Local activist Fallon Davis works to make Newark a cultural hub by energizing residents through arts and cultural programs; Essex County film joins others to date about change-making residents in Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May and Ocean counties

Fallon Davis in Newark

June 2, 2022—NEWARK, NJ — NJ PBS announced that Essex County is the next subject of the digital film series, 21, streaming at MyNJPBS.org/21. Produced by NJ PBS’s NJ Spotlight News team, the 21 film series investigates life in New Jersey and whether where you live affects how you live through the stories of change-making residents in each Garden State county. The short films, six to 10 minutes, are accompanied online by snapshots that provide statistics, resources and other essential information for each county.

In the new episode, viewers meet creative change-maker Fallon Davis, who cultivates self-sustaining communities and encourages a new generation of innovators in Newark through expressive arts and sciences programs for all ages. Watch the episode now.

“For so long, communities like Newark have been left out,” says Davis in the film. “This is what I wake up every day fighting to advocate for: Free water. Free food. Free programming. And (to) really provide the space where Black and brown owners can find ownership here.”

Davis cites that all five wards of Newark are food deserts.  Every public school copes with poverty. Opportunities for citizens, especially minorities, are not always clear.

To help local residents overcome these and other obstacles, Davis launched STEAM Urban in 2020, an expressive arts and STEM discipline education program, intended to inspire people of all ages to learn and grow in the city.

“I want Essex County to be respected as a cultural hub,” says Davis in the film.

STEAM Urban partners with dozens of organizations to host event-based programming in under-resourced communities. Individual expression and creativity for all residents is encouraged through art-based sessions with a connection to the environment as well as math and science programs.

“I would consider myself a community leader,” says Davis in the film. “If something isn’t going right in the community, I am going to be the one who speaks out on it. Because if you don’t take control of your city, then who will?”

“The 21 film series is all about ordinary New Jerseyans like Fallon who are doing extraordinary things to make our communities better places to live and thrive,” said NJ Spotlight News Sr. Managing Editor Jamie Kraft.

Previous films capture stories and stats from Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May and Ocean counties with an eventual line-up of all 21 in New Jersey.  A community engagement component is also being planned to stimulate conversation about life in the Garden State.