1 What is your name & what do you do?
My name is Jenny Vickers Chyb – I’m a communications manager for environmental non-profit organization, Clean Water Action. I am also the founder and event organizer for the Asbury Park Bazaar, a seasonal pop-up marketplace held in the Grand Arcade of Convention Hall. I also dabble in a bit of freelance social media & writing for a few different companies.
2 What did you want to be when you grew up?
It’s pretty funny, but I remember when I was younger we had to write down what I wanted to do when I grew up. And at the time I was a little obsessed with California and surfing – I have no idea why, but I think it’s because I grew up in Europe and was living in Germany at the time, where we didn’t have beaches or surfing, so I was just infatuated with the idea of that. So I wrote that when I grew up I wanted to be traveling the world and living on a hut on a beach with Kelly Slater, the pro surfer, ha! I wasn’t even thinking career at that time. I guess I wanted to live a totally carefree life!
3 Tell me your story.
I grew up as a military brat – I traveled the world with my mom, who is German, and my dad and sister, moving every few years, starting in New Mexico where I was born and living mostly in Germany and England, traveling to almost every country in Europe. I saw the Berlin wall come down. I visited communist countries like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia before they broke up. We went to Spain on school trips. It was a great life that exposed me to so many cultures and rich history. I feel very lucky about my upbringing and its helped me develop into who I am. I love to travel, read, do yoga, and crochet. But because of how I was brought up, always traveling, I can’t seem to sit still. My brain never stops moving in a million directions, I’m always working on different events and projects, play music in a band, and always in the middle of planning a trip somewhere.
4 Why Asbury Park?
I moved to Asbury park in 2002, after I graduated from college at East Carolina University with a Master’s degree in international environmental studies. My dream was to live and work in NYC, but my boyfriend at the time had friends in this area, so we headed up this way and I was going to eventually make my way to NYC but then I stumbled across Asbury Park, fell in love, and never left! I love that Asbury Park is located at the beach, but you can get to Philly or NYC in about an hour. At the time that I moved here, I really felt that I had discovered a hidden gem.
5 How did you arrive in Asbury Park?
I went to a house party on 8th Avenue, and fell in love with the house. It was a couple blocks from the beach, had this amazing fireplace, hardwood floors, huge kitchen, a big porch and gorgeous bay windows. I kept telling the people that threw the party and lived there how much I loved it and low and behold they were moving and needed to find a renter. So I said YES and the rest is history.
6 What is the quality you like most about Asbury Park?
I am definitely drawn to the music and creative arts community here. There’s a sense of welcoming and that anything is possible – everyone is open to new ideas and working together to make things happen. I also love that Asbury Park has developed into this amazing little makers hub. All of the vendors at the Bazaar are so talented and put so much time and effort into making handcrafted, locally made goods – it’s inspiring to be a part of. I also made some of my closest friends here, met my husband here, and we all support one another and want to see each other successful in whatever we do.
7 How would you describe the Asbury Park Boardwalk?
While I do love the quiet times of the year in Asbury Park, I love seeing the boardwalk come alive in the summertime. It’s so great for people watching! You can enjoy the beach and ocean by day, then eat dinner at some of the best restaurants in the area, and end the night at a local show in town or hang out on a beach bar with your friends. And you’ll always run into someone you know. It’s been fascinating to watch the Boardwalk grow, and it’s definitely become a magnet for more creative-types. I like that many of our businesses are locally grown and independent. Many of my friends have their own shops, stores, restaurants, companies, run art galleries and events, play in bands…it’s an amazing community and there really isn’t any other place like it.
8 One word to describe Asbury Park?
9 How has Asbury Park changed since you arrived?
When I got here, there was literally nothing in town, the boardwalk was crumbling and there were tons of really cool old abandoned buildings. But slowly I started to discover places and people that would change my life forever…Asbury Art, Oddfellows, and then the Lanes opened, which was pretty transformative. I started to meet so many amazing artists and musicians – and Asbury Lanes became my home away from home. Today, it’s no longer there and so much has changed. I am sometimes nostalgic for the past when we pretty much ruled this town and the beaches were free (we’d all hang out by the casino building and order pizza delivery to the beach!), but it’s been amazing to see it grow and to be part of its growth. Many of the people who were drawn here so long ago or even lived here when they were young and returned, are still here. I love that art, music and the makers movement are at the heart of some of the redevelopment.
10 Name the first band you saw in Asbury Park and where?
Oh man. I think I did too much partying back in those days to remember. It definitely had to be a band that played at Oddfellows. Before there was the old Annex and Asbury Lanes, there was Oddfellows, located in the little space next to the former Harry’s Roadhouse. It was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever discovered and where I met a lot of people I am still friends with today. I also remember seeing Descendents play in Convention Hall at the Skate and Surf Festival I think in 2004. I was able to go back stage and meet Milo, Karl Alvarez, and Bill Stevenson, who is one of my favorite drummers. It was pretty awesome.
11 Describe the current scene of Asbury Park?
While it’s now become a tourist destination, there is still a creative and musical scene here that is unlike any other I’ve seen. We have a pretty tight knit community, but it’s also welcoming and open minded. I am drawn to the music and makers scene – this is what I find most affinity to since I play in a band and run the Asbury Park Bazaar. Every day I play music and work with some of the most talented people I’ve ever met – it’s a really inspiring place to be.
12 What do you value most about the community of Asbury Park?
In addition to how supportive it is, I also like that we are a progressive community where many people that I know fight for so many different causes like fighting inequality and racism and standing up for women’s rights. We are a small movement making a big difference and trying to bridge gaps. I work in the non-profit community and I love how the arts, human rights, and environmental worlds are coming together. While we have a long way to go, I’m happy that there are people here in the community that are so passionate and care so much about making change.
13 What do you love about the architecture of Asbury Park?
While many of the old, beautiful buildings are now gone, I am happy that one of my favorite buildings, Convention Hall, is still standing. My husband Joe and I got married here so it definitely holds a special place in our heart. For every Asbury Park Bazaar poster design, I try to integrate a different element of the building into it, whether it’s the architecture of the building or the really cool sea creature that you’ll find all over the building. It really is a magical place right by the sea – with incredible views from every angle. I’ve always been mesmerized by its design and its maze of rooms. I’m happy to see it’s still here and hope it’s maintained and kept up so we can continue enjoying it for years to come.
14 What do you love about the sand and sea?
I love the water – if it’s a warm day, you’ll most likely find me at the beach or swimming in the ocean. I am definitely drawn to it and find a lot of inspiration from the ocean. It’s definitely my calming place.
15 What do you do to give back?
I’ve actually worked at an environmental non-profit since I moved here and so I give back every day. I don’t think there is anything else as important as protecting the Earth. We take and receive so much from it – we really need to refocus our energies and give back to her. Waste is my number one issue. We’ve turned into a throwaway culture – where we use items once then throw them out. Where do you think all of the plastic cups, straws, bags, and bottles end up? Many of it is not actually recycled and ends up in our ocean, beaches, landfills and harming marine life – so much that there is a floating garbage patch the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean. I can’t even walk down the beach in Asbury Park without finding trash left behind by people. So I think if you care about the sea and the sand – you should consider stopping the use of single use disposable items and replace them with reusables. We just launched a Rethink Disposable program to work with restaurants on this in Asbury Park, so I’m hoping to see it take off.
16 What do you consider your greatest achievement?
It’s funny, I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember and have been in several bands, but I’ve never fully finished a recording. Bands either broke up before or after the recording was finished. Right now, I play in a band called Lyons with my friends Sharon, Amy, Lisa & Charleen – and we are about to release a record being put out by In the Clouds this Friday. We’ve been working so hard on it, so I’m pretty proud at this moment. I can’t wait to hold the vinyl record in my hands and listen to it on our turntable!
17 What are the words that you live by?
Never stop traveling, don’t ignore your dreams, do yoga, make time for friends, and always shop local!