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One Spark

The city will soon ignite again. Many remember last April, the inaugural One Spark festival, when downtown was transformed into a creator’s utopia.

One Spark is a five-day, crowd-funded festival that serves as a platform for creators to exhibit their ideas. The projects will be exposed to more than 100,000 people with the idea of connecting creators to the resources they need to make their ideas a reality.

People will display projects from the five categories: art, music, science, technology and newly added, innovation. They will have the chance to win from $310,000 of crowd funds and awards.

Last year the top winner was Rethreaded, a creative company with the mission to break the cycle of the sex trade. The project brought home more than $6,000 in crowd-funds.

The founder of Rethreaded, Kristen Keen, said that One Spark was a game changer and not only because of the winnings.

“It put us on the map,” Keen said, ”most people in Jacksonville heard about us though One Spark.”

This year, a newly reformed price structure will allow for even more winners than last year. Sponsored awards, including a check for the project that gains the highest amount of online contributions, will fund great ideas.

Even the “losers” of One Spark may get their big break. Private investors, gallery owners and music producers will bring $3.25 million to the table.

Last year, Shad Khan’s STACHE fund invested over $1 million in emerging businesses and this year he will invest again.

According to Mededith O’Malley Johnson, the Public Relations and Volunteer Services Manager of One Spark, the number one benefit surveyed creators got from One Spark was “immediate market feedback and validation from the general public.”

Sylvia Walker, a creator last year, only received $647 from crowd funds, but she credits One Spark to her success.

“The exposure and the branding that we got from One Spark in …   More

One Spark

What is the identity of Jacksonville? The creators of “Us: A Story of Connection in Jacksonville” hope by producing a collaborative documentary they can answer just that.

The idea for the documentary came about a couple of years ago at the hands of Sarah Clarke Stuart’s students. An English professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s downtown campus, Stuart became inspired by her students’ various accounts of Jacksonville.

“A couple of years ago, I had a lot of students with stories, I heard all kinds of different stories, all kinds of different perspectives of Jacksonville, perspectives I had never heard before,” Stuart said. “I felt like there was this disconnect.”

Urban sprawl, technology booms, education disparities, land mass size and poverty are just some of the factors that play into the disconnect on which Stuart picked up.

Playing the role of writer and director for the film, and with her original inspiration in mind, Stuart connected with Justen Mann, who will act as director of cinematography, and Jessie Shternshus, who will play the role of producer. The three decided to enter their project into One Spark 2014.

The creators said they believe by telling the many narratives existing in Jacksonville that they can aid in the overall health of the city’s cultural ties, connect the dots of identity that seem to be absent in this modern age and reveal where Jacksonville is going as a city.

After all, they explained, the soul of a community comes from the ties its members share. The trio sees themselves as anthropologists unearthing Jacksonville’s unique identity through the eyes of its residents.

“We want to make Jacksonville one huge community,” Mann said. Shternshus added, “We want to make Jacksonville the new place to be.”

They will have an interactive exhibit, making One Spark part of the production. One Spark attendees will have the opportunity to participate in the making of the film. They …   More

ONE SPARK

Jason, Derek and Adam Pratt are Jacksonville natives who share a similar interest: the power of family and love of Jacksonville. But the Pratt Guys are more than just your average brother trio. They are construction craftsmen who build backyard landscapes.

More specifically, the Pratt Guys specialize in building outdoor wood scapes. They started the business in 2004 building everything from pergolas to backyard decks and decorative patios.

Now they’re collaborating on a One Spark entry and pursuing $197,604 in crowd-funding to finish setting up a headquarters for their business. They’re excited not only about the potential for their project, but also One Spark’s potential to infuse the city they love with excitement.

“We are all about the collaborative effort in Jacksonville,” Jason said, who also works as a public affairs specialist at Mayo Clinic.

The brothers began construction on their showroom and storefront office building in September of 2013 but had to stop due to lack of funding. They need the showroom to act as a workspace as well, allowing them to build the foundations for their signature pergola structures.

The 9,000-square-foot showroom located off Philips Highway would act as a destination to illustrate what the Pratt Guys do, build livable backyard landscapes where people “enjoy earth,” which is also their primary hashtag for social media.

Each of the Pratt brothers possesses an important skill that brought Pratt Guys to life. Jason, a brand consultant, markets the business. Derek and Adam are, respectively, the construction management and planning experts who build the landscapes.

“We set the bar so high for not just quality, not just creativity, but customer service,” Jason said.

Pergolas are the signature feature-build of the Pratt Guys. What is a pergola? Pergolas are garden arbors with slanted posts that allow for a mixture of both sunshine and shade. The Pratt Guys feel that pergolas are the best way to …   More

One Spark

The members of On Guard are not new to the realm of One Spark. They rocked out on stage at the crowd-funding festival during its inaugural year.

The dedication and enthusiasm of On Guard is electrified through its music and into the audience. With the help of One Spark, On Guard plans to raise money to tour nationally and spread an energetic vibe to an even broader audience.

All five members bring their own musical background and inspirations to the table, ranging from indie pop to heavy metal. On Guard became the end result. It brings a little bit of everything to cater to a veritable audience.

“We’re not indie rock and we’re not alternative rock,” said vocalist Nick Klimchak. “I guess you could say we’re indie rock alternative.”

Despite their different musical backgrounds, many of their inspirations tend to overlap along with similar tastes in music. Each brings forth their own twist to make up On Guard’s soulful expression.

“We’ve been compared to Incubus and I sometimes hear that in our melodies,” said guitarist Jairo Lobusta. “Nick brings a really awesome element, too. He sings his heart out and not a lot of bands are doing that these days. He’s really soulful.”

Despite having jobs and activities outside of music, every Wednesday night all five members meet at Warehouse Studios to collaborate on new, innovative projects and practice their harmonic rhythms for upcoming shows.

Klimchak and drummer Alex Lingafelt started the band in November of 2012 and managed to take the Jacksonville music scene by storm since. Adding to the group guitarist Jairo Lobusta and Aaron May on bass, On Guard has successfully released its self-titled EP and shot its first music video within the past year. In January 2014, guitarist Chad Kotce joined the group to allow Klimchak to focus primarily on vocals.

On Guard is more than just the name of this band; it’s a lifestyle …   More

ONE SPARK

Wanda Patterson and Octavius Davis hope their positive attitudes bode well for them at this year’s One Spark by winning crowd-funded support for an online radio station that boasts positivity right in its call letters.

They are the Jacksonville co-owners of WPOD.com, an online radio station whose call letters follows those of traditional radio stations by beginning with a “W” and ending with three other letters. The “POD” stands for positivity on demand.

The company originated in 2012 because Patterson and Davis were disappointed with the quality of local radio.

WPOD is an internet radio station that aims to serve Jacksonville with inspirational and contemporary Christian music. The station is different from Pandora and Spotify, which allows users to select the type of music they want to hear. Unlike on-air stations, it has no disc jockeys.

WPOD is attempting to merge the best of traditional radio and the Internet. Patterson said traditional radio is extremely costly, but Internet radio is much more cost efficient. She also said that digital media is the wave of the future.

“We’ve fused contemporary, inspirational, gospel and R&B that’s clean and positive,” Patterson said. “We’re excited for Jacksonville to tune into POD FM so they can experience good music.”

Davis heard about One Spark in 2013, and he knew he had to participate this year as a creator for WPOD. The pair hope to raise $300,000 to help expand their enterprise, which includes funding for several positions.

“One Spark will allow us to position ourselves to receive more capital for the company,” Davis said. “POD FM is one of three stations that we plan to launch. We want to launch a sports radio station that features historically black colleges and universities, a station for teenagers and young adults which will feature positive hip hop, R&B and Christian music.”

Davis said he is hopeful to win at One Spark and have the opportunity to be funded by …   More

ONE SPARK

For Salvaged Ember founder Jacob Jones, what started as one side project has turned into a side business.

It all began on the patio of Jones’ home in Green Cove Springs when he decided to construct a wooden table. When Jones’ wife, Kimberly, proudly posted a Facebook photo of her new table people began to notice – and call Jones to build them similar tables.

That’s when Salvaged Ember was officially born. Now the business has grown into a one that will be featured in One Spark as a creator in April. While the business was new for Jones, construction wasn’t.

“I grew up around my father and grandfather building stuff,” Jones said of how he decided to start building as a hobby.

After that first table for his wife, Jones began working on pieces for other people. Since the transition to a business last spring, Jones has used salvaged pallets and other salvaged materials to build tables, cabinets, headboards and shelving units, among other things. Customers can share their desires and ideas with Jones and he will design something based on their specifics.

Jones said he tries to use salvaged materials and be as green as possible, as long as he can find the materials he needs. He finds the pallets and other materials through Craigslist and connections the couple have made through networking with business contacts.

With an increasing customer base, Jones has enlisted help from his wife, Kimberly,

to handle the business side, handle orders and help with staining and finishing the projects. There are two other people involved in the project, Josh Puckett and Justin Thompson, who help Jones keep up with orders. Thompson’s wife, Carla, also helps the team to finish projects when needed.

Jones currently spends 15 to 20 hours per week building. He works three or four nights a week after work and on the weekends.

“We have a system now,” said Kimberly. “It is busy but it’s bearable.”

As a creator in the Innovation category …   More

A bin full of worms may sound like a prop in a hair-raising reality TV show challenge, but to Ed Hubbard it represents the future of the green movement.

Hubbard is a software guru turned earthworm wrangler. He launched Nature’s Little Recyclers almost a year and a half ago. NLR is a vermiculture composting company where earthworms turn municipal level waste into organic top soil and fertilizer.

Hubbard is traveling from Chicago to Jacksonville for One Spark 2014. He has entered NLR as a creator project in the festival.

Hubbard developed NLR after coming to the realization that he wanted to do something disruptive that would make a difference and affect a lot of people.

He said that clean air, water and energy are all areas that are already being addressed but soil quality was being neglected.

“This was the fourth important piece,” Hubbard said, “and I decided this was a business worth getting into.”

Dr. Courtey Hackney, the director of the coastal biology department at the University of North Florida, said there is a huge market in verimculture composting.

“What he’s doing is really important as far as plant nutrition,” Hackney said. “People have found ways to create the organic part of the soil. It’s an old concept that has been resurrected.”

So Hubbard purchased earthworms and started feeding them organic materials and in return they excreted “vermicast,” a natural fertilizer that forms the basis of most soil.

“If we eat it, they’ll eat it and if we wear it and it’s cotton, they’ll eat it,” Hubbard said, “we’ve even fed them T-shirts, they’ve eaten right through them.”

In particular Hubbard is interested in coffee – it’s the most compostable thing he’s found that earthworms love to eat. NLR is partnered with different coffee companies for materials.

“Ninety-eight percent of the material that’s left over from coffee is all compostable and in most cases it’s in a …   More

Crowdfunding is a way of raising finances by asking a large number of people each individually for a small amount of money. Traditionally crowdfunding has involved people utilizing networks including their family, friends and work acquaintances.

In the modern era, fund seekers are able to establish profiles on a website such as Kickstarter or Rocket Hub. From this platform they can utilize social media to spread their messages and provide opportunities for individuals to donate.

One Spark brought those opportunities to Jacksonville in a big way last year with its first crowd-funded entrepreneurial festival. This year the festival organizers have raised $310,000 in crowd-funded donations to distribute to the creators rated most worthy by festival attendees, who will vote for their favorites using a special app.

In addition, festival attendees will be encouraged to personally add their own funds to any project they like. This type of crowd-based funding provides start-ups with not only the revenue creators need to realize their dreams, but also with the validation they need to realize their dreams are worthy.

“Great ideas can come from anywhere, and they need a few things to grow into a sustainable entity: someone ready to take them to action, funding and resources,” explained Joe Sampson, the executive director of One Spark. “Our goal is to provide the platform that connects those people of action who have great ideas with the funding and resources they need to move those ideas forward.”

But it’s not the first time crowdfunding has been used in Jacksonville.

“Crowd funding is a great resource for folks who might not be able to raise funds through conventional means,” said Tim Massett, who raised 20 percent of the money needed to start up his business, Sun-Ray Cinema in Jacksonville’s Five Points, from online crowdfunding.

While Massett’s own crowdfunding efforts took place a year before One Spark’s entrance on the …   More

Donald Wicklund pulls out an old letter from a folder filled with aged pictures of ships and sites from his life at sea. The letter, he explains, is why he believes in his cause. It’s from a sixth-grade student who explains that while he doesn’t enjoy school, he will never forget what he learned on Wicklund’s oceanographic cruise.

Those cruises began in Sandy Hook, N.J., during the 1990s, when Wicklund gave oceanographic tours to students on his 70-foot vessel, the Challenger.

“It blew up from word of mouth. We wound up having over 10,000 New Jersey students on board the Challenger,” Wicklund said.

After ending the tours in 2000 and selling his ship, Wicklund is hoping One Spark will provide him with another chance to inspire future mariners and oceanographers.

As a candidate at One Spark, Wicklund said he is hoping to gain $25,000 to acquire a new boat. He would also need a marine biologist to accompany him on the tours, Wicklund said

Wicklund also wants to offer his oceanographic vessel to universities in Florida with a marine biology program, such as Jacksonville University.

“We are very much interested in it. If it (Wicklund’s tours) were available we would probably utilize it,” said Quinton White, executive director of Jacksonville University’s Marine Science Research Institute.

The benefits that students would receive from the tours create would improve their knowledge of the ocean and also introduce them to the functions of a boat, Wicklund said.

Being no stranger to open waters, Wicklund has enough experience on the sea to rival Ahab. His career ranges from sailing around the world for marine biology firms to salvage diving millions of dollars worth of silver coins from a sunken Civil War era ship off the coast of Savannah.

If Wicklund is able to restart his tours, children would have the opportunity to interact with another part of the world that would never exist on land in a classroom. His proposal would …   More

The city of Jacksonville is in full swing with preparations to make downtown the best possible venue for One Spark 2014.

 

With news that the world’s crowd-funding festival is going global with a second event in Berlin and more to follow, the city’s volunteer efforts to clean up downtown are ongoing to ensure the headquarters of One Spark remains presentable.

 

Recently more than 100 volunteers surfaced around Hemming Plaza -the heart of downtown Jacksonville and located directly across from City Hall – and planted new flowerbeds throughout Hemming Plaza.

 

“We’ve been planning this cleanup for some time and our deadline was to have it done before One Spark to help showcase the city and its beauty,” said Wayne Wood, the founder of Friends of Hemming Plaza, whose volunteers were on hand for the beautification. “We have a really good relationship with One Spark.”

 

While maintenance is always a challenge for public spaces, public and private investors have come together and donated thousands of dollars to help start the process. Wells Fargo provided a grant of $35,000 as part of the Neighborhood LIFT program.

 

Indeed downtown is improving, especially the 20 square blocks that will be showcased during One Spark. As the crowd-funding festival closes in on downtown Jacksonville, more efforts are underway to create the best possible venue for One Spark 2014.

 

Wood’s grand vision is to restore the plaza as one of the city’s top urban park areas. He would love to recreate Hemming Plaza as it appeared in the 1970s before it was paved.

 

And, there’s more he’d love to add. Wood wants Hemming Plaza to become a city attraction with food, art, beautiful landscaping, shows and events and 24-hour security.

 

“We want to show the city we care. We (Friends of Hemming Plaza) have a grand vision for the plaza,” …   More

 
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