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Local Artist is Named Third Vote Getter in Arts

Local artist Shaun Thurston would like to see “20 Murals in a Year” as per his One Spark entry of the same name. Entry #767 is described on the festival’s website as, “Jacksonville needs more public art and my contribution towards fulfilling that need is mural work. Painting a mural can be an expensive process and most of the time, I cannot take on large projects unless the materials and labor are funded by a client or sponsor. This is where One Spark comes in.”

Lucky for Jacksonvillians, One Spark supporters and Thurston, his entry #767, “20 Murals in a Year,” was named number three “vote getters in art” for total seed money of $4,010.39 (according to One Spark’s tumblr page):

Congrats to Thurston and his team. We look forward to seeing more public art gracing the buildings of downtown Jacksonville.



Burro Bags ImPACKt Line

For the past six years, Jacksonville’s Burro Bags has created messenger bags from billboards but has recently gotten into the cycling industry.

Burro Bags ImPACKt line is made from promotional material, said Meghan Johnson. Every component of the ImPACKt line products, such as the straps and thread, are U.S.-sourced materials.

“We needed something more durable, so we strayed away from billboard and made everything out of a high-grade canvas material called Cordura,” Johnson said.

The ImPACKt project is recycling promotional material, such as banners, signs and tent-toppers, Johnson said.

Most companies throw these products away at the end of their promotions, so Burro Bags take the materials and turns them into something useful like totes, accessories, tablet cases and backpacks, she said.

The ImPACKt Project has worked with The Cummer Museum, MOCA, JEA and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.

Johnson said companies can take promotional materials from their events and give their employees the recycled Burro Bags products. Or if a company wants to make something out of promotional material and doesn’t have its own, Burro Bags has a large stockpile of promotional banners and other materials that companies like Vans and Volcom have dropped off.



Jenni Reid

Jenni Reid has entered One Spark to pursue her dream of touring the country playing the music she loves. She taught herself how to play guitar at the age of 17.

“The great thing about my music is that it is has been able to reach people all over the country,” Reid said.

She said she has been asked to perform across the country, but she just needs the funding to get there.

She has offers to go to Colorado, Texas, Tennessee and New Jersey.

Working at Tijuana Flats doesn’t provide the money she needs to tour, Reid said.

My music definitely changes genres by song, she said.

“If Tom Petty, Johnny Cash and Michelle Branch all had a child by some miracle, it would be me.”



Apod Project

Jonathon Fletcher and Paul Nicholson have created a sustainable agriculture food production system called the Apod Project.

The Apod is a repurposed shipping container that stores a system to produce healthy non-genetically modified organic foods using aquaponics, Fletcher said. Aquaponics is the cultivation of fish and plants together in a constructed, recirculating ecosystem utilizing natural bacterial cycles to convert fish waste to plant nutrients.

“We think of this invention as the future of food. This is George Jetson and how they would be growing food,” Fletcher said.

The system can be a standalone unit that can operate in a field, a parking lot, the side of a mountain or wherever you need it, he said.

The system overproduces the amount of power it needs to run using solar energy. The food is produced through aquaponics, and the only input into the system is through the fish. The fish are fed and their waste is processed into nutrients for the plants, Fletcher said.

It’s a continuous, self-regulating system with its own natural ecosystem.

The Apod Project is displayed inside of a durable shipping container on the Northbank Riverwalk directly in front of the Hyatt hotel. It contains catfish, goldfish, koi, algae eaters and an array of plants inside the shipping container.

It is ideally set up to have edible fish — anything that resides in fresh water, Fletcher said.

The Apod does not damage the environment. The product features technology that can make plants grow faster without altering the plants themselves, he said.

The starting cost to purchase one would initially be $40,000 and it will feature a three kilowatt system, wind turbine and battery bank, Fletcher said. This product can produce up to $15k a year and after two-three years the initial investment will be earned back.

A unique feature of this system is that it can operate with no petroleum, unlike everything in conventional …   More



Kevin Varnadoe was tired of hauling his kayak seven blocks to the ocean.

Varnadoe said after he bought his kayak, he looked around for something to haul it in and was disappointed in everything he found. So, he created W.E.T., which stands for Waterman Equipment Trailer. 

“You heard ‘necessity is the mother of invention’? Well, this is it,” he said.

W.E.T. is extremely lightweight and easy to haul. The trailer attaches to a bike.

Varnadoe said every time he takes his W.E.T. out, there are at least three or four people who are interested in purchasing one.

With a capacity of 200 pounds, the W.E.T. has an adjustable top rack that can carry two kayaks or multiple surf and paddleboards at one time, he said. 

There are stores that are interested in purchasing them, Varnadoe said. They could easily be sold for $350 to $399 in stores.

He said One Spark is a good way to meet people and possibly come up with production ideas.

“We are looking for funding to build a factory and build these right here in Jacksonville and put some people to work and get this on the market.”



Excursions from the Global Underground

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.   More


The Big One

Easily one of the most recognizable entries to grace One Spark, The Big One (Entry #837) features multiple large-scale structures throughout the Creator Zone. Artist Susan Natale created “Sparky,” a 20-foot tall air puppet at the corner of Laura & Monroe streets. Brett Waller’s wire car, “Spirit of ’76,” rests in front of the Times-Union Center. Sharla Valeski structure “Ego” in the main lobby of the Times-Union Center and “Sgt. Quakers,” the giant yellow duckie in the pool at Hemming Plaza by Jenny Hager’s UNF Enliven Spaces class are also included as is “How Davy Crockett Conquered Cowford” in Hemming Plaza by Drew Hunter of Sally Corp.   More


Facebook Isn't Your Friend

Jessica Boone Cherok told the One Spark Speaker Series audience, “Facebook isn’t your friend.” In her talk of the same name, Cherok, a privacy advocate, described how Facebook shares user information on the Internet. “The knowledge gap is wide,” she explained. “The law has not caught-up with technology.”

Cherok is hardcore about her online privacy. She said she was so sick of her grandmother tagging her in embarrassing photos on Facebook that she deleted her. “They’re not secrets,” Cherok explained. “They’re just not things that I want the whole world to know.”

In 2012, Facebook purchased Instagram, a social media app largely known for its hipster demographic. “They’re like a crazy ex-girlfriend who’s always checking up on us,” Cherok said of Mark Zuckerberg’s creation. “Did you know that every year, the Federal Trade Commission files complaints against Facebook for deceptive privacy practices?”

“This generation will never lose track of anyone ever,” Cherok said. “Facebook is going to put out of business.”

Cherok said that privacy responsibilities also lie with the user. “You can turn off cookies in your browser,” she advised. “You need to have an awareness of what people can see. You can control some of this to a certain extent.”



Jacksonville Native Caps Off Speaker Series

Saturday evening, Jacksonville-native Willie Jackson was the last to take the stage for One Spark’s Speaker Series. With his parents sitting in the audience, Jackson addressed the crowd with his talk “Against the Grain: Unconventional lessons for modern artists.”

An artist, engineer, marketer and writer, Jackson runs support for W3 Total Cache, a Wordpress plug-in. He currently lives in New York, but said he’ll soon be relocating to Boston. He’s advised several best-selling authors, entrepreneurs, consumer goods companies and start-ups.

“It starts with you,” Jackson said. “The journey outward and the journey forward is really a journey inward.”

According to Jackson, everyone has greatness inside of him or her. It’s up to the individual to find it and go after their dreams. “There aren’t any shortcuts,” he warned. “You have to learn the difference between important versus urgent. You need to decide what your non-negotiables are.”

Jackson said it’s important for any dream-seeker to have a little bit of delusion and keep an outlandish viewpoint on what they want to get done. You don’t have to necessarily tell anyone what it is. It’s just important to reach so high that it seems like an insane goal.

“For you to win, some people have to lose,” Jackson told the audience. “That’s the nature of winning – someone has to lose.”

More words of wisdom can be found on Jackson’s blog, “Marketing & Gummi Bears,” at



Israeli Scholar Brings Crowdfunding Message

Traveling all the way from Jerusalem, Israel, scholar Dan Marom brought his talk “The Crowdfunding Revolution: How to raise venture capital using social media” to the One Spark Speaker Series. “A crowd can make a difference,” Marom told the audience. “Technology can make a difference.”

It was obvious where Marom was going with this; crowd plus technology equals crowdfunding. But before the days of laptops and smartphones, people were crowdfunding in a whole different way. The Statue of Liberty was built using funds from the public who chose to support the project.

Soccer clubs in Europe are owned by their fans – similar to the Green Bay Packers in the U.S., a team owned by its community. President Obama’s second presidential election was successful due to crowdfunding done through his website.

Another success story is the Pebble. Tagged as “the first watch built for the 21st century,” the Pebble team raised over $10 million using Kickstarter.

Marom is a consultant for Massolution, a company based on crowdsourcing solutions for enterprises. In a recent study, Massolution reported that in 2012, North America raised over $1.6 billion through crowdfunding. Europe raised $945 million.

According to Marom, there are four types of crowdfunding; donation-based for philanthropy and sponsorship, reward-based for non-monetary rewards, equity-based that includes revenue and profit-sharing models for financial return, and lending-based including person-to-person and person-to-business lending.

“I am a true believer in the power of crowds,” Marom reiterated.