Tonight in Lincoln Park!

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Tonight! Totally free music in Lincoln Park. Come out to the fountain, bring a picnic or buy something from one of the great food trucks. Should be a beautiful night!

The vendors at the Farmers Market at Lincoln Park

I just spent the afternoon volunteering at the Farmers Market at Lincoln Park and it was really fun. Just a couple of pics from today and also last week, along with some info:

Every Sunday from 10-3, in Lincoln Park and next to St. Al’s Church, at least two farm vendors set up (there is also, every week, free yoga at noon). The first is Circle Brook Farm, which specializes in organic produce and herbs, including a lot of things you can’t get in the neighborhood easily:

Their prices are really reasonable – bunches of fresh herbs were only a $1.50 each, and other things were comparably priced – and everything looks great. They also offer organic eggs for $4/dozen (they sell out quick, so get there early if you want some).

The other farmer is RH Farms. Right now, it’s early in the season so most of their produce is still in the ground or not quite ready for picking, but they’ve been bringing a lot of beautiful plants for the garden. This week they also had a few fruits and veggies, including blueberries, leafy greens, and radishes:

Ok. So those two are out every week. Here’s where it gets a little more confusing, but it means that there’s cool stuff changing week to week and you’ll just have to swing by to check it all out.

Every other week, Squeez’d and Uncle Bud will be there. Squeez’d sells awesome freshly squeezed juices:

IMG_7749(So sorry that pic isn’t better!! Next time, you guys – I’ll get something better next time.)

Uncle Bud is… Uncle Bud, aka Tony. He’s a charmer and a local celebrity of sorts. He makes awesome hot sauces and brings a grill and makes ribs, collards, mac & cheese:

Once a month, GourMuttz comes to the market. She makes homemade dog treats and will put a bunch of free samples out on a platter and let your dog pick his very favorite for you. Here she is, with a very happy customer:

Then, in the mix, there will be a variety of other vendors adding on to our market as we go.

I know that’s a little confusing to have some vendors some weeks and others on other weeks. But right now there are SO many farmers markets in the area (think of all the markets in JC already, then consider all the surrounding towns and cities that also have markets) that vendors are spread really thin, especially on the weekends. These are all really small businesses – most have one or two employees, tops. I’ve vended at these markets before, and I know how hard it is – you have to make your product (which takes a lot of time) and then go out and sell your product (which takes away from time you could be making more of your product). This is a tough business to be in, and it’s really a labor of love.

And all of our vendors are really, really local, and really really really homemade. If you go to a farmers market in the area this week and you see tomatoes, there’s one of two options: either they came from a hothouse, or that tomato didn’t really come from NJ. It’s not tomato season in our zone until later in the summer. So that means no tomatoes at our market… but the produce that is there is super fresh, ripe, and really came out of the ground in NJ, and was harvested by a local small business, not a big company. And Uncle Bud really did make that hot sauce himself, Squeez’d really did just juice those fruits and veggies just for you, and GourMuttz made those dog treats with her own hands.

Anyway. The Farmers Market is a lot of fun, and I hope you’ll stop by soon if you haven’t already. It’s a lovely way to hang out in the park on a Sunday and come meet your neighbors and buy some really great stuff.

Press conference with JC Together/Honeywell development

I attended a press conference today with the great Jersey City Together, an interfaith organization that comes out for issues of fair and affordable housing and other related issues. To quote the article from the Jersey Journal:

A group of over three dozen local pastors and activists today demanded to be a part of the process to select a developer for the 100-acre Bayfront site on the city’s western waterfront.

The group, under the banner Jersey City Together, slammed recent reports that one of the three developers seeking to oversee the massive development intended to make it an Orthodox Jewish enclave. They spoke gathered in a parking lot on Route 440 with the fenced-in Bayfront site behind them.

Jersey City Together is a successor group to the Interfaith Community Organization of Jersey City, which spent decades fighting the owners of the property, now Honeywell, over the site’s chromium contamination. ICO eventually sued Honeywell in federal court and won a victory in 2003 when a judge ordered Honeywell to clean up the site.

Pastors today criticized any attempt to turn the site over the developers for an “exclusive community, not for the people of Jersey City.”

“I personally did not spend decades of my life for a toxic deal for Jersey City,” said the Rev. Will Ashley, of the Abundant Joy Community Church.

It was so moving to hear this group of priests and ministers (the group was largely, if not exclusively, Christian even though JC Together includes other faiths as well) talk about the need for community involvement in the redevelopment of that site. They talked about what it once was – the dumping site for a wasteland of seeping yellow, cancer-causing liquid – and what it is now, some of the cleanest land in all of JC. There remains the question of what it will be in the future, and the religious leaders talked about their hopes that it would be an inclusive neighborhood that would integrate the existing community and generate jobs for people in the area.

This is the site currently:

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Not much to see now, but it’s a huge area (eventually, the development will be larger than Newport) across the highway from Home Depot on 440. Bordering on the Hackensack River, it has incredible potential for parks and shared areas, as well as commercial development and housing. And potentially, it could revitalize an entire area that currently is just empty for as far as the eye can see. The group was asking for a seat at the table to be able to give input on what gets developed there, to make sure that the best use for this land is chosen.

To be fair, I didn’t so much as attend the press conference as technically I participated in it; I felt a bit like the token heathen in the midst of all these amazing religious people:

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I am staunchly and proudly not religious (I often identify as an atheist but that’s not probably 100% correct) but I’ve attended several events put together by JC Together and always I’ve felt totally welcomed and accepted. As I was standing out there in that blazing 90+ degree sun in the parking lot of the Home Depot, I deeply regretted my all-black outfit decision (although I didn’t have it nearly as bad as the priests – I at least had shorts and a tank top). And a couple of times, I caught myself feeling a little funny, a little out of place. What do I do when they do the opening prayer? How do I act?

Something I’ve come to (more or less) peace with is, this is what social activism in JC is. Some of the most serious, most determined, best people are very religious, which means they live differently than I do and believe things that I don’t. And instead of being turned off or weird about it, it’s a good thing for me to stretch and learn and be open.

And as with so many things, in this case we agree on so much. Why should a developer just get to make sweeping decisions on what the future of this community should hold? Why does the city – a 40% shareholder in the space – get to make decisions without asking the people who live here what we want? This land belongs to all of us. There should be no fighting for it. It’s already ours.

Events in Lincoln Park this weekend

Two more great, free events in Lincoln Park this weekend. On Saturday, there’s the Stride & Ride:

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And on Sunday, it’s the kickoff of this season’s Farmers Market at Lincoln Park:

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Come join us in the park for fresh produce and vendors, free yoga, and children’s activities sponsored by Crossroads Church and a coloring area sponsored by Three Little Birds West Side. Vendors will be there 10-3, free yoga is at noon, and kids’ activities start at 10:30. We’re by West Side Avenue, right near St. Al’s church. The Farmers Market is a really fun event, and it’s weekly through October.

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Jessica does the free yoga. She is very nice and beginner friendly. And it is great to do yoga outdoors in the park! Please bring a mat or towel to practice on.

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Shopping at farmers markets is a great way to support local NJ family farms. And you get great produce, too! Hope to see you there!

Lincoln Park Live!

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This week starts a concert series at Lincoln Park! Come out to the fountain, bring a blanket to sit on, and either pack a picnic or buy some food from House of Gains which will be selling food at the event. Come hear live jazz and hang out with your neighbors and friends! This is a really fun family event. Hope to see you there!

Election day

Hey, tomorrow is the primary election in the state of NJ. Or as a friend of mine recently said on Twitter:

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Yeah, if the last few months of the Trump admin have you all fired up and ready to go march to the voting booth for change, you’re gonna be disappointed. Most of the people running on Tuesday are running unopposed; chances are your ballot will look much like the one above.

You do, however, get to vote for your choice for governor. On the Democratic side, all signs are pointing to Phil Murphy running away with this thing, but it doesn’t have to be like that. If you’re still deciding, here’s some articles to help:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/nj/2017-new-jersey-primary-election-voters-guide-20170531.html

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/nj/Candidates-for-New-Jersey-Governor.html

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/21/nyregion/new-jersey-governor-profiles.html?mcubz=1&_r=0

That last one has a link on the bottom to another article which has all sorts of cute graphics featuring pics of the candidates, and questions like “taylor ham, or pork roll?” and “what’s your favorite Springsteen song?” all of which leave me more or less hating democracy. You know, we have a state here with a serious transportation and infrastructure problem, soaring property taxes, and a mounting opioid crisis… but by all means, ask the future leader of our state which name they like to call their sandwiches. Gah.

Some parts of our area have a choice for Assembly. I couldn’t find much written about this race (which actually seems quite interesting and contentious, as a major union endorsed one candidate and then rescinded it, which never ever happens. But alas, I don’t get to vote in it), but this at least explains a little about the union flap:

http://hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/27427297/article-Voters–choice-on-June-6–Primary-election-features-some-heated-races-?instance=latest_story

In a few areas of JC, the position of County Committee Member is being challenged by someone, which lead to a friend asking me the very reasonable question “What is a County Committee Member and what do they do?” And sadly enough, even though my own mother was one of these for Essex county many years ago (she grudgingly allowed her name to be put on the ballot after a friend of hers begged her to), I realized I couldn’t answer the question. Here’s a link to a pretty good answer, albeit one on the Manhattan Young Democrat’s website, because I couldn’t find one on a JC/Hudson County site that answered it well:

http://gomyd.com/open-seat-project/county-committee-faq/

In case you’re wondering who I’ll be voting for, I’m planning on choosing Jim Johnson for governor. I appreciate the campaign he’s run, and I like his focus on ethics. I’ll also vote against the HCDO every chance I get (not many chances, btw) because, well, someone has to. And, that’s it. Then, on to November.

 

 

 

 

 

Some updates

May has been extremely sleepy around here, but things are picking up in June. I’ll have an interview up soon about a bunch of neighborhood events coming up, but until then, here’s two things for you to know about:

This Friday, there’s music at Park Tavern, along with a small show of photographs by local artist Alice Hepburn. This is organized by West Side Arts & Music, who have quite a few things coming up.

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Secondly, there’s a new website that’s just getting started, realtalk4theculture.com. It’s a real artists-helping-artists venture which sounds amazing to me, and they’re looking for submissions from all kinds of creative people. It was started by Angenette, known to me as @localhoodmom, who has had some really important things to say on Twitter about the state of the arts in JC and what it means to be a young artist today. I’m excited to see where this project goes! Looks like she has a great line up of some interesting contributors.

That’s it for now – much more coming very soon. Farmers market, live music events, and so much more – June will be a busy month!