Symposia relocated to 510 Washington St. in November. It operated out of a small building along Willow Avenue prior to the move. Symposia's director, Cornel Rusu, said the store relocated because the owner of the original location decided to sell that building. Mayor David Roberts owns the building located at 510 Washington St. and offered its use to Symposia at a very reasonable rate, according to Rusu.
The Mayor promised that Symposia could use the building for a couple of years until it is needed for another use. Volunteers from the community assisted with the move.
Rusu noted that more than 40 volunteers assisted by packing boxes with books, carrying books to the new location, stocking shelves in alphabetical order, painting, renovating and cleaning the floors and basement.
Business has greatly improved since the store relocated. Symposia continues to support local charities and it is now financially able to donate all proceeds from its Saturday book sales to them. Charitable organizations are encouraged to come to the store on Saturdays to inform the public about their missions.
"Some community groups don't have such a visible location in Hoboken," Rusu said. "We would like to help them become more visible and to collaborate with them in their good community work."
The store holds regular discussion groups and seminars intended to create an open dialogue for anyone who wishes to participate. It also provides a place where people can meet to connect and develop projects for the community, according to Rusu.
The idea started with Hoboken Faith Community Fellowship, a local church group that wanted to open a spiritual bookstore. As time passed, however, the store evolved into what it is today because the community needed a place where it could gather and collaborate for the community.
"It creates a forum where people can become friends, exchange ideas and work for their community," said Roger Ansanelli, an actor and singer-songwriter who volunteers his time and services to Symposia.
The survival of Symposia depends largely upon volunteers such as Ansanelli who keep everything afloat, said Rusu. Ansanelli recently performed at a Christmas concert that raised money for Symposia.
Clubs meet there
The store accepts donations of all kinds, including books, money, computers and clothing. Two computers with internet access have been donated to the store. Symposia also hosts many meetings and clubs. A women's club meets twice a month. A chess club meets every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Adult Children of Alcoholics meets Tuesday nights from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. There are also a photography club, filmmaker club and writers club. There is usually no charge to attend these events. Some events have suggested donations.
Symposia has a full schedule of its upcoming events on its website, www.symposia.us. The store is able to afford this website because it does not hire any professionals. Instead, Rusu taught himself how to create and maintain the site.
Culture nights are held on the last Saturday of each month. According to Rafi Cordova, the main volunteer at the store, culture nights consist of a meal from a featured country, a presentation about the country, and dancing. The event concludes with a movie from that country with English subtitles. This January was Puerto Rican night. February is tentatively scheduled to be Brazilian night.
The store also features the Hob'Art Exhibition. The Hoboken Artists Association will hold several exhibitions at the store along with the works of other local artists, schools and Echo of Art, a children's art school.
Symposia is starting a new event this year which is taking on a talk show format. Local musician and artist Mary Ann Farley will host the show. The show will consist of an interview of the artist followed by a musical set. Refreshments will be served.
For information on Symposia call (201) 805-1739.