Thursday, December 27, 2012

Trenton Area Volunteer Organizations

TRENTON-- In preparation for Anwar's Reflections Martin Luther King, Jr. panel discussion on community service scheduled for January 23rd at 6 pm at Mercer County Community College in Trenton, here are some groups and organizations that might have some volunteer opportunities available if one is interested in helping out and being of service:

Trenton Area Soup Kitchen
Address: 721/2 Esher Street, Trenton, NJ 08609
Phone: 609-695-5456 - or with hearing or speech impairments can call 800-852-7899 for NJ Relay service.
Contact: Peg O’Halloran @ 609-695-5456 X-109
Website: TrentonSoupKitchen.org

Habitat for Humanity of Trenton
You can go to their website to volunteer
Or need more information
Website: Habitatta.org

The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey
Address: 635 Clinton Avenue, Trenton NJ 08609
Phone 609-695-6274
Website: chsofnj.org

Big Brother Big Sister of Mercer County
Address: 535 East Franklin Street, Trenton NJ 08610
Phone: 609-656-1000
Email: friends@bbbsmercer.org
Website:

Boys & Girls Club of Trenton & Mercer County
Address: 212 Centre Street, Trenton, NJ 08611
Phone 609-392-3191
Website: bgctrenton.org

Trenton Free Public Library
Friends of the Trenton Public Library
Address: 120 Academy Street, Trenton, NJ 08608
Phone 609-392-7188 – Director Kimberly Matthews
Email: friendsoftpl@gmail.com
Website: trentonlib.org

Chamber of Commerce for Mercer County Region
Contact: Rob Kantenwein, Director of Operations
Email: rob@volunteerconnectnj.org
Website: mercerchamber.org

For more information on other activities surrounding Trenton's King Week 2013, visit Restoring Freedoms website by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Anwar's Reflections Hosts MLK Panel Discussion at MCCC

TRENTON--Anwar's Reflections--a Trentonian affiliate-- will be hosting two panel discussions during historic King Week 2013 in Trenton to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 These two events are scheduled for Jan. 22nd and Jan. 23rd at Mercer County Community College's James Kerney Campus located at their Downtown Trenton site. These events will be held from 6 to 8 pm.

These public forums will focus on one of the fundamental questions that Dr. King posed during his lifetime, he asked: Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?

Indeed, as the city of Trenton grapples with 24 homicides, a 48% graduation rate, and dwindling resources many people are wondering if we, too, are headed for chaos or community. As I said before, Trenton is in bad shape. Something has got to give. So it is in the tradition of Dr. King's eloquent words, that I am saying that now is not the time to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism or to consume the all too tempting shot of do-nothingness, but rather now is the time to address our community's issues in such a way that sparks ongoing and concerted action. It is my belief that now is the time to talk about service, in particular, community service.

During this forum, panelists will discuss things like, how can we better serve our communities? What practical steps can we take today to address the condition of our families, our schools, and ultimately our city? In what ways, do our everyday acts of community service help to bring King's well-known 'Dream' into existence in the 21st century? What, if anything, would Dr. King do if he were alive today? What are the challenges and opportunities surrounding servant leadership in the tradition of Dr. King?

Panelists will include writer Will Deshair Foskey, playwright Rashad Walker, Kieanna Childs Alexander, Duncan Harrison, Jerell Blakeley, Rio Swinson, Celestine Chukumba, New Black Panther Party Spokesperson Divine Allah, among others.

The event is free and open to the public at large. Refreshments will be available.

For more information on the event, contact Anwar Salandy at 609.968.6114.

If you want to hear this blog being recited by Anwar Salandy, click below to hear the audio version:


Listen to internet radio with anwarsreflections on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, December 8, 2012

As Trenton Weathers Storm, Now Is The Time For Service

TRENTON-- With the mayor being indicted Thursday, three shootings just this past week, and a 48% graduation rate, is it any wonder that residents and onlookers alike are saying, "Mercy Mercy Me, Ohhh, Things Aint What They Used to be" as Marvin Gaye once said.

Indeed, Trenton was once a booming town. According to Trenton Mill Hill, this city thrived in the early 20th century due to its manufacturing economy. However, the state's capital now finds itself in quite a quagmire.

News reports from The Trentonian indicate that the city now has 23 homicides on record. And to add insult to injury, the city's only downtown hotel, the Marriott, is talking seriously about having its name changed because it has been struggling to post a profit since opening 10 years ago.

Along with these developments, Trenton small businesses like Cafe International and Can Do Errands have both decided to close their doors, while the owner of another small business, the Baldassari nightclub, has not decided to close his establishment, but has voiced serious concern over the city's violent crime.

Indeed, blind eyes can see that there's something rotten in the city of Trenton. But what's more important to know now is: where do we go from here? City council members and concerned residents alike are speaking out. On the one hand, we have Councilwoman Phyllis Holly Ward saying that "Silence and inaction is no longer an option". She went on to admonish members of the community by saying that we need to "clean up, stand up, and speak up".

Then we have South Ward Councilman George Muschal saying that he was in support of creating a curfew that would require teenagers to be inside by 10 pm. However, Trenton Police Director, Ralph Rivera, said that he would not go along with such a curfew. Rather, he plans to saturate "those areas where violence has been occurring to decrease the level of violence we've been experiencing".

Lastly, we have community activist Duncan Harrison recommending that we hire part-time police officers as a way to help a police force that was reduced by a third due to recent budget cuts. The mayor has even appealed to the Governor's office through a formal letter requesting more funding to address the crime issue, but there has been no response as of yet.

I personally think a curfew is going overboard and will not actually solve the problem, it unfairly punishes everyone when the problem wasn't caused by everyone. I think 'fair is only fair'. As far as saturating high crime areas is concerned, this idea has promise, but at the same time, it may just influence the city's criminals to migrate to those other areas of the city, still leaving us with a problem. At the end of the day, I think the best thing we can do is what Mayor Mack spoke about earlier this week, he said, "The Trenton Police Department can no longer be expected to carry the burden of crime reduction on its own. Parents and guardians need to step up and take control of their homes and children. For those that need help, speak up and speak out. Our administration will continue to do its part by reaching out to state officials to secure additional public safety dollars".

Indeed, I think we (myself included) need to stop complaining and start helping out and be of service to our community. I don't know about you, but it hurts to see my community crumbling before my eyes. It hurts so much that I have decided to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club. Basically, I read to children once a week for two hours. And from speaking to the program's director, it sounds as though they need all the help they can get. And I'm pretty sure that other groups and organizations are in need of volunteer help as well.

Why not reach out to them and offer your services? If you just so happen to have a gift for mentoring, then why not be a mentor? If you have a knack for working with the youth or the elderly, then what's holding you back? Or maybe just maybe, you have about a hour a week, where you can start a neighborhood clean up on your block. Indeed, we can all be of service in our own way, we don't have to wait on public safety dollars from the State to get things done in our community. Sure, the funds can help and I do believe the government has a role to play in this, but at the same time, I say let's take the initiative as everyday people and start changing within for the better. What do you say?

For those interested in hearing an audio version of this blog recited by Anwar Salandy, click below:


Listen to internet radio with anwarsreflections on Blog Talk Radio

Monday, December 3, 2012

PC Trouble Stop By Mike's

TRENTON-- Is it just me or is does it drive you completely bonkers when you don't get good service from a store you do business with? Come on, don't be coy with me, you know what I'm getting at: the waiter that doesn't check on you until you say something about it. The dry cleaner that somehow misplaces a button on one of your favorite shirts.Or maybe it's the barber that pushes your hairline further back than you wanted. All of these experiences have  left me saying at one point or another what well-known singer Marvin Gaye once said, "What's going on?".

Yet at the same time, there are those other situations where a small business does get it right. As a matter of fact, just last week, my laptop needed a new USB port because the original one that was installed on the computer ending up breaking.

And you know, for a guy like me that likes to charge his phone and upload videos to YouTube, I knew I couldn't live without my USB port for too long. So, I went to Mike's Computers downtown Thursday afternoon. I have to admit, that day parking was tough,  but thankfully Mike was able to order me a USB port at no cost to me since I bought the laptop from him for a very affordable rate ($150). After he ordered the part, I had the piece in no time. I came back the following week and it was available.

Mike sells refurbished laptops and computers. In a recent Trentonian article, the store's owner, Mike Register, said "I try to make everything really affordable because we know what our customers want, and even try to stay under the competition’s prices,”. With laptops being priced at $150, $199, etc it seems as though the local entrepreneur doesn't just talk a good game, but rather he puts his money where his mouth is.

Despite the low price, my laptop runs like a charm, no performance issues. And if any problems do happen to pop up, Mike gave me a six month warranty, something he keeps his word to. On top of providing a quality laptop at an affordable rate, Mike and his assistant, Dave, are both helpful and professional. They greet you by name as you enter their downtown shop. I have to admit, it made me feel like I was on a episode of Cheers, a place where everybody knows your name.

In this busy and hectic world we live in, it can sometimes feel as though good business has become a thing of the past, but thankfully there are small businesses out there like Mike's that go the extra mile for the customer. That's why I recommend Mike's to anyone looking for a quality personal computer at a great price.

The shop is located at 228 East State Street, Downtown Trenton. For more information, contact Mike at 609.341.0951 or visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Youth Are In Search For Solutions

TRENTON-- With recent news reports indicating that Mayor Mack is still under investigation by the FBI and with violent crime still plaguing our streets, the city finds itself in quite a quagmire. Marches, rallies, vigils, and summits have all been tried, but issues remain. The State Police has even stepped in to work with the City Police Department to help patrol the streets since a third of the city's police force was laid off last year due to budget constraints according to the Trentonian.

At a recent City Council meeting, community activist Duncan Harrison has called for hiring part-time police officers to address the city's violent crime. While others have advocated for a reduction in the mayor's pay since things have not turned around for the better since Mack was inaugurated in 2010. At that same City Council meeting, an impassioned city women and concerned mother said that she and others were more than willing to be of service when it comes to volunteering with the children in the community.

Needless to say, there is a lot of talk circulating, but what about solutions. As the city grapples with its reported 22 homicides, concerned residents like Jasi Edwards have put together a Youth Pep Rally that promises to be different than previous rallies. Edwards says that "this time our elders will not speak, the youth will speak so everyone has a sense of what's on our minds being that it's not our elders that are doing the crimes, it is our peers; people in our age group".

The event is scheduled to be held Sunday, December 2nd from 3 to 6 pm at the CYO East State Street Center, located at 794 East State Street.

According to a press release, Edwards and other young folks in the community seek "to help decrease the gun violence and crimes in our historic city by committing ourselves to getting programs back into our schools and community centers; also, opening businesses in Trenton to create more employment for our city’s residents".

During the event, there will be guest speakers and live performances by the community's youth. General admission is $5. Children 3 and under can attend for free.

For more information on the event or how to get involved, contact Jasi Edwards at 609.356.2337 or by email jasimikaee@ymail.com.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Independents Square Off In Trenton Once Again

TRENTON-- Independent U.S. Senate candidates met in Trenton to discuss immigration, national security, and foreign policy Wednesday evening at Mercer County Community College.

Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- hosted and moderated its second U.S. Senate Debate at Mercer County Community downtown at its James Kerney Campus. The debate was designed to increase voter turnout and raise awareness about the upcoming General Election.

All senate candidates were invited, but mainstream candidates Democrat U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Joseph Kyrillos did not attend.

During the debate, all three independent candidates that did attend, Greg Pason of the Socialist Party, Daryl Brooks of the Reform Nation Party, and Steve Welzer of the Green Party in place of Ken Wolski, said that military spending should be reduced and that our country should instead be invested in a jobs bill or some form of education reform.

Later, during the debate, the candidates went on to discuss illegal immigration. Greg Pason of the Socialist Party said that he supports the DREAM Act, a narrowly tailored bill to give undocumented students a chance to earn legal status if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing. Daryl Brooks of the Reform Nation Party had an opposing view. He said that "illegal is illegal" and that he did not support the DREAM Act. Steve Welzer of the Green Party said that he supported stricter enforcement of the immigration laws already on the books.

Indeed, from my observation, the event was a lively and engaging. However, the turnout was not as expected. Many were invited, but few showed. With rising prices, unemployment, and lack of healthcare afflicting the lives of many, it is a wonder why more people didn't come out to hear what the candidates have to say. Do the people really want change? Questions remain...Yet, in any event, the struggle continues.

For more information on the upcoming election, visit VoteSmart by clicking here.

To see video coverage of the debate, see below:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Independents Meet In Trenton But GOP and Dems Are Nowhere To Be Found

TRENTON-- Independent third party U.S. Senate candidates came together Wednesday afternoon to discuss some of the issues in Trenton, but the two major political candidates were nowhere to be found.

Wednesday night, Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- hosted a U.S. Senate Debate at Mercer County Community College downtown at their James Kerney campus to inform the public about the upcoming general election November 6th and to discuss jobs, the economy, and the budget deficit, among other things.

The debate was co-moderated by Delonte Harrod, a graduate student and photographer, and Anwar Salandy, a local blogger.

All candidates were invited, including Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican candidate Joseph Kyrillos, but neither Menendez nor Kyrillos were in attendance.

The debate's participants made note of Menendez and Kyrillos absence. Libertarian candidate Kenneth Kaplan said, "I want to criticize Kyrillos and Menendez for not being here today, its shows what they think about the people of New Jersey by not taking on the opposition, by not exchanging ideas with us". Reform Nation candidate Daryl Mikell Brooks went on to say that, "They didn't show up and I'm disappointed".

Menendez and Kyrillos met in Trenton just two weeks ago for the 101.5 FM debate, but their absence last night was conspicuous. Indeed, what does their absence signify? The question becomes: Are they really concerned about issues and problems affecting the people in inner cities like Trenton? If they are, then why didn't they show up? Sure, independent candidates lack the financial resources and backing that Republicans and Democrats have, but don't they deserve a voice at the table?

In a phone interview, U.S. Senate candidate Inder Soni told me that he wants to challenge Menendez and Kyrillos to a debate in Trenton.

A follow-up debate is scheduled for next Wednesday at Mercer County Community College located downtown Trenton inside Kerney Hall from 6 to 8 pm. All candidates are invited.

Socialist Party candidate Greg Pason, Green Party candidate Ken Wolski, Reform Nation candidate Daryl Mikell Brooks, and Libertarian candidate Kenneth Kaplan were at the first debate and have confirmed that they will attend the second debate scheduled for next week.

For more information on the election, click here. For more information about next week's event, contact Anwar Salandy at 609.968.6114. You can also reach him by email at anwarsalandy@ymail.com.

For access to the debate, see below:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Anwar's Reflections Hosts Senate Debate To Combat Voter Apathy


TRENTON--"Anwar's Reflections"-- a Trentonian affiliate, in association with Occupy the Hood NJ will be hosting a U.S. Senate debate October 17th at Mercer County Community College from 4 to 6 pm to combat voter apathy.

This debate was born out of a concern for voter apathy.Voter apathy refers to a situation where eligible Americans choose to boycott participation in elections, for whatever reason.

This November 6th, the President, U.S. Senators, and different members of the legislature will all be on the ballot.

According to Real Clear Politics, 56.2% of the people say that the country is going in the wrong direction.

Indeed, as more and more citizens wrestle with unemployment, rising prices, and a lack of healthcare, it would seem that for this year's election, the stakes could not be any higher. However, whether people will actually turn out this year is another question. Alas, even as it is recognized that voter turnout has increased over the last three presidential elections according to CBS News, there is still this nagging sense that more and more people are showing a lack of interest in politics or the political process due to busy schedules, cynical resignation, or perhaps even due to their sheer confusion about how the voting process works, it makes one wonder how many people will actually turn out to vote.

And to make matters worse, across the nation, there have been changes made to voting laws that could potentially affect "minorities", the elderly and student populations. Many of these laws require that voters present identification at the time of voting. According to TechnicianOnline Staff Writer Lindsey Rosenbaum, "these laws were mainly implemented by Republican congressmen in an attempt to fight voter fraud, but some voting rights advocates see this instead as voter suppression targeting main Democratic demographics". For more on this issue, click here.

With these sorts of issues looming, "Anwar's Reflections"-- a Trentonian affiliate, in association with Occupy the Hood NJ, have decided to hold a U.S. Senate debate at Mercer County Community College's Kerney Hall located in Downtown Trenton October 17th from 4 to 6 pm. 

The event is designed to raise awareness about the upcoming election and to encourage involvement in the democratic process. Information on how to register to vote will be available for those that need it.

During the debate, we will be discussing a variety of issues affecting Mercer County and urban centers like Trenton. We will address issues like jobs, workforce development, and the role of government. If you are interested in submitting debate questions, click here.

Greg Pason of the Socialist Party, Inder Soni, Kenneth Kaplan of the Libertarian Party, and Daryl Brooks of the Reform Nation Political Party have all confirmed that they can attend. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican candidate Joe Kyrillos have also been invited, but as of today, they have not confirmed their attendance.

Food and refreshments will be available.

For more information on the event, contact Anwar Salandy at 609.968.6114 or email him at anwarsalandy@ymail.com.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Local Firebrand Takes Another Shot At Public Office

TRENTON-- Local activist makes yet another bid for U.S. Senate this November. Longtime Trenton resident and political firebrand Daryl Brooks sat down with Anwar's Reflections--  a Trentonian affiliate-- to discuss his candidacy Tuesday afternoon.

During the nearly one hour interview, Brooks spoke about issues like education, jobs, and immigration.

The political malcontent took no time in calling out a number of community leaders and activists for what he deemed to be their failure in addressing issues like crime, education, jobs, and prisons.

From West Ward Councilman Zachary Chester to Trentonian talk show host Darren Freedom Green, Brooks took no prisoners as he spoke about the city's crisis of leadership. Brooks went on to say that these leaders are too busy singing, dancing, and having 'cookouts' to tackle today's problems. He said today's leaders are weak and "have no ideas".

Aside from the community's woes, Brooks also spoke about two hallmarks of his political campaign, immigration and education.

The outspoken activist is no stranger to running for political office. In the past, he ran two senate campaigns that proved unsuccessful. Over the year's, the local activist's political career has been marred by a 1995 conviction for lewdness, endangerment of a child, and assault. At that time, Trenton, NJ police and prosecutors claimed that Brooks flashed two adolescent aged girls. Since day one, Brooks has maintained his innocence.

After being released from prison, Brooks published an audiobook chronicling his life. Over the years, the Trenton activist has made it a point to fight for issues affecting the prison industrial complex, violence, and other forms of injustice. He is currently a member of the Tea Party and has affiliations with Occupy the Hood NJ and Occupy Trenton.

For more information on Brooks or his campaign, visit his website by clicking here.

Please see the video below to see Brooks take to task community leaders: 


For access to the entire interview, click below:

Monday, October 1, 2012

MCCC Gets A Touch Up

TRENTON-- Local community college unveils new changes at their Trenton campus. Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- attended Mercer County Community College's (MCCC) Special Open House and Celebration Thursday afternoon at their downtown James Kerney Campus to take a tour of the new facilities.

As a former student and MCCC alumni, I felt the need to stop by and check out the changes the College has made.

From reviewing the campus, the College has added a new one-stop registration and advisement center known as The Commons. On top of this, a new career center, science labs, and study areas were added to the current building. Across the street from the College lies Trenton Hall, a facility with new classrooms, a study lounge, an art studio, and a Fashion Design Laboratory.

During my tour, I was guided by two of the College's nursing majors that said they liked the new changes. According to the College's website, students can now complete their associate's degree in Liberal Arts entirely at the Downtown Trenton Kerney campus.

The College was originally an Evening Drawing School, but then turned into MCCC in 1966. The school then expanded its reach by constructing the West Windsor campus six years later in 1972. With these changes and enhancements, the College sought to build upon this history by better meeting the needs of the community.

MCCC President Patricia Donuhue said, "With expansion and improvements downtown, we will be able to  serve more city and county residents, including state workers that are interested in evening or lunchtime classes".

Kerney Campus Provost Monica Weaver went on to say that the College is "bringing programs that have a direct link to the economic success of our region".

During the College's celebration ceremony, both current students and alumni spoke about the impact that the College has had on their education.

As a former student, I can definitely say that I think the changes were well needed. For years, the downtown campus lacked a feel and look of modernization. So on an aesthetic level, I think the changes are both stylish and attractive. From a community need standpoint, I think the addition of Trenton Hall will definitely help train and educate tomorrow's leaders in skills that are actually needed in the workplace.  Trenton Hall is designed specifically for Fashion Design and Art majors, but other students can use the facility as well.

Its highly important that we train and educate people so that they are equipped to handle 21st century jobs. I think MCCC's changes are a good move in that direction.

For more information on the College, call (609) 586-4800 or visit their website by clicking here.

Please see video below:




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is Trenton Headed For Chaos or Community?

TRENTON-- Today, as accusations of corruption in high places circulate and urban violence peppers our streets, the city of Trenton finds itself in quite a quagmire.

In just the past few weeks, we have witnessed our city's mayor being escorted in handcuffs by Federal Agents after allegations surfaced that he was involved in conspiring to extort $119,000 from a Hudson County developer for a downtown parking garage. As news spread, residents looked on with embarrassment, support, and misunderstanding, all at once.

On top of the mayor's troubles, New Jersey's state capitol, was struck with a recent spate of violent crime. News reports indicate that a 77 year old city woman was the recipient of gunfire as her Stuyvesant Avenue home was shot up two weeks ago. And if that's not enough, a 19 year old young man that seemed as though he was on the right track was needlessly shot and killed this past Saturday. As of today, the city has seen 15 murders this year.

Despite these grim and unforgiving realities, I am not going to join that chorus of doomsayers that suggest that Trenton is going to hell in a hand-basket. Yes, Trenton needs repair, but, please believe, we are not living in Beirut. Over the course of living in this community and blogging, I have seen many positive things happening. Just last month, volunteers and other members of the community helped put together a new playground at Monument School. For more information on this, click here.

But even as I celebrate those positive things, I also recognize the need to speak to those nagging problems that afflict our neighborhoods. As stated earlier, crime and corruption are real things in our community. So, in saying that, I think the first step in dealing with these sorts of issues is to put an end to all the finger-pointing and fault-finding and recognize what Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera recently said.

At a community meeting, Rivera said that its going to take "a partnership, the police cannot do this on their own". Indeed, we (including myself) as stakeholders in the community, are going to need to put our money where our mouth is, figuratively speaking, and stop complaining about what others aren't doing. Trentonian columnist LA Parker echoed this sentiment when he said that this recent spate of violence "will serve as a rallying point for the city of Trenton" for us to wake up and get involved.

It seems clear to me that it is going to take a collective effort on all our parts to improve our community. Now please don't get me wrong, in difficult economic times, one doesn't expect to get blood from a stone, if one cannot provide financially, one can still help in other ways by investing their time and effort.

For instance, let's take that extra two hours we have during a typical week and use it by talking to our youth and really being there for them. Or perhaps, you can take that extra time and volunteer that time to help community groups and organizations that already exist. These groups are out there and are in need of help. To name just a few of these organizations, there are the Fathers and Men United For a Better Trenton, the Trenton Chapter of the NAACP, the PeaceKeepers, the Boys & Girls Club of Trenton, and Capital City Youth Development Council.

These groups need our time and talents. If you have a knack for providing counsel and being a mentor, what is stopping you? If you have a gift for working with children, then Lord knows your gift is needed somewhere. Or perhaps your forte is community organizing, then why not get together a group of individuals to do a weekly block clean-up. Lo and behold, it is through these small but significant deeds that our community can improve. Don't get me wrong, it won't be easy, and the change won't happen overnight, but if we stay committed and resolve to make a difference, change is possible.

As Dr. King so eloquently said, will we choose chaos or community? I sincerely hope we choose the latter.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ARC CLIENTS DEFY ODDS AND SHOOT FOR THE STARS

TRENTON-- What happens when you are dying to tell you and your friend's stories, yet no one has taken the job so far? Well, Trenton residents and Arc Mercer clients Marlene Brockington and Tammi Weiger did only what seemed logical to them. They took action.

Marlene and Tammi both have cerebral palsy, a physical disability caused by brain damage, that has left them bound to wheelchairs for much of their lives.

Despite their physical limitation, for the last year, these two inspirational young ladies have been co-editing the Respite Reader, a newsletter the Arc Mercer publishes once a month as a part of their Aftercare Program.

The Arc Mercer is a local organization that specializes in helping individuals with developmental disabilities
realize their goals. Over the course of the last year, Brockington and Weiger have been realizing their dreams of being editors despite the odds. In their capacity as co-editors, they have been busy drafting questions for interviews, editing submissions, and shooting videos with their smartphones.

These two editors work closely with the Arc Mercer staff to brainstorm and come up with story ideas, but Recreation Manager John Morton said that members of the staff in no way change their words once they submit their work .

Anwar’s Reflections—a Trentonian affiliate— was invited to the Arc of Mercer in Trenton last week to take a peek at what these two young ladies were up to. During my visit, I was given the opportunity to interview them.

Upon arriving at the facility, I was greeted by both editors. During our nearly thirty minute interview, the ladies were all smiles.  They say they enjoy working together and that the best part of their job is doing the fashion stories.

Arc Staff Manager, Brandon King, said that, "Every day Tammi is ready to go, its just amazing to see the growth of these two young ladies".

The newsletter includes interviews, special features, and other articles.

For more information on the Arc Mercer and their Aftercare Program, contact John Morton at (609) 989-9211 or by email at jmorton@arcmercer.org.

For access to the interview, please see below:


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Trentonians Hit The Movies At Local Library


TRENTON-- Last week, members of the Occupy the Hood Movement in association with Anwar's Reflections came together to host a Political Film Fest for the community. The event was held at the Trenton Public Library located near downtown.

Occupy the Hood NJ, an offshoot to the larger Occupy Wall Street movement spreading across the country, over the last couple of months has sought to raise awareness and ultimately cause change regarding issues affecting people living in urban settings like New Jersey's state capital. The group targets issues like unemployment, the prison industrial complex, and dwindling resources for social programs.
 
During the event, three films were shown, Sing Your Song, The Black Power Mixtape, and Inside Job.

All three of the films had some sort of political undertone in them. One film, The Black Power Mixtape, chronicled the Black Power Movement in the black community and Diaspora from 1967 to 1975. Another film, Inside Job, took a look at the role Wall Street played in the 2008 economic crisis that shook the US.

The films were shown as a way to raise awareness about pressing issues affecting the larger community.

Unfortunately, the turnout was not as expected. Throughout the day, the event had around 20 attendees. Looking at this stark reality raises questions like why didn't more people come out? Was it matter of poor promotion and marketing? Was it a matter of bad timing? Or perhaps there was or is a lack of interest in the community regarding these sort of issues? I, for one, don't know the answer to these questions, but I do know that in any event, the movement will continue.

Stay tuned for future events from Anwar's Reflections that are sure to inform, entertain, and encourage the masses.

A special thank you goes out to the Trenton Public Library for allowing us to hold this event and other events in the past in their Community Room. Another special thank you goes to the African American Chamber of Commerce and local grocery store Wegman's for providing food and refreshments for the event.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Trentonians Chime In After Feds Raid City Hall

TRENTON-- In the wake of last week's FBI raids, the city of Trenton burst onto the national scene. News reports, tweets, and blogs galore, indeed Trenton was the talk of the town last week.

FBI agents descended onto New Jersey's state capitol in the middle of the night last Wednesday, they stopped off at the mayor's Berkely Square home in Trenton.

The city's mayor, Tony F. Mack, has been the subject of scandal and criticism since taking office just two years ago. Since being inaugurated, he and his administration have been slapped with accusations of cronyism and reckless spending. However, at this juncture, despite these accusations, the FBI has not charged the mayor with any crime or offense. Reports indicate that an investigation is ongoing.

After stopping off at the Mayor's humble abode, the FBI also searched the homes of Mack's brother Raphael Mack along with one of the mayor's campaign contributors JoJo Giorgianni, a convicted sex offender.

Over the last two years, the mayor was a target of a failed recall effort. The citizens group that led the recall effort was concerned about "unstable leadership and the laying off of 105 police officers "according to Trentonian columnist LA Parker. Along with the recall, a lawsuit was filed against the mayor by a former parks employee. The employee said that the mayor asked her to give his friends jobs and she refused.

It is unknown whether the FBI investigation has anything to do with these previous issues and if they are connected to the mayor and his administration.

To his credit, Mack has done some things to improve the city of Trenton since taking office. From renovating the Ike Williams Recreation Center to securing grant funds for public safety that is expected to help bring back 12 officers that were laid off due to budget constraints, the mayor has done things enhance the community. For more info, click here.

Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- wanted to get reaction from Trenton residents.

One resident said its tragic that we have a mayor that is being investigated by the FBI. He went on to say that despite being innocent until proven guilty, if the FBI is involved, they must have something on him.

Another resident, Ms. Tuthcil, said that she personally knows the mayor and that she doesn't know too much about what's going on, but that she supports the mayor and is praying for him.

Shawn, a city man, said that his initial reaction after hearing that the mayor's house was raided was that it was 'embarassing'.

Lastly, Richard Cook, a longtime Trenton resident and cousin of former Mayor Doug Palmer, said that he doesn't know what to think but that he never saw a mayor's house get raided by the FBI in his lifetime.

Please see video interviews below:



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Local Group Hosts Trenton Film Fest at Library

TRENTON- Local group hosts Trenton Film Festival at the Trenton Public Library. Occupy the Hood NJ in association with Anwar’s Reflections is holding a film fest for the community to come together, have fun, and discuss important political issues affecting individuals living in urban communities like Trenton.

During the event, films The InterruptersSing Your Song, The Black Power Mixtape, and Inside Job,  will be shown.

According to the film's website, The Interrupters tells "a moving and surprising story of "three violence interrupters" in Chicago" who seek to protect their communities from the violence they once employed. Sing Your Song tells the story of actor and activist Harry Belafonte and his struggles during the Civil Rights Movement. For more on the film, click here. The Black Power Mixtape chronicles and examines "the Black Power Movement in the black community and Diaspora from 1967 to 1975". For more information on this film click here. Inside Job highlights the role of Wall Street in the 2008 economic crisis that shook the US. For more on this film, click here.

Event participants are invited to take part in a light discussion after the films.

Refreshments will be served during the film festival.

The event is free and being sponsored by the African American Chamber of Commerce. The event is scheduled to go from 10 am to 4 pm Saturday July 28th at the Trenton Public Library located at 120 Academy Street, Downtown Trenton.

For more information, contact members of Occupy the Hood NJ at occupythehoodnj@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Anwar's Reflections Hosts Presidential Election Panel Discussion

TRENTON-- What happens when an historian, a political economist, an Iraq veteran, a student, and a community activist come together to discuss some of today's pressing issues? That is the question.

Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- and Occupy the Hood NJ came together Saturday morning to discuss the 2012 Presidential Election at the Trenton Public Library.

During our nearly four hour discussion, a variety of issues and topics were explored. From immigration and jobs to gay marriage and race, all of these issues were brought to the table Saturday.

Indeed, it was a heated yet enlightening exchange of ideas. The event was sparked by members of the Occupy the Hood NJ movement and blogger Anwar Salandy.

According to the local blogger, now it is more important than ever to raise awareness about this upcoming election, the stakes are high, this election can drastically alter the course and direction of this country. Therefore, we can sit on the sidelines. We need to get involved and vote.

At one point during the discussion, Rance Robeson, an Iraq military veteran, said that President Obama is doing an outstanding job despite his 47% approval rating according to Real Clear Politics. He went on to point out Obama's achievements and say the economy was not the only issue or factor that was going to be critical in one's voting decisions.

Economist and CEO of online marketing company, Intersearch Media, Dr. Celestine Chukumba had a contrary view. He focused on economic issues like jobs. He said that this election will essentially boil down to jobs, jobs, jobs. Chukumba went to highlight what some have called President's Obama's weaknesses, he spoke about Obama's unwillingness to work with the other side of the aisle (i.e. members of the Republican Party). Chukumba said that "at the end of the day, you have to work with both sides". He went on to mention that there has been an attack on the rich coming from members of the Obama camp and that this strategy is no way to work with both sides as a chief executive.

Others on the panel said that President Obama was at a disadvantage coming into office since he lacked executive experience being that he was a senator and community organizer before being elected to the highest office in the land.

Later, Chukumba went on to acknowledge that there is historical significance to Mr. Obama's presidency, but he went on to caution the audience that there should be principled criticism of his presidency if the nation ever hopes to have another president of color in office in the future. Others on the panel echoed this sentiment.

Community activist Daryl Brooks said that "its not only important to look at the world economy" but also to understand how social issues like Mitt Romney's Mormonism may have an impact on this year's election.

Trenton resident Edward Smith said that despite President Obama throwing a bone to young voters by reducing interest rates on student loans this past week, this doesn't change the fact that young people cannot find jobs after finishing college. 

Educator Dr. Jack Washington quoted political analyst James Carville by saying that this year's election hinges on the economy by saying its "the economy stupid". Indeed, it seems as though the economy will figure prominent as the nation wrestles with an 8.2% unemployment rate, stagnant wages, and high gas prices. 

Graduate student and Willingboro resident, Sam Bardell, recorded the event while photographer Delonte Harrod took photos of the discussion. 

To get more information on this year's candidates and the election overall, click here.

For more on what the panelists said, please see videos below:




Sunday, July 1, 2012

Local Group Kickstarts Summer Program For Area Youth

HAMILTON-- The summer is here, the sun is shining, air conditioners are burning energy, and last but not least, school is out. Instead of having area kids roam the streets with idle hands, two local community organizations have decided to come together and launch a summer enrichment camp at Hamilton Township's Bromley Center.

The Bromley Civic Association in conjunction with the S.E.A.L Academy have decided to create a program that will give youngsters something both fun to do and something positive to do while enjoying their summer break from school.

The program is scheduled to start July 9th. The program lasts 7 weeks and is designed for children in grades first to seven. The groups behind the program state that it aims to help extend and expand children's reading, writing, math, science, leadership, and learning experiences. In a press release, they go on to say that there will be a variety of cool and fun activities for the youngsters to engage in while in the program. There will be outdoor activities, creative cosmetics, and other activities according to one of the group's spokespersons.

The program includes art, botany, and chemistry fun. Children are offered free breakfast and lunch. The program costs $120 per week to attend before any discounts and deductions.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about this program, contact Dee at (609) 557-7325, or you can email her at changebromley@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Anwar's Reflections and Occupy the Hood NJ Team Up To Talk Politics


TRENTON-- As we quickly approach this year’s Presidential Election, now is the time to examine and discuss President Obama’s leadership and what this year’s election may mean for years to come.

Indeed, as the nation wrestles with high unemployment, failing schools, and a federal deficit, citizens from all walks of life are recognizing how important this election is. The stakes are high.

With this in mind, Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- and members of Occupy the Hood NJ have decided to host a panel discussion Saturday, July 7th from 10 am to 2 pm at the Trenton Public Library.

During the discussion, panelists will address a variety of challenges facing America, the state of New Jersey, and on a local level, the city of Trenton. We will cover issues like unemployment, education, and health care, to name just a few.

Members of the panel include historian and educator Dr. Jack Washington, community activist Daryl Brooks, editor of El Latino Expresso Carlos Avila, Hal Fleming, Edward Smith, and Bill Argust.

Members of the community are invited to come and join the discussion.

For more information, contact Anwar Salandy at (609) 968-6114.



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Trentonians Celebrate Their Heritage

TRENTON- City residents and others head downtown for this year's Heritage Day Festival this past Saturday afternoon.

Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- attended this years Heritage Day Festival, a cultural event that started more than 30 years ago in the city's Mill Hill District as a pot luck gathering, but then grew into a weekend long event.

The event was suspended for a year in 2010 due to receiving fewer and fewer private donations. However, it returned to Mill Hill Park last year. For coverage of last year's event, click here.

During this year's festivities, vocalist Grace Little and well-known member of the musical group Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells, Sarah Dash, hit the stage and offered the crowd some of their vocals while members of the audience danced and bobbed their heads.


During the event, there were vendors selling shish-kabobs, fried chicken, and the often requested funnel cake to name just a few of the items. Along with food, vendors also sold jewelry, clothing, and t-shirts with biblical scripture graphic design emblazoned on them.

Trenton native and author of 11 books, Wahida Clark, was also one of the vendors selling and promoting her book.

And for the family, there were clowns and bouncers for children to play with. 


From talking with some of the festival's attendees, the consensus was that everyone had a good time and that it was a good opportunity to fellowship and get together as a community. However, of the people I spoke to, some individuals also mentioned that the event could have been marketed better to attract a larger crowd.

Based on my personal impression, I would say the same thing, the turnout seemed smaller this year compared to last year. Two of the individuals I spoke to said that they had no idea that a festival was scheduled and that they just 'stumbled upon' the event as they were going somewhere else, but decided to walk over and see what was happening. City officials did promote the event on the city's website

During the festival, my close friend and camera person, Monique Corbin, and I captured the event with video.

Please see videos below:







Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tuesday Night Stroll Leads To Guns And Liquor

TRENTON-- Imagine if you will, its 9:30 pm on a Tuesday evening, and you've had a rough day at work. You find your self strolling through an abandoned playground in North Trenton (not the safest place to be, I admit) after having a few drinks.

Now then imagine if you will, you stumble across a nameless young man approaching you in a slovenly and somewhat tipsy manner. In one hand, he has a bottle of Hennessy that is half empty and in another he is brandishing a pistol.

As the young man walks by, he asks you, "what you doin' around here? where you from? how old are you?" You take a long look at the young man who appears to be five years your junior.What do you do?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you what I did and how I felt because I was on the receiving end of those questions Tuesday night. Between you and me, as this young man asked me questions and held the gun, on the inside, I was scared and on edge, but on the outside, I appeared calm and relaxed because I didn't know where this was going to lead. So, I patiently listened to the young man express his concerns about his life being in danger while he loaded the small handgun in front of me.

The young man seemed quite paranoid, saying random things like, "my boy just got robbed the other day' or 'I was stabbed at a party the other day'. Of course, to me, the young man's statement seemed out of place (since I didn't know him from a can of paint). During our conversation, he said that he could rob me if he wanted to.

At that point, I really didn't know what to think. I didn't want to agitate the young man any further than he already was, so I continued to listen. However, on the inside, I was saying I need to get the hell out of here pronto, I was scared.

But then the conversation began to change, the anonymous young man said, 'I don't want to disrespect you'. He then offered me a sip of his Hennessy and again not wanting to agitate or disturb any further than he already was, I took it. After he gave me the sip, he left. About 30 seconds after he left, I ran out of there, going in the opposite direction.

Indeed, this experience was an eye opener. The most obvious lesson I got out of this was that I don't need to be walking in places that are known to be high crime areas. That young man could have easily robbed or shot me if he wanted to, but he didn't. I didn't quite understand this, but indeed, I wasn't in the position to ask a lot of questions. At the end of the day, I am extremely grateful that this nameless young man didn't do anything to me. Yet this experience also opened my eyes to the highly possible reality that this young man was and is not alone in fearing for his life and that there maybe many others out there like him that are on edge and ready to shoot as well.

This situation makes me raise many questions: what social conditions are in place that influence or motivate this young man's behavior? What role do parents play in influencing this kind of behavior? What role do schools play? What role do film and music play in this kind of behavior? Is this a personal responsibility issue where family, friends, and other community activists all need to intervene to stop this kind of behavior? Or is there some policy that government officials can enact that would reduce the likelihood of things like this happening again in the future? Alas, I wish I knew the answer to these pressing questions, but I don't.

However, what I do know is that something has got to give...and soon.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Trentonians Enjoy Art All Night

TRENTON-- Eclectic art, raw blues and rock music, and fresh made fruit smoothies were all on display this past Saturday evening as art fans and diverse members of the community came together to take part in this year's Art All Night event at the Roebling Wire Works building in South Trenton.

Art All Night is a 24 hour art event that is held annually in the city of Trenton. This year marked the event's sixth year in existence. Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- was on hand to capture the event. This year, there were more than a 1,000 pieces of artwork on display. Local artists like Leon Rainbow and Will Kasso were just a few of the contributing artists at the event.

As I walked in, the first thing I saw was the 'pimped out' ride Will Kasso worked on last week at Trenton Atelier's Atelethon to help the local group raise money to avoid possible eviction. For more on that story, click here.

During the event, I also stumbled across fellow community bloggers Kate and Nick from 'Blogs All Night', a local blog that captured the event by blogging throughout the night. To access their blog, click here.

After interviewing a few event attendees, the general consensus was that the event was fun for the most part. However, some people did say that the music selection was 'one-dimensional', 'boring', or catering to only one particular audience. Others said that compared to previous years, the turnout was not as good as before.

Overall, my personal impression was that the event was safe, positive, and a good time. Now the trick is, how do we make events like Art All Night more of a regular occurrence where Trenton can be seen as a great attraction to go to and have fun instead of a city to avoid. That question remains unanswered, I invite the readers to chime in and comment on suggestions on how to do that...

For more information on Art All Night, click here.

Please see videos below:






Sunday, June 10, 2012

Trenton Artists Hold All Night Fundraiser

TRENTON-- Spray paint, welding, and artistic creativity were all on display this weekend as a local community organization held a fundraiser at their facility on Allen Street in Trenton.

In the hopes of keeping the arts alive at the Allen Street facility, Trenton Atelier, a group of artists that create artwork and functional objects from mainly recycled materials, decided to hold a fundraiser called the 'Atelethon' this past weekend in response to a possible eviction from the Sheriff's office.

Last night, members from all around the community stopped by to enjoy the music, art, and live performances. In addition to the festivities, artwork was also on sale. Any and all donations and contributions the group received will go toward the organization's efforts to either stay in their current location or move to a new one. Any artwork sales will go directly to the artists themselves.

After stopping by Sunday afternoon and speaking with Will Kasso, an artist and member of the Trenton Atelier, he said that they had not reached their fundraising goal, but that they were not giving up. He went on to say that despite not reaching their goal, the group will continue fundraising activities.

The group uses the Allen Street facility to "share ideas, tools, utilities and many many meals" according to their website.

To learn more about Trenton Atelier and the Atelethon, you can contact them at (609) 396-9936 or check them out on Facebook by clicking here.

Please see video below:


Saturday, June 9, 2012

New Jersey’s First Virtual Charter School

By Anwar's Reflections Guest Blogger Estelle Shumann

The importance of a quality education has prompted the New Jersey Virtual Academy School (NJVACS) to contract with the for-profit online education company, K- 12, Inc. to provide an online school alternative for the state. New Jersey has asked the company to come up with New Jersey’s first virtual charter school. Project visionaries see students learning from the comfort of their own homes. This learning project is due to begin during the fall of 2012.

According to K 12’s senior vice president, Peter Steward, K-12 is set to bring out new and valuable online learning opportunities to New Jersey students who are looking for an alternative to the traditional educational setting. He also noted that their company specializes in helping get students up to speed more efficiently than brick-and-mortar students, many of whom are normally a grade behind in their academic proficiency. He credits the online classroom’s better ability to teach students and sees growth in their learning. He thinks they will eventually become as proficient as their peers.

The virtual charter school program, which has already started recruiting students, has up to 300 students who have already showed interest in this program. Despite these virtual charter school recruiting figures, they are close to reaching capacity, because they only intend to recruit 850 students during their first year of their virtual school launch. This program will enable students to work hand in hand with potential teachers who might be next door or across the country and help their online students to realize higher grades and become more proficient learners.

New Jersey’s first virtual charter school project will have a more comprehensive educational impact on disaffected and un-reached students. It will encourage school drop-outs to continue with their education by offering them particular programs that will enable them to build on previously earned credits and finish their high school education. This virtual charter school will not be any different from any other online charter school because it will use the same standards and follow the same regulations as for state mandated K-12 curriculum requirements.

Although questions remain during the initial phases regarding various details, there are negations between K 12 and the Newark educational system and people are eager to find out whether the online charter schools will be given a go ahead to operate. While virtual schools are still being reviewed, Tim Nogueira, the Superintendent of the Monmouth Ocean Commission said that he is positive that these online schools are going to be in operation in the fall as per the indications from the meetings.

Online charter schools will be a new learning center that will have students from different parts of New Jersey interacting within the same medium. This is the first school project that K 12 has come up with and is unique to any other state. In fact, reports, have it being cheaper than a traditional cost for a brick and mortar school. It will only cost the district $10,000 per pupil for an online student, which is $3,000 less than a brick and mortar school.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Local Activist's Quest For Justice Leads to Jail Time

TRENTON-- Local political activist and blogger, Daryl Brooks, was jailed Thursday for not complying with his parole counselor's request that he admit to a crime he insists he did not commit according to close friends of the beleaguered activist.

Brooks, a former senate candidate, was convicted in 1998 on counts of lewdness, endangerment of a child, and sexual assault, a crime for which he has maintained his innocence.  After serving his time, the political firebrand has confronted issues plaguing urban and suburban neighborhoods alike: drugs, guns, gang violence, inadequate educational system, prison system, police corruption and poverty.

Brooks' most recent bout with the criminal justice system comes at a time when he had initiated a hunger strike protesting what he thought to be unjust treatment by the Mercer County Parole Board.

In a recent Occupy the Hood blog, Brooks said that his hunger strike was brought about by the parole board's decision to revoke his Internet privileges. According to Brooks, the parole board denied him the ability to appeal or challenge their decision. He reports that they will not let him or his attorney see or have a copy of the lie detector results. The activist views the parole board's actions as somewhat like what would happen in communist countries like China or North Korea, not in America.

Now as Brooks sits in jail, his friends and supporters demand an immediate investigation of the matter.

According to the embattled activist's mother Jane, his bail has been set at $1,000. She has already put together $500 of that amount.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cafe International Goes Out With A Bang-- GPS Style

TRENTON-- Add a little James Brown, sprinkle a dash of Sam Cooke, and incorporate some spoken word and Southern cooking and you have Cafe International's last GPS event. Last Friday, the city's well-known local cafe was host to Ghandi's Poetry Spot for the last time since the Cafe has decided to close its doors.

During the event, Anwar's Reflections-- a Trentonian affiliate-- stopped by to check out the festivities. Regular GPS performers like Fat Boy said that Ghandi was 'magnificent' and that GPS kept him off the street. Cafe International's part owner, Chazz said that 'he loved Trenton' and that the GPS would not stop despite this being the Cafe's last show.

In an interview, Brian Williams, said that Ghandi is an energetic dude, he has the gift to gab.

Guitarist Gary Amir DeGree said that he had a ball at the show after performing a rendition of Prince's classic tune When Doves Cry.

GPS regular Joel A. Smith said, "I remember meeting Ghandi a few years back and recognizing that he was going to do something very special and positive in the City of Trenton, and I think it goes without saying that he has done exactly that. Every poet, musician, artist and fan owes he and The Cafe International family a tremendous "Thank You" for their vision and dedication to making it a reality. Salute to Ghandi"

Charmaigne Full Figga Davis said that Ghandi is like a brother to her and that the GPS is an eclectic array of people that all come together. You hear all different types of music and culture from individuals from Trenton.

Please see video footage of the event below along with interviews before the show:






Friday, April 27, 2012

Trenton Cafe Goes Out With A Bang With A Little GPS


TRENTON-- Local hang out spot closes up shop as many city residents say good bye this Friday. One of the city's most well-known social hang out venues is shutting down shop. For those that don't already know, Trenton's Cafe International will be closing its doors in the near future.

One of the cafe's last shows will be Friday, April 27th. After being in business for 5 years now, the Cafe has been host to many popular events like Ghandi's Poetry Spot (otherwise known as GPS), Jazz nights featuring Kool and the Gang trombonist Clifford Adams, and various comedy shows just to name a few.

This Friday, the Cafe will be hosting its last GPS show featuring its founding master of ceremonies, Uganda Prescott, otherwise known as Ghandi.

Prescott, a Trenton resident, decided to hold his open mic poetry spot at the Cafe three years ago because he saw that there was a poetic void in the city that needed to be filled. In the beginning, it was a struggle for Prescott. Initially, he had trouble finding a venue that would hold his show. As a matter of fact, Prescott was turned down by numerous locations, but the Cafe was willing to give him a chance.

During each show, audience members were invited to share their poetry, music, comedy, or whatever else their heart desires. At GPS, all are welcome to share their gifts and talents.

After starting out small and fighting the perception that a poetry spot would never work in a place like Trenton, Prescott soldiered on and to this day, he has developed both a large and consistent following. Indeed, over the years, he has attracted and brought together quite an eclectic cast of characters to perform.

For this Friday's event, Prescott has scheduled Trenton singer and songwriter Charmaine FullFigga Davis, spoken word artist and Trenton resident Sister Sabree, South Jersey's Ron Syncere and Chris Crisis, to name just a few.

Southern cooking will be provided by the Cafe. Doors open at 8 pm. Admission is $10 or $17 if you want a meal to go along with the show.

For more information, contact Ghandi at 609-638-3216.

Stay tuned for interviews related to this story:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Trentonians Get A Taste Of The Natural

TRENTON-- People from all around the area came together last Saturday afternoon to take part in the city's first ever all-natural hair and fashion show at the Lighthouse Outreach Center in Trenton. The mood was just right.  The locks were stylish. The garments were dazzling.

This year's event was brought together by Loc Majesty, a local organization that specializes in natural hair care.

Trenton resident and spoken word artist AA Shaqur Towns said that this event was meant to help people heal from the inside out. He went on to say that African Americans need to find a way to redefine beauty for themselves. He said this event helped with that.

Over the years, there have been so many hair shows in Trenton, but none have been all-natural. This unprecedented event was in the works for months before it actually got off the ground last week. Event organizers promoted the event through word of mouth, flyers, and social networks like Facebook.

Vendors from all around the area came out to support the show. From oils and jewelry to shea butter and clothing, there was a little something for everyone.

During the event, poets spoke about the Trayvon Martin case, black beauty, and other things. Trenton native and well-known spoken word artist Narubi Selah was the show's host. Yoga expert and local resident Sa Mut A. Scott gave a talk on the importance of health and wellness.

Please see videos of the event below along with interviews:









Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Trenton Goes Au-Naturel

TRENTON-- Weaves or locks, that is the question that a local haircare and wellness organization has put to the city of Trenton. Historically, Trenton has had numerous hair shows, but none of these shows were all natural.

Members of Loc Majesty Natural Haircare and Wellness Salon  want to put an end to that trend so they decided to host the city's first ever all-natural hair and fashion show this Saturday, April 7th at the Lighthouse Outreach Ministry from 3 pm to 9 pm.

Members of Loc Majesty Natural Haircare and Wellness Salon are locticians that specialize in natural hair care. They recommend that people let go of the lye and go au-naturel.

One of the events coordinators, Nichole Towns, says that this event is long over due. Her comments come at a time when many members of Black America seem to be using chemical relaxers to straighten their hair. Yet at the same time, we're also witnessing the growth of natural hair care treatments.

Indeed, the debate between going natural or using chemical relaxers has even spawned the creation of a documentary film named Good Hair featuring well-known comedian Chris Rock.

So, it is no surprise that Trenton is hosting its first ever all natural hair and fashion show this upcoming Saturday.This event is open to the community at large, all are welcome.

General admission is $10, for seniors the price is $5 and for children under 12, there is no fee. Vendors from near and far selling are scheduled to attend. Individuals at the event are invited to purchase clothing, jewelry, foot jewelry,skin/hair products, oils, massages, pedicures, books, and much more.

During the event, community information and literature will also be available.  There will be food vending provided by local hot spot Cafe International. Music will be provided by DJ Smoov. Popular poet Narubi Selah will be hosting.

For more information about the event, contact Nichole Towns at (609) 372-0951.