For the opening speaker in the Florida Blue One Spark Speaker Series, it only seemed fitting to welcome a local. Jacksonville-based Carl Smith kicked off the series with his talk “Your Money & Your Life.” Smith, owner and founder of local tech-based company nGen Works, took the stage April 18 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts Terry Theater.
Based on the idea that most businesses are using archaic operating systems in everything from office culture to the bottom line, Smith spent the hour giving a chronological overview of his 25-plus years as a small business owner. Peppered with self-deprecation and plenty of four-letter words, Smith was entertaining and full of energy while sharing his story.
In the beginning of his talk, Smith remembered being at a dinner event with Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, and how he had said, “We could all be millionaires, but there’s that one thing we won’t do.” Smith said Oliver was referring to cheating, stealing and hurting people. Basically, if people would do virtually anything to make a buck, they’d be rich.
For those not interested in squashing the little guy to get what they want, Smith offered words of wisdom on owning your own business, having a happy team, and still creating financial security.
“Money is an exchange of stored energy,” he said.
This proved the meat of Smith’s speech. When someone offers you money, they are asking you to do something in return. This can come in the form of mental or physical stored energy, as evidenced by Smith’s relationship with his grandmother.
“I try not to speak ill of the dead,” Smith said, “but my grandmother was not a very nice person.”
The matriarch came to live with the Smith family and offered young Smith $20 per week to listen to her – literally sit there and listen to whatever she felt like saying, which was usually about …
Creator Regina Edwards was born and raised in Jacksonville but has spent the last 28 years living in Maryland. Having built her background as an educator, she returned to her hometown to make a difference in children’s lives.
Edwards had been working hard for two years developing “Ant DivaMo,” a character that she says will improve life skills for children and teach them how to be organized. Edwards feels children will respond to her message because of her use of bright colors, catchy songs and music.
The “Ant DivaMo” books teach children the importance of everyday tasks like making the bed, keeping up with personal hygiene and eating right. Future proceeds from her “Any DivaMo” books and music will be put back into the project; Edwards has plans for after-school and summer-camp programs as well as themed parties, story-time readings and videos.
Edwards will speak about “Ant DivaMo” 1 p.m. April 19 at the Community First Pitch Deck at Main Street Park.
One Spark creator David Engdahl has been producing laminated plywood sculpture art for 41 years. He exhibits in 21 states across the country.
He has sold his work for upwards of $4,000 in the past. At One Spark, however, he wants to win the money for another reason.
"Anything I make from One Spark is going right back into the Jacksonville art community," Engdahl said. "I've seen the art community grow in great ways over the years, but I want to see more. I know we have it here."
Engdahl's art has a sleek, contemporary look.
He has exhibited his art in four U.S. embassies: Bahrain, Latvia, Angola, and Zimbabwe.
"One Spark is great for Jacksonville, especially for Downtown," Engdahl said. "It gives artists and creators a chance to present what they have created to the people."
One Spark entry #432, “In Search of Sound: Excursions from the Global Underground,” is touted as the first feature-length film about the post-millennial music underground. Produced by the brother and sister team of Brian Parsons and Amber Halford, “In Search of Sound” (ISOS) features contributions from more than 20 filmmakers who filmed over 50 artists and labels worldwide. “There was no single camera crew traveling the world and filming – that would have cost a million dollars,” Parsons explains from the MOCA lobby. “Having people film themselves created a more natural, more emotive response.” The film was winner of the London Underground Film Festival, official selection at the Frame Out Film Festival and official selection at the DORF Festival.
Curt Bender said he has taken the best of Groupon, Living Social and Trippit to arrive at the idea for his One Spark project, “The App.” His prototype allows a person to enter a budget, choose several “Activities” and share the planned “Adventure” on social media sites for friends and family to view and attend.
For example, if people want to plan adventures with friends, this app will allow them to create budgets and choose activities, such as dinner or movies, which conform to their budgets. The app users can then share the event on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media outlets, inviting friends and family electronically. It even allows out-of-town friends to see the itinerary and wish the event creator a fun night out.
Bender also plans to incorporate an integrated GPS function into the app so it can map out each activity so events run smoothly.
“The point is you can wake up one day and plan your entire date out the same night while still in bed,” said Bender, who graduated from the University of North Florida with a political science degree a year ago.
Although the app has yet to be created, Bender said he hopes to have a prototype developed for visitors to try at One Spark. Because he is not a trained developer, Bender said that he will surround himself with a trusted crew to build the app if he is able to raise the $50,000 he needs at the crowdfunding festival.
The vision behind The App, which he also hopes festival attendees will help him name, is to make it user friendly and very social. He even envisions a “Popular Adventures” page on the app where users could explore different adventures created by others to find suggestions that fit their budgets.
Bender has always been an entrepreneur. He began his first business, a lawn-care service, when he was in ninth grade. Upon graduation from UNF, he began another business while working from home, Pinnacle Cards, a company designed to increase the revenue of local …
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. students place below average in math when compared with students in other countries around the world. Jacksonvillian Stephanie Glen aims to change that with “The Number Hunter.”
A web-based TV program focused on math and geared toward pre-teens, “The Number Hunter” is a 22-minute show broken down into four segments to be shown on YouTube and the show’s website, thenumberhunter.com.
“I knew that I wanted to do something creative with math to make it more accessible for kids,” said Glen, who has a master’s in math education from Jacksonville University and an MFA in creative writing from National University and has taught college-level math for six years. “I’d learned that math is fun and interesting but, unfortunately, the interesting aspects of math are not taught in schools.”
“Half to three-quarters of black ninth-graders in Jacksonville don’t make it to graduation,” Glen said. “We’ve got to do something to address that. Students need to feel what they are learning is relevant. My plan is to visit classrooms as ‘The Number Hunter’ and inspire kids to get interested in math.”
From vegan baked goods to a line of herbal tea blends, Mariah Goelz’s Southern Roots Apothecary aims to help people slow down and be conscious of what goes in and on their bodies.
“For One Spark, I have chosen to focus on the medicinal herbs that grow abundantly in our natural environment,” Goelz said. “We look outside and see weeds where we want to see grass. In reality, those weeds are medicinal and edible. I hope to shift people’s awareness of what is all around them so that they not only feel a sense of ownership in their health, but a deeper connection to the world.”
Born in California and raised in Jacksonville, Goelz established Southern Roots Apothecary two years ago. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz, she lived in Colorado and Asheville, N.C., before returning to Northeast Florida three years ago.
“Upon arrival, I went through a bit of culture shock,” Goelz said. “I missed the thriving farmers markets, the food co-ops and the alternative healers that I came to rely on. I vented to a friend, saying that Jacksonville was so uninspiring at times. She told me that, sometimes, you have to make your own inspiration. And that is why I started Southern Roots Apothecary.”
Goelz and her partner, Juan Pablo Salvat, hope to bring Southern Roots Apothecary to the masses.
“Because Jacksonville is so big, it’s easy to get stuck in your little bubble in terms of where you live and the community you interact with,” Goelz said. “One Spark is a great resource. … It is only more inspiring to see fellow artists and entrepreneurs pursing their dreams, too.”
After a national tour that covered 100 shows in 138 days across 39 states, local band Memphibians is back home in Jacksonville rehearsing and preparing two new full-length records as well as a couple of 7-inch upcoming releases.
Self-described as a “post-junk” band, Memphibians consists of members James Arthur Bayer III, Kathleen D’Elia, Andrew Felts and Kevin Lee Newberry.
“One Spark is the perfect opportunity to potentially introduce Memphibians to a wider audience while participating in what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a local Jacksonville artist,”Bayer said.
Formed in 2008, the band soon began a label, Infintesmal Records, and started promoting local shows as well as releasing albums by some of its favorite area artists. In 2011, Memphibians finally released its own debut record, "How To Be Followed Alone,” and then dropped an EP, "The Dirty Future."
“I believe Memphibians is directly related and connected to Jacksonville,” Bayer said. “The music is born in Jacksonville, recorded in Jacksonville and most certainly influenced by and a reaction to Jacksonville.
“I believe One Spark has the potential to be incredibly important to Jacksonville. I also believe that Jacksonville is the perfect guinea pig to attempt an event like One Spark. We’re certainly large enough and house an incredible amount of creative and innovative people.”
According to local filmmaker Mark Pennington, it’s possible to build a home that will last more than 500 years and is environmentally responsible — all for the price of a “vinyl-clad, production-built box.” That’s the premise behind Pennington’s "Hope for Architecture" documentary and movement.
“It’s about shifting paradigms and examining the current construction practices of homebuilding through the lens of whether or not it is good for us,” Pennington said.
To help prove his point of responsible residential construction, Pennington enlisted the help of a few friends, including Clay Chapman, Damon Noisette and various local musicians who worked on the film’s original soundtrack.
“On average, a new construction home built today has an estimated life expectancy of 50 to 80 years,” Pennington said. “These ‘new’ homes will ultimately be torn down and end up in a landfill after one generation of use. Most people just don’t realize that we have essentially been building millions and millions of disposable homes.”
Thought up well before One Spark was announced, the Hope for Architecture movement has already been in production for close to a year.
“I’ve been following along and filming the progress of the first Hope for Architecture home, which is almost fully completed,” Pennington said. “It’s the story of a builder trying to change the world, one brick at a time."
011 teaser from C. Clay Chapman on Vimeo.
A flowing oak tree, Florida native species including a roseate spoonbill, manatee and sea turtle, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and a cabbage field come together to make up “A Land to Remember,” St. Augustine artist April Whitt’s four stained-glass-on-glass mosaics she created for One Spark.
“It depicts Florida through my eyes,” Whitt said. “Although the cabbage field is tucked in the background, it is the most important part of my piece. The men working the field represent people I have met personally volunteering at a local food bank [in Hastings]. I hope I can bring a little awareness of what is going on inside one of the richest counties in Florida.”
The 4-foot-by-6-foot montage of Florida scenery uses old windows as canvases.
“This piece is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” Whitt said. “One Spark gave me the opportunity to finally do it. One Spark has provided all of us a stage to tell our story through our medium of art, our ideas and letting us connect directly with the crowd.”
According to Whitt, events like One Spark will help revitalize downtown.
“Before moving to St. Augustine, I lived in Jacksonville for six years. I would drive through downtown almost daily, but only ventured in for jury duty, a good concert and to watch the Jaguars play,” she said. “Jacksonville, more specifically Downtown Jacksonville, needs more things like One Spark to draw the people in.”