Be Inspired

I was a Girl Scout, little green beanie, badged sash and all. I mention this because scouting ingrained in me one of life's singular lessons: "always leave the campground better than you found it." Not the same, not in generally good condition... but better.


I know that our cover story, Newark Mayor Cory Booker was never a Girl Scout… but then again, what do I know? At Oxford, after wandering into a meeting of LaChaim, a Jewish student organization, he joined the group and was eventually elected its president. He is a Baptist.

Booker, one of several gentile students in the organization, later said he joined because he appreciated Rabbi Boteach’s emphasis on education and service.

No matter what your thoughts on life, political, religious or otherwise, you will find Cory Booker an inspiration. He lives a life absolutely bent on leaving every campground he touches, better than he finds it. As well, he is a friend to business and an ally to the multihousing industry.

Booker seems to navigate toward the highest fruit on the tree. The unattainable. Not because he is tall, but because he has little trouble stretching himself toward the seemingly loftiest goals.

His latest project is the emerging city of Newark, the nation’s second-poorest city, where 40 percent of residents lack a high school diploma and gang activity and homicides are twice that of neighboring New York City. Barely back from his inaugural, Booker was thrust into the national spotlight by the execution-style murders of three college students. If senseless disregard for human life wasn’t enough to place Booker on the national hot seat, one of the alleged perpetrators is an illegal alien, which sent Booker’s views on immigration directly to the national forum. (He believes enforcing immigration law to be a federal task.)

Read Booker’s story, and then developer Arthur Stern’s. Stern has stepped into Booker’s world with 300 newly-developed multifamily units in the urban core of Newark, as well as another 3,000-plus promised by 2010. Stern is a bit of an adventurous spirit himself.

“More than anything, the people in my city crave hope,” says Mayor Cory Booker.

Don’t we all?