the exhibits, ” If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” A fitting quote for this city as it’s being redeveloped and in some instances developed. I was falling in love with this place and I owed it all to my love of baseball.
I eventually left New York and moved to Belleville, but spent a lot of time in and out of Newark by bus as I do not drive. I not only did I begin to learn about it’s history, but also the contributions Newarkers of past and present made and were making to this nation and the larger world. Eventually I would board random buses to view what I read about. Like the day, I took the #5 Bus to see for myself the streets that were named for The Newark Eagles, the team that won the 1946 Negro Leagues World Series. But enough about baseball, for now.
On March 20th of this year, I attended Mayor Baraka’s State of the City and found myself sitting amongst supporters of his who knew him when he was a principal. Some even claimed to know his mother, Amina  and father Amiri which I admit at the time had only heard of, but not knowing their legacy in Newark. I went there with an open mind, but also to hear from and eventually fully support Mayor Baraka who was now my mayor too. I had finally moved out of Belleville and that month marked my 11th month as a Newark resident. I had spent much of last year attending many events and activities as part of Newark’s 350th Anniversary Celebration chaired by by Junius Williams. I learned a great deal and continued to post photos and reflections of what to me was fascinating. I had the same friends who was thinking I was crazy tell me, “you should become Newark’s ambassador.” I laughed it off until I got home that night and viewed a FOX 5 reporter’s Facebook Live video of her short time here that evening.
Now mind you Ms. Evers was on the corner of Broad and Market Streets during her video and just a few blocks from NJPAC, she spoke with only three people in what looked like rush hour. Her report was negative and continued to cast this city’s torrid reputation as being truthful. I publicly invited her on a tour of not only what she missed during her short visit, but also the Mayor’s address. She dismissed my opinions and never took me up on the offer to return.
This inspired me to create Newark CentricCity By BrickCity Emigree on Facebook that launched on March 21st and this blog here with accompanying pages on InstagramTwitter, and Reddit to give Newark and Newarkers forums to shine brightly. It’s been a labor of love, as well as a real look inside the city from an outside perspective. Though I never feel like an outsider. Along the way, I have met some wonderful people from all walks of life and in all kinds of professions, learned about stories history books and news accounts forgotten about or twisted, discovered that there is really no need to leave Newark to find fun things to do. These activities include FREE if not low cost art exhibitions at any one of the city’s galleries and studios, concerts in the parks and the newly built Clinton Avenue Community Sound Stage, walking tours, talks, art making workshops, video production classes, 3D printing classes, film festivals like the upcoming Newark International Film Festival on September 8-10th, poetry readings, joining a kickball league, kayaking, dancing at the library, playing hockey with the New Jersey Devils, and so much more. These and more are on my pages so that way when folks look back on Newark they will note a much better reputation it has than the news has been giving this place. Slowly, I have been reading and hearing better, but they still have a long way to go.
If ever in doubt, I encourage to like and follow my pages as you will find a daily social calendar of the events I know happening before they happen, interviews with Newarkers–what they’re doing and how to get in touch with them, and reposts of NewarkCentric info and resources. Should you wish to be featured or want to reach me, my contact info is below.
Also, please stay tuned because I am not only working on bringing readers new blog posts, but also creating NewarkCentric Events.
A special thank you to Newark residents, Graphic Designer and Artist Sindy Snchz for creating and designing my business cards and Julia at StickEmUpInc for printing them.
Peace and Love,
Suzanne Joblonski

Newark Summer Fun In The City Ends This Week

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This may be the last week of Newark’s Summer Fun In The City, but it’s ending with events you do not want to miss.

I recently had an opportunity to meet and interview, Trevor Phillips, Senior Manager for The Mayor’s Office of Special Projects. In addition to that role, he also serves as the Manager of the Centers of Hope located in the city of Newark.

Phillips says, “Im a firm believer in bringing top-notch performers and entertainment. There’s no need to go to New York.”  (Blogger Note If you are regular follower of mine, you will see that I am at many events here in Newark because everything I find of interest is found here.)

Today (August 28th) Amma Whatt and Beat Haven will be performing at the Clinton Avenue Community Sound Stage at Clinton and Peshine Avenues to conclude the            Our Neck Of the Woods series for the summer.

The first was an Open Mic Night hosted by Kween Moore that featured some of Newark’s greatest talent. Performers included performers JimmySoDope, Spoken Word Artists UninvitedMaine and Sean Battle, 16 year old singer Leah Jenea and poet 11 year old Sarae Belton.

The second week featured one of Newark’s most famous Hoofers, Maurice Chestnut, singer Elijah Brand and a brother and sister duo The Ubuntu Theory, who through their music spread positive, empathetic, and responsive messages.

On Tuesday August 29th, Summer Movies in The Park concludes at Military Park. The feature is Fences starting at 9pm

In case you miss Tuesday’s showing, on Wednesday August 30th you can catch it at Homestead Park starting at 7pm.

On August 31st Street Hockey with New Jersey Devils visit Pennington Court from 4-7pm.

To conclude the week, on September 1st, the first 3,000 Newark children accompanied by a parent can receive a book bag and enjoy a day of fun at the Back to School Fun Day at JFK Recreational Center from 12-7pm.

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If you have any questions or require additional information about these or upcoming events, The Office of Special Projects can be reached at 973-733-5460.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newark’s LGBTQ Community Past and Present Remembered

As you (hopefully) have read from my previous posts, I am very much into learning about and discovering Newark’s past and present as well as behind-the-scenes of my city and neighbors–all 282,000 of them.

One such discovery includes the free downtown walking tours offered as part of this summer’s activities at Military Park on Thursdays at 6pm. I have been on three already. Each of them offered me insight on what the future may look like downtown during an architectural tour by a recent NJIT architecture graduate, the historical significance of buildings that were once home to something else before what they are today, and 19th century mansions that were once home to early influential Newarkers and are still maintained as private residences today. Fortunately, they are preserved and their history is remembered while other facets of Newark’s history is not as easily so.

Case in point: this week’s tour by The Queer Newark Oral History Project (QNOHP). I had no idea such a project existed and was very curious to learn more ahead of the tour. After doing some research, I contacted them via Facebook asking for an interview.  I received a quick reply from Kristyn Scorsone, a staff member of the project who agreed to meet up with me.

I learned QNOHP is a community-based and community driven project that aims to collect and preserve the voices and history of Newark’s LGBTQ community based out of Rutgers-Newark. It was founded six years ago this summer by activist, writer, and the first chair of the City of Newark’s advisory Commission on LGBTQ Concerns, Darnell Moore and Rutgers-Newark colleagues, History Professor Beryl Satter, and Christina Strasburger, Department Administrator for the History and African-American and African Studies Departments.

This was in response to how queer history often only includes the contributions of white gay men and to a lesser extent, white lesbians in cities like New York or San Francisco. “Newark gets overshadowed, especially people of color. This project is trying to rectify this history,” says Scorsone.

The public archive is available to anyone with Internet access. By no means is it complete and want to continue to “capture people’s voices.”  They are also collecting physical items to add to their collection and “recently received a generous donation from James Credle, a former dean at Rutgers-Newark and highly decorated Vietnam veteran and leader in Newark’s LGBTQ community. If interested in participating, I have included several ways for you to contact them at the end of this post.

You can also meet them on one of their tours. On July 6th at 6pm and on July 13th to kick off Newark Pride Week at 630pm both begin outside of Burg inside Military Park.

These absolutely free tours, the first of its kind are for anyone who wants to know more about Newark’s queer history and led by four facilitator “to reflective nature of our team.”

Scorsone shares, “I would like to point out that although many of the queer spaces in Newark that we point out no longer exist, that this is not a tour about loss, but about potential and growth. The queer community, like other communities, shifts and changes, but it’s still here and it’s visible. You just have to know where to look! So on this tour we are asking folks to think about how has this community been expressed over time?”

Tour highlights include: the former location of Murphy’s Tavern that was located on Edison Place; Broad and Market Streets, where in 2007,  Sakia Gunn, a 15 year old teen was killed for rebuking a straight male’s advances as well as a discussion about the documentary Out in the Nightstops along Halsey Street that is home to a number of LGBTQ businesses, and end at the Newark LGBTQ Community Center.

Narrowing down the topics and stops were not easy because there are (were) many throughout the city. Scorsone, says of the ones they chose “we feel they give a good overview of Newark’s queer history and the various contributions queer people have made in Newark. We also wanted to highlight the community’s resiliency and how they have built a queer cultural landscape in Newark that existed in the past and still continues to flourish.”

How can you help make this possible? Queer Newark is always looking for volunteers with interviewing and transcribing as well as anyone who can help with website design. They are always looking for more people who would like to be interviewed for the project! If you are interested in being interviewed for the project you send message on Facebook or Twitter (@QueerNewark) or email at queernk@rutgers.edu.

Website: http://queer.newark.rutgers.edu

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QueerNewark/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/QueerNewark

 

The Women of Newark, New Jersey Are Loved

On May 12, 2017 the City of Newark opened The Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center for women of every nationality, ethnicity, straight, LGBTQ residing in Newark and affected by domestic violence.

As a survivor, I felt fortunate to be at this event because when I went thorugh my own ordeal, Newark was where I received the most help while I was living in and after I moved out of a domestic violence shelter. When women who are experiencing this, there is often the feeling no one understands what I am going through. Society as a whole tends to treat domestic violence as a personal problem rather than the real epidemic that it is. For a city to open a center such as this one is a huge step in letting women know that the abuse not their fault, they are not alone and caring people are employed in positions to help.

We were welcomed by Amina Bey, Executive Director, Newark Workforce Development Board, followed by a moving prayer by Rev. Louise Roundtree, musical selections by Newark Boys Choir, and a poem by one of Newark’s well-known artists, Kween Moore who was accompanied by Bassist, Jamale D Deshon as she recited her piece.

It was an event, according to Mayor Ras Baraka both a “sad and happy occasion.” Sad because his beloved sister, the namesake of this center bears the name Shani Baraka. Shani lost her life because of a fatal domestic violence incident With family members, The Newark City Council, Newark dignitaries, community partners and organizations, and survivors residents in attendance, Mayor Baraka’s eyes welled up as he reflected on this once neglected lot he drives by daily.

The happiness comes from how that became a one-stop shop for all Newark women gay or straight and their children in crisis due to domestic violence. Typically, one affected by domestic violence would have to visit multiple agencies throughout the city in order to receive assistance for the services they required. Now they do not have to, as everything but the courts are located within the center. The services offered include counseling, mental health services, shelter, job placement and training as well assistance from the Newark Police Department‘s Special Victims Unit and the mandated Domestic Violence Response Team. As the mayor promised and said, “the most vulnerable amongst us will finally get help” noting that the majority of the 300,000 residents of Newark are women.

Once his acknowledgements concluded, family members participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony. Then guests were invited inside to tour the center and the staff of the programs housed within, watch a video by FilmMaker, LeRon Lee  and Cobblestone MultiMedia, and partake in the reception. The video featured women who openly spoke about their experiences being affected by domestic violence and praised the opening of the center. You can surmise that had this center been available to them, they would have definitely utilized it.

Continuing on the theme of how much Newark loves women, the unveiling of Yendor Productions latest mural, Every Mother is taking place on Saturday May 13th, 2017 at 545 Hawthorne Avenue, Rodney Gilbert, Executive Director, Yendor Productions explained, “The mural is dedicated to mothers who lost their children to violence or some other kind of loss.” His mission is “to serve underserved populations while beautifying the city.”  He added, “Yendor and the city want to let the mothers know we love them and we are family.

After the unveiling, there will be a reception at the resource center beginning at 12pm. His hopes are for the mothers to learn about the services and take advantage of them as they begin to living without their deceased children. In a sense, let them know they are not alone as he said, “we are all family.”

Edit: Please note due to inclement weather the mural unveiling and reception that was to follow has been postponed for another date not yet scheduled.

The Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center is located at 300 Clinton Avenue, Newark NJ         Monday-Friday 830am-500pm Tel. 973-757-7377
National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and 1-800-787-3224
In the event there is an emergency, call 911.
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