Friday, July 11, 2008

History of Building Open Opportunity Structures Together: Recent Activities and 2008-09 Agenda

Building Open Opportunity Structures Together (BOOST) is the brainchild of Mr. Timothy Razzaq. After spending 20 plus years working in other non-profit organizations seeking to better his community, Mr. Razzaq started his own endeavor to enhance the well being of his fellow citizens. While spending time with the Latino Community Land Trust, Old Trenton Neighborhood Coalition and the Hanover Street Civic Association, Mr. Razzaq formulated the ideas and goals that would officially become BOOST in 2005.

Mr. Razzaq formed BOOST as a direct result of redevelopment efforts in the Trenton neighborhood that failed to better the opportunities for local residents (stakeholders). Mr. Razzaq recognized that while millions of dollars are spent rehabilitating buildings and roads (hard structures), little, if any, money is spent bettering the community environment for the local population (soft structures). BOOST’s challenge have been to provide timely, relevant, reliable and well structured information to the residents of Trenton / Mercer County so that the local citizens can better mobilize and push for soft structure benefits during revitalization projects.

BOOST has recently focused training and education efforts on “green” technology, and has started the Green, Smart and Sustainable Stakeholder Education & Training (GSS-SET 2008-9) seminars in the Trenton area. Attendees from all walks of life and from all over New Jersey will be educated on the ways of planning sustainable neighborhoods, clean energy retro-fits, advocacy for community and environmental benefits and eco-entrepreneurial ventures.

On Saturday, June 7 - 2008 - BOOST and a host of community partners held GSS-SET launch, Part 1 - as a part of Classics Used and Rare Books Trenton Book Fair and Trenton's 30th annual Heritage Days celebration.

BOOST's GSS-SET Eco-Community Building Forum at Gallery 125 and the feedback has been very positive, to say the least, and many great projects will be developed as a result of the informative and interactive workshops by Dr. Mitch Joachim (NY, NY), Anastasia Harrison (NJ), Fred Stine (NJ), Elizabeth Slate-Rutledge (Syracuse, NY), and Jason Kliwinski (Trenton, NJ).

Many people made Part 1 very special and we thank Kevin Gilmore of Gilmore's Cafe' (The G-Spot) for the Green Gift Certificates for many very hungry folks looking for a great meal, BOOST Board of Directors (Kevin W. Wortham, Professor Alvin Haywood, Professor Monique Simon, and MLUC's Winnie Fatton), Dan at the Gallery, BOOST fiscal sponsor Doretha L. Riley for VEBS; Eric and Laurice at Classics making it all possible and making it a great weekend full of positive energy and constructive dialogue, Eric Muhammad of Kooley Productions, and all of you who attended, put up with the techno-glitches, and provide the energy of great questions and Big Ideas. Because of you, BOOST is very honored to be a part of these magnificent efforts at creating leaders for sustainability in all of its positive aspects.

GSS-SET Part two was held on Saturday, July 12 at the shop owned by Barbara Stange and co-staffed by her daughter Vivian and Sister Imani - Simply Natural Living in Serenity Plaza located at 1505 Parkway Avenue in Ewing New Jersey and was every bit as inspirational and informative as Part 1.

Part 2 started out with everyone introducing themselves and getting to know their Forum neighbors and the first presentation was conducted by Professor Alvyn Haywood who continued his series of film viewings and community discussions, "Introducing Abraham: The Art of Allowing". Professor Haywood's presentation seamlessly wove into Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's Christine Ritter who tirelessly has been "Unveiling the Hidden for High Middle and High School Students and Parents in Math, Science, and Engineering." New sets of forum attendees continued to enter Simply Natural and a small number left due for other engagements during the intermission.

During the intermission, a well-prepared and very tasty set of green cuisines was consumed by forum-goers during a very interpersonally active "lunch break" as everyone who attended engaged in dialogue, exchanging business cards and email addresses, continuing discussion about the subject matter of the first two presentations and discerning the scope of impact of the next two workshops scheduled.

Yet more Forum attendees piled into the tight seating spaces for Part 2 of GSS-SET Part 2 which featured an outstanding set of presenters: Jonathan Cloud for Fairleigh Dickinson University's Sustainable Business Incubator (SBIF) and House of Life's (HoL) Mut Seshatms.

Cloud introduced the newly launched SBIF and explored the Business and Entrepreneurial Cases for Sustainability and Seshatms laid down a practical way for property owners to reduce their "fossil fuel" generated energy consumption by using affordable clean energy solar photovoltaic systems. Both Cloud's and Seshatms' presentation opened up the doorways to BOOST's Green, Smart, and Sustainable Stakeholder Education and Training's next phases.

To learn more about BOOST, its GSS-SET ten-month training program, being a cause-related sponsor, grant underwriter or making a tax-deductable financial contribution, please call our voice-mail/fax center at (206) 202-2883 or email

Thanks to everyone who has contributed for making June and July of 2008 one of the most fruitful experiences in the early development of Building Open Opportunity Structures Together (BOOST).

BOOST 2007 Workshops & Community Building Activities:

- Community outreach programming that brought in over 1,000 curiosity and residency seekers to the newly renovated historic, sustainable design Broad Street Bank mixed-use multifamily apartment complex in New Jersey’s capital, Trenton (NJ). BSBB was a strong model and catalyst for GSS-SET and still a work in progress.

- Community Building Forum #3 (January 20, 2007) with over 100 in attendance and media coverage, CBF #3 featured seven presenters of nearly three dozen programs for local residents to take advantage of regarding job, career, housing, education, cultural, and business options and opportunities in the Trenton region.

- Workshop by Bob Blakeman for P. S. & S. Keyspan on “Current Best Practices in Green Building” – Blakeman design the sustainable features for BSBB project.

- 2 workshops by Mel Leipzig for Mercer County Community College on the “Role of Arts and Artists in Revitalizing Older American Urban Centers”

- 4 public talks by Richard Libbey for Bayville Holdings LLC – the developer of the Broad Street Bank Building – on “Real-Time Experiences on Adaptive Reuse & Green Building: Hidden Assets and Challenges”

- 2 focus sessions with Princeton Area Community Foundation on behalf of Atlantic Philanthropies “Community Experience Partnership: Engaging Older Americans for Civic Good” at two Trenton sites;

- Workshop by Terri Jover for New Jersey Future on “How Citizens can Measure Smart Growth Using NJF’s Municipal Smart Growth Scorecard”

- 3 workshops by Greg Jones for USA Closers on “Smart Credit Building: How to Development Personal, Business, and Community Credit”

- Workshop by John Cusack for NJHEPS on “Leadership by Example: Creating Sustainable College Campuses”

- 6 workshops, “Invitation to Civics Education” in association with The Civic Formation Inc.

- 2 workshops by Angelica Redpath-Perez for Green Design Now on “How Everyday Citizens can ‘Green-up’ their Home and Offices”

- 5 workshops by Tim Razzaq for BOOST on “Three Major Challenges to Community Benefits: Leadership Matters” in Asbury Park (NJ) & Trenton-Mercer locations;

- 2 workshops by Robert Estock for MCCC on “Continuing Education and Training Options and Opportunities at Community Colleges”

- 12 (plus) sessions with Mercer County Community College Professor Alvyn Haywood’s Documentary Viewings & Community Discussions at Classics Used & Rare Books

GSS-SET 2008-09 will provide enrollees from around the state of New Jersey with customized education and training that will help them in choosing, developing, and deploying individual and group projects to be implemented for their respective organizations, and in their home-town communities and neighborhoods. Model projects/programs will include, but are not limited to: sustainable neighborhood plans; urban science/career paths for high school students; clean energy retrofits for nonprofits, churches, and small businesses; advocacy for community and environmental benefits agreements; eco-entrepreneurial ventures; green business and industry inventory and data centers; sustainable design assessment teams; and unionization of the emerging green collar workforce. Partners and resources have been identified for GSS-SET graduates who choose one or more of these areas of post-program focus.

BOOST Board of DIRECTORS and Fiscal Agent:

Two Mercer County Community College Professors:- Alvyn Haywood – Distinguished Teaching Award 2008 honoree, and- Monique Simon - Coordinator and Professor in the Dept. of Communications;- Kevin W. Wortham – Entrepreneur/Entrepreneur Trainer, Teacher, and Consultant;- Linda Hollingshead – Founder Outreach Media Group;- Tyrone Gaskins – Founder and President of Targeting Alternative Growth Resources;- Calvin B. Thomas - New Jersey Training Coordinator with the Support Center for Nonprofit Management;- Winnie Fatton – Project Manager for the Municipal Land Use Center at TCNJ; and- Susan Wolf – PHD and Psychologist; Fiscal Sponsor: Doretha L. Riley for Visionary Economic Business Solutions (VEBS) 501c3 Fiscal Sponsor.

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