Posts Tagged 'south orange'

Cat Fisher’s Theater in the Park in SOMA

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Theater in the Park will be on August 12 in Founder’s Park on Valley St., in South Orange.  This fun event will have short plays on the main stage as well as all-day long events and vendors throughout the park.  Stay tuned for more details.  In the meantime here is a short Q & A with Cat Fisher, who is bringing it to life.

1  what gave you the idea to do the Founder’s Park theater event? I wanted to help bring attention to the park by hosting an event that was different from any other event in town, I have a very good friend who works closely with InterACT and so, with the help of Meara Franowicz, Theater in The Park was born.  It will be an all-day event with short plays happening on the main stage as well as interactive workshops for all ages – some going on during the whole event and some during scheduled times.  The schedule will be announced mid July.
2  were you always interested in theater? what character did you play in a school production? Other then playing the lead in Stone Soup in 2nd grade I have spent most of my time behind the scenes doing costuming for productions in high school and college.  My involvement with Theater in The Park is more administrative – I am leaving the creative to the more creative people.
3  what drew you to south orange? My (now) husband Andrew Kit; he was living here when we met and introduced me to the town.  He has a real passion for the community and helping to make it a great place to live.  I was a bit of a transient, moving around a lot with my previous job which lead me to Montclair, NJ.  From there I met Andrew and fell in love with him and this town.
4  If you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be? That depends if they have to be currently living. if not Ray Bradbury, Bill Murray and Tina Fey, If they have to be alive then replace Ray Bradbury with Tom Robbins.
5  what is the most recent Broadway show you have seen?  It was the limited run of Oh Hello! staring John Mulaney and Nick Kroll.
6  have you attended any shows at the Papermill, Burgdorff and/or Luna stage since coming here? if so, what production?
I have seen The Little Mermaid at the Paper Mill and I have been to a few events at the Burgdorff (mostly fundraisers.) I have actually never been to Luna Stage but will check it out now!  InterACT performs at the Baird; they just finished Sister Act and Once Upon a Mattress and will be announcing next year’s shows at their annual fundraiser as well as the Theater in the Park.
7  who’s your favorite band/singer? This is always a hard question, there are so many to choose from and I have always avoided narrowing it down to just one.  For the sake of keeping it easy I will say Jenny Lewis because I find her so fascinating and her music always puts me in a good mood, and that would include her old band Rilo Kiley.
8  what’s your favorite place in the world?  This is a really hard question but I have to say my parents house – it is the house I grew up in and it will always feel great to go home. They live in Royal Oak MI a Suburb outside Detroit.

 

 

Q&A with MAPSO bookfest mastermind, Robert Lasner

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photo courtesy or Gregory Burrus

Robert Lasner is bringing the first ever Book Festival to South Orange & Maplewood on June 9th & 10th.  Please find a bit of Q&A and a link to more info at the website link to BOOKFEST website

1  what gave you the idea to do the MAPSO bookfest?

LSD. Actually, I was at Play Day in South Orange in 2015. Walking down South Orange Ave, which was filled with booths, games and people, reminded me of the set-up of a book festival. I have run my own press, Ig Publishing (www.igpub.com) for fifteen years, so I always have books on the mind.

2  were you always a writer and editor?

I started writing poetry when I was in high school, but wasn’t serious about it. I actually had a featured poem in the high school English yearbook my senior year, but to show how you little I cared at the time, the only reason it made it in was because they forced us all to write a poem for the yearbook because they didn’t have enough submissions.  I got serious about writing in college, after reading Yeats, Pound, and especially, TS Eliot. It was Eliot in particular who made me look at language in an entirely different way.  I didn’t get involved in the editorial side until 15 years ago, when I started my press.

3  name your three favorite books

Hard one, as books that were very influential to me when younger, like Tropic of Cancer or Ethan Frome, I haven’t picked up in years, so I don’t know how my older brain would feel about them. There are also the books I publish, which almost feels like shouldn’t count, or should count more, I don’t know. At this moment, I’ll go with Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Ask the Dust by John Fante, & Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsu.
4  if you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be?
I’m not a big fan of wanting to meet this celebrity, or this famous person from history, mainly because, while you might admire their work or accomplishments, you have no idea how interesting they would be to talk to, or how much of their public persona is real. I’ll go with Pete Townshend, because he seems quite chatty in interviews, any one of the Three Stooges except for Joe because he wasn’t funny, and Albert Einstein, not because of his genius, but because he used to do these public events where he would talk on stage to thousands of people, accompanied by a pretty girl, like a magician with an assistant, and one of those pretty girls was my grandmother. Einstein actually wanted her to go on tour with him, but my grandparents were engaged, and my future grandfather didn’t want her to go. A few years ago, before she died–my grandmother lived to be almost 100–she told me, I should have gone on tour with Einstein first, then married your grandfather when I came back.

5  do you read on kindle?

Only manuscripts for my press, mainly so I didn’t have to print them out. For “real” books, nothing beats holding paper in your hands.
6  what are your thoughts on Amazon in three words? Rules Don’t Apply
7  who’s your favorite band/singer?  The Who
8  what’s your favorite place in the world?  A place I’ve never been
9  are there any movies that you liked much better than the book? if so, which one?
Not really. The closest was John Huston’s version of The Dead, which matches the power and intensity of the James Joyce story on which it is based. I read the story first, and was amazed that the way I had imagined it in my head when reading matched the images on the screen. Perfect story, perfect film.

 

Founders’ Park South Orange

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2 ADDING ELECTRIC AND WATER (for park events and water fountains)

3  SIGNAGE – add park name, Founder’s Park to an attractive sign near entrance

4  UPGRADED FENCING

5  PARK CLEAN-UP & PLANTING – (year 2) taking place May 20.

6 PLAY AREA  – Add benches, tables for adults between swings and street and add more swings, slides & fun play structures to entice kids

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7  WALL OF BUILDING NEXT DOOR  – Paint a mural on the wall

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8  GAZEBO AND SHUFFLEBOARD AREA – Eliminate black top and replace with grass or matching cement.  Paint or re-stain Gazebo, Good spot for 2 large permanent flower planters or some landscaping to perk it up.

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9  VIEWS

Improve views  around side perimeters of park.  Add smaller trees and other flora and block out industrial views on either side of park (skip laurel, ground shrubs, etc.).   Have a small dedicated Garden area with a unique layout and flora that might attract people like Cherry Blossoms in Branch Brook Pk.

10  PROMOTIONS & EVENTS

Summer events – BBQ,  Arts, Sculpture, Theatre, Music, Movies, Foodtrucks, Picnics, Bocce and other games…

 

THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Those interested in joining the AHNA and volunteering at its second annual park clean-up and planting day on Saturday morning, May 20. Visit www.academyheights.weebly.com or find the AHNA on Nextdoor.com.

The AHNA was established in 2015 by local residents, David Kraiker and Ken Krasner. Andrew & Catherine Kit, Linda Cappaze, Robert Lasner and others have also contributed significantly to the mission of “preserving the integrity and serenity” and raising the profile of the neighborhood. It numbers more than 200 members. Although young, the AHNA has already made its mark, working closely with the town on projects like the proposed 4th & Valley development  and 320 Valley St. as well as Founders Park.

Q&A with Matt Smollon, SOMA film festival mastermind #somafilmfestival #mattsmollonmovies

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From Thursday, March 9 until Sunday, March 12th the SOMA film festival will hold court at SOPAC and the Maplewood Theater.  I’m looking forward to attending the second year’s events which look to build upon last year’s successful maiden voyage. It’s the brainchild of South Orange resident, Matt Smollon.
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Below is some Q&A with Matt and find a link to the full website farther below.
1  what gave you the idea to do the SOMA filmfest?
It started with a conversation with Laura Bessey who used to work at SOPAC – Our daughters are friends. I asked her, “why doesn’t SOMA have a film fest?”  She said put something together and pitch to SOPAC.  I comprised a deck, consulted some friends who worked/ran film festivals, and presented. They gave the go ahead and we were off to the races.
2  were you always a writer and producer?
No. I worked in marketing, advertising, and PR for many years at companies like the NFL and Wiley Publishing.
3  name your three favorite films  
The Godfather 1 and 2, Tender Mercies, and Scarecrow.
4  who’s the biggest actor or director you’ve met and what were they like in person?
Harrison Ford and he was a very down to earth guy.
5 what’s the last film that made you tear up?
‘Fire at Sea,’ a documentary in this years festival.
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6  who’s your favorite band/singer?
The Who
7  if you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be?
My dad, mom, and sister who have all passed.
8  what’s your favorite place in the world?
Maine.
9  whats the biggest challenge building the filmfest?
Managing all the elements, venue, filmmakers, sponsors, and everything in between.
10  who’s your favorite sports team?  and if it isn’t a new york team or a team from the area you grew up in, explain why you are not a carpetbagger 🙂  I was born in Brooklyn, and was RAISED a huge Mets fan.  Been in SO for 10 years, no carpetbagging here.

link to SOMA film festival website

West Village Clothing Co., Maplewood

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About a month ago, after a coffee and nibble at Cedar Ridge Cafe, my wife & I wandered over to West Village Clothing Company at nearby 410 Ridgewood Av. in Maplewood.  She purchased some cool boots and I said hello to Stephen Hayden who was presiding there.  I knew him from our Academy Heights neighborhood. Here’s a brief conversation with his wife, the owner, Sarah Hayden about the shop and…
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Also, they’re having a crazy  Bag Sale event this Saturday!

1  when did West Village Clothing Co open?  August of 2016
2  did you run a clothes shop before that?  I have a background in urban planning. When my girls were born, I stayed home. When they started preschool, I worked part time at a local kids consignment store. I truly enjoyed working there & thought it would be great to do on my own. I decided to jump in & bought this business. I fell in love with the homey Ridgewood Row strip of stores. I love talking to the local cast of characters, my regulars and meeting new customers too! An added plus is that I can walk to work from home & my littlest kid is right around the corner at South Mountain Elementary. Win-win! 
3  if you could choose any person in the world to walk into your shop and buy something who would it be & what would they buy? Ina Garten (squee!). I could see her buying a wrap or a pashmina.
4  would you ask them for a quick selfie or photo?  Selfie of course
5  if you didn’t run a clothes shop what would you do?  I’d own a candy store (a la Dylan’s Candy Bar) where I would also resurrect my calligraphy business.
6  if you could own one item of clothing that you don’t currently own, what would it be?Hmmm…. I’m happy with what I have!
7  who’s your favorite band/singer?  shoes
The Smiths/Morrissey
8  if you could choose any 3 people in the world for a dinner party, who would they be?  Morrissey, Paul Rudd and Ina Garten. I think that would be interesting! My husband, Steve, would be there as well 🙂
9  what’s your favorite place in the whole world?
Quebec City during the Winter Carnival! 
 

Yet two more Valley St. area projects

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There are two more sites near Valley St. in South Orange that are making their way thru the ‘process.’
NAPA PROJECT (top image) – The first project up to bat at the design meeting in January was the site where NAPA Autoparts and the dilapidated building next door currently sit. The developer wanted to construct 8 units. The Design Board commented on the stucco features of the building façade and asked them to make it a darker color.
The parking lot on the south side of the building will remain.  Thankfully the developer is limiting the project to 3 storeys and they have not tried to get tax abatements either.  The Planning Board at SOPAC will take up the matter and get deeper into the project.
70 SECOND STREET PROJECT (bottom image) – Next project was from developer Henry Szwed of Eclipse Real Estate Partners.  His group were willing to listen to the Design Board and the neighborhood who were tough on the design. They asked him to reorient the building to FACE the street instead of facing inward and up the hill.   The Design Board had some images on their computers and offered those as ideas and along with the residents tried to steer the developer toward making the building fit in with the homes on that street which are small & simple Victorian style homes and not as ‘South Philly’ as above.
The developer is hoping to SELL (not rent) five apartments of 3 bedrooms each.   As the building seeks a variance to be so close to the street, the DB suggested downsizing the building to 4 apartments if it would still be economically feasible.   In the parking lot after the meeting, speaking with neighbors,  the developer picked up on the idea of creating age-friendly apartments and might incorporate that as a way to shrink the streetside unit to be farther from the street.   The DB strongly urged him to rework his design to fit into the streetscape and then return.

Fourth & Valley

 

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I was encouraged at the most recent public SOPAC meeting which discussed plans for the proposed 106-unit development on the Southwest corner of 4th & Valley in South Orange. After many prior meetings over two years in which Village officials and neighbors worked with Meridia, the redeveloper, it appears that area residents are finally feeling that the project will improve the area and deal with potential issues regarding parking and traffic.
Architect James Haley of Haley Donovan made many changes requested by Academy Heights residents, breaking up the facades, setbacks and heights of the building to make it look more varied and organic to the neighborhood. The newest plan also shows a generous amount of public space to be enjoyed by neighbors – something residents said was missing at the Third & Valley development.  Now featured are extra wide (20′) sidewalks – generating more public space and potentially allowing for the widening of Valley Street should traffic studies call for a turning lane or other improvement.

Village President, Sheena Collum said the Village hoped to re-introduce the plan and agreements in January at a Board of Trustees meeting.  The redevelopment plan would then be referred to the Planning Board for approval, then back to the Board of Trustees for a hearing and a vote.

“Third & Valley did not have the robust public process this has had,” said Collum. “Credit the neighborhood for mobilizing.”  Neighborhood residents, David Kraiker, Andrew Kit, Linda Cappaze, Catherine Fisher and myself (and others) got together many times in preparation for our meetings with the town on this project.  Speaking at the SOPAC meeting, Andrew Kit said, “This is the ideal of what a public process should be like.”  We also were vocal about the 320 Valley project that has broken ground nearby.

As the town’s ‘vision plan’ has named the Valley St. corridor as one of the prime areas it’s looking to redevelop (in addition to South Orange Av & Irvington Av), it is very likely there will be interest in other sites nearby in the near future. If you’d like to get involved with contributing to shaping the future of the Valley St. corridor projects, please reach out to me – ken@kenkrasnerhomes.com

 

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