Most of the fotos today are of the opening reception for ArtReach VII at City Without Walls gallery (which show is on view thru August 5th). I offer these pix to liten the text of this very long post (some 4,200 words and 27 pictures), and to provide another topic for people who might not be particularly interested in the main text topic. I have temporarily misplaced the cWOW handout by which I might identify some of the people in the fotos. When I find it, I'll add that info. As always, feel free just to look at the pictures.
Yet another evening event is happening tonite in Downtown Newark under the aegis of an entity not specifically set up as a niteclub. This is a one-time, private occasion:
"07102: The Launch," an invitation-only launch party for more than 500 movers and shakers who have a love of or a connection to Newarkto give a formal 'coming-out party' for the blog Glocallynewark.com. In addition to the "movers and shakers", I also got an invitation, and media are welcome to attend. So I'll let you know how it went.
The event marries blogging and in-person human interaction. The blog Glocallynewark.com itself marries real-estate development and the community into which such development must fit if it is to be successful. I've been trying to do something like that myself, in showing people (especially but not only gay men) in places like NYC, Jersey City, and Hoboken that they can have a much better quality of life if they move to Newark. The more people making the same point, the better. And if Glocallynewark.com ends up doing this much better than I do, I can discontinue this blog and redirect my energies to a couple of books I should have written long ago, and other projects. But I have to be sure that other people have grabbed the baton and are now racing on without further need of me — or that others are now carrying the torch, or whatever metaphor suits you.
I received a lot of material about this event and its sponsors, which materials raise a number of issues I'd like to respond or add to. I'll leave the specifics of the party (for instance, how the musical performers were, and whether the mix of blogging and in-person interaction worked) to a discussion after it has ended. The intention is that "Walking into the party will be like walking into a blog." And screens in the windows on Market Street are supposed to make the Internet blogging (theirs, not mine) available to passersby, which is an interesting idea.
The prime mover in this entire enterprise is an entity called "Newwork". New Work, not New Ark, is in fact one of the interpretations put on the origin of the name of this city. That partly explains why our city is pronounced like "new work", whereas Newark, Delaware, is pronounced like "new ark". I have added a couple of hyperlinks to chunks of the text of a press release they sent out.
When Newwork, a Newark, N.J.-based real estate development consulting firm, set out to convert the Richardson Building Lofts, a former jewelry factory in downtown Newark, into a chic, loft-style apartment building, they realized that conventional approaches to real estate marketing wouldn’t work.
Because the building was one of the first residential conversions in downtown Newark, they had to create a sense of community where none had previously existed. They also had to overcome a negative public perception of Newark, as well as educate prospective buyers about Newark’s wealth of arts, cultural, dining and entertainment attractions.
To do so, they turned to the Internet, creating a Newark-centric lifestyle blog, Glocallynewark.com, that will be officially launched on June 25 * * * The blog, which was soft-launched in February, has been wildly successful, answering the demand for hyper-local news and information about Newark’s cultural and entertainment scenes. The blog now draws 5,000 to 7,000 unique monthly viewers and is growing by a rate of 300 percent a month.
The blog is also the centerpiece of the marketing campaign for the Richardson Building Lofts, which also includes guer[r]illa marketing and other non-traditional strategies. The blog, for which the Richardson Building Lofts is a premium sponsor, is driving hundreds of prospective tenants to the building’s Web site.
Over 400 referrals to richardsonlofts.com have been captured since the blog’s launch, despite the fact that the building’s only public connection to the blog is its premium sponsorship. Glocallynewark.com has reached out to, and is seeking to attract, other developers to advertise on the site.
"The theme of the launch party is ‘digital meets physical,’" said Michael Saltzman, New[wo]rk’s managing principal. "The digital medium will be communicated in the physical space. The same is true for the Richardson building. We are creating a digital community of like-minded people that will support and add to the physical life of the building."
The blog’s significance extends beyond its role as a marketing tool for the Richardson Building Lofts, however. First, it has become the public face for the revitalization of Newark, and second, it is the prototype for a new type of digital-based real estate marketing campaign whose aim is to create a digital sense of community.
Saltzman sees the prototype as being applicable to emerging urban markets — both city-wide and neighborhood-based — throughout the state, or even the nation. With expansion to other emerging urban markets in mind, Newwork has formed a strategic alliance with Tritonic, a Newark-based creative agency that takes a fresh approach to brand identity.Why is a Newark-based company dispersing its impact over such a wide area? Business, not just charity, begins at home. If Newwork had Bill Gates's resources, perhaps it would make sense to work in more than one place. But Newark can absorb all the investment and effort Newwork can devote, and there's a "tipping point" issue. When you have a precariously balanced obstacle standing in your way, which could fall one way or another, and one way is significantly better for you than the other, you are well advised to place all the energy you need to guarantee that it falls where you want it to.
The alliance was forged to answer the growing need for a unique, social media approach to real estate marketing and will initially target developers and brokers in edge markets such as Jersey City, Harlem and Queens.
"Glocallynewark.com comes back to the traditional understanding of neighborhood," Saltzman said. "We are creating a dialogue with consumers that is redefining the neighborhood for a digital world. The fundamentals of what makes Newark — or any city — great are being enhanced through the digital medium."
The failure of traditional print ads to reach real estate prospects in a digital age has been the lament of owners and developers, but although a vacuum has existed no clear strategies have emerged to fill it. The inadequacy of the print media is particularly acute in emerging urban markets, which are poorly served by the mainstream press.
Actually, Newark is pretty well served by The Star-Ledger and various free publications, and my brother in Texas alerted me to the finding that Newark is one of the Nation's most literate cities (37th, in 2005; his own central city, Houston (he lives in a suburb), ranked 53rd).
FACTOIDBut poor Newarkers who can't afford to buy or don't have time to read a daily newspaper are not well served by any print media nor, for that matter, the Internet. They must rely upon broadcast media for news and information, and Newark is very seriously underserved in that department — in large part because Newark's TV station, WNET, was stolen by New Yorkers and devotes essentially no time whatsoever to serving Newarkers.
Cities which moved up the most from last year, not as a result of oddities in scoring (e.g., sharing a metropolitan statistical area with a much higher rated city), are Atlanta, Toledo, New York City, & Newark.
And with development being driven to urban centers due to the focus on sustainability, demographic trends that skew toward childless households and the lack of available land for building in the suburbs, the need to find effective real estate marketing strategies for urban developments is all the more acute."Backfilling" old cities and small towns that were in prior decades partially emptied by flite to suburbs is important to a state as densely populated as New Jersey. After all, if the older towns and cities already have all the infrastructure built, from sidewalks and roads to schools and libraries, why reinvent the wheel in remote areas that serve the needs of society better as farm and forest?
A lifestyle blog such as Glocallynewark.com, which is now an independent subsidiary of Newwork, fulfills that need in a number of ways, Saltzman said.
First, it is amazingly affordable by comparison with traditional advertising. Glocallynewark.com had minimal set-up costs, and its expenses are offset by advertising, with the goal being to increase the size and number of sponsors. By contrast, a single print ad in a mainstream publication could cost tens of thousands.
Yes, when you don't have to print, collate, and distribute tons of paper, you can reduce advertising costs and still bring in significant revenue. Publishers like The Star-Ledger that have not found a way to make online advertising support the text are doing something wrong. I think the model should be classy display ads, as in the special issues of The New York Times for seasonal fashion: elegant fonts, striking graffics in monochrome if full color doesn't grab the reader's attention. The little banner ads we are accustomed to ignoring, and the moving ads that irritate, are not the way to go. "Space" on the Internet is virtually unlimited. No ink, just bandwidth. Make ads beautiful and people will look at them.
Second, it is more effective because of its viral nature, which creates the sought-after marketing "buzz." The information is posted on other blogs and is spread via e-mails sent on computers and hand-held devices. The information can also be transmitted to other social media outlets such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.Will any of the screens on display in the windows of the Bushberg Bros. building show such sites? I'll check.
Finally, unlike ads in the print media, which by their nature have the potential to reach all readers, a lifestyle blog can be precisely targeted to a particular demographic. It also allows owners and developers to capture and analyze demographic data in order to fine-tune their marketing strategies.
Glocallynewark.com’s ad for the Richardson Building Lofts has a 7.5 percent click-through rate, compared to an average click-through rate of 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent. Hundreds of prospective tenants have already registered at the building’s Web site, which will give Newwork a head start when it starts leasing in the fall/winter.
Artist Hector Canonge (left) shows how to change the video in his interactive exhibit, "Germinal". Paris Strother, who showed me that room, which I hadn't even known about, is to the right.
"The emerging urban markets are the breeding ground of creativity," Saltzman said. "In Newark and other emerging urban markets, developers face larger challenges than they do elsewhere. You have to utilize your creative and problem-solving skill sets." I don't know that "breeding ground" is the best choice of words, associated as that term may be in many people's minds with things like mosquito-borne disease. "Wellspring", "font", "nursery" and "incubator" might bring more agreeable associations to mind.
I have to wonder how wise it is to scatter attention over so wide a field. There's a delicate balance between increasing safety thru diversification, and thwarting yourself by not focusing enuf on your main market.
Based in Newark, N.J., Newwork is a real estate development consulting company driving the development of cities, towns and neighborhoods in three divisions: real estate, planning and design[,] and multimedia and marketing. In addition to servicing independent clients, Newwork takes on select real estate development projects as the principal developer. Newwork is currently working on a range of development[ ] projects throughout the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, with a focus on the City of Newark. For more information, please visit the Web site at http://www.newworking.com/.
Glocallynewark.com is a lifestyle blog serving the City of Newark and the surrounding area. The blog, whose slogan is "Think Global, Be Local," covers arts, culture, entertainment, food and "ramblings about town." For more information, visit the Web site at www.glocallynewark.com. Tips may be e-mailed to email@example.com [the general email address that would ordinarily appear at a website's "Contact" tab].
I have a few general comments about the glocallynewark blog. First, it uses a black background and lite-colored text. I personally find that oppressive. The Newark Museum did the same for some time, but shifted to a lite background. If a plain white or beige background is regarded as too boring, try a pebbled or otherwise textured background that does not interfere with the outlines of type characters.
Second, the font is too small for many people to read comfortably, especially as lite text against a dark background, which requires a larger font for readability. I use an 800 x 600 pixel resolution, and I find the font too small for comfort. Most people now use a higher resolution, such as 1024 x 768, which renders the font even smaller than I see it. Why so tiny? As I observed above, "space" on the Internet is unlimited and cheap. Small type strains some readers all of the time and other readers some of the time.
Third, the fotos are too small. Again, space on the Internet is infinite, and bandwidth is cheap (as business expenses go). Maybe you don't need what someone at the help forum of my blog server called "big-ass photos" like mine, but if a graffic is worth seeing, it is worth seeing clearly.
And fourth, the site is formatted for at least 1024 x 768 resolution, so does not fit on my computer without scrolling — which is always a bad idea. There are controls in HTML code that will adjust a website to whatever resolution the visitor is using, to shrink each portion to fit, in proportion to its share of the intended width. In fact, I have to see if I can find that control in this blog's template, which I did not design but just selected from several available at Blogger, to see if I can make it format to 100% of the screen width at higher resolutions. But not today.
Could such a community blog about Newark have worked 10 years ago? Would there have been such enthusiasm about Newark on the part of people of all races and orientations 15 years ago? I don't know. I've been here only 9 years (as at June 14th). So I can't really sense a "sea change" in attitudes within that short timeframe, and sometimes hopefulness distorts perceptions. But I think a lot of people feel differently about Newark now.
Oh, you can still see the old negativism, verging on monomaniacal hatred, from people whose attitudes toward this city are nothing so much as those of a lover spurned. You can tell that a lot of the "haters" who stalk Internet message boards and descend upon almost any story about Newark on NJ.com like vultures swooping down from the skies to rip a carcass to bits, are still furious, decades after they "had" to leave Newark, THAT they "had" to leave a city they loved with all their heart.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: let go of the anger, let go of the hate. Come back. Newark's better now. You want to come back. Do it. OK, be on guard for the first several months. Keep your defenses up, your eyes and ears alert. Watch for trouble and be prepared. But when you walk the streets and aren't mugged, day after nite after day, be prepared to admit not that you were wrong — no, you were never wrong; Newark really was awful for a while — but that Newark has changed, much for the better. Then go back onto the message boards and devote the same energy to praising the New Newark that you devoted to slamming the post-Riots Newark, out of the pain you felt over losing the pre-Riots Newark. Send out the call: Ollie, ollie oxen free! Everybody can come back now.
L.A. had another riot after the Lakers won the NBA championship June 14th. How many riots has L.A. had? There were the Watts riots of 1965, which killed 34 people. Then there were the L.A. riots of 1992 sparked by the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King, which killed 53 people. Then there was the first riot outside the Staples Center when the Lakers won the NBA championship in June 2000. And now there has been a second riot outside the Staples Center. These are just the L.A. riots I personally heard about here on the East Coast.
How many riots has Miami had? In searching for that, I found a Wikipedia article, "List of incidents of civil unrest in the United States", which shows riots in Miami in 1968, 1980, 1982, 1989, 1992, and 2003. That same article shows riots in Los Angeles in 1943, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1984, 1992, 1997, and 2007. Nine. The two Staples Center riots don't even make that list! A search for "Newark" in that list shows riots in 1967 and ... hm. Only 1967. A search for "New Jersey" shows riots (from the second half of the 20th Century on, that is) in 1964 in Jersey City, Paterson, and Elizabeth (each called specifically a "race riot"), in 1967 in Plainfield, in 1969 in Passaic, in 1970 in Asbury Park, and in 1971 in Camden. So how is it that the names "Los Angeles" and "Miami" are not followed immediately in people's minds by "Riots", but for over a generation "Newark" was? And why, within New Jersey, does Newark alone get associated with "riots", when 7 other enjay cities are shown in the Wikipedia list? Further, the Newark Riots don't bear the description "race riot", a recognition that other factors than race played a major role here.
You wouldn't know any of this from the way Newark is treated by the "haters". To hear them tell it, Newark is filled to overflowing with black people motivated by violent hatred of white people, and eager to steal from and kill them. This urban myth has such power that even in Newark, a great event was marred by anti-Newark propaganda on sweatshirts! Bill Chappel spotted this during the Fire Muster on June 7th.
(© Bill Chappel 2009)
1967 was 42 years ago, people. Move on.
Developers trying to produce upscale housing and retail projects in Newark are hamstrung by residual memories of one terrible year and a lot of lousy years thereafter, in part due to lingering memories of 1967. Crime reports have jaundiced people's attitudes more than they should have, in that most of the worst crime is in only a few really bad areas — and not even entire neighborhoods, just a couple of blocks in each of a few neighborhoods. But people don't know which blocks those are.
We hear about deadly crimes in New York City every day on the local news broadcasts from that area, but are lulled into sweet unconcern about NY crime because we know that Midtown and Downtown tourist areas are not where those crimes occur. Few people know Newark geography as well as they know Manhattan geography, and even some of the geography of the Outer Boros. A murder in "Newark" thus seems to mean ALL of Newark, whereas a murder in East Harlem or Bed-Stuy does NOT mean Midtown Manhattan.
Nor does most serious crime in Newark target innocent strangers, but revolves around the drug trade, with pushers and gangs fiting over drug-sale turf. I served on an Essex County grand jury for some 15 weeks, and the bulk of the crimes we were asked to issue indictments over concerned drug sales and violence associated with such sales. Downtown Newark and most other parts of this city don't have drugpushers on every corner, like some parts of NYC. In the 1970s, if you walked the seven blocks down Christopher Street in Greenwich Village from Seventh Avenue South to West Street, you could be solicited for drugs five times, with pushers offering a laundry list of illicit chemicals, from weed and hash to poppers, Ecstasy, and Special K. I have never, in 9 years in Newark, been solicited for drugs even once.
(© Bill Chappel 2009)
Other quality-of-life matters are also better in Newark than NY. When I lived in NY (a mere 35 years), from shortly after I left my apartment each day (in Hell's Kitchen, the last 25 years) till the time I returned, I would be hassled by panhandlers and homeless people begging for money. "Blacks" with a chip on the shoulder would willfully, passive-aggressively block subway station stairs and subway-car doors, and move one inch, if at all, when you said "Excuse me" or "Getting off". In Newark, you might be bothered by beggars now and then, but mainly in only a few locations (notoriously, for me, in the NCC Bergen Street Pathmark shopping center), and we don't have many "blacks". Newark has black PEOPLE, most with very good manners. Total strangers will nod and say "How you doing?" when you pass on the street, or tell you of a special in the same or a different supermarket when they see you puzzling over prices at, say, the pet-food aisle. White suburbanites and New Yorkers would not believe how nice black people in Newark are. They just would not believe it! I'll tell you that my faith in black people has been restored by Newark. White people in New York encounter so many hassles from so many bitter "blacks", for whom race is more important than our shared humanity, that they start to view race as more important than shared humanity too. Come to Newark. There are people under all the skin tones here, people who treat each other with courtesy and consideration. And it's not noble gestures sprung from some conscious desire to reach out to other people as a magnanimous gift. It's just the way ordinary people relate to each other because they see the person, not the race.
Newark is not so much black, nor white, as GREEN. Except for a relatively small area Downtown and in the most congested parts of the Ironbound or industrial eastern Newark, the city is filled with trees and shrubs and flowers in warm weather. And it's not just ailanthus ("sumac") weed trees, but maples and black walnut and locust and oaks — lots and lots of oaks towering over houses from backyards and sideyards — plus the occasional pine or spruce to keep a bit of green thru the grim days of winter.
Newark is not yet the well-rounded city it once was. We lost a lot in the decades of white flite and business shutdown following our one period of Riots (as against L.A.'s NINE to eleven riots), and our Downtown is filled with nail salons and sneaker palaces instead of upscale clothiers and chichi department stores. Will they come back? Only if the people who can afford to patronize such places come back, or stay once they rise economically from modest origins instead of scooting off to the 'burbs. Empty-nesters now rattling around in big houses vacated by children long gone might be much happier in Downtown Newark, within a short walk of the Newark Museum's multitudinous programs, NJPAC's multifarious offerings, and the galleries and restaurants of the Arts District and Ironbound. Will they come back? Not if they believe the propaganda of the "haters" on NJ.com or live in the post-Riot past. But if they see the positive things that blogs like this one or Glocallynewark.com have to say, maybe they'll make some forays into town, and not just for a concert at NJPAC, with their car parked in a nearby lot, and see that things really have changed. Newark is livable again. Indeed, the New Newark is more an educational and art center now, and less marred by the traffic, din, and pollution of industry than the Old Newark was.
The Decession / Great Recession may keep Newark hanging in suspense for a year or more. Will the prior upswing resume? Or has the momentum been lost? That's up to us, really, isn't it? If we believe that Newark's best days are ahead of it, they will be. We need not be mere passive observers, carried along by events beyond our control. Our future is in our hands. Busy hands are the angels' workshop.