Camden's new billboard campaign could change image
CAMDEN, N.J. - December 7, 2012 -- A billboard campaign could be a sign of better things to come in a high-crime New Jersey town. The message is hard to miss: "Say something nice about Camden."
The positive boost from the billboard could be just what the struggling city needs to turn things around.
The billboard sits high above Admiral Wilson Boulevard with one request, "Say something nice about Camden".
"Rutgers Camden is here."
"They cleaned up transportation center."
Just a few nice things people are saying about Camden.
"Camden is a city of great possibilities, full of great potential in its people," said Mayor Dana Redd.
"Say something nice about Camden? Whoa wait a minute& I have to think of something," said another resident.
It is that hesitation that creator Jennifer Barton is trying to change with the new campaign.
The Camden born, South Jersey raised communications executive began her career in Camden.
She lives in New York now, but says she visits Camden often. The Children's Garden is a family favorite, and it is also where she and her husband celebrated their wedding.
"One day I was in a meeting, I said something about Camden, and someone said something negative. I said, 'Say something nice about Camden.' And the next day, I went out and bought a billboard," explained Barton.
The city's waterfront view with an amphitheater for outdoor concerts, Campbell's ball field, Battleship New Jersey, and a community gardening initiative that is growing, are among some of the things Camden can boast about.
The primary goal of this campaign is to shine a spotlight Camden's positive story lines and celebrate its rich history.
"Lots of great things have come from the city, recorded sound was developed here," said Barton. Neil Armstrong spoke from the moon with equipment that was made in Camden."
It is not to say the city isn't going through struggles.
The city homicide rate stands at more than 60 people so far in 2012. In September, Camden was named the poorest city in the country with a poverty rate at over 40%.
But the hope is that the negatives won't eclipse the positives as the city works to pull itself back up.
"We have great people working every day to restore our neighborhoods, and to make Camden a better place. So it is catching on, 'Say something nice about Camden,'" says Mayor Redd.
There is a Facebook page "Say something nice about Camden" where folks can post their pictures and comments.For more information, visit the website Say something nice about Camden.
camden, new jersey, local/state, katherine scott
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