Honey and Moon Photography and the Jersey City Independent have teamed up to bring you #dayinthelifejc through the eyes of various residents via Instagram. Each month, one Jersey City resident will be selected to take over the JCI Instagram feed (@jcindependent) for one week. Meet Beth Bentley, she will be posting images of her #dayinthelifejc from Jan. 18 through Jan. 24. We sat down with Beth to learn a little more about her. Enjoy!
Beth Bentley has lived in the Heights section of Jersey City since 1989 with her husband, Michael Gates. They moved here from Park Slope when she became the Housing Development Director at Neighborhood Housing Services of Jersey City (NHS). Their son Philip was born at Christ Hospital in 1991. When he was eight months old, she began commuting to a job as Housing Development Director at a Bergen County non-profit, because NHS was on the brink of closing. She moved to a private sector position in affordable housing when her son began first grade at Learning Community Charter School (LCCS), the first year the school opened. For LCCS, she organized fundraisers and served on the board.
Beth has always been a poet and enjoyed arts and crafts, but set aside her creative endeavors in college as she studied to embark on a career to “save the world.” After her son Philip started high school, she decided to go to the monthly open mic at Art House Productions. She read one of her poems with shaking knees but she kept going back. One month, she didn’t have a poem ready but had an idea to create a character whose name is Ida. Ida spoke about what “Ida do if Ida Wrote Star Wars” and other such things. Ida wears a shower cap, curlers, slippers, and a duster purchased from Dee and Dee (now called D II) on Central Avenue. Since then Beth has performed around Jersey City as Ida, Helena Hand Basket and other characters she has created. Beth has also shown her visual art constructed from up-cycled materials in Soho, Hoboken and various Jersey City venues.
In your opinion, what is the most amazing thing about Jersey City?
I love the number of creative people in Jersey City, and that they live in every neighborhood. Regardless of whether someone is a visual artist, dancer, musician, comic, poet, spoken word performer or other type of creator, there is a sense of community and support among all of the creative people.
Can you give us a run down on your basic #dayinthelifejc?
Weekdays I grab my Jersey Journal from the corner deli and read it on the jitney van, as I commute into Manhattan to my serious day job. After work, I either take the PATH or go home to drive to an art opening, Jersey City Writers event, open mike, Art House Productions acting class, etc. There’s usually way more things I want to do than I possibly can. Otherwise, I’m on my couch getting glitter all over my living room while watching something pathetic like a Lifetime movie. Weekends I like to get a massage, buy things from independent businesses, ice skate, take a yoga class and go to various local cultural activities.
What would you like to see happen in Jersey City in the next five years?
I came to Jersey City originally to work for a non-profit, Neighborhood Housing Services of Jersey City, that developed some affordable housing which sadly went out of business as a result of internal and political factors. From my office on Martin Luther King Drive, I got to know a lot of kids who were not getting the education at the local school that would enable them to escape from poverty. 25 years later, it seems like Jersey City still has the same issues with random shootings, kids not getting a good education, lack of access to well-paying jobs and not enough decent housing for a reasonable rent. I want the people who have been here all along to get what they need to thrive.
Is there someone from Jersey City you always wanted to meet? And why?
I want to meet the people who work for the Jersey Journal (past and current) that I haven’t had the chance to meet yet. I’m totally addicted to the paper and those who put it together from the writers to those behind the scenes. I once saw a former columnist, Sally Deering, at a bagel store and introduced myself as “her greatest fan,” and we subsequently became friends.
What’s your Jersey City “hidden” gem?
“Dancing” Tony Susco (he’s a gem although maybe not hidden). He works hard to foster the scene for local bands. He organizes [the music at] Groove on Grove every year which features bands at the Grove Street PATH plaza. He has raised tons of money for local charities through events he organizes, the most fun of which is the annual Ghost of Uncle Joe’s Halloween Party that raises funds for the Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery.
Where are you favorite places to go or things to do in Jersey City?
The Lincoln Inn, Tommy 2 Scoops, and Gia Gelato for food. The Reservoir, Yoga Shunya, and the Ice Skating Rink in Pershing Field for exercise. The Historic Loew’s Theatre and Art House Productions for entertainment. DII on Central Avenue for Ida’s outfits. Modern Sage for massage and organic products. Farmer’s Markets and fairs with local vendors for shopping.
Do you have a favorite “Jersey City” story?
It’s not really a story, but one of my favorite memories was performing my poems and various spoken word pieces in the City Hall Rotunda while wearing the dress I made from plastic bags at Maggie Ens’ art opening. She had constructed a web from recycled materials between the 2nd and 3rd floor.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Beth!
Beth Bentley will be performing one song with Chrissy Roberts at the Trolley Car Bar & Grill (332 Palisade Ave.) on Friday, Jan. 22 at 10 pm. Visit, the Facebook event page for more info. Follow Beth’s #dayinthelifejc this week at @jcindependent.
Photo courtesy Beth Bentley