Heal the City
L.A. Parker: SEED Mentoring looks to send positive message to the city
By L.A. Parker, The Trentonian
It’s believed to have been a first in U.S. advertising when the Bloom grocery chain rigged a billboard that released a scent of black pepper and charcoal. The billboard, on a stretch of North Carolina highway, recognized Bloom’s new line of beef.
A giant fork stuck into an equally large slab of steak accentuated a first in outdoor advertisement.
While Bloom challenged olfactory senses, Servants Endeavoring to Empower and Develop (S.E.E.D.) plans a “Heal the City Billboard Campaign” to highlight the sweet smell of success being produced by young minority men throughout the greater Trenton area.
“The city-wide campaign will use billboards to show positive and uplifting images and messages to youth and parents throughout the city of Trenton,” explained Stacy Heading.
Initial billboard advertising showcases the importance of education, self-esteem building, leadership, respect, community awareness, and self-pride.
S.E.E.D. recently photographed several local seniors who will highlight the first billboard. All are headed to college, trade school, or the military. This initiative follows on the heels of an “I Am Trenton” organization effort that previously used local residents to enhance views about life in the capital city.
For decades, billboards plagued urban neighborhoods as advertisement for tobacco products and alcohol dominated poor city landscapes. Malt liquor and menthol cigarette ads were common marketing goods.
Legislation has outlawed many such ads which makes this S.E.E.D. agenda an impressive one. I mean, given a choice between products that have provided a significant amount of health issues and harm or seeing a group of minority men who celebrate education, well, that’s an extremely easy selection.
Plus, imagine billboards displaying positive messages about life. Family members for the late Rev. Joanne Bullock have rented billboard space to champion a “Love One Another” message.
The love agenda moves around Trenton from billboard to billboard. Heading said the return on investment with such advertising is not in dollars “but it will be an investment in changing lives and attitudes one viewer at a time.”
“We believe that billboards can provide a powerful way to provide positive and uplifting messages to the community in whic they are placed. These billboards will be a source of encouragement and enlightment in the urban setting,” Heading noted.
The effort kicks off with male successes but the campaign continues with successful females plus other uplifting messages for youth.
Criteria for student billboard consideration requires that applicants must be a senior in good standing; student will attend college, other institute of higher education or military service in 2014-2015; must have background that includes community service; is required to submit a written essay of at least 300 words that explains how education has changed his/her life; and must supply two references from someone who knows the student and is not a relative (teacher, counselor, pastor, employer, etc.).
S.E.E.D. will post its first billboard at the corner of Prospect Street and Stuyvesant Avenue.
Of course, such a campaign includes costs. Contact Heading (267) 528-5781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— L.A. Parker is a Trentonian columnist. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @laparker6.
L.A. Parker: Inspirational billboard in Trenton is a step in the right direction
By L.A. Parker, The Trentonian
Take seven beautiful young black women headed off to college, put their images on a billboard that rests in a challenged Trenton neighborhood, add a quote from a famous child advocate then prepare for an alteration of messages in one of the country’s most violent socio-economically depressed small cities.
“Heal the City” Billboard Campaign unleashed a second stunning message last night on East State St. The billboard is located at 1021 East State St. almost directly across from P.J. Hill Elementary School.
The billboard includes this quote from Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”
Above those words shine beautiful faces of young city women who move forward in life with dreams of education success, maybe even intend to take Ms. Edelman up on her challenge.
Left to right are Legacy Watkins (Trenton High West, Dickinson College); Sydney Williams (senior at Bloomfield College); Nu-Kermeni Kermah (Trenton High Main/ Fairleigh Dickinson University); A’isha Stone (Hamilton High West/Art Institute of Philadelphia); Donae Stone (Trenton High West/Georgian Court University); Tezhanae Jackson (Trenton High Main/Kean University); and Angle McCoy (Foundation Collegiate Academy/Centenary College).
The billboard unveiling is perfectly timed as young students prepare for another education year filled with the hope that they can latch onto an interesting subject that keeps them coming back to school.
This Servants Endeavoring to Empower and Develop (S.E.E.D.) initiative offers positive messages featuring images of accomplished area youth.
The goal of the campaign – the brainchild of retired teacher, Ivey Avery – is to change the way urban young people are viewed as well as the way in which they view themselves.
The East State St. production is entitled “Girl Power.” Each young woman selected to participate in the campaign will be matched with a mentor to help with navigation of their college experience.
S.E.E.D.’s first billboard in the series highlighted minority males from across the city. Those young men had recently graduated from high school and are headed to college, trade school or the military.
Posted at the intersection of Prospect and Stuyvesant, the billboard featured a quote from Frederick Douglass. It received positive reactions for shining the spotlight on the importance of education, self-esteem, leadership, respect and healthy pride in community and self.
S.E.E.D. Program Director, Stacy Heading, noted that his organization’s billboard campaign is part of the solution for improving Trenton.
“We certainly do not believe that billboards are the only thing needed to bring vital change to our community, but they will be a part of an ongoing campaign to replace the negative images too often seen of our youth with images that provide a more positive view. We need a change in Trenton,” Heading said.
Heading hoped that these new community signs start conversations with parents, city leaders, youth groups, and concerned citizens.
“The location of this ‘girl power’ billboard was chosen not only to help empower the community as a whole, but particularly the young people who attend P.J. Hill School and who will pass the billboard as they walk to and from school,” Heading added.
Heading is right but the billboard delivered a personal uplifting yesterday as the sun lifted up out of the morning sky.
A certain inspiration exists in seeing those wonderful smiles and knowing that the billboard promotes education and not cigarettes or alcohol.
Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the effort through a tax deductible donation should call Heading at 267-528-5871 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
L.A. Parker is a Trentonian columnist. Reach him at email@example.com. Twitter@laparker6.