Even if you aren’t a young millennial who Googles the name of a business before you deem it worthy of your time, chances are you recognize the name “Growing in Jersey City.” Maybe you’ve seen someone carrying a Growing in Jersey City tote or noticed the name from one of the numerous events they host and sponsor throughout the city every year. Growing in Jersey City has grown into so much more than the blog it once was back in 2016 when Jersey City resident Jenna Firshein founded it. Now it’s a community, a place for people to gather and be themselves, and become engaged in their community.
Growing in Jersey City doesn’t just stand on the sidelines and highlight the interesting people and places around them on their blog but does so much more. It also organizes and hosts several community-centric events such as monthly networking groups and open mic nights as well assponsors the city’s LGBTQ Pride Festival and even hosts the city’s largest Wellness day every winter in which attendees from all over the county participate in a day of fitness and wellness with local businesses.
All these events aren’t just for fun either, as a portion of all event proceeds go to fund a verity of local non-profits or charities.
An inspiring city
Jenna Firshein began Growing in Jersey City in 2016 after moving to the area nearly 10 years ago and becoming inspired by the people and places all around her.
Firshein explained that she moved into a penthouse in Journal Square with two roommates“before it was cool to be there” and then moved to the Heights where she became involved in her neighborhood and condo associations.
“The blog began as a way for me to share the city I love through my eyes and now also the eyes of my writers,” said Firshein.
She said it was easy to be inspired surrounded by so many talented people and interesting new businesses.
“Jersey city is a hotbed of talent and people doing amazing things not just community wise which is obviously so important but also an entrepreneurial hotbed and cultural and artist hotbed with so many new vendors and artisans,” said Firshein. “These amazing people I’ve meet inspired me and continue to inspire me.”
More than a blog
“With almost every event we do, we donate a portion of the proceeds to charity,” said Firshein.
She teamed up with Crystal Davis another Jersey City blogger for their monthly open micnights which Firshein said was even “started on the premise of donating to a local charity each month.”
Growing in Jersey City has supported a number of local charities.
Recently they donated funds Copa Meribel which helps local families affected by cancer who are facing financial hardship, General Needs Ltd which helps homeless veterans by providing them with basic necessities, and Thinking in Full Color which empowers women of color for education in theater and the arts, and various Jersey City arts programs.
“Volunteering and charity are a huge part of how I grew up,” said Firshein.”It is so important to me to be able to give back.”
Even without financial contributions, Growing in Jersey City provides a community service.
It has created a community all its own in the truest sense of the word. The best example I can think of is from my own experience going to one of there open mic nights at Froth on Franklin in the heights.
Not only was the place packed with roughly forty plus people and 17 performers but despite the fact that I was a stranger, I felt at home. No one gave me, the girl in the front standing alone, scribbling in a notebook, an odd glance. Instead people smiled, said hello, and immediately welcomed me like we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other since we were kids.
During this open mic night, first time performers and seasoned veterans took the mic, sang their songs, spit their verse, and told joke after joke, without any fear of judgment..
The open mic night is an example of why Growing in Jersey City was created and the community it continues to foster with no barriers to age, race, or gender.
This acceptance, this safe space, this camaraderie is a public service in of itself. —JCM