Why is Jersey City trending?

…or maybe #whyisjerseycitytrending would be better?

When I woke up this morning and saw #jerseycity trending on Twitter, I have to admit that my heart stopped for a minute. Small cities that rarely make the national news usually only trend when there’s a mass shooting or horrific hate crime, so I couldn’t help but fear the worse for a split second there. My concerns were quickly assuaged as I flipped through tweet after tweet with #jerseycity in it, only to realize that really no one had any idea why it was trending. Like, at all.

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Some were a little quick to credit how “cool” and “hip” we are:

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Some had, erm, a different view:

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Naturally, some tried to make a buck:

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Mostly we were just confused:

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And then finally, a theory that actually makes sense:

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Somebody for governor

Local politics has been a constant source of both amusement and frustration to me, but I’m mostly just surprised that anyone cares about my opinion at all. This is a densely populated area, after all, and I’m just one person out of very, very many. Is voter turnout so bad now that politicians now chase down every single last actual voter to try and convince them to turn out for their cause?

It sometimes kind of feels that way. For example, just the other day I tweeted:

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That’s a not-too-veiled reference to the leading Democratic contender for NJ governor. That race is a long way away, and Murphy pretty much has it in the bag. It wasn’t too much that I thought about – I was on to tweeting about my impending trip to the dentist five minutes later.

But then I got this:

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Dan seems nice. It was thoughtful of him to reach out. I genuinely appreciated it, as much as it surprised me. I mean, I never @’ed his campaign or named the candidate, or mentioned the words “governor” or “New Jersey” so it’s not like it showed up in a search, so it did seem a bit intense. Intense, but still nice. He gave me his email address and that evening I wrote out some of my questions and concerns about his candidate:

Hi Daniel,

First off, thank you so much for reaching out via twitter. I genuinely appreciate your willingness to answer some questions regarding Phil Murphy’s run.
I have many questions, but I’ll keep this as brief as possible and narrow them down to three:
1. How does Mr. Murphy’s previous work experience prepare him for the job as governor? Coming from a background at Goldman Sachs and having been an ambassador – those are certainly impressive achievements, but how, specifically, do they qualify him for this particular job?
2.  What are his plans for improving public transportation both within the state and to NYC?
3. I’ve been in NJ for many years, and as far back as I can remember, every candidate for governor has always – regardless of party/timing/etc – run on the idea of lower taxes and cleaning up corruption in Trenton. Over and over, through the course of at least 30+ years that I’ve been here, those same issues have been campaigned on with an eye to the idea that they are the “winning” issues. What new, innovative ideas does your candidate have? They need not refer to taxes/corruption specifically – I’m just asking what distinguishes him from prior candidates. Certainly lowering taxes and ending corruption are important, but I’m also eager to see NJ embrace an agenda bigger than simply winning the next election.
Thanks so much for your time. I look forward to reading your reply.
Best,
Amy

Look, I was on my best behavior because I genuinely wanted dialog. Part of me was screaming: post-economic meltdown, post-Occupy, post-Corzine, post-Trump as PEOTUS, in one of the most liberal states around, what on earth are the Democrats doing rallying behind a Goldman Sachs exec? Also, what does an Ambassador to a very friendly nation actually do (no seriously though)? The other two questions are super important too, but I’m still really stuck on question #1.

Couple of days later, i’m still waiting for a reply.

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Still nothing. I was kind of hoping that after the big snowstorm today, Team Murphy would find themselves home with nothing better to do than answer my email, but oh well. I was never expecting a reply from my initial tweet, so it’s not like my hopes are totally tied up in this.

If I get anything, I’ll update this post.


Jan 10th – UPDATE!!!! He wrote back!!!!!

For the most part, the response was along the lines of “here are some links for you to look at and come to your own conclusions.” Which is fair. A little less than I was hoping for after the build up of all this, but fair.

I’m working my way through the links he sent (trust me, there’s a lot), but one that caught my eye was this one: http://www.occupy.com/article/praise-class-traitors-former-goldman-exec-runs-nj-governor-public-banking-platform#sthash.0qYpWvdb.dpbs mostly because of the source – Occupy, as in Occupy Wall Street. Since one of my concerns about Murphy was his association with Goldman Sachs, this got me interested.

The article reads a bit like an over-the-top press release for the Murphy campaign (for example: “Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, has jumped from the predatory ship and joined the ranks of the robbed and maltreated. Like Robin Hood, he’s a rogue nobleman, but unlike Robin Hood, who merely redistributed wealth….[etc etc].)” That’s downright nauseating, and really called into question the worth of the rest of the article.

Which is a shame, because the underlying premise – that Murphy is calling for a public bank in NJ – sounds really interesting. I’m going to be very, very honest and say that I don’t totally understand this idea – not at a comfort level where I feel as though I have enough information or expertise to really have a firm opinion about it. I’m not a finance person at all, and that is a world I absolutely don’t get. But for the first time, a candidate claiming Wall Street experience actually has a reason why and a specific example how that experience might be used for the common good – and I find that refreshing. (This is versus the usual strategy of “I made a lot of money on Wall Street and that means I’m a good businessman so vote for me because I know how to make money” – which, I don’t get how that’s a convincing argument at all.)

So, I have a lot more reading and research to do. In closing, I’m encouraged by their desire to engage me, and also by this “big idea” of a public bank. The election is a long way away, so plenty of time to look into this more. But they’ve gotten my attention.

 

 

McGinley Square Pub is turning into Yappy Hour

McGinley Square Pub is where CivicParent and I go to talk about data and Jersey City. No really. By way of proof, I submit this random picture of a laptop with property tax data on it, with CP’s finger pointing to something:

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Right? It’s not a terrible use of a Thursday evening by any means. Sometimes we wind up taking the data and making maps and charts out of it like this. We also drink.

But anyway, on this particular evening, the most amazing thing happened, which is basically that lots of people started showing up with dogs. So many dogs! Ok, there were like three of them. But it was still pretty terrific. It made me think of Yappy Hour in Asbury Park, only with like three dogs and we were all inside and mostly the dogs were ignoring each other. But I still got to pet them so it’s cool.

Here’s a pic of me drunkface with a completely terrified little dog:

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Anyway. More dogs, more booze, more data in 2017. Please.

Little Free Library

This appeared on Highland Ave between JFK and West Side and I am thrilled! It’s a Little Free Library – take a book, leave a book, any time, day or night. (Although could someone please give the guestbook back? You were just supposed to write your name in that… it’s the only book not up for grabs.)

Apparently, this tiny library was designed and is currently maintained by a proud member of a local Girl Scout troop, and she won a Bronze medal (? I don’t really understand the inner workings of the Girl Scouts, but it sounds very impressive to me) for her project.

So, yay! And in more yay – I posted about the Library on social media and immediately heard from some people in the neighborhood who are inspired and excited about the idea of making their own Little Libraries! Woo!

So, yeah. Super cool. Thank you, Miss Girl Scout!

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By way of introduction

Hi. I’m Amy. I live on Jersey City’s West Side. I hope that this will be a blog about my neighborhood and the changes it’s going through. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years (JC for 20+), and I love it here.

It sounds like a cliche (and it kind of is) but the West Side is a really special place. While much of the rest of Jersey City has undergone an astonishing amount of gentrification in the time I’ve lived here, the West Side has resisted much of this. We’ve been largely ignored by City Hall and developers. The neighborhood looks largely the same as it did when I moved here, while Downtown JC (for instance) is unrecognizable from what it looked like a decade or more ago.

I like that things move slowly here. It means that I know by first name almost everyone on my block; a slice of small town living in the midst of a big city. But there’s also bad things about it. As an example: house down the street from me had a devastating fire that completely destroyed the entire home and a year and a half later, the abandoned wreckage still stands there – it’s dangerous and sure to collapse at any moment, potentially threatening houses near it and kids looking for a creepy house to hang out in. And yet, it just remains there. Would this be allowed in a neighborhood in a wealthier area? No, of course not.

And so, as much as my personal predilection would be to keep things exactly the way they are, I know that the longer we’re ignored, the longer abandoned, burnt out houses will remain abandoned; the more bus service will be cut; the more the local schools will suffer; the more litter will pile up…. and so on.

So, we need attention. The trick is, we need the right kind of attention. We need the kind of attention that supports the existing community and helps us to slowly grow. We don’t need luxury skyscraper rentals and a Starbucks on every corner.  Navigating the difference between the two kinds of attention, I guess, is always the trick.