SouthNEXT: Saturday, October 19th


12 NOON – 6:00pm | Hope in a Time of Anxiety Community Mural

Come together as a community to name our anxieties and share our hopes for the future by writing them on the wall, then joining in the coloring of a meditative mandala mural to bring us all together to reduce anxiety and realize our hopes as a community.

Mandala is a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism representing the universe. The circular design symbolizes the idea that life is never-ending and everything is connected. Coloring mandalas helps to reduce stress and anxiety and allows everyone to be creative, which often gets lost in our daily lives and stresses. 

12 NOON | Hope In A Time Anxiety – Living A Mindful Life

Renowned Mindfulness Facilitator, Jean Vitrano, will share how Living A Mindful Life is, in essence, living a life of hope. She will take us through mini-practices of meditation, gratitude, loving-kindness, and focusing to remind us how to uncover a greater sense of peace. Dr. Anthony Nicotera, social work social justice educator and advocate, will assist Jean and share how the power of mindful music and mantra can help foster hope and healing.

1:00PM | Let’s Talk About Death, Differently

Caren Martineau is a branding pioneer and entrepreneur. As founder of two groundbreaking death literacy platforms, and, she is reshaping how Boomers and successive generations think about aging and mortality. In addition to online content, Bevival produces edutainment programming for institutions and organizations navigating this multi-generational culture shift.

1:30PM – 3:30PM | Drawing with Difficulty

Join South Orange contemporary art pundit Jason Rulnick for a whimsical and hands on experience discovering the fundamental elements of art.Our project designed for all ages will have you train your eye and hand while jabbering on like a critic at the same time. How big is big, and exactly how blue is blue?  Roll up your sleeves and visit Drawing with Difficulty on the SOPAC’s third floor mezzanine, walk away with a conceptual masterpiece!

2:00PM | Higher Learning

Join Joel Greengrass, CEO of Theramu, for an exploration into the science behind CBD and how to make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones. Joel has personally dealt with the ravages of MS for over a decade and will share his story of how turning to medical cannabis to treat his Multiple Sclerosis has changed his life and why he is now dedicated to helping as many people as he can with MS as well as many other chronic conditions. Joel is a man on a mission that you should all know about.

Working with Joel will be Bryan Pilkington, PhD, who works in bioethics and philosophy. His research focuses on questions of conscience, moral responsibility, the ethics of healthcare practice, and the concept of dignity. He lectures on practical ethical challenges in healthcare and teaches courses in normative and applied ethics, including courses in ethical theory, bioethics, environmental ethics, and political philosophy. 


The robots are coming! What’s going to happen to us? Technology is quickly advancing upon us and we’re finding ourselves increasingly plugged in, reliant on computers to answer our questions, entertain us, and curate our choices. Automation is increasingly taking over both routine manual tasks as well as assisting in more complex applications. And more than ever, we are being convinced about the value of technology to make our lives better. Join Danni Michaeli and Peter McClard to explore the question, “As technology takes hold of our daily lives, are we on the cusp of losing our humanity or discovering it for the first time?”


Lead by Mary Balkun, this workshop will provide both experiential and discussion based interactions that will raise questions as to how emerging technologies may be useful tools to address implicit biases and increase empathy. Integrating mindfulness practices such as non-judgmental reactivity, being present in the moment and expressive gratitude are all ancient practices that can inform our use of immersive virtual experiences in order to cultivate compassionate community spaces.


This workshop will address anxiety and the role it plays in our lives. We will discuss the link between anxiety and arousal, consider how we relate to our thoughts and reactions, and entertain a framework for understanding anxiety so we are more aware of its presence and better able to manage it’s impact. We will also explore Tai Chi as a method for practicing this anxiety awareness and redirecting it’s energy to help us maintain balance and focus. This session will be interactive and leave you with practical exercises you can incorporate into your everyday life.

Dr. Andrew Simon is a social/organizational psychologist who’s primary line of research focuses on social systems and leadership. He also maintains a second line of inquiry in sport psychology. Specifically, he works with competitive athletes on managing anxiety and enhancing psychological skills. He has advised athletes across a range of sports, including those on Seton Hall University teams. When working with non-competitive athletes, he is interested in how anxiety and arousal affect the attainment of fitness goals.

Richard Mullen is the Sifu and owner of South Mountain Tai Chi Chuan of Maplewood, and is dedicated to exposing our community to the practice and benefits of Tai Chi Chuan. In addition to private instruction, Richard conducts a free weekly class open to beginners and seasoned practitioners alike. Join them! For more information visit or


SOMA’s GOT CRAZY TALENT celebrates the exceptional talents of individuals in the South Orange and Maplewood community. Open to children and adults alike, the final nine contestants were selected by the community through a video submission entry. The grand prize winner will take home a $500 Amazon Gift Card with second prize receiving 2 tickets to a SOPAC show plus a $75 certificate to Jackie & Son restaurant. Third prize is a $50 gift certificate to Sparkhouse Toy store. Who needs America’s Got Talent when we have SOMA’s Got Crazy Talent! Grab dinner and drinks downtown and we’ll see you in the SOPAC Loft of Saturday night!