Flying Kite Reports: on the ground: over the river and onto market street
It's that time again -- time to pack the mobile wifi hotspot, the bright green tables and our beloved mini-fridge. This time, On the Ground is headed across the river to Camden, a city that courted us with fevered enthusiasm. They're excited to have us, and we are just as excited to be taking up residence at 433 Market Street.
Yes, Camden may technically be a city, and not a neighborhood like our former haunts (Mantua, Frankford, Germantown), but it is a place calling out for intensive, engaged, positive coverage. Plus, Flying Kite's mission is regional, so we relish the chance to expand the program across the river.
Our landlord in Camden will be Ray Lamboy, president and CEO of the Latin American Economic Development Association (LAEDA). The organization, which works on the grassroots development of economic opportunities for small business owners, is housed in the same building, and Lamboy has already been a tremendous resource -- especially for food recommendations.
"I think this is an opportunity to communicate with a community that really values adventure and urban discovery," says Lamboy when asked why he chose to donate the space. "Camden has untapped treasures. We have a wide variety of authentic ethnic food restaurants in the city and, unless you're familiar, you don't know it's there. It's a great thing to share with the wider region, and to really start to connect the waterfront attractions, and the people that are coming into the city, with the neighborhood commercial corridors and those restaurants."
Flying Kite was connected with Lamboy through the Cooper's Ferry Partnership, an organization working to establish public and private partnerships, promote sustainable economic development and showcase Camden as a viable place to live, work and invest.
"We're really excited that Flying Kite can come to Camden," says Jake Gordon, vice president of policy and downtown initiatives at Cooper's Ferry. "There's a lot of exciting things happening in downtown and in the neighborhoods. The city of Camden, unfortunately, has a bit of a PR problem. I think when you actually come to Camden, your perception changes in a positive way."
The On the Ground office's central location in downtown Camden should enable us to explore easily -- and witness firsthand the encouraging developments happening up and down the city's commercial corridors.
"You're right across the street from the city's welcome mat -- the new Roosevelt Plaza," explains Lamboy. "During your time here, in the summertime, you're going to see a lot of programming there and a farmers' market should be opening up in June. A matter of blocks away, you have Rutgers University and the Arts Crawl that happens every month."
"The downtown is definitely revitalized," says Gordon. "There is a lot of construction going on -- Rutgers dorms are going up, there's a new medical school. Alternatively, a lot of the press is negative. Yes, there are safety concerns, but there are also a lot of great stories and organizations in the neighborhoods -- people that are doing great things."
We are looking forward to meeting those people and engaging with those organizations during our three months in Camden. Lamboy hands us the keys on May 1.
As with our other On the Ground spaces, Flying Kite will be hosting an art exhibition featuring local talent. Camden-based artists can apply for inclusion here. Deadline for submissions is May 13; an opening reception will be held on Thursday, May 16, 5 - 9 p.m. at 433 Market Street in conjunction with Camden's Third Thursday. Click here for further details.
LEE STABERT is managing editor of Flying Kite.