Newark

Newark's 10-Year Cultural Plan Revealed

18 hours ago
City of Newark

Newark’s major arts organization has unveiled a ten year plan for the city’s creative scene. According to Deputy Director Susan Schear, the plan, called Newark Creates, is sensitive to concerns about preserving the city’s culture.

“We want to make sure that we’re not repeating what has happened in different cultures or different locations, where the arts build up the community and then they are pushed out. So we are very consent and cautious about that and want to make sure that again, there is continuity and sustainability.”  

Ang Santos / WBGO

The Newark Department of Public Safety is upgrading its fire vehicle fleet, while also preparing for future winter storms.  Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says the new trucks are a cost-effective investment in the city’s public safety and public works departments.

“Three custom 110-foot aerial ladder trucks, seven hazmat fire vehicles, eleven sanitation dump trucks, and nine street sweepers.  The sanitation trucks are equipped with snow plows in the front of them, thank god,” Baraka said.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Ever ask Siri the answer to zero divided by zero?

"Imagine that you have zero cookies and you split them evenly among zero friends. How many cookies does each person get? See? It doesn't make sense. And Cookie Monster is sad that there are no cookies, and you are sad that you have no friends."

Ang Santos / WBGO

  

Newark’s city run extreme weather shelter won’t close at least until the end of August, but Mayor Baraka is looking into other ways to support the homeless.

“Every month is not a rough weather event so don’t have justification for keeping the shelter open 365 days a year.  There are providers who can do that and will do that.  We will support them, so they continue to do that.”

Baraka is creating a city-wide commission to help the homeless.

Ang Santos / WBGO

The Wells Fargo Regional Foundation is giving a grant of $100,000 to a pair of Newark non-profit organizations that advocate for the Lincoln Park neighborhood in the city’s central ward.      

The community organizations will hold several meetings to hear how residents would like to use the grant. Anthony Smith of Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District expects an insightful response.

In 2016, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Newark Public Schools sent out a joint statement calling for additional testing, monitoring and remediation of Newark's water supply in schools after discovering levels of lead that exceed the allowable state and federal levels. The city says they are complying with recommendations to address lead in Newark's water. Two groups have filed a lawsuit against the city claiming enough hasn't been done.  

Ang Santos / WBGO

The Regional Plan Association (RPA) proposes a thirty to forty year long, $50 billion overhaul of Newark Airport.  The plan includes a third runway and a transportation hub connecting PATH train service.  

Barbara Kukla
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Barbara Kukla has written seven books about the people of Newark including the latest, Newark Women: From Suffragettes to the Statehouse.

Before her retirment from newspaper writing in 2004, Kukla spent 43 years as a journalist, most of the that at The Star-Ledger, where she first served as a general assingment reporter and Sunday city editor.

Many of her books have been focused on the jazz scene in Newark.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Of the hundreds of thousands of American student-athletes that hope to break into professional sports, about one-percent make a living out of it.  

“Out of all of the people in here, how many do you think will actually make it to the pros?” asked a student from West Side High School. 

New York Giants safety Michael Thomas told students it starts with a strong work ethic on the field and in the classroom.

Ang Santos / WBGO

New York City is ranked 9th on The Trust for Public Land annual ParkScore index.  They rate park systems based on access, size, investment, amenities.

“How many residents live within a ten-minute walk of a park, spending per resident, and a bunch of what we call amenities, basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, recreation and senior centers, and splash pads,” said Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President with The Trust For Public Land.

Jersey City fell 13 spots to 53rd.

Alexandra Hill / WBGO

Incumbent Ras Baraka wins a second term as the Mayor of NJ’s largest city in a near landslide victory beating out Central ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins. Baraka credited the progress his administration has made over the past 4 years, particularly when it comes to economic development.

Ang Santos / WBGO

What could have once been a waiting room in the vacant St. Michaels Hospital building, will be a traditional glass blowing studio, known as a hotshop.

“This is 2,500 square feet of 23,000 square feet,” said GlassRoots CEO Barbara Heisler.  “GlassRoots has the chance to work in partnership with the city of Newark and others to be a catalyst for the development of the entire neighborhood.  Attracting other creative businesses, galleries, restaurants, small shops leading to redevelopment and economic growth through our creative economy.”

Ang Santos / WBGO

Shaquille O’Neal already has a high-rise apartment building working in downtown Newark.  The 7-foot 1 retired basketball star calls it ‘Shaq Tower.’

“In 1992, me and my mother were visiting some relatives and my mother said to me, ‘I remember when this city used to be beautiful.  Somebody needs to come by and invest in this city and make it beautiful again.’ She gave me an elbow to the chest like I’m that somebody.”

O’Neal announced he’ll financially back another apartment project at 777 McCarter Highway near 2 Gateway Center.

Ang Santos / WBGO

In 2014, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka received few endorsements from members of his political party.  Fast forward to his re-election campaign this year, almost every high-profile New Jersey democrat is giving Team Baraka their support.  That now includes US Senator Bob Menendez, also seeking another term later this year.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Link London, Link NYC, now Link Newark.  The free Wi-Fi, phone call, device charging kiosks are a quality of life change for residents and visitors says Dan Doctoroff of Intersection, the company that supplies the technology.

“People saving money on their data plans as they go down to the corner and download movies.  While waiting for the bus they download their music.  It’s really saved tens of millions of dollars for people on their data plans,” Doctoroff said.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says Link will be placed in every one of the city’s five wards.

Oliver Street School
Filomena Mastrolia for WBGO News

Oliver Street Elementary is among a handful of schools in and around Newark that is performing musicals based on Disney cartoon movies, funded by a 100-thousand dollar Disney grant to NJPAC.

Earlier this week, Oliver Street School Music Teacher Ashley DeWitt was directing students as they prepare for next week’s performance of Aladdin.

Ang Santos / WBGO

The Truth, Racial, Healing, and Transformation Campus Center, TRHT, is a grant program awarded by The Association of American Colleges and Universities to ten institutions of higher learning across the country. Dr. Sheri-Ann Butterfield is the Executive Vice Chancellor of Rutgers University Newark. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

There was a somber feeling in the auditorium at Rafael Hernandez Elementary as Principal Patricia Goyce read names of the seventeen killed in a Parkland, Florida high school last week.  Students held photographs of each victim as their names were called, lighting a candle in honor of them.

“The eighteenth candle that we have there, and the empty picture frame is for all of those in Newark who have lost their lives to a senseless crime through shooting.  Our babies, our students, their students, their family members.”

Ang Santos / WBGO

For more than 50-years, Cissy Houston has led the choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark.  The perfect place for a gathering to celebrate her life’s work.  City officials say Houston’s big day in Newark was year’s in the making.   Mayor Ras Baraka presented Cissy Houston a key to the city.

“Her singing talent expresses our highest values, inspires audiences around the world and right here in our neighborhoods.  She is a pioneer and advocate for the arts.  One of the greatest legends in musical and Newark history.”

Ang Santos / WBGO

The shelter targets the homeless population around Newark Penn Station, the public library, and several surrounding parks, but Mayor Ras Baraka says anybody who needs a bed and a meal, are welcome to stop by to get warm.

“We have to provide shelter but also give services so we can help them march their way into society.  It’s one thing to give people fish, it’s another thing to teach them how to fish.  That’s what we are trying to do here.  Give them the opportunity and provide a shelter that is not like the other shelters that exist.

Ang Santos / WBGO

  

The line stretches around the block as hundreds of Newark families wait outside on an unseasonably warm December day with their kids, for early holiday presents.  Newark Mayor Ras Baraka makes small talk with residents and looks over piles of toys organized by the appropriate age group. 

What were some of the toys a young Ras Baraka desired as a kid?

“I loved those chemistry sets, bikes, skateboards, or a football uniform.  Pittsburgh Steelers, football uniform, Lynn Swann.”

newarkyogamovement.org

The Newark Yoga Movement has been trying it’s best to reduce stress around the city for a number of years. 

“And in regard to the schools which is our primary focus, it was really to try to help children perform a little bit better academically and feel better personally," said Debby Kaminsky, founder of the Newark Yoga Movement.  Her classes are regularly visiting students and teachers in city classrooms ranging from K-12.

Aljira

A new art exhibit at Aljira in downtown Newark is bringing social justice advocates together to bring attention to the issue of mass incarceration.

Recent statistics from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey show there’s over 35,000 people living behind bars in state penitentiaries. ACLU Criminal Justice Transparency Fellow Portia Allen Kyle says that comes at a cost of about 55,000 dollars for each incarcerated person per year.

Damon Rich
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Hector partner Damon Rich is one of the 24 people to be awarded a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, a "no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential."

Hector is a Newark-based urban design, planning, and civic arts studio.  Damon Rich sat down recently with WBGO's Doug Doyle to talk about the award, his outlook on urban design, his experiences working with three different Newark Mayors and his future opportunities. 

We’ll be discussing local control of Newark Public Schools during our live broadcast of Newark Today Thursday October 19 at 8PM.  We invite the community to be a part of the audience at Express Newark in the downtown district’s historic Hahne’s building.  Your host, NJTV’s Michael Hill will be joined by city Mayor Ras Baraka and a panel of guests.  Doors open tonight at 7:15. Newark Today live October 19 at 8PM on WBGO and wbgo.org

Now that Newark Public Schools are in position to regain control of governance from the state, parents are asking if the city is ready. 

Governor Christie is advancing Newark’s bid to win Amazon’s competition to determine where the internet retailer will build its second headquarters.

Christie says Newark represents the heart-and-soul of what Amazon is seeking.

“Newark is a growing technology hub. They are a growing education for the state of New Jersey. Unparalleled transportation options and unique cultural options in this city as well.”

U-S Senator Cory Booker, a former mayor of Newark, says Amazon would be smart to come to Newark.

Ang Santos / WBGO

There’s a lot of common ground between Newark and New Orleans.  Both the largest metropolitan areas in their respective state’s.  Both majority minority communities with a history of poverty and crime.

“America since the 1950’s and 60’s underinvested in its cities primarily because of the issue of race.”

Marc Morial is the president of The National Urban League and two term mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is asking residents and local elected officials to make  Red Cross donations to aid hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.

“To raise the kind of money and resources using the American Red Cross designated to Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico.  People can be rest assured that the money that we raise will go directly to hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.”

State Senator Terisa Ruiz is hoping the entire state contributes to Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

Ang Santos / WBGO

  A pair of industrial fans blow in the gymnasium at West Side High School in Newark.  A yoga instructor introduces the mountain pose to about one-hundred members of the school’s staff.

“We’re going into our ninth year in some city schools,” said Debbie Kaminsky, founder of Newark Yoga Movement.  “We found that after a twenty-minute session of yoga, that 64 percent of students were more peaceful and less stressed.  So with that, we started bringing yoga to more schools in Newark.  It really has traction after we taught over 26,000 students and over 3,000 educators.”

Ang Santos / WBGO

From exhibitions spotlighting Brazilian culture, to a film festival hosted at the Newark Public Library, there’s a little something for everybody during Brazil week 2017. 

“I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years.  It’s a great thing for the city of Newark because a large population of the Brazilian people here want to show the city who we are.”  said Jose Moreira, president of Newark’s Brazilian Day Festival.  “

Silvana Magda is the curator of various special Brazilian exhibitions around Newark.  In city hall this year, it’s all about female empowerment.

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