PRIZE ROLL! Episode 1: ROOMS AT THE LUXURIOUS OMNI HOTEL!

omni-jacksonville-hotel

We don’t call it the Urban Core Scavenger Hunt 2.0, sponsored by the Omni, for nothing.

Downtown is ON FIRE! Not really, its just a great tag line for a great branding campaign.

Back to the hunt:

As a prize for our first place winners, we are again giving away 2 Room nights at our stellar Omni Hotel Downtown. This is a first class hotel and you can use your rooms to celebrate after your victory or any other night for the next year. Thanks OMNI!

Downtown Resources

 

You know what was the hottest topic for 2012 was? Well if you aren’t Myan it was Downtown.

When I started this blog, I wanted to relate my work with the JAX Chamber and give some insight into what was happening with me, my job (Director of Downtown Engagement), and with Downtown in general.

There is a tremendous amount of stuff going on and now we’ve got so many ways to access that stuff, I feel this blog needs a bit of a hiatus.

So let me point out my top 3 resources for information on Downtown Jacksonville:

1. Downtown Vision – Downtown Vision’s website is a crucial tool for building your plans Downtown. Whether you are looking for a bite to eat, a great concert, download the Art Walk map or something bigger (like where to live) DowntownJacksonville.org is the single best resource for all things Downtown. And don’t forget their mobile app at DTJax.org. Its one  click away from anything you need to get started.

2. Dig Downtown Jax – If Downtown Vision’s page is what is happening, then Dig Downtown Jax is what happened? There are thousands of people who call Downtown home, and tens of thousands who spend most of their time Downtown because that is where they work. This leads to LOTS of stories. Downtown Jacksonville has something going on every day and every weekend. Get caught up on what went down Downtown by tuning into Dig Downtown Jax.

3. JaxDailyRecord.com – When you want breaking news about Downtown, I suggest heading to the paper who has had beat reporters on the ground for 100 years. Get daily updates on the city core. From development to governmental news the Daily Record has you covered.

If you read these three pages every day you’ll be squared away. If you wish to talk to me directly just send an email at tony.allegretti@myjaxchamber.com or meet me down at Community First Saturdays!

EVERYTHING MUST GO!

 

JAX Chamber Yard Sale

TIME: Saturday, November 3,  from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

LOCATION: JAX Chamber, 3 Independent Drive

DESCRIPTION: You may have heard that the Chamber is temporarily relocating to make way for Downtown’s New Front Door. To make room for our new modern space, our existing office furniture is available for purchase to the public. Everything must go, so stop by for a good deal! We will accept cash, a cashiers check, corporate check or personal checks (from current Chamber members ONLY).

JAX Chamber is about to commence its revitalization of its office building Downtown, Downtown’s New Front Door. When we move back in we’ll be in a super efficient, upgraded office. Because of this, we are selling a ton of great stuff. If you have an expanding or new business. You’ll want to check this out.

MAKE OFFERS!

EVERYTHING MUST GO! We’ve got a ton of office furniture and supplies for sale Saturday morning at the Chamber offices, starting at 7am! Ends at 1pm.

Cash only (Chamber members can bring personal or company checks, it pays to be a member:)

 

A Letter to DIA Members from Jim Bailey

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For this post I’m going to cut and post my favorite lines from Jim Bailey’s epic, powerful and profound letter to his fellow DIA board members:

  • Each of us brings unique and different talents to the table, and all of us have experience and a commitment to making Jacksonville a great place to live. I want to encourage us to work to bring out the best in each other, and to create strong partnerships with others who are working to build a great Downtown.
  • As we throw new things against the wall to see what will stick, I hope the DIA will take important steps to connect the dots that already exist.
  • The DIA should establish an inviting process that encourages feedback and promotes participation from the community. People have ideas and we need to hear them. We need citizen input, citizen buy-in and citizen support. Jacksonville is loaded with smart and talented individuals.
  • Despite the individual and collective efforts of these various mayors, organizations and individuals, Jacksonville still deals with the historic misnomer that Downtown:
  1. • is unsafe,
  2. • is not accommodating for visitors and
  3. • is a place where there is nothing to do.
  • But, the facts put those notions to myth.
  • Downtown is extremely accommodating as the home of first-class entertainment venues like the Times-Union Center for Performing Arts, Florida Theatre, Ritz Theatre, EverBank Field, Bragan Field and the Veterans Memorial Arena, along with two museums and the Downtown library. In fact, several hundred millions of dollars have been invested in Downtown in the past 15 years for new structures to draw people there.
  • The biggest myth of all may be the idea that nothing happens in Downtown.
  • An estimated 15 million people visit Downtown annually to attend concerts, football games and other sporting events, plays, and special events, and to dine in Downtown restaurants.
  • Jacksonville’s biggest natural and commercial asset, the St. Johns River, runs through the heart of Downtown.
  • In both perception and practicality, the mayor is the leader and principal change agent in Jacksonville, a very real intent and product of consolidation. As with any significant change, any journey of importance, the DIA’s success in large part depends on the willingness and the ability of the mayor to lead, and in doing so, to build a coalition of partners around the mission for change. That is most obviously true in affecting the change called for by the creation of the DIA. It’s evident from his own statements of commitment, that Mayor Brown is focused on making a difference in the development — and the image — of Downtown Jacksonville.

ArtSparcs, the Company

“Enjoy what you create. Look more. Read more. Explore. Make mistakes. Make friends. Be ethical. Never stop learning.”

ArtSparcs helps people cultivate their inner creativity and think better through entertaining art-based brain building programs and products. 

 

The Inspiration 

The seed of idea came to me about 4 years ago when I found myself smack in the middle of a major creative block. I was scheduled to teach an art class and couldn’t muster any fun new ideas for it or my own art. To make matters worse, my computer went on the fritz and had to be in the repair shop for several days.  I hadn’t realized how addicted to technology I had become. I was- in a word- foul.  I figured I’d carry out my technology banishment with as little harm to the people I loved as possible and headed to my family’s shack on the Crooked River to “earth” myself. After about an hour of rocking on the front porch, my mind began to weave together ideas I had been thinking about for months- the neuroscience of gambling, neurogenesis (how the brain makes new neurons), creativity, and oddly enough, the psychology of the playground. I grabbed a writing tablet and spent the rest of the day penning ideas in words and sketches. 

 

What came out of that time on the porch was the practice since developed called the Sparc Method (Strategically Placing Arbitrary Randomized Constraints). Sparcing employs the addictive elements of gambling to serve the brain in healthy ways by creating experiences with art that are rewarding and enriching.  It doesn’t matter what the creative experiment produces- it could be a mess of mud- the real product is the literal restructuring of the brain that comes with the process itself. When we’re involved in creative experimentation, our brains make new pathways between distant areas. These new pathways are the key to cognitive vitality and innovative thought. The word innovation has become cliche in business, but there’s hard science to inform how to improve the cognitive processes that comprise innovative thought. ArtSparcs is the place where neuroscience and creativity come together to ignite possibility. 

 

Innovative thinking isn’t just good for business. ArtSparcs was first piloted at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital as a neurologic enrichment for stroke survivors. The art from that pilot speaks more eloquently than I can about how quickly the brain can be changed through experimentation with art. A gallery of that work can be found on our website. 

 

In July, Drs. Bert and Judi Herring, Allison Holdridge and I formed ArtSparcs as a company. We are a motley crew with experience in medicine, research, design, production, rocket science, education, art, neuroscience and business.  We believe that the intentional collision of our diverse experiences is our greatest strength (it certainly makes for delightful and lively conversations!)

Looking Ahead

Starting a new business is exciting and incredibly risky. Each of us has major personal stakes at risk in this venture, but unlike gambling, this risk is calculated.  We’ve each taken it because what we have to offer provides an experience unlike anything on the market. Each of us believes the products and programs we develop have the power to transform people’s lives. As you get to know us, you’ll understand why we believe that’s a risk well worth taking.

It used to be, you had city centers and the rest was raw, beautiful Florida. Come to our Downtown and support what is left of Florida

 

THIS IS A FREE EVENT (registration info below)

John Moran, one of Florida’s premier nature photographers, will speak on Tuesday, November 13th from 4:30 to 6:00 PM at the Jacksonville Downtown Library’s Hicks Auditorium. The Late Bloomers Garden Club, the Jacksonville chapter of the Garden Club of America, is presenting this free program with the sponsorship of the Haskell Company and in partnership with twelve northeast Florida nature conservation groups.

Mr. Moran has spent thirty years photographing the natural beauty that is Florida and in so doing, has captured the history of change. He is a featured speaker with the Florida Humanities Council as well as an in-demand keynote speaker for the Florida convention industry. He has shared the stage with fellow keynote speakers such as Bob Graham, Tom Brokaw and Colin Powell.

In March of 2013, he will open an exhibition at the Florida Museum of Natural History entitled Springs Eternal: Florida’s Fragile Fountains of Youth. He describes the exhibit as “A visual celebration of the springs we were given, a meditation of the springs we could lose, and an invitation to the people of Florida to fall in love with our springs all over again, mindful that the choices we make today foretell the Florida of tomorrow.”

The program is open and free to the public but registration is requested as seating is limited in the auditorium. Registration is available online at http://bit.ly/N64aDA or latebloomersgc@gmail.com or call 904-285-7020.

On Doing Little Things Downtown

 

 

 

 

I’ve been working so hard on this Community First Saturdays event that I’ve not take a lot of time for this blog. Sometimes blogs get neglected because there is not much to write about. Downtown Jacksonville is the opposite. There is a TREMENDOUS amount of stuff going on. Major things like free events with gold medal winners and bridge closings, the biggest Landing event of the year, and half marathons that run through the whole thing. And that is just this weekend. People who talk about a dead Downtown have clearly never attempted to enjoy it.

With all of these things falling in to place and major announcements almost daily, you can imagine many people taking a sit back and watch it happen attitude. Not Downtown. We push the limits. We pick up the cones from the last event/project/program and immediately start on the next one. HISPANIC ART WALK IS TONIGHT!

There are a lot of ways to take part in the projects big and small. When asked recently to cater a film crew on a local scary short film, a Downtown restaurant that I’m a part of, threw in a catering for mention in the credits. That film, Velvet Road, is now showing at film festivals all over the world! It turned out to be an excellent film, and our brand is getting seen in places we’ve never dreamed of. In fact, they’ve just won their first film festival, the Chicago Horror Film Festival. That small catering investment in local arts and culture has paid off big time.

There is an opportunity to make something big happen right now. And you don’t have much time. Please, go right now, and invest in One Spark. Anything you can give will help. They have passed third and are preparing to slide home. I bet they hit their goal and One Spark becomes the massive event the community and Downtown has been waiting for. But it would be a shame that they would make it happen without your contribution. Even if they’ve hit their goal, donate. You’ll get cool recognition and even stuff. But what you’ll really enjoy about the return on your investment is that Downtown Jacksonville will be ALIVE with art and creativity this spring in an event that whole world will take notice.

BE ONE SPARK TODAY!

 

If you’re not familiar with One Spark 2013, it’s a 5-day event for fellow passionate folks like yourselves (musicians, artists, scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, leaders, etc) to show off what they’re working on to the public and get support and funding from people attending the event who vote for their project. There’s a $250,000 crowdfund that will be divided up to all the entrants based on the percentage of the total votes they receive.

We’re coming down to the wire on this Kickstarter campaign and if we don’t reach the $90,000 mark, One Spark will not get the funding it needs to cover the operational costs. It’s about momentum over money at this point. Let’s not waste this opportunity.

I care deeply about the potential of the city and even more about people like you in our community. Every time I go to meetups and chat with new people about things they’re working on, I get even more optimistic about our potential to collectively turn Jacksonville into the city we all want it to be. It’s happening right in front of us… All the raw materials are there, the right ideas and the right people, we just need to all pull together in one direction right now and show ourselves and everyone around the world that we’re ready for this. That you personally care enough to make this happen right now. To not wait for someone to make this happen, but to do it for ourselves.

So the next response is usually, well what I can I do? I’m only one person but I want to see this happen:

Donate just $10 and share with this campaign with your friends and family on Facebook/Twitter. In reality, if just 1% of Jacksonville shows up and donates just $10. We’ll raise more than enough money to make this happen.

http://beonespark.com/kickstarter

Happy Park(ing) Day!

 

What if you could have your own free space Downtown, even just for a day?

What would you do with it?

Today is that day for 14 pop-up curators of Downtown parking spaces! There is no doubt that Friday is an awesome day for Park(ing) day!

The Cultural Council and pop-up pied piper, Mike Field, and the crew at Transform Jax have put Downtown Jacksonville on the Park(ing) Day map!

Get your ideas cooking for next year! But this year, you can check out all of the great spaces. Just get out and walk around. I’ve seen spaces up and down Adams and Forsyth, in front of Pho, Zodiac, Downtown Vision, and CoWork. I’m sure there is more, I’ll have to go explore. Won’t you explore too?

At the Burrito Gallery, if you jump in on the impromptu spin class going on all day, Just Fitness 4 U will donate cash to Feeding America.

PLUS: IT IS FRIDAY!