Trenton: Our City, Our Pride
An Op Ed piece published in the Times of Trenton on Sept. 3, 2009. Written by Debby D’Arcangelo and Darlene McKnight
Many (that is thousands) of us who live in Trenton love our community and wouldn’t want to raise our families any place else. While we do have challenges, there is much that our city community offers and we commend The Times for highlighting some of the good things happening here.
In 2007, a group of people who care about our community formed an organization “for Trenton, by Trenton” that we chose to name I Am Trenton Community Foundation. We chose our name as a statement of pride in our city. The people who live in our city – particularly our young people – need to always remember that we are a community with strong civic pride, carried on from all of the wonderful people who have lived here before us. And those who live outside the city need to understand that our community is more than negative images of crime or whatever negative views people may have of state government at any given time. We are a diverse, urban community of people who include Ivy League graduates and professors, successful business people, artists and community leaders and, most importantly, people who have worked hard at what they do – whatever they do – all of their lives.
We emphasize the importance of the message of civic pride to Trenton’s young people. Young people need to believe in their potential to succeed, they need to feel connected to their community (as anti-gang research indicates), they need opportunities and, yes, they do need hope. The young people of Trenton need and deserve these just as young people throughout the suburbs, the rest of the country, and the rest of the world need and deserve these. Having worked with many Trenton Public School students, we at I Am Trenton can attest to their abilities, talent and potential.
About a year ago, I Am Trenton launched a billboard/ad campaign featuring ten successful Trentonians representative of our diverse community. We have received wonderful responses to the campaign with people saying, “I’ve lived here all my life and love my city – what can I do to help?” and “I’ve just moved here and love this community’s energy — I want to get involved.” We have also received dozens of nominations of Trentonians to feature in future billboards and ads. Yes, Trenton has a great deal of civic engagement and pride.
In fact, we’re not sure that communities in other municipalities demonstrate as much civic engagement and pride as we’ve seen during our combined fifty-six years in Trenton. Our city has incredibly strong neighborhood civic associations and community groups. We have cultural organizations that provide great arts and entertainment as well as nice shops and delicious restaurants. We know that Trenton has a lot to offer.
The community’s busy social season is just starting. Many of us are looking forward to the Berkeley Square Civic Association Porches and More Tour on September 12th, the Hispanic Parade on September 13th, the Cadwalader Heights House Tour on September 26th, and Passage Theatre’s production of Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow playing September 17th to 27th. In November, we will also have special activities celebrating the 225th anniversary of the 54 days that Trenton served as the nation’s capital, in 1784. We also enjoy regular activities like Trenton2Nite, held by Trenton Downtown Association on the second Friday of each month, playing Scrabble at Classics Bookstore every Friday, and visiting the many exhibits/activities at Ellarslie: The Trenton City Museum, The New Jersey State Museum and Old Barracks Museum.
I Am Trenton has a goal of 1,000 donors by December 31. While we primarily seek donations from people who live and/or work in Trenton, gifts from anyone, anywhere are welcome. Giving to I Am Trenton, or any of Trenton’s wonderful non-profits, is a positive response to a capital city that may need help addressing its challenges. Participation in some of our city’s wonderful events – as an opportunity to get to know what our community has to offer – is also most welcome.
Debby D’Arcangelo and Darlene McKnight, Trenton