By ERIN ROLL
The organizers of a new Montclair festival would like you to “bounce” around town for a week beginning next weekend, all on behalf of your well being.
There will be yoga, art studios, a community dinner on Church Street, and even a ball pit for grownups.
May 31 will see the start of Montclair Bounce: a week-long, town-wide festival with the ultimate goal of spreading awareness about mental health.
Montclair Bounce is the result of a collaboration between different groups, including Toni’s Kitchen, the Montclair YMCA and Summit Medical Group.
At St. Luke’s Church, a cocktail and dinner reception to start Montclair Bounce will be held in the church sanctuary on Thursday, May 30, at 7 p.m. The event will also give attendees a chance to preview Bounce@TheSanctuary, an interactive art exhibit by artist Rachael Grochowsk. There will be live music by jazz musician Eddie Bishai.
A community Blue Plate Dinner will be held May 31 on Church Street. The street will be closed to traffic and lined with tables for communal dining. Music and art exhibits will top off the event. The event is free but registration is required. After dinner, Bike Walk Montclair will hold a bike ride through town.
The week will include Bounce’s Chance Encounters Ball Pit; the Been There and Back inter-generational advisors; the MAMs Art Truck; the Sixty-Second Novelist, musical performances, and more. Special guests will include Montclair’s Mayor Robert Jackson, former New Jersey Governor Richard Codey, and First Lady Mary Jo Codey.
At the Montclair Public Library, there will be a discussion on exposure to news and the media and what it means for mental health, especially in an era of the 24-hour news cycle. The panel will include journalists and psychologists.
And for high school students, there will be “IRL:” a series of panel talks and workshops aimed at helping students cope with the stresses of life in high school and after it.
The organizers began planning for Bounce over a year ago said Elly Meeks, one of the lead organizers. The goal is to have something uniquely Montclair, with involvement from as many local artists and creative people as possible.
“We live in such a creative, rich, layered town,” she said.
Mental health, once a taboo subject, is now being openly discussed. “It’s a very interesting moment, and nobody’s immune, and no community’s immune” to mental illness or mental health issues, Meeks said.
Meeks is grateful for the Montclair YMCA’s cooperation. “There’s so many things we now understand about the mind-body connection,” she said.
Montclair State University is also helping with a project called “Happy Mapping.” Participants will be invited to write down their favorite places in town on a postcard — a park or green space, a coffee shop or museum or art gallery. MSU will use the postcards to assemble a data map of “happy places” in Montclair.
Most of the events will be free of charge. But for the community dinner, families who decide to host a table will be asked to make a $250 donation. Tickets for the reception at St. Luke’s are $125.
For a complete listing of events, or to learn more about how to get involved, visit Montclair Bounce’s website at montclairbounce.org.