Arts, Culture Fuel Green Economy in Community


In an effort to revitalize the Lincoln Park community in Newark, New Jersey, Baye Adofo Wilson, executive director of the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District (LPCCD), realized that rekindling the fire of Lincoln Park’s arts and culture community was the key to building a sustainable eco-urban village.

“Learning about the vision for the neighborhood was so exciting,” says Kimberlee Williams, co-owner at Femworks L.L.C., a marketing agency and photography studio in the Lincoln Park community. “Especially [since I know] that this is something of a brainchild from an African American person and in an African American neighborhood.”

Although creating a self-contained community — one that would reduce carbon emissions by developing jobs and affordable housing near public transportation –was pertinent, at the center of Wilson’s plans stood Lincoln Park’s Symphony Hall, a historic symbol of the community’s once prominent past (see Part I: New Jersey Community Builds on Arts, Environment).

Before tackling renovations of Symphony Hall, four years ago the LPCCD started sponsoring the Annual Lincoln Park Music Festival, a free, outdoor event in the park that features more than forty performances in four genres of African American music: jazz, gospel, house, and hip hop. Jazz legend James Moody, award-winning gospel artists The Clark Sisters, Broadway star Elisabeth Withers, and hip-hop icon KRS-One some of the performers. The LPCCD welcomed more than 40,000 people to the third annual festival in 2008, an increase from 15,000 attendees in 2007.

Next, he began recruiting arts and culture businesses such as Femworks and City Without Walls arts gallery. Also, in the works are plans to create the Museum of African American Music, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, honoring music legends with concerts and exhibits. LPCCD also found it necessary to educate newcomers about how to run an environmentally friendly business.

While a third of greenhouse emissions are generated by transporting people and goods, automobiles are not the only way that emissions are generated. Heating and cooling of buildings also generates one-third of greenhouse gases, according to a joint venture of the Congress for the New Urbanism, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“I have to say that quite a bit of my consciousness about energy efficiency has evolved during my residency in this neighborhood,” says Williams, who heard in 2005 about the project to renovate Symphony Hall and create a haven for arts and culture businesses. Also located in or near Lincoln Park are the Newark School of Arts, Newark Boys Chorus School, and School of the Garden State Ballet. Williams decided that the area would soon be jumping with activity and opted to move her in-home business to a Lincoln Park office in 2007.

“After being informally educated by the LPCCD we took it upon ourselves to