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The 5 & Dime

The 5 & Dime theater company is a Jacksonville-based traveling theater group that has put on six shows at various venues in the Jacksonville area.

Among their productions are “Spunk,” “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues” and a theatrical adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel “Fahrenheit 451.” The next production from The 5 & Dime will be “The Pitmen Painters,” a play about coal miners that become actors. This production will be hosted by The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.

The 5 & Dime wants to open its own venue, which would be home to productions and would also provide a place to store props and hold theater classes.   More


Entrepreneur Shares Crowdfunding Strategies

When Fast Company names you one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” (2012), people tend to listen when you talk. So is the case of Ron J. Williams, a Manhattan-based entrepreneur who spoke Thursday afternoon at the Terry Theater as part of One Spark’s Speaker Series.

As CEO and co-founder of Knodes, a tool for finding people in your network who care about a shared cause, and of SnapGoods, a site that helps people to rent and borrow hardware and equipment, Williams brought real world expertise to his speech titled, “How could crowdfunding be any easier?”

“Crowdfunding is the future, but not without you,” Williams addressed the three-dozen-or-so audience members. “The truth of the matter is that we’re all super connected. Did you know that $319 million went through Kickstarter last year?”

According to Forbes, crowdfunding is, “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.” Crowdfunding is the reason creators from all over the world have descended upon Jacksonville to showcase their ideas and projects.

It’s also the reason Williams is totally pumped to be on stage. “It [crowdfunding] is about way more than the money,” he said. “It’s not just the transaction of dollars, but the transaction of ideas.”

In order to create and execute a successful crowdfunding venture, Williams said you should first find your inner circle and share your idea or ideas with them. This could be family members or close friends – anyone you trust. Next, find your audience. Williams called this “your tribe.” These are the individuals you can rely on for emotional and/or financial support.

“These people support you not just because they know you, but because they’re interested in your content,” he explained.

Once you’ve communicated effectively with your inner circle and tribe, it’s time to take your message to the …   More


Seaside: Imagine, Create, Learn

The Seaside Community Charter School will open in Atlantic Beach in the fall of 2013 and will offer kindergarten through second grade. In each of the following years, it will add a grade up until fifth grade.

The tuition-free public charter school will utilize the Waldorf educational approach, which puts an emphasis on hands-on activities, artistic expression and developing critical understanding.

The school is being started up by a grassroots group of parents and educators who wish to offer an alternative to the public education offered in Jacksonville. The group also runs the Seaside Playgarden Preschool located at Eighth Avenue South in Jacksonville Beach.

SEASIDE: IMAGINE, CREATE, LEARN from One Spark on Vimeo.   More


Jacksonville Artist and Musicians Syndicate

Alex Hayward of the Jacksonville Artist and Musicians Syndicate (JAMS) hopes to bring fans of all types of music together and broaden the horizons of their eardrums.

JAMS arranges performances from different genres and is working to release an album that blends these genres with the goal of broadening listeners musical tastes. Proceeds from this album will benefit the Riverside Fine Arts Center.

Hayward said that he has brought the Northeast Florida folk band Canary in the Coalmine with hip-hop artist Tough Junkie to make a song for the album. He is also working on a collaboration between rock band Antique Animals and Charlotte Mabrey of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. 



Ant DivaMo Teaching Order Early

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.



Tech Company Founder Builds on Lessons from Nelson Mandela

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 …   More



MomentStrong is an application for your smartphone, and it's Jacksonville-based creators are a few of the hundreds looking for support at One Spark. Founders Liz Pierce, Rick Graf and Angel Cabrera feel strongly that their application will provide strength when you need it. They said they their application will help individuals lead happier lifestyles and help companies reduce their medical expenses.

For example, the MomentStrong application can send a smoker trying to quit a video of his daughter telling him to fight the urge while on his work break. Using geofencing, the application can send users trying to diet inspirational messages when they arrive at their favorite fast-food spots.

MomentStrong co-founder and CEO Liz Pierce said that the one of the areas the company wants to focus on is human relations departments.

"HR departments can distribute the app to their employees," Pierce said. "We can monitor what a company's employees struggle with, pass along that information to the HR department, and that department can, in turn, better focus what its employees need — such as particular wellness programs."

Pierce noted that the app's users are completely anonymous.

You can program MomentStrong to remind you to be strong in the moment you most need it. If you're dieting, the app can send you a reminder at your lunch break to eat the healthy lunch you packed, instead of settling for a less-healthy alternative.

"In 5 years, I see moment strong being used in a broad spectrum of companies and people in many expanded areas than we have right now," Graf said. "We are going to expand to users that suffer from prescription drug abuse, financial issues, compulsive gambling  and depression. I think it will eventually morph into areas that we haven't thought of yet. It will morph into motivation for whatever people need it to."

The creators said geofencing, which allows the app to send a user a message at a specific geographical location, and …   More



Jalali Hartman, the the founder and operator of the Robauto project, is one of the many hopeful creators at One Spark looking for investors to help them pursue their dreams.

Hartman kicked off One Spark April 17 with a robotics exhibition in partnership with Prioria Robotics at Hemming Plaza.

Hartman wants to train people to tweak existing products and make them better. Hartman is looking for interested inventors to bring their ideas to the table and work with Hartman to build and sell the product.

For instance, Hartman takes existing products and modifies their batteries, compatibility and functionality.

"We want to work and modify products that are already getting distribution," Hartman said. "We would like to focus on bettering existing products that we use everyday."



A Very Cheap Solar Collector

Inventor Donald R. Wicklund’s hot water solar collector, if picked up by a manufacturer, could be a cheaper and simpler way for homeowners to heat their water.

Unlike the solar hot water heaters used in homes now, Wicklund’s hot water solar collector doesn’t use anti-freeze, making it environmentally friendly. It also doesn’t require an added heat exchanger or solar pump for installation, which can cost a homeowner anywhere from $300 to $700.

Instead, Wicklund’s solar collector has a vacuum that allows the sun’s radiation to heat the water pipes, and, in return, there is no heat loss because of convection. The vacuum also prevents the pipes from freezing during the winter.

Another plus, Wicklund’s solar collector can be easily installed into existing furnaces and pool pumps. 



Urban Mural Project

Urban Mural Project wants to give community schoolchildren a taste of large scale art.

Brooklyn artist Cris Dam will mark his place, with the help of a six local schoolchildren, along a street in Downtown Jacksonville during One Spark April 17-21.

The concept for the Urban Mural Project came about after Dam’s first mural project with Muslim schoolchildren in Berlin in May 2012. The project, funded by the American Embassy, was a huge success.

Inspired by the children he worked with in Berlin, Dam decided he wanted to do more community-involved murals. After completing a mural in Connecticut, Jacksonville became a place of interest. A friend of Dam’s had recently relocated to the city and introduced Dam to local blues and jazz singer, Mama Blue aka Sarah Sanders.

Sanders helped Dam coordinate with the schools to find children to help him paint a mural downtown. Students from Andrew Robinson Elementary, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and KIPP Impact Middle School will be contributing to the mural.

Murals are a labor of love Dam says, and with the Urban Mural Project he hopes to create a work of art the community can be happy with and be a part of. Dam enjoys the large scale and accessibility of murals to the public.

“Environmentally, it is something people can talk about, relate with and socialize with,” Dam said.

One Spark spectators can view the progress of the Urban Mural Project at Laura Street between Adam and Forsyth streets.