According to the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. students place below average in math when compared with students in other countries around the world. Jacksonvillian Stephanie Glen aims to change that with “The Number Hunter.”
A web-based TV program focused on math and geared toward pre-teens, “The Number Hunter” is a 22-minute show broken down into four segments to be shown on YouTube and the show’s website, thenumberhunter.com.
“I knew that I wanted to do something creative with math to make it more accessible for kids,” said Glen, who has a master’s in math education from Jacksonville University and an MFA in creative writing from National University and has taught college-level math for six years. “I’d learned that math is fun and interesting but, unfortunately, the interesting aspects of math are not taught in schools.”
“Half to three-quarters of black ninth-graders in Jacksonville don’t make it to graduation,” Glen said. “We’ve got to do something to address that. Students need to feel what they are learning is relevant. My plan is to visit classrooms as ‘The Number Hunter’ and inspire kids to get interested in math.”
From vegan baked goods to a line of herbal tea blends, Mariah Goelz’s Southern Roots Apothecary aims to help people slow down and be conscious of what goes in and on their bodies.
“For One Spark, I have chosen to focus on the medicinal herbs that grow abundantly in our natural environment,” Goelz said. “We look outside and see weeds where we want to see grass. In reality, those weeds are medicinal and edible. I hope to shift people’s awareness of what is all around them so that they not only feel a sense of ownership in their health, but a deeper connection to the world.”
Born in California and raised in Jacksonville, Goelz established Southern Roots Apothecary two years ago. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz, she lived in Colorado and Asheville, N.C., before returning to Northeast Florida three years ago.
“Upon arrival, I went through a bit of culture shock,” Goelz said. “I missed the thriving farmers markets, the food co-ops and the alternative healers that I came to rely on. I vented to a friend, saying that Jacksonville was so uninspiring at times. She told me that, sometimes, you have to make your own inspiration. And that is why I started Southern Roots Apothecary.”
Goelz and her partner, Juan Pablo Salvat, hope to bring Southern Roots Apothecary to the masses.
“Because Jacksonville is so big, it’s easy to get stuck in your little bubble in terms of where you live and the community you interact with,” Goelz said. “One Spark is a great resource. … It is only more inspiring to see fellow artists and entrepreneurs pursing their dreams, too.”
After a national tour that covered 100 shows in 138 days across 39 states, local band Memphibians is back home in Jacksonville rehearsing and preparing two new full-length records as well as a couple of 7-inch upcoming releases.
Self-described as a “post-junk” band, Memphibians consists of members James Arthur Bayer III, Kathleen D’Elia, Andrew Felts and Kevin Lee Newberry.
“One Spark is the perfect opportunity to potentially introduce Memphibians to a wider audience while participating in what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a local Jacksonville artist,”Bayer said.
Formed in 2008, the band soon began a label, Infintesmal Records, and started promoting local shows as well as releasing albums by some of its favorite area artists. In 2011, Memphibians finally released its own debut record, "How To Be Followed Alone,” and then dropped an EP, "The Dirty Future."
“I believe Memphibians is directly related and connected to Jacksonville,” Bayer said. “The music is born in Jacksonville, recorded in Jacksonville and most certainly influenced by and a reaction to Jacksonville.
“I believe One Spark has the potential to be incredibly important to Jacksonville. I also believe that Jacksonville is the perfect guinea pig to attempt an event like One Spark. We’re certainly large enough and house an incredible amount of creative and innovative people.”
According to local filmmaker Mark Pennington, it’s possible to build a home that will last more than 500 years and is environmentally responsible — all for the price of a “vinyl-clad, production-built box.” That’s the premise behind Pennington’s "Hope for Architecture" documentary and movement.
“It’s about shifting paradigms and examining the current construction practices of homebuilding through the lens of whether or not it is good for us,” Pennington said.
To help prove his point of responsible residential construction, Pennington enlisted the help of a few friends, including Clay Chapman, Damon Noisette and various local musicians who worked on the film’s original soundtrack.
“On average, a new construction home built today has an estimated life expectancy of 50 to 80 years,” Pennington said. “These ‘new’ homes will ultimately be torn down and end up in a landfill after one generation of use. Most people just don’t realize that we have essentially been building millions and millions of disposable homes.”
Thought up well before One Spark was announced, the Hope for Architecture movement has already been in production for close to a year.
“I’ve been following along and filming the progress of the first Hope for Architecture home, which is almost fully completed,” Pennington said. “It’s the story of a builder trying to change the world, one brick at a time."
011 teaser from C. Clay Chapman on Vimeo.
A flowing oak tree, Florida native species including a roseate spoonbill, manatee and sea turtle, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and a cabbage field come together to make up “A Land to Remember,” St. Augustine artist April Whitt’s four stained-glass-on-glass mosaics she created for One Spark.
“It depicts Florida through my eyes,” Whitt said. “Although the cabbage field is tucked in the background, it is the most important part of my piece. The men working the field represent people I have met personally volunteering at a local food bank [in Hastings]. I hope I can bring a little awareness of what is going on inside one of the richest counties in Florida.”
The 4-foot-by-6-foot montage of Florida scenery uses old windows as canvases.
“This piece is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” Whitt said. “One Spark gave me the opportunity to finally do it. One Spark has provided all of us a stage to tell our story through our medium of art, our ideas and letting us connect directly with the crowd.”
According to Whitt, events like One Spark will help revitalize downtown.
“Before moving to St. Augustine, I lived in Jacksonville for six years. I would drive through downtown almost daily, but only ventured in for jury duty, a good concert and to watch the Jaguars play,” she said. “Jacksonville, more specifically Downtown Jacksonville, needs more things like One Spark to draw the people in.”
What started as a class project for a graduate history class at the University of North Florida has evolved into a clever One Spark project. Co-creators Josh Salestrom, Bryan Higham and Tony Rossodivito are the guys behind Jacksonville Music History Tour Smartphone App, a smartphone application to direct users on a tour detailing Jacksonville’s musical heritage.
“The sites included represent a period that ranges from the early 20th century until the late 1970s,” Salestrom said. “It will feature such notable names as James Weldon Johnson, his brother John Rosamond Johnson, Ray Charles, Woody Guthrie, The Beatles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among others.”
Salestrom, Higham and Rossodivito have enlisted the help of some local organizations for research assistance.
“We’ve been working closely with the staff at the Ritz Theatre & Museum, who have been incredibly helpful and supportive in helping learn more about the area,” Salestrom said. “The Stetson Kennedy Foundation has aided with the Woody Guthrie aspect as well.”
Throughout their research, the trio found that the area’s music history isn’t confined to a single genre.
“There are important sites that represent everything from social anthems to folk music to rock ’n’ roll,” Salestrom said. “By highlighting these aspects, we hope to reconnect Jacksonville to its musical heritage."
Zombies are in — very in. So “Velvet Road,” a feature film project that follows a zombie disease quietly taking over a small, racially divided community in Florida in the summer of 1964, is one creation that should get some nibbles.
In 2011, filmmakers Jon Shepard and Gustavo Cooper teamed up to create a short film of the same name.
“We have been working on this concept for many years now,” Cooper said. “I came up with the story and Jon assembled a team. We found some visionary investors, pulled a lot of favors and managed to make a 12-minute film.”
The short "Velvet Road" has been screened at more than two dozen festivals around the world.
“We have been very excited about the response everyone has had for the film, which was conceived, written, filmed and first screened right here in Jacksonville and North Florida,” Cooper said.
“Florida has a bloody history of Klan violence that rivals Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia,” Cooper said. “We took real stories of racial violence from Florida’s past to create a lyrical narrative that takes very realistic characters from the period and pits them against a disease none of them understand.”
Aside from Cooper (writer/director) and Shepard (producer), “Velvet Road” features the work of Brian Jerin (composer/producer) and Jon Bosworth (writer).
“We need a lot of money and favors to make this film, but we would also like this community to own part of it,” Cooper said. “This is a Jacksonville story in so many ways. We want Jacksonville to help us tell it.”
Velvet Road (2012) from L. Gustavo Cooper on Vimeo.
According to a study by the National Coffee Association, more than 75 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee and 58 percent reported drinking coffee daily in 2012. The point of these factoids? People loooooooove coffee. Enter Mitchell Sheffield’s invention: Fridge Barista Cold Brewed Coffee Maker.
“Cold-brewed coffee has been around for a while. It gained popularity in the 1960s,” Sheffield said. “Cold-brewed coffee is very different than hot-brewed coffee that has been placed in the refrigerator. Hot brewing releases more fats and oils from the beans that cold brewing just doesn’t.”
Sheffield actually began his Fridge Barista journey before One Spark was even announced.
“Even while working on a shoestring and start-up budget, Fridge Barista has strived to have all of our FDA-safe recyclable plastic components be made and assembled in the U.S.A.,” Sheffield said.
The Fridge Barista apparatus can be used much like an automatic drip coffeemaker is used for hot-brewed coffee. It's made of recyclable plastic, it's dishwasher safe and has a self-contained filter — and includes iced coffee recipes.
Over the past decade, drinking a cup of joe served over ice has become much more acceptable. Starbucks does it, Dunkin Donuts offers it and most mom-and-pop shops know their customers demand it. But what about patrons who want to make iced coffee at home? Sheffield saw a niche and decided to fill it.
“When One Spark’s timeline matched up with Fridge Barista's timeline, it became a great place to officially launch and seek capital investment to increase sales and gross profits while maximizing contribution margins via economies of scale.”