By Patricia Rogers | Posted Friday, March 3, 2017
One of the hardest truths I have harshly learned is that sometimes the ones employed to make a difference, aren't the ones genuinely making an effort to do so. We must tread lightly as it appears that we are working with the city, but no we are working for the city.
I am writing this article to share with our Masconsumption readers, all over the state of New Jersey, some of the steps being taken to keep the city of Orange fair, safe, and welcoming; as well as providing safe spaces, and opportunities to build solidarity.
At the post-election potluck, my friend and valued colleague noted how hard it has been dealing with politics, but shared something so positively sweet and true, “I am so glad that I can talk about this in a safe space with people I can call my friends.” And that was so moving because it is something we need to keep doing and always remember -- that we have each other, and think about how lucky we are to have spaces like this to aid the health of the community.
There are many organizations, institutions, and dedicated individuals aimed at providing such resources to the community. Uniting them and sharing has been a great pleasure through the Healthy Orange Coalition. What makes things different now is the change of leadership in this country since the inauguration, as well as the changing laws that are affecting Orange’s diverse community: University of Orange, Adult School at Rosa Park Community School, the HUUB’s Community Listening Fellowship, Laundry Workers Center, Music City’s upcoming music festival aimed at uniting the local music scene, Healthy Orange Coalition, Family Connections, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, and more.
I want my work as a community listening fellow, and journalist, to continue in that vein. With the other fellows, the HUUB is hosting Building Solidarity potlucks, Don’t Drop the Mic music showcase, Amplifying Youth Voices, Faith+Work conferences and more. The DDTM showcase was a direct response to local youth needing a safe space to express themselves after the spike in senseless violence.
My role specifically, as you know, is to provide a platform with this blog, and to amplify youth voices with Dawan Alford, the community organizer at HANDS, Inc. The idea is to be an additional support system for the community, outside of school, and home.
I also watched as dedicated community leaders passed a resolution to move towards keeping Orange safe and welcoming. In other words, allow Orange to be a sanctuary city for immigrants here in Orange.
Community Organizing is absolutely not new to me. I had the pleasure of working with the great Molly Rose Kaufman at Ironworks, and through the leadership of the ORNG Ink program. But now is different, and I must say we have been working in overdrive to create positive change.
What is also important is moving from the inside out, and bringing the best out of our current residents as opposed to always looking at what the city is lacking and always in need of. The city of Orange is #AlreadyBeautiful.
Out of everything, one important thing that has stuck with me, is not spending so much time talking negatively, or about what we are against. Instead I must ask myself, what am I for?
Thank you, Mindy.
Well, what am I for? I am for being proactive towards change, engaging locals, and motivating and inspiring those I encounter to do the same. I have also been turning my attention to the cultivation of culture and millennials throughout Essex County and greater New Jersey. I want to empower the individuals in our city, and in addition to giving a voice to young people, I am teaching Wordpress and blogging to everyone of all ages. This is a great time for people to begin sharing their experiences and making their stories heard!
About the Writer
Patricia Rogers, #ValleyGirlNJ, lives in New Jersey's Valley Arts District. The native New Yorker works as a writer, blogger and community activist. Starting Masconsumption Media in 2012, she has been passionate about capturing the stories of the vibrant up and coming Valley Arts District neighborhood through her blog, zine, events and more. She blogs for Jersey Indie, Luna Stage, and Hat City Kitchen and offers many creative media services. Visit her blog www.masconsumption.com and keep up with your favorite Valley Girl on social media at @valleygirl_nj (Twitter / Instagram).