Newark Night Patrol W/Cory Booker

by bicyclemark 6 Comments

The story is not unique to Newark, all over the United States there are cities that are struggling. But what is unique is how citizens of Newark respond. Led by Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a man who loves his gadgets and social networking, groups of volunteers from all walks of life ride the streets of the city in packs of caravans, looking around to see what is going on, who needs help, and what doesn’t look right.  In cooperation with the police and department of public safety, the objective is to stem the violence, reduce crime, and show residents that people do care.  As the mayor himself said to me, it is also a chance for people from different backgrounds, races, religion, geographic locations, you name it – to meet each other and engage in this community activity together.

In this podcast I take you along on a night patrol with pack #2. Along the way you’ll hear stories, some serious, some not so serious, but each from a different volunteer with a unique connection to the city of Newark.  You will also hear from Cory himself, as he prepares us all before we hit the streets, and later on when he and I had a chance to talk about this initiative and how it has been received by the city.

bm274 The Ironbound Through My Father’s Eyes

by bicyclemark 3 Comments

My father Alfredo Rendeiro joins me to talk about Newark, the Ironbound, since the late 1960’s when he first arrived from Portugal.

Abandoned US

by bicyclemark 3 Comments

Sitting in my cousin Dan’s car driving through some lovely central Connecticut landscape, he points to something huge coming up on the right side of the car. “Look back there, you’ll see a huge building!”? Just beyond the trees that line the two lane road, I see what looks like a brand new shopping mall. Only with a second glance do I notice that the futuristic structure is surrounded by overgrown weeds and unfinished parking lots.? Looking in the building itself, you can see it is completely empty. “That was going to be a headquarters for one of the big mortgage lenders, until they went under” he told me.? In their wake these mortgage lenders have of course laid off many people, and as an enormous reminder of their recklessness, giant never used buildings dot our landscapes.

Driving through the different sections of Newark, I notice the familiar buildings that lay empty, “FOR RENT” and “SPACE AVAILABLE” signs that have turned yellow after sitting in the window for more than a decade. Housing projects, which were never paradise by any means, lay abandoned and boarded up… I’m reminded of my visit to New Orleans, and the fenced off condemned housing projects there.? One block further up on Muhammed Ali Boulevard I slow down the car as I scan a vast open construction project, what looks like a huge amount of low income housing being constructed. A few blocks away, more abandoned store fronts.

Scanning the feed from the Portuguese newspaper “O Publico” I see the headline about a German toy company that once based its factory in Portugal and moved to China in the late 90’s.? The story was about their return to Portugal due to the high costs of fuel and transport of their goods from China.? Being once again based in Portugal now seems more economically sound for this company, which means new jobs… or perhaps.. the return of old jobs to some community.

Abandoned buildings have long been a fact of life in much of the United States, especially in Newark.? As I thought back to them, reading this story about Portugal, I began to daydream about a scenario where factories and businesses that were once based in Newark returned. Picturing the abandoned buildings, long considered an eye sore, being now seen as valuable space to set up shop.? How happy the people in the new houses and the old houses alike might be. A real renaissance for places long forgotten. Or perhaps some people and places not so long ago left behind and abandoned.

Followup On Newark

by bicyclemark 1 Comment

In keeping with the issue of what is happening in the city of my birth and childhood, I noticed Ken over at the DailyNewarker has just posted an interesting podcast.  It is an interview with someone who works for the Ironbound Community Corporation, the Ironbound being my community.

During the interview Ken builds on what we talked about in our podcast together, just before they closed St. James hospital, about the impact of closing medical facilities on a community.

For my part I will continue to track the closing of hospitals in not only Newark but anywhere in the US or the world.  For now, click over to the Daily Newarker if you want to hear more details about what is happening around the issue of community hospitals and financial constraints.

On a slightly related note, I thought to also mention that for the first time in my lifetime, there will be no Portuguese parade in Newark this summer.  Why? -No money.