JCI Magazine Summer 2013 Issue On Stands Today

“There is no place on earth I’d rather be.” My voice is sturdy and I don’t break eye contact when I explain to outsiders about life in Jersey City.

The city is full of people – 250,000 of us, give or take – and we’re all loud. We don’t rely on cars, so we’re constantly passing each other on the train, at the bus stop, or on the stoop. We live, literally, on top of each other and run to the corner store in slippers for coffee. This proximity and frequency of contact is our blessing and our curse.

We are creative and destructive at the same time, gutting tattered buildings for future open-air fresh food markets and turning childhood toys into valuable collectibles by slicing them up and refitting them, limb-by-limb, joint-by-joint.

We are surrounded by infrastructure but we can’t help notice our dependence on the natural when the storms come in, the power goes out, and the parks get destroyed.

We are a complicated city, grappling with our vast diversity of economics and shared resources, but we know what we want and we won’t wait for anyone to ask our opinion. We are not one of the five boroughs but we don’t quite fit in with the bikinis and the volleyball of the shore either. The name “Chilltown” doesn’t seem appropriate, but it’s somehow up our alley. We refer to Jersey City as a “small town” no matter what neighborhood we live in, despite the city’s status as second most populous in the state.

To be clear – we are not confused. We understand our contradictions and we embrace them. There is something wonderful about the place we find ourselves in today, and we know it, even if we don’t. We are germinating the fossils of the region’s past; we are dreaming about solutions while our feet are under water. And I’m glad to be a part of it. I can’t say it enough. There’s no place I’d rather be.

–Mel Kozakiewicz

Cover photo is by Melissa Weiss, a freelance assistant editor for network television programs and an amateur photographer. She has lived in Jersey City for three years and loves photographing the city’s plant life and urban landscapes. Weiss is drawn to the abundance of vegetation that grows in the urban centers. Her photography highlights nature that peaks through the cityscape, demonstrating that Jersey City is more colorful than the aging factories, bridges, and other structures that outsiders tend to visualize as Jersey City.

Her work has appeared at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD and at the Warwick Museum of Art in Rhode Island. Weiss also works as the Senior Development Director of The Box Colony Theatre, a local group bringing original and extant works to NYC and Jersey City. This past March, she helped mount a show as part of STAGEfest at the Landmark Loew’s in Journal Square, and this summer she will be working with the company on their latest show, theMUMBLINGS, as part of FringeNYC. Find out more on her website melissaleahweiss.com.

Check out one of our distribution locations near you today for your free copy of JCI. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Publishers Note: On our Fall 2015 issue we corrected the issue number to seven to reflect the number of issues we have printed since changing the magazine’s name to JCI.

Mel Kozakiewicz

is a writer, performer, and professor. She lives in the Heights section of Jersey City and she is a former editor for Jersey City Independent.