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One Spark


The Cowford Archeological Research Society aims to increase the community’s understanding of Northeast Florida history by digging up the clues of the past and preserving them for future generations.

The group has started a couple of small projects and are participating in One Spark 2014 to raise funds for equipment and staff.

It takes a large amount of equipment and people to do the work, President Dean Sais said. Sais owns a company that manufactures archaeology equipment and has donated some of the equipment used by CARS.

The first project the society undertook was a small, one-meter-square section of the parking lot of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Florida in downtown Jacksonville last June. The group found debris from a wide span of time periods, from modern rubble to material around 1,000 years old, Sais said.

Around 12 volunteers were active in a couple of small projects last fall. One project was in the LaVilla neighborhood downtown, the other was in the Fort George Island area. Around 30 volunteers have signed up for future projects.

CARS has operated on an entirely volunteer basis, but Sais plans to hire staff when the group's funding increases. The society would like to build a lab to better examine the artifacts it finds, Sais said, such as the ones found in LaVilla.

The LaVilla site was once a Civil War gun battery. Volunteers found a rifle cartridge and a tool that was used to clean the cannon, according to George Burns, the society’s principal investigator. Burns is a registered professional archaeologist and is responsible for approving all of the project activities and writing professional reports. He said that the artifacts were found about three feet deep, under garbage that had built up over the years.

CARS is planning a project on the west side of Jacksonville to explore as many as several hundred acres of private property that was once a Confederate Civil War camp, Sais said. He was purposefully vague as to the …   More

One Spark


Tucked in a sliver of real estate on East Adams Street sits Chomp Chomp, an esoteric food spot and vendor for One Spark 2014.

This year will be Chomp Chomp’s first year as a vendor for One Spark. Last year the gourmet spot was left just out of geographic range of being eligible, co-owner John Touchton said.

Chomp Chomp is a hotspot during Jacksonville’s monthly Art Walk event, but Touchton said the restaurant still got plenty of action and did more business during One Spark 2013 than it had ever done before.

“During One Spark it was literally like [an] Art Walk every day,” Touchton said.

This year Chomp Chomp will be a vendor, one with an interesting mix of creators scheduled to be on the sidewalk next to Burro Bar and Icon Boutique.

“One of them is a group of guys who are software developers and they are working on a POS (Point of Sale) system that they will be demonstrating outside,” Touchton said.

The second vendor is a “just for fun” match with a guy who designs life-guard-like chairs with TVs.

Touchton and the rest of the owners, including Ian Chase and Mark Lynn, are looking forward to new business for One Spark 2014 and their own chance to win $50,000 as a creator. The restaurant wants to bag their well-known curry potato chips to sell on a larger scale.

This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.   More

One Spark


The Catty Shack Ranch mystery hinting at the possible appearance of a big cat at the upcoming One Spark festival has been solved and now Jacksonville residents have the chance to “crowd-select” that cat.

The rumors began bouncing around Jacksonville about a month ago on Twitter and elsewhere. This week, Jordan Joseph, the volunteer and business partner coordinator for Catty Shack, said that the sanctuary does plan to bring either a tiger or a leopard on at least two days during One Spark.

Four cats at Catty Shack, which is also a One Spark creator, are currently in the running for a One Spark debut. And now, Catty Shack Ranch in conjunction with #IgniteMedia have launched a special poll to let One Spark’s audience help decide what cat to bring.

The felines in the running are a pair of white Siberian tigers, Nokia and Hercules, and the other two are black leopards, Khala Hala and Two White.

Although the poll’s findings will figure strongly in the selection of the felines to appear, the ultimate appearance of a big cat really depends on the felines themselves, Joseph said. Catty Shack’s plans — which include bringing along a giant cat to promote its One Spark creator project — cannot be promised because as executive director Curt LoGiudice said, “It isn’t up to us, it’s up to the cats.” If an animal is not behaving favorably or just doesn’t seem to want to travel, the staff will not force the cat to go downtown.

Catty Shack Ranch is an established wildlife sanctuary in Jacksonville and it is entered as creator project in One Spark. The sanctuary is a home to lions, tigers, panthers, leopards, bobcats, foxes and even coatimundis. Some animals are retired zoo residents while others came from neglectful situations.

Joseph said money raised from One Spark will go toward the sanctuary’s “Fur-ever Home Fund,” a collection that will help with the purchase of a new …   More

One Spark


Casa Dora Italian Café has served Jacksonville with well-loved Italian entrées for 17 years.

“We have authentic homemade Italian meals, the best New York-style pizza in the city, special sauces,” joint operator Freddie Ghobad said. “We’re the best. What more do you need to know?”

And now Casa Dora is serving more than food as it opens its doors to One Spark creators looking for a venue. Ghobad said Casa Dora plays a huge part in bringing culture to downtown.

“What can be better than the sound of good blues music, the happenings at the Florida Theatre, topped off by the best Italian food in town?” Ghobad said.

The restaurant is located next to The Florida Theatre, where people enjoy food at the café before heading to the theatre.

This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.   More

One Spark


This April, One Spark will have more than 70 businesses hosting as venues for 600 plus creators.

Visitors will explore One Spark, hopping from one venue to another. They will track in dirt and possibly leave behind trash with their primary focus being on the creator projects, not the hosting establishment. Why would a venue subject themselves to such abuse? What is the draw?

A lot of venue representatives said they loved the traffic from last year.

Mike Miller, the business development manager of Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), said his company has a venue at two different Skyway stops. Last year, JTA participated and provided free Skyway service for the entire event. It received 45,000 riders on the system.

“It was phenomenal,” Miller said. “It was the second busiest event next to the Super Bowl.”

Sylvia Zarou of Adam Street Deli and Grill said she is very excited for One Spark because she anticipates heavy traffic. This is Adam Street’s first time as a venue and last year’s turnout prompted the restaurant to open its doors for this year’s festival.  Many of the venue owners are entrepreneurs themselves and want to support others with similar mindsets.

Newly opened Downtown Cigar Lounge will be a venue for the first time. Coowner, Troy McNair said he wants to bring brilliant minds together and help young people create their dreams.

“We’re all entrepreneurs and it’s so important to help infuse entrepreneurs,” McNair said.

David Lofton, the owner of Icon Boutique stressed the importance of finding the link between vocation and advocation. “It’s important to help others get their craft out, especially if that craft can become a business.” 

Natural As I Wanna Be is a new spa and storefront with a unique story. The store sells and uses Sylvia Walker’s natural skincare products. She was a creator last year and with the exposure …   More

One Spark


Michael Falk was a sailor on deployment in the desert 15 years ago when he was trying to find something edible in his meal ready-to-eat (MRE). But it would take nearly 13 years before he connected those MREs with a clever idea for an animated series.

The retired Navy veteran, who now lives in Jacksonville, has always been an artist. From early childhood, he dreamt of ways to be able to bring his talents to life.

But it was a little over two years ago that he decided to chase his childhood dreams.

“When I was a kid I really wanted to be a cartoonist,” Falk said. “I want to be an animator, a creator; I want to make shows that people can relate to and enjoy and really get a kick out of.”

And so, the animated series “MRE & a Movie” was born. The lone contributor to the project, Falk created an animated comedy about three retired navy veterans acclimating to civilian life.

Falk, a one-time intern at Nickelodeon, took advice from the individual who green lit “Ren and Stimpy,” a popular television show, and built a backstory for each character. The three main characters are based on six real-life retired military personnel.

The series will give insight into career military life and appeal to a wide variety of people — average citizens, military men and women returning home from deployment, veterans, retired personnel, family members — and give them a chance to laugh at the sometimes-humorous nature of the military and the hardships that go along with it.

The series will target the 18 to 49 demographic due to some of the content, primarily the type of often-questionable language sometimes used by military folk.

Falk hopes to be able to get the show on either FOXADHD, Adult Swim, Comedy Central or even made into a Netflix original series.

During the week of One Spark, Falk will showcase script samples, storyboards, script treatments, animatics, artwork and a splash page for those …   More


The opportunities One Spark offers small businesses and entrepreneurs help support an innovative Florida economy. As such, One Spark has received the support of one of the state’s innovation incubators.

“This (One Spark) is huge for Florida,” said Florida Next Foundation President Ned Pope. “It’s an opportunity to differentiate ourselves as a state that embraces innovation of all kind.”

Pope, in Jacksonville last week for One Spark’s announcement of its expansion to Berlin, will be curating a venue through Tampa-based Florida Next for One Spark. The foundation’s venue of 30-plus creators will span the sixth floor of the SunTrust building.

Florida Next is one of some six curators who, unlike most other venues, do not own or rent the physical space but have stepped forward to organize a group of creators, mapping out the location and overseeing the venue. Most curators have selected creators who dovetail with their interests.

The foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on inspiring a creative, progressive group of business leaders in the state. The Tampa-based group was founded in 2011 with the goal of stimulating Florida’s job growth in the entrepreneurial sector, along with encouraging development of the small business economy.

And that sector of the state’s business community isn’t small. According to a study conducted in 2009 by the Small Business Administration, there was a total of 2 million small businesses in Florida, which accounted for 98.9 percent of employers and created 2.9 million jobs

Florida Next organizers hope to boost those numbers even more by working with innovative businesses, such as the technology industry. This way the foundation can help support economic growth that can produce thousands of jobs, Pope said.

One of the ways of doing that is through taking part in ventures such as One Spark.

The Florida Next Foundation’s venue will be overseeing a variety of innovative products and …   More


I Am Jax

Local artist Y.C. Lozano, known for her paintings of faceless children and a blue dog, is taking part in One Spark with entry #421. #IMJAX, Lozano’s project’s title, is explained as “a public art project that celebrates the people who make up Jacksonville.” Located in Hemming Plaza Skyway, #IMJAX is an interactive installation where users step-up to a life-size red and white silhouette and scan a QR code with their smartphone. The code gives information on a random person in Jacksonville. #IMJAX aims to combine public art with social engagement and technology, so the people of Jacksonville can get to know each other better and feel a cohesion throughout the city.   More


Speaker Offers Inspiration and Spoken Word

An Atlanta-based performing artist, writer and director, Doc Waller proved a high-energy and highly entertaining addition to the One Spark Speaker Series. Friday afternoon found Waller on stage for his “Bottle Up & Explode” talk.

Described as “thoughts on packaging our inspirations and idiosyncrasies into effective, daily weaponry,” Waller opened by telling the audience how mockingbirds are badass and the emcee of the animal kingdom. Not sure where he was going with his comment, Waller wowed the crowd with a 10-minute spoken word monologue.

“You can soak up the inspiration now or wait for it to come around the bend,” said Waller. “Vision is what we’re all about. It’s why we’re all here.”

A self-described “taste tester” who swallows every experience, Waller reminded audience members to take it all in – every facet of One Spark. “Are you getting what you came for? Are you processing the process?” he asked.

Waller talked about his background and how each life event inspired him or stifled his inspiration. An Air Force veteran, Waller started a non-profit in Eastern Alabama to bring the arts to underserved individuals. After about five years, he said he hit a wall and quit.

“I bottled these things [experiences] up and then exploded,” Waller said of his inspiration being stifled while running the non-profit. “You should take something away from everything.”

According to Waller, there are multiple steps to this process. The first being, “Morning Glory,” which basically means people should slow their day down – even if that just means taking a moment in the morning to reflect before starting the day.

The second step to Waller’s process is “Stream of Consciousness.” “There’s not one person in this room who should not be a writer,” he told the audience. This step is meant for people to write down their ideas, inspiration or whatever they take from an experience.

Another step to the process is …   More

One Spark


What’s your definition of a competition? If your idea involves a judge who analyzes and compares each participant to determine the best, then you have no concept of what goes on at One Spark.

In fact, that’s where One Spark differs from other competitions of its nature. The winners of the crowdsourcing event depend entirely on the will of the crowd and not a single or even a panel of judges.

One Spark provides the unique opportunity for ordinary people to vote on the creator’s proposal they find most appealing. The event takes the power to fund another person’s project away from a judge and puts it into the hands of spectators looking to select the newest innovation that could change their lives.

“The way you will be able to vote is by attending the festival,” said One Spark Customer Solution Specialist Patrick Murphy.

There are several ways a member of the audience will be able to vote. One Spark’s website will provide a voting registration section that will be open to viewers when the event begins on April 9. If people want to vote for a creator on the spot, they can text their votes to One Spark. A smart phone app also will be available to download.

People are interested in voting can view the creator profiles and proposals and become informed of who they want to choose for funding.

Registering for an account with One Spark turns an ordinary person into a judge of an event where creators come from across the nation to compete for their dreams to become a reality.

Those who create an account can vote for their favorite project and see who receives funding from the $3.25 million dollars in crowdsourcing and money from investors that the One Spark event organizers have garnered for this year’s event.

This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.   More