FAMILIES AT PLAY “SHAPING ELIZABETH”

Best Push Up of the Day!

Best Push Up of the Day!

Families participated together!

Families participated together!

Shaping Elizabeth held its first Play Street on June 20th, 2015 in Elizabethport.  Our excitement could not be dampened by the clouds. Over 25 volunteers prepared for the event.  Donald Johnson, Supervisor, Office of Youth Services and Michael Johnson, Director of Association Initiatives organized the event.  15 “Building Future Leader” Teens volunteered AND THEY WERE OUTSTANDING.  Krishna Garlic, Director of Health & Human Services, City of Elizabeth and Shaping Elizabeth Work Group Leader, led the team.

The video link https://youtu.be/lO2evywTZ1E shows children and adults participating in events together which was one of our goals.  Council Member Carlos Torres, 1st Ward and Council Member At Large and President Patricia Perkins – Auguste supported the event with their involvement and donation of an adult bike for our participation raffle.

We are looking forward to our second play street on July 11th in 5th Ward  with Council Member William Gallman.

The Playstreets project has been a model of collaboration.  The City of Elizabeth Health & Human Services Department took the lead which brought many city resources – fire, police, volunteers, equipment and more.  Partner organizations donated supplies and resources.  The YMCA brought leadership and resources.  Partnering enabled us to leverage the support of the Council people in each ward.

There are challenges: Marketing Shaping Elizabeth effectively, resources are needed for signage, pamphlets and completion of our Facebook page.  Most challenging for me as the Project Leader is giving up control of events and allowing for a different picture to emerge then I might have envisioned.  This is hard but worth it.

We will need to leverage funds for marketing materials; we have received a second grant that will resource some marketing materials.  The more we continue to work together the easier it will be to give up control.

The community is excited for more play streets and we want to deliver them.

Teen Volunteers were a BIG help.

Teen Volunteers were a BIG help.

Krishna Garlic, City of Elizabeth and Council Woman Patricia Perkins-Auguste

Krishna Garlic, City of Elizabeth and Council Woman Patricia Perkins-Auguste

Busy Bees at Warren County!

Sarah Shoemaker talking about Choose Healthy Warren County @ WNTIWe’ve been busy in Warren County! To date, we have 11 municipalities signed on to the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign with several more in the wings.  Municipalities like Belvidere, Frelinghuysen, and Knowlton are issuing proclamations and gearing up to use their mini grants for the promotion of bike trails, 5k races, and health screenings! Bike racks have been chosen for several county parks and will be ordered very soon. Planning for our Farmer’s Market day is well under way. Hensler Farms and Mackey’s Orchard will be selling produce at our event, and we are working to add additional food vendors and organize family-friendly activities.  And our Choose Healthy Warren County – Healthy Menu Options Program was recently promoted on WNTI by our fearless leader Sarah Shoemaker!!

Listen here! (Sarah’s segment begins around 39 minutes)

Moving Ahead: Planning for future connections in Waterfront South

As we reach the halfway point of the Waterfront South health impact and livability assessment, it is a good idea to consider what we have accomplished so far and plan for the upcoming months.

On May 15 and 16, over twenty-five neighborhood residents, non-profit organizations, and institutional and community leaders analyzed local amenities, such as parks, schools, community gardens and sidewalks, and looked for ways connections between these amenities could be improved.

Assessment participants stand in front of a sign that says "NO BIG TRUCKS!" Truck traffic has been a persistent issues in Waterfront South.

Assessment participants stand in front of a sign that says “NO BIG TRUCKS!” Truck traffic has been a persistent issues in Waterfront South. Image: Tri-State Transportation Campaign

While some areas of Waterfront South had well maintained parks and community gardens and wide sidewalks that were in good condition, assessment participants noted a number of impediments to walking and bicycling throughout the neighborhood, including:

  • High levels of truck traffic on local roads,
  • A lack of bicycle lanes,
  • The need for more crosswalks, median islands and pedestrian signals,
  • Broken or cracked sidewalks with a high number of curb cuts that are not marked for those with visual impairments.

To move towards the goal of creating transportation improvements in Waterfront South that will promote healthy and active lifestyles, Tri-State Transportation Campaign is working with local partners to complete a toolkit that will incorporate feedback from local residents and provide recommendations for connecting local parks and open spaces with safer streets. The toolkit will demonstrate how changes such as better sidewalks, bicycle lanes and safer crosswalks would allow a greater number of area residents to walk or ride bicycles as a primary mode of transportation or for leisure purposes more safely.

In mid-July, we will be working with New Jersey Conversation Foundation, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (along with countless other assessment participants) to hold the first of a number of follow-up meetings to discuss the toolkit and to create an action plan for working towards implementation of assessment recommendations. These sessions will focus on working with agency, government and business partners to seek planning and funding opportunities that advance the goal of improving conditions for walking and biking in and around Waterfront South.

City of East Orange Public Works – Making It Happen

Often we see the before and after pictures of a project. When it’s a clean up project someone or a team of people had to be behind the after. Thanks to Mohammed Stewart, Superintendent-Department of Public Works, and his staff the lot that was donated by the Mayor and the City of East Orange has been cleaned off and ready for the next step. Meredith Taylor our Master Gardner spent the morning directing the public works team on cleaning the lot.

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Meredith stated “these guys are amazing”. I agree the city of East Orange has some outstanding employees.
We came to a point and Meredith said, we will need to make a decision on whether to plant grass seeds or lay sod. Meredith asked if there was anyone that could provide their expertise. Mohammed got on the phone and within minutes he had someone from the city that was willing to come out and provide their assistance. Again Meredith stated ” Wow you guys have great teamwork here in East Orange”. Mohammed and I smiled and thanked her. We do have great team work here in East Orange. That is a reflection of the leadership in this city.

The Healthier East Orange Coalition would like to thank Mohammed and Public Works staff for their can do and get it done attitude.

Great job Team !!!

Combining Natures Goodness with Nutley’s Kindness

Well, here we are just about mid-way through our grant cycle and the progress and transformation of this under-utilized parcel of land is absolutely amazing.

We could not have imagined a more dedicated and driven group of individuals coming together to get this project off the ground and to keep it moving forward.  The residents that have committed to this project have gone above and beyond to make this garden a fun and desirable destination spot.  Lasting friendships are being forged, casual, yet educational, conversations occur on a daily basis and an overall mood of comradery blankets this modest 90’x50’ fenced in oasis.

To date, all twelve beds are planted and thriving – with eleven beds reserved for construction for next year.  With the help of our Master Gardeners, the residents that have never gardened before are growing their own produce with confidence and pride.  We have been fortunate enough to receive additional donations of fruit and vegetable plants, which have been planted in containers and placed around the perimeter of the garden.  100% of the material yielded from these plants will also be forwarded to the local food pantry and care kitchen.

Our first big event will be our ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for Saturday, June 20th.  We have plans to conduct several educational workshops throughout the season, such as composting, rain barrels, canning, grilling of fresh fruits and vegetables, and more.  These workshops will be open to the general public, as well as of course, the garden participants, their families and friends.  Nutley is very fortunate in the fact that our residents are very interested and engaged in the betterment of our community and very willing to share their time and talents.  All of these workshops will be conducted by our participating Master Gardeners and/or volunteer community members.

We are so grateful to be able to combine Nature’s goodness with Nutley’s kindness!

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