New Jersey Community Builds on Arts, Environment - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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When most people looked at Newark, New Jersey’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in 1999, they saw a low-income community with transient residents, vacant lots, abandoned buildings, a four-acre, drug- and prostitution- infested park, and a dilapidated Symphony Hall as the only redeeming asset, but Baye Adofo Wilson saw green.

Before the word “green” became über-chic, Wilson envisioned a sustainable urban eco-community that would tie together residents’ concern for the environment with economic and social development.

Now, as the executive director for the past five years of the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District (LPCCD), a community development corporation, Wilson has made inroads to create an urban eco-village with a thriving economy sustained by green jobs and a budding arts and culture community.

“If we are going to build a long term sustainable community it has to be accessible in terms of affordability,” Wilson says.

At one point in time Lincoln Park was an exclusive neighborhood home to two New Jersey governors and the founders of Prudential Life Insurance. However in the 1950s and 60s, middle-class inhabitants left the city and the Newark riots of 1967 diminished the neighborhood’s appeal even further. The community almost rebounded in the 1980s when several activists, investors, and city officials tried to build an arts community, but the funding was inadequate and interests waned.

Wilson realized his goal was to restore the neighborhood to its former prominence during the 1920s when Symphony Hall, the 2,800 seat performance venue with a ballroom that seats 1,000, was a major attraction that drew crowds from out of town to see vaudeville acts. Plans to renovate Symphony Hall are still in the development stages.

Symphony Hall anchors his vision, but surrounding it the LPCCD has already started building multi-use housing, arts and culture businesses, and clearing out vacant lots to develop open space for an organic farm called the Brick City Urban Farm. Complimenting the green housing and the Symphony Hall are plans to create the Museum of African American Music, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, honoring music legends with concerts and exhibits.

Renewing energy and opportunity

Wilson hopes these projects will create 200 jobs in Lincoln Park by 2010. He estimates that 35% of those will be created by arts and culture businesses, while 50% will come from construction projects. The corporation received $2.5 million and $1 million in subsidies from the city of Newark and the State of New Jersey respectively to put the different projects in motion.

The LPCCD also created the Green Collar Apprenticeship Program (GreenCAP), Newark’s first green collar job training program. Graduates of GreenCAP will receive a green certificate to verify their classroom instruction and on-the-job training on green construction projects.

“The community was devastated by urban flight. Now everyone realizes that these locations

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.