Newark Note: June 30, 2016

NJ entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to win $25,000 in cash and prizes for their business

opportunities cardNew Jersey’s entrepreneurs and small business owners still have the opportunity to enter the 2016 Start Something Challenge (SSC), as the competition’s deadline has been extended to 11:59 p.m. today, Thursday June 30, 2016.

Hosted by Rising Tide Capital, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs to start and grow successful small businesses, the SSC is a business pitch competition with more than $25,000 in cash and prizes for New Jersey’s entrepreneurs, including a $10,000 first prize.

“We had so many calls this morning from people who were asking us if it was too late to enter the competition, that we decided to go ahead and extend the deadline,” said Esther Fraser, Director of Communications at Rising Tide Capital. “We want to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to participate in, and benefit from the competition, and we want to make sure that they are able to get their entries in comfortably.”


To enter the SSC, entrepreneurs must create a 30-second video about their business or business idea using the online tool Animoto. Next they need to write a, 150-word business description and upload both the video and description to the Start Something Challenge website and YouTube.

As soon as they enter the competition, they may begin promoting their videos. The six entrepreneurs with the most video views in each  of the 5 sectors by noon on July 6, will move on in the competition. After another round of viewing and voting, 10 entrepreneurs, 2 from each sector will pitch their businesses before a group of judges on July 28.

Entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the competition should visit the website or email

How to make an Animoto video for the Start Something Challenge


How to upload to YouTube for the Start Something Challenge

Newark Note: June 29, 2016

Outdoor movies in Military Park to feature Purple Rain, Coming to America, Star Wars & other fan favorites

things to do cardNewark’s Military Park (downtown at Raymond Boulevard and Broad Street from the south, and Broad and Rector Streets from the north ) will bring back its summer outdoor movie series this coming Tuesday, July 5th when it airs Star Wars immediately after the opening night of the Guard D’Avant music festival (which itself will run five Tuesdays in a row starting July 5th).

For the seven Tuesdays afterwards, the park will air movies starting at 9 p.m., including Prince’s classic concert film Purple Rain, Eddie Murphy’s still-hilarious-nearly-30-years-later movie Coming to America, and the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba.

Movies will be shown on the park’s Great Lawn, which is the end closest to NJPAC. The showings are free and open to the public.

See below for the full schedule:

July 5th: Star Wars

star wars

July 12th: Jaws


July 19th: Enter the Dragon

enter the dragon

July 26th: Purple Rain

purple rain

August 2: Chavez


August 9: Beasts of No Nation

beasts of no nation

August 16: The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

inevitable defeat mister pete

August 23: Coming to America

coming to america

Follow Military Park on their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Newark Note: June 28, 2016

Get truly homegrown produce from the Greater Newark Conservancy’s Youth Farm Stands

From kale and collards to tomatoes, strawberries and more, Greater Newark Conservancy’s Youth Farm Stands are the city’s source for “Newark Fresh” produce grown in season on the Conservancy’s Court Street and Hawthorne Avenue urban farms.

Now open and running until the harvest season ends in November, the farms stands provide affordable, nutritious, and locally grown produce for people who live, learn, and work in Newark, as well as opportunities for the city’s young people.

The Farm Stand program is run by student interns from the Conservancy’s Newark Youth Leadership Project (NYLP), a year-round job training and leadership development program for Newark high school students. NYLP interns manage the Farm Stand program under the direction of the Conservancy’s professional staff.

The Youth Farm Stands are open every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., and Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m. till 6:30 p.m. at the Conservancy’s Outdoor Learning Center (entrance located on Broome Street). The stands accept many forms of payment including cash, credit and debit cards, checks made out to Greater Newark Conservancy, WIC vouchers, senior vouchers or SNAP benefits.

To see your produce fresh-picked, visit the Youth Farm Stand from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Court Street Farm, located at 138 Court Street behind the Krueger Scott Mansion, or support the Youth Farm Stand at the newest farmer’s market in town every Saturday at the corner of Ferry and St. Charles in the Ironbound. You can also find a Conservancy Youth Farm Stand at the Farmer’s Market held every Thursday at PSEG Plaza in downtown Newark. Check for the most current schedule and locations.

As part of the Garden State Good Food Network, customers can now shop at the Conservancy’s Youth Farm Stands using their Families First Cards and double the value of their purchases. Similar farmers’ market incentive programs are now offered at more than 300 markets in over 26 states and Washington, D.C.

“NYLP student interns play an integral role in our expanding urban farming initiatives that are producing thousands of pounds of healthy and nutritious produce that are contributing to better nutrition for everyone from children to senior citizens in the City of Newark and beyond,” noted the Conservancy’s Executive Director, Robin Dougherty.

She continued: “The program underscores the sustainability that is at the core of the Conservancy’s mission, with graduates of the program returning to serve as college mentors and becoming advocates for a greener and healthier communities.”

Contact Mujica at 973.642.4646, with questions about the Youth Farm Stand and NYLP programs. For more information about Greater Newark Conservancy’s other programs and services, to volunteer or to make a donation call 973.642.4646 or visit You can also follow news from the Conservancy through social media at plus Twitter and Instagram – @Citybloom87.

NJPAC’s Sounds of the City free concert series returns July 7th

things to do cardWhen DJ Felix Hernandez fired up his turntables for his debut at NJPAC’s outdoor summer concert series nearly two decades ago, people were literally dancing in the streets.

“We were out on Center Street … Theater Square wasn’t built yet,” recalls the 56-year-old Brooklynite, a tune-in favorite of WBGO Jazz88.3 FM listeners. “I guess they closed it off to traffic. I played the song ‘Dancing in the Street’ and everybody went wild.”

There are many longstanding traditions at NJPAC, but in the heat of July nothing rivals the blast of coolness that Hernandez’s Rhythm Revue Dance Party brings each year to Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City. The customary opening concert, Rhythm Revue Dance Party returns on July 7 to kick off the Thursday twilight series of free music.


“For many summers, the Rhythm Revue has established itself as one of the best scenes for lovers of Motown and R&B – of all generations – to mingle on the dance floor,” says David Rodriguez, NJPAC’s Executive Vice President and Executive Producer. “NJPAC is always glad to welcome Felix back to sound the opening bell for our summertime lineup of reggae, jazz, world music, soul, salsa and hip-hop.”

This season’s edition of the Dance Party is a milestone for the radio host: He’s celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first Rhythm Revue broadcast (formerly Harlem Hit Parade) on WBGO, which airs the program on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. The Rhythm Revue dance parties, which began in New York in 1991, are the live versions of the metro area’s first and longest running radio show dedicated to classic R&B and soul music.

It was probably in the stars that Hernandez would someday spin the hits, since his parents met at a dance party. He says it’s a little tougher to get a hang-loose Jersey crowd on its feet, unlike in New York, but “that’s my job.” A few of his sure-fire spins include Michael Jackson’s “You Rock My World,” Double Exposure’s “My Love Is Free” and Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa.”

“I like to think of Sounds of the City as a gathering of all types of people, from all walks of life,” says Hernandez, who’s also been heard on WBLS-FM, 98.7 KISS-FM and SiriusXM and hosts dance parties at Resorts World Casino in Queens and on the Hornblower yacht cruises around Manhattan.

“It’s a place where everybody can come together and celebrate their love of music. I think music, more than anything, brings people together.”


Traditionally, Hernandez is first in line to open the eight-concert series – the hometown contingent has come to expect him to summon them to the dance floor as a kind of ritual to launch the season.

“Thousands of people who live and work here enjoy Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City, and it is rewarding to Horizon as a Newark company to harmonize with NJPAC on something that energizes the entire downtown region,” says Jonathan R. Pearson, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Horizon BCBSNJ.

The outdoor music plays from 5 to 9pm and admission is always free. Here’s what’s coming up:

The dial on dance music is set to high for the following date, July 14, with the arrival of Tiempo Libre, a triple Grammy-nominated group that’s considered one of the hottest Latin bands in the metro. Their blend of Afro-Caribbean music, described as “dance music of sophistication and abandon” by The New York Times, features an irresistible, exhilarating mix of jazz harmonies and seductive Latin rhythms. A globe-circling band that’s at home in concert halls jazz clubs or dance venues, Tiempo Libre has been seen on The Tonight Show, Live from Lincoln Center and Dancing with the Stars, as well as on many programs on Univision and Telemundo.

Opening for Tiempo Libre is pianist and composer Nicki Denner and her trio. Denner has worked with Sheila E., Savion Glover, Doc Severinsen and many jazz artists here and abroad, and is musical director for the group Cocomama. Her album Moliendo Café was named one of the “Top 10 Picks of 2006” by Latin Beat magazine.


Hip-hop great Rakim appears with other emcees and rap artists gathered for Universal Hip Hop Museum’s The Peace, Unity & Love Show on July 21. Hosted by Roxanne Shante, this creative showcase is a fist-pumping salute to hip-hop culture, bringing such names to the stage as Renee Neufville (formerly of the group Zhane), T Ski Valley, Original B Fats, Reggie Reg (of the Crash Crew), Lakim Shabazz, Chip Fu and Lava Pit recording artists Antonius The Realist and Milwaukee Lateef. Other music is provided by Grand Wizard Theodore (one of the founders of Universal Hip Hop Museum with Kurtis Blow), Cutman LG of SiriusXM radio and Miranda Writes. Rakim, critically acclaimed for his lyric-writing talents as half of Eric B. & Rakim, and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee, was ranked on all-time-best-album lists (MTV, Rolling Stone magazine) for his groundbreaking work on the top-selling Paid in Full.

Founded in 2012, the Universal Hip Hop Museum gives voice to the stories of the people, events and artifacts that shaped hip-hop, through digital collections, virtual exhibits, interviews, pop-up experiences, award shows, and other educational programs and activities.


On July 28, Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City presents Kamasi Washington, the eclectic saxophonist who began his career with The Young Jazz Giants and has toured with Snoop Dogg, Gerald Wilson and R&B legend Raphael Saadiq. He also has performed and recorded with such artists as McCoy Tyner, Lauryn Hill, Chaka Khan, Freddie Hubbard and Kendrick Lamar (on his acclaimed 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly).

Washington’s music, described by The Los Angeles Times as “defiantly modern … with runaway-train momentum,” encompasses jazz to hip-hop. His most recent CD, The Epic, features The Next Step – his 10-piece band – along with a full string orchestra and choir.


Summer means it’s time to uncork the reggae. Junior Marvin’s Wailers – fronted by the blues-rock guitarist whose credits include a part in The Beatles’ film Help! – draws on years of collaboration with Bob Marley and the Wailers in a concert on August 4. Junior Marvin, an innovative and expressive musician, was an original member of the London cast of the musical Hair and served his musical apprenticeship in America by performing with the likes of T-Bone Walker and Ike and Tina Turner.

Marvin contributed to albums by Gerry Lockran, Fairport Convention, Sandy Deny and many others on the UK scene and was a writer, singer and lead guitarist for albums by the Keef Hartley Band. He can be found on CDs with Beres Hammond, Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, and The Congos.

DJ Lumumba aka Revolution opens this performance.


August 11 brings Avery*Sunshine, one of the most dynamic voices on the creative music scene, who also is known for her compelling and honest songwriting. The singer has collaborated with the likes of Roy Ayers, Will Downing and Musiq Soulchild and choral-directed for live performances by Michael Bublé, David Foster, Anthony Hamilton and Jennifer Holliday. She is heard on the soundtrack of The Fighting Temptations.

Singer and songwriter Bradd Marquis opens the performance. A spiritual troubadour with the pulse of the common man, he boasts a baritone dipped in Southern soul. Since breaking through the New York airwaves with the R&B hit “Radio,” he has been seen on Apollo Live, 106 & Park and Showtime at the Apollo.


Tortured Soul – three distinctive guys, from three different backgrounds – get the crowd dancing to their deep, soulful house music on August 18. Influenced by the classic songcraft of Prince, Heatwave and Kool & The Gang, the members of Tortured Soul are united under a groove-centered rhythm. The band’s frontman and songwriter, John-Christian Urich (“Might Do Something Wrong”), can be seen simultaneously drumming and singing with effortless mastery, while bassist Jordan Scannella and keyboardist Isamu McGregor are virtuosos at generating the pulsating accompaniment.

A’ndre Davis, an R&B/hip-hop singer and songwriter, warms up the stage. Born and raised in Newark, he toured with The Temptations as their opening artist.


The final concert on August 25 features Philly-born Bilal, one of the most eclectic of R&B vocal artists, who takes his inspirations from gospel, jazz, soul, blues and hip-hop. Bilal’s 2010 album, Airtight’s Revenge, yielded the Grammy-nominated song “Little Ones.” Three years later, his release A Love Surreal garnered critical acclaim when it was named one of People magazine’s Top 10 albums of the year.

Walter Christopher, who opens the evening, is known to fans as “Walt Chris”: a singer-songwriter who can slide effortlessly from playing an R&B gig to a sanctified gospel church to a swinging jazz club.

West Ward Diary #24: On fresh fruit, coincidences and fate

To read all #WestWardDiary posts, visit

neighborhoods cardOn Long Island there is a town that holds an annual sunflower contest, with prizes for the tallest, fullest, and yellowest. One person wins each category.

In sharp contrast, here in the West Ward we neighbors work together, under my neighbor Ali’s expert direction, to festoon our block with approximately twelve zillion sunflowers. This amazing display hits is stride in late August; I encourage you to stop by and see.

My neighbors are expert gardeners. While Ali shares his blooms with me, Olga cultivates her own. I water the young sunflowers twice daily until they “hit.” Ali explained to me once, “When I was young in Guyana, I was in charge of watering my father’s gardens until I graduated. You have to water the big ones a gallon every day, until they hit.”


I understood what Ali meant: the frail things grow increasingly robust with each watering until eventually they take water from the earth. While Ali watered, we chatted under a blue sky. I watched two of Herbie’s children speed down Rodwell Avenue on their bicycles. The young girl lifted her feet off the pedals as she zoomed past us. Ali caught my attention when he said over his shoulder, “This year there are over 100 plants in this yard.”

Ali continued watering and telling his story. “One of my father’s fields was all flowers.” Ali motioned to his own giant yard, indicating the size was about the same. This boggled my mind.

“It is tropical in Guyana, so the flowers bloom all year,” Ali continued. He has told me his life story in bits and pieces over the years, On this day, I learned of his father’s generosity. “People came from miles around to see. For weddings and for funerals,” he said. “My father allowed the visitors to pick the flowers.

Ali surveyed his magnificent yard: broccoli, tomatoes, long beans, greens, squash, not to mention fruit trees, including one delicate fruit-laden cherry tree. I can only imagine how proud Ali’s father would feel. Switching gears, Ali confided to me, smiling, “I still laugh about your pumpkin with the guys at work!” By this time we were both laughing.

It was not really “my” pumpkin. Shortly after I moved to the West Ward, a goofy pumpkin vine found its way from one of Ali’s yards, right onto my front stoop, and all the way up the stairs. That year, my front stoop sported a Halloween pumpkin still on the vine.

Ali stopped watering. He pointed, catching my gaze to make sure I noticed. Though I had been out watering twice daily all week, it was Ali who spotted this year’s first sunflower bloom. “This one is special because it is the first. Soon the whole place will look beautiful, but not as beautiful as this first one,” he mused.

I observed this was pretty deep, and Ali raised an eyebrow and waved me away, returning to his watering. We continued to chat. He reminded me of the time a sunflower randomly grew through a crack my front stoop, several years later.

“Those things,” Ali confided, turning to me, “mean you are supposed to be here.”

Newark Note: June 27, 2016