ASBURY PARK, NJ –  A unique, community-wide, two-day meeting is being planned for Asbury Park by a diverse group of residents, business owners and professionals representing a wide range of fields and backgrounds.  The Creative Asbury Park Call to Collaboration is scheduled for Wednesday, January 11 and Thursday, January 12, 2017, from 8:30am-4:00pm at Holy Spirit Church on Second Avenue in Asbury Park.  This Call to Collaboration builds upon collaborative work already underway in Asbury Park, and gathers a diverse group of residents, business owners, nonprofit and faith-based leaders, educators, social services, government personnel, law enforcement, and other community members for cross-sector discussions and action planning. 

Asbury Park’s legendary pioneering spirit will be in full force at this two-day meeting where a creative and collaborative approach will strengthen existing relationships, build new partnerships, and foster shared vision for the future.  The momentum of Asbury Park’s renaissance provides opportunities to build shared economic prosperity, unite neighborhoods, and fuel vibrant creative placemaking. 

“This type of collaboration has such potential in our city and so much of the existing success has come from our community working together,” says Creative Asbury Park host team member Jon Leidersdorf, owner of Lakehouse Recording Studios and Music Academy.  “I’m excited about the spirit of the people involved and I believe that we’re at the beginning of a stronger, interconnected city.”

The central theme for the January meeting is: “How can we work more creatively & collaboratively to build our local economy, strengthen ties across our culturally rich community, and leverage our diverse assets, so that all who live, work, and play in Asbury Park can benefit from our city’s renaissance?”

“It’s very important for a community to express their desires in the planning stages and figure out how to get involved in the best way,” says Trudy Syphax, who serves on the Asbury Park Planning Board and the Creative Asbury Park host team.  Syphax’s fellow Creative Asbury Park host team member Heather Schulze of Kula Café and Interfaith Neighbors, agrees: “Interfaith Neighbors is excited to be a part of the Creative Asbury Park Call to Collaboration, which will support and fuel ongoing efforts to gain resident and stakeholder input and opinions on current planning efforts and other collaborations.”  Schulze continues, “The Creative Asbury Park Call to Collaboration, like initiatives such as the CHOICE neighborhoods working groups and needs assessment, and Interfaith Neighbors’ recent west side neighborhood resident survey, gives everyone the opportunity to participate in future planning for the city.  By sharing information from these, and other efforts, projects and programs that best meet community needs can be identified.”


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The meeting format follows the internationally-proven method of Open Space Technology where the participants set the conference agenda themselves during the morning session and lead group discussions focused on a wide range of topics.  Discussion notes from every breakout session are transcribed and made available to all participants; this compilation of notes becomes an important road map for follow up and strategic action.    

Asbury Park will be joining other towns and regions throughout the state that have participated in  Creative New Jersey’s community engagement process, including Atlantic City, Morristown, Trenton, Orange, Rahway, Hammonton, Highlands, Monmouth County and the Skylands region (Sussex, Warren and northern Morris Counties), among others.

Creative New Jersey is a statewide initiative championing creativity, innovation and sustainability through community engagement and cross-sector collaboration.  Creative New Jersey’s work fosters creativity, advances dialogue, builds leaders, and weaves networks of individuals, who are thinking innovatively and creatively about social and economic solutions to their community challenges. Creative New Jersey’s leaders believe the underlying principle behind all educational, technological, scientific, and cultural advancement is creativity, and that creative thinkers bring about tremendous insights and progress for the human race.  “Our community-wide meetings unleash the leadership of every individual who participates and wants to take innovative and imaginative action to improve their communities,” says Elizabeth Murphy, Director of Creative New Jersey.  “I’m confident that our Call to Collaboration in Asbury Park will help propel the important work that is underway and give birth to new projects that boost the local economy and enhance the vibrancy of Asbury Park” says Murphy.

The Creative Asbury Park Host Team includes: Roger Boyce, Interfaith Neighbors; Amanda Caruso, Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey; Patrick Durkin, Interfaith Neighbors; Doug Eagles, Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County; Genise Hughes, Asbury Park High School; Jon Leidersdorf, Lakehouse Music; Kerri Martin, Second Life Bikes; Mychal Mills, Konscious Youth Development & Service (KYDS); Derek Minno-Bloom, Trinity Church – Anti-Hunger Initiative; Connie Isbell, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel All Stars Program; Beatriz Oesterheld, Community Affairs and Resource Center; Heather Schulze, Kula Cafe – Interfaith Neighbors; Frank Syphax, City of Asbury Park Housing Authority; Trudy Syphax, City of Asbury Park Planning Board; Henose Valcin, Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey; Pastor Semaj Vanzant, Second Baptist Church; and Sonia Velasquez, Asbury Park School District.

­­CNJ’s Team in Asbury Park:  Danielle Acerra, Monmouth Arts; Pam Marvin, Monmouth Arts; John McEwen, NJ Theatre Alliance; Joseph Palazzolo, NJ Community Capital; and Elizabeth Murphy & Kacy O’Brien, Creative New Jersey.

Individuals interested in receiving an invitation to Creative Asbury Park’s Call to Collaboration should send an email to [email protected].  Participants must commit to attend both days of the convening and registration is required.

The Creative Asbury Park host team would like to thank its host venue Holy Spirit Church.

Funding for all of Creative New Jersey’s statewide programming is made possible by a leadership grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.  More information about Creative New Jersey can be found at or at

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...