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Connect The Lots 2017 Season Wrap-Up


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Vibrant community programming a hit with Camden residents

CAMDEN CITY, NJ--Camden’s neighborhoods are most vibrant when communities come together to interact with each other. When neighbors, visitors and civic leaders get together to utilize the common spaces we share for fun, food, and education, great things happen. A community-led initiative called Connect The Lots(CTL) implements place-making activities in underused parks and vacant lots to make these connections materialize.

The initial focus when we began in 2014 was in the North Camden and Cooper-Grant areas of the city, with an ambition of enhancing and re-energizing physical connections between the two neighborhoods and other parts of the city. Since its inception three years ago, our work spread to different neighborhoods throughout the city. The objective to create safe, high-quality outdoor spaces is in high demand and is increasingly popular among residents. Cooper’s Ferry is meeting this need with the consistent programming of local cultural and recreational activities while incorporating events that address the health and sustainability of the neighborhoods and residents we serve.
The warmer weather brings more of us out of the house looking for positive ways to have a good time. The CTL program provides the space and activities to help make it happen. This year, CTL reached more than 13,000 Camden residents with diverse, healthy and fun events that occurred on an ongoing basis from spring to fall. There are now nine activated spaces in locations throughout the city offering programming five days a week. Depending on the day of the week, you might have encountered any number of outdoor experiences at CTL events.
Things kicked off this year in May with Camden Night Gardens – a festival of art, dance, music, food and more, aimed at fostering the rich vibrancy of Camden’s art community. This year’s theme was RISE UP, featuring community art installations, hip-hop cinema, break dance workshops, the legendary Camden High Marching Band, and a vibrant car show. There was also a wonderland of light installations and projection mapping, while DJ Rich Medina made the dance party happen with his unique style to get the crowd moving.
Farmer’s Markets were offering fresh and affordable food each Thursday in Roosevelt Plaza Park. The market featured delicious and nutritious food for sure, but that wasn’t all. Many also took in weekly musical performances, massages and more exciting experiences that approximately 700 neighbors enjoyed.
Fitness is often the focus during the summer months, and residents took advantage of yoga classes on Tuesday evenings in Johnson Park, sharpened their skills at dance fitness classes on Wednesdays in Pyne Poynt Park, and took exercise to the next level with boot camp training at Cooper’s Poynt Park. Some residents preferred to cool off with low-impact aqua-aerobics in the North Camden City Pool. In addition, residents who like their fun and fitness on two wheels joined the inaugural I Bike Camden event- an easygoing social ride along the Circuit Trails, starting at Delaware & Elm.
What better way to wind down the warmer weather than having a music fest? The third annual Camden Jam held on September 9th,  was a daylong showcase of live music, arts & crafts vendors, activities for kids, food trucks and more. Dyana Williams of 100.3 WRNB hosted a lineup that included Elvis Alvarez, CamdenpopRock, and the winner of this year’s Camden’s Got Talent. This year’s headliners were Bilal and Kelly Price.
CTL even extended into Fall this year, with the Fall Festival on October 14th. The event, held at the Children’s Garden featured pumpkin decorating, face painting, fall crafts, and all the usual delights of the Children’s Garden. There were some special guests on hand to greet residents too, including a friendly scarecrow on stilts, a local balloon artist, and Buzz, our mascot designed after the Camden Special Services District (CSSD) clean and safe ambassadors. The “Yellow Jacket” who debuted earlier this year teaches children the importance of the environment and is seen buzzing around schools, events, and gathering spaces handing out coloring books and special giveaways throughout the city.
Hopefully, you were among those that got to experience some of the Connect the Lots events that brought us together with our neighbors, experiencing some of the best local food, talent, and community that Camden offers. There’s more to come in 2018. Plan on getting out when the weather gets warmer and get involved with CTL events to get fit, healthy and have a whole lotta of fun. #turnupthefun

Click Here to Learn more about Connect the Lots!