ArtPride New Jersey: The Arts AND … Movement

Posted on by Stephanie Carr, ArtPride NJ Program Manager

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Lessons Learned at #AFTACON2016

For nearly 60 years, Americans for the Arts has convened an annual convention for arts and community leaders to network and discuss strategies for building stronger towns, counties, and cities through the arts. As our professional field has grown, so has this gathering.

This year’s Annual Convention explored the role of the arts in creating and sustaining healthy, vibrant, equitable communities, and I’m proud to say that New Jersey was definitely in the house.

The biggest theme of this year’s convention mirrored ArtPride’s  June 2 Thrive conference in discussions about diversity and inclusion. The arts are such a diverse field with participants from every race, culture, ethnicity, gender, age, and ability, however, it almost seems that we’ve forgotten that diversity needs to be represented on the staff and boards of arts organizations as well.

Right now, as our country changes, demographics shift and communities are in flux, it is important to respectfully continue the dialogue.

How do organizations expand the executive pipeline?

How do organizations speak to new audiences?

How can arts organizations reflect the true diverse nature of America?

How can organizations embrace a culture of inclusivity without condescension?

It is critical that we give ourselves the time and permission to have these potentially uncomfortable conversations, and it is absolutely imperative that we take time to simply listen.

The Arts AND … Movement

Another theme of the convention that I am particularly fond of, is “The Arts AND ……” As a community, the arts are continuously forced to prove their value and one of the most compelling arguments is that the arts can and do collaborate and support almost any other sector. So along with the beneficial economic impact of the arts, arts organizations are natural partners in education, healthcare, veteran and military services, and a multitude of other social services. That tiny little preposition “and” makes a huge difference in how our creative sector is perceived and moves forward.

Too often during budget season legislators and policy makers see the arts as an added expense, a luxury, a line item that is taking valuable resources from more critical causes, and it is our job as arts advocates to remind them that the argument is never “The Arts OR …“, it is always “The Arts AND …

  • The Arts AND Healthcare can address serious issues like mental health and aging, explore the stigma around pain relief and opioid addiction, be utilized in preventative care, and play a pivotal role in palliative and end-of-life care.
  • The Arts AND Education can develop creative leaders, increase empathy, strengthen relationships, and open paths to self-discovery.
  • The Arts AND Veteran/Military Services can tackle difficult transitions, ease the symptoms of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, and allow veterans and active-duty military to cultivate the friendships and relationships they need in times of crisis and throughout post military life.
  • The Arts AND Business can revitalize neighborhoods, develop innovative spaces, and re-energize declining Main Streets.
  • The Arts AND Developers/Planning Committees can build beautiful spaces, create wonderfully livable communities, and curate rich cultural landscapes.

The list goes on and on and, for arts organizations and artists, “The Arts AND …” can open up new revenue streams, provide learning and teaching opportunities, expand visions, and encourage those diverse and inclusive collaborations as our world changes.

For an advocacy organization like ArtPride NJ, “The Arts AND …” is a dream come true. Collaborations between the arts and other sectors open up doors to legislators whose priorities don’t always seem aligned with our own. These partnerships allow us to reach across aisles and beyond parties to share moving stories with elected officials who don’t normally consider arts related legislation. These relationships provide opportunities to highlight the best of the creative sector in a new context.

BUT  (a slightly more scary tiny little preposition) BUT before you jump on “The Arts AND …” bandwagon, I encourage you to be sure that you and your organization have the capacity, resources, determination, and passion for this cross-sector work. It is not particularly easy work.

With each partner there is a new vocabulary, a new protocol, a new hurdle … and a new chance for an incredibly rewarding experience. With each project there is a shift in priorities, a necessary flexibility, the potential for rejection … and the potential for inspirational success. While every arts organization and artist is a valuable asset to the community not all are cut out for “The Arts AND …” work. And that’s OK! Even better than OK, honestly.

It is critical to recognize your organizational capacity and accept that some potential collaborations diverge from your mission. Self-reflection ensures that arts organizations do their best work, be the best they can be with current resources, and also provides a base for strategic planning that can include successful cross-sector work.


Stephanie Carr is a program manager at ArtPride New Jersey. To learn more about ArtPride New Jersey, click here

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NJ Platform: Growing Stories from the Grassroots in South Jersey

Posted on by Milena Velis, Media Mobilizing Project

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At Media Mobilizing Project, we always say movements begin with the telling of untold stories. Based in Philadelphia for 10 years, we’ve begun branching out into South Jersey — mainly Camden and Atlantic City — to build a broader community of grassroots leaders who can tell their own stories, and to amplify voices that aren’t being heard in local media.

Here’s how we’re applying our core principles of media-based organizing in the Garden State:

Listen:

The first for us is to get a grounded understanding of a community’s problems, and of the community’s solutions to overcoming them. This is one of our core practices — listening to regular poor and working people who are doing good in their community — the unsung experts and unsung heroes.

In the past year, we’ve marched with immigrants fighting for the right to drive, we’ve gone to countless community town halls and city government meetings. Through old-fashioned relationship building, we found the organizers, artists, faith leaders, service providers, educators, and others on the front lines, we asked them to connect us to more grassroots leaders, and we sat down for dozens of one-on-one conversations.

Amplify:

From this process we learned a few things: Just like Philadelphia, South Jersey is full of brilliant individuals working for change in their communities whose voices never make it onto the local news.

In order to lift up the stories of unheard communities, we launched NJ Platform this spring. NJ Platform is an online place to speak out on the key issues impacting the lives of working people in Atlantic City and Camden. We’re looking for guest bloggers who want to contribute to the conversation.

Perhaps the biggest story happening right now in South Jersey is the impending state takeover of Atlantic City. As negotiations unfold, the decisions made will impact the lives of thousands of local residents. Privatizing the city’s water supply is one cost-cutting measures that’s been proposed, despite the cautionary tale that Flint, Michigan provides for the country.

In the midst of the negotiations and ongoing uncertainty about AC’s future, we set out to amplify the voices of long-time residents involved in community work. Here’s just one of the many brilliant people we’ve met — the people who should be listened to — AC artist and local resident Belinda Manning talking about who should be taken into account in the ongoing negotiations over her city’s fiscal future.

Educate & Network:

We know that change only happens when people learn and work together, and communities have the chance to break their isolation. That’s why we bring the connections we make back to the community, creating spaces for people to network and to learn from each other.

At our Media Institutes, we share the best practices we’ve learned about how to use storytelling and media technologies for social change. We also make space to learn from participants, the community of storytellers and activists we are building together.

Here’s what participants in our last Media Institute outside Atlantic City had to say about the experience:

  • “It’s great to learn what other community members are doing to empower their communities”
  • “It was very useful for an intro to storytelling — and for building trust and shared skills in community”
  • “The diversity among participants created an opportunity to hear a variety of views and opinions”

The relationship building, education and networking we’ve done so far is a foundation for more storytelling projects to come.

Stay tuned for an upcoming short documentary about the community behind a recent production of the play “Growing up in the other Atlantic City,” tracing the past and present of AC’s African American community through the stories of the play’s actors.


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Milena Velis is Media Production Director at Media Mobilizing Project. Milena trains and supports MMP movement media makers, and coordinates the production of MMP news reports, documentary projects, and other media telling the untold stories of everyday people building a movement for our human rights. To learn more about Media Mobilizing Project’s NJ 

Photo at top: Participants at our Atlantic City Media Institute discuss media and communications strategies for grassroots social change.

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Random Acts of Art & Community: Join us Thursday for our next #BetterNJ Twitter chat

Posted on by Meghan Jambor, Dodge Communications Manager

Art and Community Twitter Chat

 

Join us at 2 p.m. Thursday for a LIVE #BetterNJ discussion on Twitter about Random Acts of Art & Community happening right here in New Jersey.

Think flash mobs, participatory art projects, or impromptu music performances on the street. You may think public displays of art like this just happen, but often, there’s an arts organization and a plan behind this inspiring work.

#BetterNJ Twitter Chat – Random Acts of Art and Community
Thursday, June 23, 2016
2:00 – 3:00 PM

During the second installment of our #BetterNJ Twitter chat series, we’ll talk to some of the creative people working at nonprofits who put community at the center of their work. Participants, who work in communities across the Garden State, include: CoLAB Arts, Gallery Aferro, Ironbound Community Corporation, Morris Arts, Noyes Museum of Art, Perkins Center for the Arts, and Victory Hall.

Learn about some random acts of art and community they’ve orchestrated, find out where public art is happening in our communities, and what kind of dream projects you might see happen near where you live.

We know many of you share our belief in the potential of the arts to engage residents, and bring a community together. How participating in a shared communal experience like public art can transform the way you see your own creative self and make you feel more invested in your community.

Why is the Dodge Foundation hosting a Twitter chat? Simply, Twitter chats are about connecting and learning. It’s an easy way to hit pause in your work day from where ever you are and share ideas and best practices with peers from across the state. Moreover, you never know what connections you’ll make or who’s reading, and, if you’re like me, you get excited when you try out new tools and ways to reach new audiences.

All are welcome to join the chat. The more voices, the better the conversation!

Tips for Participating in a Twitter Chat:

  • Use Twitter to follow #betternj — or better yet, try Tchat.io at http://www.tchat.io/
  • Don’t be afraid to jump in!
  • Always use #betternj in your tweet
  • Use the Q1/A1, Q2/A2 format when you respond to the moderator’s questions
  • Chat with other participants by replying directing to them and RT if you’re digging their responses
  • Include a “.” in front of an @ if you want your tweet to show up in all feeds
  • Feel free to dip in and out of the chat
  • Be polite and positive
  • Follow up with people after the chat and keep the conversations going

Set a reminder on your calendar to join us. I’ll see you on Twitter at 2 p.m. Thursday as @grdodge!


 

140602_dodgeMeghan Jambor is the Dodge Foundation’s communications manager. Follow her on Twitter @MeghanJambor

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The Pro Bono Partnership Pundit: Tips to Help Your Organization Comply with the DOL’s Revised White Collar Regulations

Posted on by Christine Michelle Duffy, Pro Bono Partnership

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A note to readers: On Wednesday June 22, Pro Bono Partnership will release a second employment law update on the recent U.S. Department of Labor changes to the rules governing white collar workers.  For the benefit of readers of this blog, following is an abbreviated version of the update and a link to the full article.

In May, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published revised regulations governing the minimum salary that must be paid to “white collar” employees for those employees to be exempt from an entitlement to overtime (OT) pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. Last week, Pro Bono Partnership posted an overview of the major changes made by the DOL, which will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2016.

In this post, we offer employers a brief overview of some considerations and strategies for addressing the new federal minimum weekly salary level of $913 ($47,476 annualized) for employees who are employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional (EAP) capacity. Readers can review the longer version of this overview before they develop their action plans.

The first thing an employer needs to do is identify and evaluate all of its positions that are currently classified as exempt and compensated below the new minimum salary level. Then, the employer must decide whether to raise their salaries to at least $47,476 or reclassify them as nonexempt.

The Exempt Option

If the employer wants to keep one or more employees exempt from OT, it will need to increase their salary to at least $47,476. This would be a good time to also verify that the current actual duties of all exempt employees — as opposed to what their job descriptions say their duties are — still warrant that they be so classified. If job descriptions are inaccurate, they should be updated.

The Nonexempt Option

An important consideration will be the number of hours an employee who earns less than $913 a week actually works each week. If an employee never works more than 40 hours in a week, the employee would not be entitled to overtime. Converting this employee to nonexempt would be cost neutral. But note that with exempt employees always connected to e-mail and office servers, it may be difficult for employers to accurately measure the true number of hours an employee has been regularly working.

If the decision is made to reclassify an employee as nonexempt, then the employer will need to consider strategies for managing potential OT costs.

Options include:

  • Keeping the same total annual wages by backing into an hourly rate that would allow the employee to earn the same amount when OT pay is factored in. Here is a formula: (Current weekly salary) / (40 hours + (OT Hours x 1.5)).
  • Keeping the same total annual wages by treating the employee as a salaried nonexempt employee. The DOL has special rules relating to paying nonexempt employees on a salaried basis.
  • Reducing the employee’s workload so that the employee will not work more than 40 hours and either distributing the extra work to employees who are not at risk of going over 40 hours a week or hiring a second employee to pick up some or all of the extra work.
  • Determining the overall fiscal impact of having to pay additional compensation as OT and possibly reducing fringe benefits and/or eliminating or delaying pay increases, discretionary bonuses, and promotions.

Other Issues

Implementing the DOL changes has the potential to cause morale and legal issues, such as (1) potentially distorted salary bands; (2) two employees doing the same job, one of whom is classified as exempt and the other as nonexempt; and (3) employees seeking union representation.

Additionally, employers will need to train the newly nonexempt employees about the nonprofit’s timesheet policies, as most if not all of them will not be accustomed to recording hours worked and not working overtime without express permission from their managers. Work from home or the beach will now also be compensable time; hours that these employees will need to track. Employers should also audit the timekeeping practices of these employees to ensure that they are following proper procedures.

Communicating the Changes

Employees will have lots of questions. nd employees generally have a protected right to discuss among themselves their terms and conditions of employment, including compensation.

It is important for nonprofits to recognize the employees’ concerns.  For those employees who will be reclassified as nonexempt, employers should consider preparing talking points for managers about the changes, to help explain, in a consistent manner, the reason for the changes, and how the changes will impact, if at all, the employees’ compensation, benefits, and opportunities for career advancement.  Give as much notice as possible to affected employees—at least 30 days would be ideal.

Questions?

New Jersey nonprofits should call me at 973-240-6955,  ext. 303. Connecticut and New York nonprofits should reach out to my White Plains counterpart, Jennifer Grudnowski, at 914- 328-0674, ext. 335.


Christine Michelle Duffy cropped
Christine Michelle Duffy is a senior staff attorney with Pro Bono Partnership, in its Parsippany office, and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog.  Christine provides labor and employment legal advice for the Partnership’s clients in New Jersey.

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Poetry Friday: Program Highlights

Posted on by Dodge Poetry Staff

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Leading up to the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival in October, we will be posting the tools and information you’ll need to have the best experience possible. Here are some new details we have about Festival programming, which will be fully announced later this summer.

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Martín Espada and Claudia Rankine at the 2010 Dodge Poetry Festival.

Among the many of the highlights of the Festival will be:

 

THE WORK TO BE DONE: POETRY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
Taking its title from the closing words of Gwendolyn Brooks’ “to the Diaspora,” with its reminder of the work that remains “to be done to be done to be done,” this special event includes a discussion with Martín Espada, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Katha Pollitt, Claudia Rankine and a guest moderator, followed by a powerful performance including poetry, music and hip hop.

SILENCE IS BECOME SPEECH: THE EMERGENCE OF WOMEN’S VOICES
“Silence is become speech,” Muriel Rukeyser wrote in “The Speed of Darkness,” one of her groundbreaking poems. Compare the number of women poets in any turn-of-the-19th-century anthology with that of a collection published today and the emergence of women’s voices in the century is dramatic. What has this shift meant to poetry in general? How has it affected what we, as readers, expect or accept from poetry? How has it changed the poems that men write? That women write?  What does it mean for women to have a sense of community within the poetry community?

MASKS AND MASCULINITY: POETRY AND THE RITUALS OF MEN
Our cliché notions about the “poetic” personality and the “masculine” one may seem completely at odds, yet many poems have been written that celebrate the rituals of men, their rites of passage, the behaviors that society overtly or tacitly accepts as validating masculinity. Some of these poems, although once part of the “official” canon, are now viewed as misogynistic or celebrating self-defeating, even self-destructive behaviors. How does poetry help men navigate societal demands regarding masculinity? What masks does it offer to hide behind? What opportunities to question them?

WHO IS IT CAN TELL ME WHO I AM: POETRY AND IDENTITY
Having lost all the trappings that secured his identity, King Lear asks, half mad with desperation, “Who is it can tell me who I am?”  Poetry, like all the arts, invites us to ask who we are.  How we explore, discover, express, define and challenge who we are through poetry will be the focus of this conversation.

IMG_232TRIBUTE TO GALWAY KINNELL
An event celebrating the life and work of poet Galway Kinnell, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner and long-time Festival favorite, who passed away shortly after the 2014 Festival.

 

 

CELEBRATION OF AMIRI BARAKA
A celebration of Amiri Baraka (1934-2014), the Newark-based poet and founding father of the Black Arts movement, and a participant in numerous Dodge Poetry Festivals, including the first two in Newark, will take place the first weekend of October 2016 at Newark Symphony Hall to mark the start of Newark’s October Poetry Month.

 

Get your tickets, here!
Four-Day and Weekend Festival passes are on sale now!

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Stay updated on the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival as information becomes available!

#DPF16

Dodge Poetry Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | dodgepoetry.org

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Sustainable Jersey: Taking the classroom outside to raise-up extra-ordinary kids

Posted on by Donna Drewes, Co-Director, Sustainable Jersey

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Seth Boyden Elementary School Outdoor Learning Center Brings a Community Together

What does it take to transform a good idea into an inspiring project? At Sustainable Jersey, I’m lucky to work with towns and schools that have crossed this threshold.

SJJune1The Seth Boyden Elementary School Outdoor Learning Center is a great example of the hard work, time and planning it takes to create a successful project and the tremendous rewards that come with the effort.

Over a decade ago, a group of inspired parents who believed in outdoor learning lobbied and raised funds to transform Seth Boyden Elementary School’s back yard into an outdoor learning space. Located in the most densely developed neighborhood of the South Orange and Maplewood School District, many of the students have limited access to nature.

Seth Boyden School uses a multiple-intelligence approach to learning and an Outdoor Learning Center seemed like a perfect way to enhance this learning concept. A wealth of studies point to the positive effects of outdoor learning on academic achievement and classroom behavior. Better performances in reading, writing, math, science and social studies and reduced discipline problems and increased enthusiasm for learning are all noted benefits.

Collaborative planning process creates vision and goals

Over the years, the PTA sought professional expertise and facilitated a collaborative process to create a vision, goals and strategies that incorporated input from parents, district staff, teachers and community members. The school is lucky to have a reserve of impressive parents. Seth Boyden parent, Lorraine Gibbons, the founder of Garden State Urban Farms, was an original member of the group that helped create momentum for the project, as well as architect Huzefa Irfani who developed the framework and design parameters for the classroom.

The Outdoor Learning Center went through several development stages and was realized under the leadership of many PTA presidents and Outdoor Learning Center Committee Chairs. Parents and teachers first met with planners from the Natural Learning Initiative of North Carolina University and developed a Master Plan to transform the school yard.

Creative fundraising ranges from bricks to Project Runway’s Tim Gunn

Continual and creative fundraising was necessary to keep the project alive; everything from a buy-a-brick campaign and a spare change fundraiser to auctions, parties and a Seth Boyden Speaker series that included a sold-out event with “This American Life” star Ira Glass and company, as well as one with Project Runway’s Tim Gunn. Fundraising continues today and opportunities are listed on the Outdoor Learning Center page.

Evolving the Outdoor Learning Center from built structure to natural elements

In 2015, the PTA had raised nearly $100,000 for the largest and most expensive piece of the plan: the Outdoor Classroom. With the help of the South Orange and Maplewood School District an RFP for construction bids was released. Unfortunately, the bids came back with proposed budgets that were double and triple the amount of funds available. The planning committee was at a loss.

“This is when I joined the PTA,” said Seth Boyden parent, Matthias Ebinger. Luckily, Matthias is a skilled project management professional and visiting assistant professor at the Pratt Institute who is familiar with the construction and bid processes. After hearing about the setback he agreed to get involved.

With Matthias’ help, the group engaged William Scerbo, a renowned local landscape architect and former Rutgers University professor, to move the project forward.

“We were lucky to have Bill Scerbo join the project,” Matthias said. “He has a remarkable talent for creating beautiful spaces that bring communities together, and for aligning project scope with available funds.”

Bill went back to the plans and took the complexity out of the project. He replaced built structure with natural landscaping features that achieved the same goals. The next bid process resulted in a contract award to Evergreen Landscaping, a New Jersey-based landscaping firm, which is currently in the process of turning the project into a reality.

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Sustainable Jersey for Schools Certification and Small Grant

With motivation from the Outdoor Learning Center, Seth Boyden Elementary School formed a green team, registered with Sustainable Jersey for Schools and began work on a certification application. The school completed an energy audit, held a green fair, launched a kids’ green challenge and completed many other sustainability actions.

In late 2015, just as plans for the revamped classroom were taking shape, Seth Boyden Elementary School was awarded a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant from the PSEG Foundation; this allowed the Outdoor Learning Committee to move on to another phase of the master plan, one that provided for the creation of nature story trails and a re-planting of the school’s neglected and overgrown habitat garden.

“Receiving the grant from Sustainable Jersey for Schools gave us the momentum we needed to get the Outdoor Learning Center moving,” said Tia Swanson, a past PTA President and the current Outdoor Learning Center Co-Chair. “The kids are truly shining through their contributions to this project. This is what Seth Boyden is all about, finding the gifts that we all have and encouraging their growth.”

The nature story trails will lead students on walks of discovery through the garden and the entire backyard, helping them learn to identify species in the garden, as well as to discover the animals and insects that call the patch home. The group hopes that the local residents and community will use the garden as well.

Three intersecting circles: classroom, breakout area and art nook

Construction is nearly complete on the classroom and the habitat garden, as well as a native arboretum. The classroom was built with sustainable materials and designed for multiple uses. It has three intersecting circles: there is a classroom circle for teaching and learning complete with tables, chairs and blackboard, an improvisation nook or breakout area for students to work on their own in small groups or in performances and a third circle which is an art nook with a floor for chalk drawings surrounded by bird, bat and butterfly houses and instructional panels. A large sundial will cast shadows throughout the day, helping children understand the relationship of the position of the sun to the passing of time.

The classroom will have electricity and a PA system. A misting system for kids to get cool on hot days was added at the principal’s suggestion. It will be informally called the “Mister Quiles” after Principal Mark Quiles who advocated for the project at many meetings where the idea of the Outdoor Learning Center was said to be an unattainable fantasy.

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The slate for the outdoor blackboard was secured by Tia Swanson who drove four hours during a wintry day to retrieve the slate slab in Pennsylvania after the group bought it on EBay. The community volunteer effort has been tremendous; it has even brought out residents that have no association with the school.

“Today I had the wonderful opportunity to help the Seth Boyden Outdoor Learning Center come to life in a small way,” one volunteer said. “It was my first time planting. Thank you, Seth Boyden Outdoor team and Kevin Kraft for the opportunity. You are making the world a better place at Seth Boyden Demonstration School.”

To keep costs down, all of the work that does not require specific technical skill has been done by volunteers. Over 200 volunteers who include students, faculty, parents and local residents have planted 300 plants. Everything from blueberry bushes to hollies and perennial ferns have been put in the ground.

Forty-one trees were planted to create a natural canopy including scarlet oak, sycamore, tulip and pink dogwood. The students have been busy painting butterfly, bird, bat and insect houses for the area. In addition to many donations from the larger school community, the project received grants from the Open Space Trusts of Maplewood/South Orange Townships.

The local business community also contributed generously: Glenn’s Landscaping donated one day of their crew and equipment to plant trees. Woolley Home Solution sponsored the sundial. Home Depot contributed some of the construction material and Lowes stepped up with a “tool box” grant, to just name a few.

Linking the Outdoor Learning Center to curriculum

As for next steps, the PTA and school will turn their attention to integrating the Outdoor Learning Center into a program already established at the school that links the Strawberry Fields Garden to the curriculum. The Seth Boyden PTA has funded a paid garden position for 2.5 years that is filled by Maggie Tuohy, a certified public school teacher with expertise in these areas.

By providing an on-site naturalist, the PTA made it easier for busy teachers who may not be gardening experts to feel comfortable going outside. Maggie partners with the teachers, bringing expertise and interactive lessons. The development of the Outdoor Learning Center was also used as a learning experience. For example, the colorful prints of Bill Scerbo’s landscape drawings and Matthias Ebinger’s architectural drawings were put on display in the school hallways.

This project, like so many across New Jersey championed by green teams, embodies the promise of a more sustainable future. The Seth Boyden Outdoor Learning Center promotions cite a saying that sums it up: “When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.”

For more about Sustainable Jersey: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn


Donna Drewes

Donna Drewes

Donna Drewes is one of the principals that founded and now co-directs Sustainable Jersey. She is a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog.

All Photos are Courtesy Kevin Kraft

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Poetry Friday: Festival Updates!

Posted on by Dodge Poetry

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Leading up to the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival in October, we will be posting the tools and information you’ll need to have the best experience possible in Newark’s Downtown Arts District. Here are some new details we have added to let you plan your trip:

Dodge Poetry Festival 2014 512 The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival Newark, NJ 10/23-26/14 © T Charles Erickson tcepix@comcast.net http://tcharleserickson.photoshelter.com/

Billy Collins at the 2014 Dodge Poetry Festival 
© T Charles Erickson

 

Keep it green with NJ TRANSIT.

In an effort to make the Festival as green as possible through transportation, we have teamed up with NJ TRANSIT to give you a great deal: $10.50 tickets for rail round-trip tickets from anywhere in New Jersey and New York Penn Station to Downtown Newark. Buy your NJ TRANSIT tickets here!

Coming from out of town? 

If you’re travelling to the Festival, we have some deals with host hotels in Downtown Newark and the surrounding areas for you here. Book your stay early!

We <3 teachers!

So far 154 schools have signed up for Student Day! Is your school on the list? If you’re a high school teacher who would like to pre-register to bring your students to High School Student Day (Friday, October 21st) be sure to register by next Wednesday, June 15th!

Meet your “Poetry Rockstars!”

If you’re not a high school teacher, or you just want to come on your own, Teacher Day registration is open and there is space for you! On Thursday, October 20th join like-minded educators from all over for a day of poetry programming for teachers, for only a $5 registration fee.

Get your tickets, here!

Four-Day and Weekend Festival passes are on sale now!

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Stay updated on the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival as information becomes available!

#DPF16

Dodge Poetry Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | dodgepoetry.org

 

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Dodge Road Trip: Banding Red Knots with Conserve Wildlife Foundation

Posted on by Meghan Jambor, Dodge Communications Manager

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The cacophonous sound of shorebirds is deafening.

I’m huddled behind tall beach grass repeating the instructions for the task before me in my mind. “I hope I don’t screw this up,” I think to myself.

On the beach, out of view, are two volunteers, called twinklers, strategically walking to “push” a flock of red knots toward the net the team placed and covered with sand just beyond the grass.

The sense of excitement is palpable as the chatter exchanged over Walkie Talkies increases. Then boom, the sonic blast of the net firing jolts me back into the moment.

It’s time to grab a plastic bin and run to the beach and find a spot along the net, wriggling with squawking shorebirds, and assist researchers in collecting red knots, ruddy turnstones, and sanderlings so the team can survey and study these at-risk creatures during their brief stopover in New Jersey.

This is Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Delaware Bay Shorebird Project. I was lucky enough to join my Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation colleague Naeema Campbell for a day of bird banding, learning about the incredible conservation effort that has helped bring these birds back from the brink.

01 RedKnot Line

I arrived at North Reeds Beach in Middle Township just after 6 a.m. and was astonished to see in front of me red knots scouring the surf, dipping their long, skinny beaks into the sand in search of horseshoe crab eggs, exactly as I’d observed from the comfort of my home in a NATURE documentary years earlier.

Red knots, with their sand-speckled wings and dusty orange underbellies, are small enough to fit inside the palms of your hands yet they take one of the world’s longest journeys — some more than 18,000 miles — from the tip of Argentina to their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic and back. They make a crucial stop at New Jersey’s Delaware Bay to feast on horseshoe crab eggs, regaining lost weight in preparation for the last leg of their trip.

A sharp decline of horseshoe crabs due to over-harvesting resulted in a sharp decline in the red knot population — from more than 90,000 seen in 1989 to just 25,500 in 2015, according to Conserve Wildlife.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which caused severe erosion along these beaches, the knots faced another hurdle. Conserve Wildlife worked with a coalition of conservation groups and government agencies to restore the shoreline. With a grant from the New Jersery Recovery Fund and other philanthropic and government funding, the beaches were ready just in time for horseshoe crab spawning season and the return of the red knots.

You can watch a documentary about the effort, including a short version (below) or the full-length version here.

Without a Day to Spare from Greener New Jersey Productions on Vimeo.

This has been a good year for red knots, according to Larry Niles, who has led efforts to protect red knots for more than 30 years.

“Most came in better-than-average condition, so they had a head start,” he said in one of his latest blogs tracking the project. “Throughout the stopover a majority of the bay’s population foraged on the eggs laid by vigorously spawning horseshoe crabs. On one day we saw a 10,000 red knot flocks on North Reeds Beach happily roosting and feeding on the abundant eggs.”

An international team of researchers led by Conserve Wildlife — some who make the trip annually from New Zealand and Canada — converges in the Delaware Bayshore for a month beginning with the arrival of the red knots to monitor the birds’ weight throughout their stopover, holding two or three “catches” each week, depending on conditions.

On the day Naeema and I visited in mid-May, we collected data on 120 red knots, 85 ruddy turnstones and two sanderlings. When the team split into groups of six, huddling close seated on smalmeghan1l camping chairs around makeshift tables, us Dodgers joined the small radio-tagging team.

Naeema and I had the task of holding the shorebirds in our hands as researchers carefully clipped a small area of feathers on their back and glued on the tiny receptors that enable scientists to track them.

Some of the birds were more vocal than others — a few of the ruddy turnstones did not like being in my grip — but for the most part, they were docile as we respectfully carried out our work.

Without a doubt, the best part of the day was the release — placing the birds on the beach and watching them hop and take flight, knowing you’ve shared a moment with this creature, been part of its miraculous journey.

  • To learn more about Conserve Wildlife’s Delaware Shorebird Project and support their efforts to protect New Jersey’s rarest animals, please click here.

 



Meghan Jambor is the Dodge Foundation’s communications manager. For more information on the Dodge Foundation and its environmental grantmaking, click here

 

 

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2016 Teen Arts Festivals: A Look Back

Posted on by Kira Campo, New Jersey Arts Education Partnership

Alaina Murphy, Grade 8, Mannington Township School at Salem County Teen Arts

After numerous county festivals in March, April and May, the final New Jersey Teen Arts Festival of 2016 was held at Ocean County College on June 1-3.

The three-day, statewide festival brought students to campus from throughout the Garden State. The state festival was described as “the exciting union of art, education and possibility” by Dr. Jon Larson, President, Ocean County College, and is a description that is fitting of all the festivals. Even though no two festivals were alike, each did embody this common theme.

Festival locations ranged from densely populated urban or suburban locations to sparsely populated rural venues with sprawling green space. And yet, regardless of location, the overarching spirit of possibility was distinctly felt.

With countless adjudicated performances and exhibits at each of the festivals, students learned a great deal from feedback that was offered by the professionals. Whether feedback was offered in the form of high praise or constructive criticism, the critiques serve an invaluable role in the students’ development.

Feedback is vital, because it provides objective input, and helps to shape students’ vision of what might be possible for them in the arts discipline of their choosing.

State Teen Arts Festival at Ocean County College. Photo Credit: Priscilla Hopkins-Smith

State Teen Arts Festival at Ocean County College. Photo Credit: Priscilla Hopkins-Smith

Excitement and enthusiasm from students was another constant! Participants — some in middle school, but most in high school — were eager to show their passion for the arts. Photos were taken at each of the festivals and added to the Arts Ed Now Instagram campaign.

The sheer variety of answers demonstrates that students themselves are thinking about all the possibilities their arts learning has prepared them for in the future. During the festivals, with an abundance of shared enthusiasm, it’s easy to believe that the list of possibilities is endless!

New Jersey supports the tradition of Teen Arts Festivals precisely because they are incubators of possibility. Bringing students together, from across the county or the state, fosters the beginning of new possibilities both in and outside the arts.

Students, inspired by the work or performance of others, have the opportunity to leave with a new perspective. The power of the festivals lies in the legacy of creativity, excellence, and above all, possibility they promote. This year, through the collaboration of many, the legacy continued and the results were truly inspiring.

And now, with the last festival complete, NJAEP is already looking forward to planning and taking part in the festivals next year!

Posted in Arts, Arts Advocacy, Arts Ed Now, Arts Education | Leave a comment

Board Leadership: Finding the Levers in Your System

Posted on by David Grant, former President and CEO, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Wikimedia Commons

We recently concluded the 2015-16 Board Leadership Series with a workshop titled “Turning Learning Into Action.” Near the end, I posed a question: “Can you effectively influence something that matters to you by focusing on changing something else?”

The answer is clearly YES.

We all live and work in systems, and the variables in a system are often related to each other in obvious ways. If you want more people attending your theatre, for example, you can lower the cost of tickets. If you want cleaner rivers, you can raise the capacity of sewage treatment plants in urban areas, or move the fences for grazing livestock in rural areas.

But what about when the connection is slightly less obvious? Maybe the level of ticket cost is less important than the level of ease of parking, or the level of outreach to local reading groups. And maybe what the clean river advocates should be focusing on is a legal designation that sets standards for “swimmable,” or a public campaign that features the history of the river and fosters pride in it.

This exercise raises the question of what other connections in the system we should be considering. Maybe theatre attendance correlates most closely with the closing times of neighborhood pubs. Maybe the health of the river is influenced over time most powerfully by the third grade curriculum.

The point is that our systems are complex, and it is a worthwhile exercise to pause and ask, “If I want to raise or lower levels of this, could I do it by raising or lowering levels of that?”  The resulting thinking may focus our strategic efforts on new relationships and partnerships with those who have more influence over the various thats than we do. (This is one reason that so many conversations about fostering social benefits conclude, “We have to get into the schools!”)

For me, the connection we too often miss is the one between our external effectiveness as organizations and our internal habits as organizations, especially our habits in regard to how we spend time together. In my book, The Social Profit Handbook, I devote a chapter to the concept of mission time, that precious opportunity for ongoing learning and creative collaboration on important matters when there is not a sense of urgency.

We are inundated with urgent demands, though, so the non-urgent usually has to wait. And we can fall victim to our own unexamined assumptions about what it looks like to be working. We can start to think that reflection, particularly as a group, is something that happens when we are not working, as opposed to being at the heart of our work.

You can see how important mission time would be in order to pursue the idea of finding points of leverage. Mission time gives us the time and space and permission to examine the systems we are in and find those relationships between variables. It is the only chance we have to find the connections that are not staring us in the face.

And because we know we won’t have to wait until the next retreat to have mission time again, we can experiment. We can see what happens when we focus on other variables and examine the results.

So, along with other thoughts about turning learning into action, I left this year’s participants in the Dodge Board Leadership Series with this simple proposition: if you want to increase levels of (fill in any mission-based social good), just increase the number of minutes a week you spend with your colleagues in mission time.


 

DG HeadshotDavid Grant is the author of  The Social Profit Handbook, published by Chelsea Green.

Photo at top courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Poetry Friday: Think of me, Forget me not…

Posted on by Dodge Poetry Staff

Around Memorial Day, we as a country spend extra time remembering and honoring the veterans who have fought for us in the past, as well as those currently serving overseas. This remembrance can be a solemn time for reflection. In a thankful spirit, we extend the sweet, upbeat words of the Newark Boys Chorus in honor of all those who have served. This performance was part of “In Praise: Poetry and Music” at the 2014 Dodge Poetry Festival.

“Think of me, forget me not. Remember me where ever you go.” We hope it provides a simple reminder that remembrance and gratitude should be with you all year long.

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Free Press: The Journalism a Changing Morristown Needs

Posted on by Mike Rispoli and Fiona Morgan, Free Press

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As Free Press’ News Voices: New Jersey project looks toward its second year, we’re excited to bring our experiment in community-based news engagement to Morristown.

On June 1, we’ll host a free public forum that will explore ways in which community members and local reporters can work together to strengthen Morristown. Business owners, students, faith leaders, activists and other residents will join journalists at the Neighborhood House, a nonprofit agency that provides after-school programs and other support services. All are invited to take part in this community-building event.

News Voices: New Jersey is helping to build deep relationships between newsrooms and communities across the state in ways that benefit both groups. Through this work, residents take a more active role in local journalism and better support newsrooms. And newsrooms produce better journalism when they listen to the concerns of everyday people and incorporate these perspectives in their reporting.

As more meaningful stories get told and people feel more connected and invested in their local media, our communities grow stronger.

We’re especially excited to bring News Voices to Morristown because it’s the hometown of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, a philanthropic organization that works on issues critical to New Jersey residents. Dodge is a major financial supporter of News Voices and is helping develop a network of journalism and community projects — all of which have helped News Voices succeed.

A changing Morristown

The June 1 event comes at a critical juncture for Morristown.

People who live in Morristown love its small-town feel and rich history and take pride in its diversity. But we’ve heard concerns from residents that ongoing and planned development will significantly change the makeup of the town. Those who are already on the margins are worried that they will be left behind or pushed out of the community.

More than a third of Morristown residents are Hispanic or Latino, one-third are foreign-born and approximately 14 percent are African American, making the town more diverse than New Jersey as a whole and significantly more than the surrounding areas. Tensions that flared in previous years between Latino newcomers and the rest of the community have calmed, but Latinos in Morristown remain geographically and culturally separated and lack political representation in local government.

One of the most significant challenges facing Morristown is the lack of affordable housing. Only 39 percent of the city’s housing units are owner-occupied, and the median rent of nearly $1,500 per month is 25 percent higher than the state average. And the average rent is likely to go up, thanks to the luxury condos being built in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Speedwell.

Many residents have said that the things that make Morristown special and unique will be lost if the town tries to become trendier, pricier and, in the words of a few individuals, “Hoboken West.”

Lack of affordable housing leaves people financially vulnerable in every aspect of their lives. We’ve learned through our conversations that two-thirds of the guests at Morristown’s Community Soup Kitchen aren’t homeless, but don’t earn enough money to cover the cost of food.

Local journalists have a crucial role to play in raising awareness about how these changes affect the community’s most vulnerable residents, and in asking questions about how development is impacting Morristown as a whole.

News to shape Morristown’s future

For a town of three square miles and 18,000 residents, Morristown has a substantial number of media outlets. One of those is Morristown Green, an independent hyperlocal news site run by longtime resident Kevin Coughlin. Area newspapers like The Daily Record and Star-Ledger also cover the community. Many of these outlets provide consistent coverage of events and inform readers about local government and local arts and culture.

Yet the downturn in print journalism has reduced the number of local reporters doing enterprise and accountability journalism. And Morristown’s Spanish speakers — one third of its population — have few sources to turn to for local news.

Civic engagement is part of Morristown’s culture, and people here are participating in an important discussion about how the community is changing. The goal of News Voices is to bring those perspectives into local news coverage. It’s especially important for journalists and those who are active in civic affairs to hear from those who are struggling.

Every member of the Morristown community has a stake in its future, and journalists can help ensure that all voices are heard and that the public has the information it needs to make educated decisions. Local media can advocate for the public interest by uncovering truth, pressing for transparency and holding the powerful accountable.

At the June 1 forum, community members and local media will discuss important issues in small groups, and together they’ll brainstorm story ideas and collaborate on ways to give every resident a voice in Morristown’s future.

We’ve seen firsthand how these types of community-engagement events set the stage for lasting change.

Our first forum, held in New Brunswick last November, engaged more than 120 attendees in a brainstorming session about underreported local issues. The second, held in Atlantic City last December, featured a rich discussion about the ways in which local journalism can help revitalize the city. And the News Voices gathering held in Asbury Park in March brought together residents from opposite sides of the community to explore ways in which journalism can help unite the city.

In each of these communities, the groundwork has been laid for future projects and collaborations between local reporters and residents.

We’re hoping that the June 1 event will help identify how Morristown can grow as a unified community where everyone benefits and all residents are part of the conversation.

This is your chance to make your voice heard. Join us at the Neighborhood House on June 1 at 6 p.m. All are encouraged to participate.

Find out more about Free Press’ News Voices: New Jersey project by going to newsvoices.org.


Fiona Morgan

Mike_Rispoli_newFiona Morgan is Free Press’ Journalism Director; Mike Rispoli is the organization’s Press Freedom Campaign Director. Both oversee News Voices: New Jersey, a Dodge-funded Free Press initiative designed to create conversation and respond to the needs of both journalists and residents. Learn more and get involved at freepress.net/new-jersey.

 

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2016 Dodge Poetry Festival Announcements

Posted on by Dodge Poetry Staff

Header for Web Pages

The 30th Anniversary Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival will be held October 20-23, 2016 at NJPAC and Newark’s Downtown Arts District!

Festival Exterior

    • Over 50 poets will participate in the 16th biennial Festival! Poets include:
      • Current U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera
      • Former U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins, Kay Ryan and Robert Hass
      • Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snyder and Pulitzer finalist Elizabeth Alexander, the inaugural poet at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration
      • A diverse array of poets ranging from established contemporary writers to emerging voices
      • For a more complete list, visit our Festival Lineup Page – more names to be announced by the summer!
    • Programming will include a special event called The Work to be Done: Poetry and Social Justice  – a poetry conversation with Martín Espada, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Katha Pollitt and Claudia Rankine.
    • The first reading by the winners of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, given to support emerging poets by the Poetry Foundation 
    • Special readings by poets from Kundiman, Cave Canem, and CantoMundo, as well as by poets from Warrior Writers and Newark’s exciting poetry scene
    • NJ TRANSIT Special $10.50 Round-trip Fare helps us to “Green” the Festival, and you to save some green! Transit tickets on sale soon.

 

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Stay updated on the 2016 as information becomes available! #DPF16

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Trust for Public Land: Building Healthy Parks and Healthy Communities

Posted on by Anthony Cucchi, Trust for Public Land
School children enjoying Nat Turner Park Fun Day in Newark at its 2010 opening.

School children enjoying Nat Turner Park Fun Day in Newark at its 2010 opening.

It’s no secret that families in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood shoulder an undue burden stemming from impacts of centuries of industrial and economic growth focused in the community.

Every day, parents worry how to keep their children healthy despite well-documented lead exposure, air pollution, and contaminated waterways — problems that require lengthy environmental study and complicated solutions.

A lesser known threat — and one that we can solve together in the Ironbound and other communities — is a severe lack of parks, playgrounds, and green spaces that negatively  impact rates of obesity, diabetes, depression and other ills. New outdoor play spaces do not require years of environmental study, and creating them can be community-building opportunities for kids, families, and neighborhoods.

Lafayette Street School - Before

This paved play area at the Lafayette Street School will become a dynamic playground with the help of the Trust for Public Land and partners.

At Lafayette Street School in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood, young students from two classrooms are working with The Trust for Public Land and a landscape architect to help plan a desperately needed new playground and outdoor learning space for the school’s 1,100 students.

The Lafayette Street School neighborhood.

The Lafayette Street School neighborhood.

When the playground is completed, it will offer a rare resource in the Ironbound — a green playground where kids can get healthy and learn about nature. After hours, the playground will double as a community park in a neighborhood where green space is exceedingly rare.

Across New Jersey there are too many neighborhoods that, like the Ironbound, lack the parks and open space people need to get and stay healthy, experience nature, and forge the social bonds so important for community well-being. Finding places to create new parks in built-up cities can be tough, and raising money for them can often be a challenge. But creative ways can be found to build parks for healthier communities.

One key to developing high quality parks and outdoor spaces is to forge cooperation between city agencies, nonprofits, neighborhood groups, foundations, and other private funders. Nonprofits can pull together partnerships, raise funds, and coordinate park creation. With creative thinking, new, and sometimes unlikely, park sites can be found —paved-over schoolyards being a great example. To create successful parks that truly meet the needs of park users, neighborhood residents must be involved early, often, and deeply in planning — like those students at Lafayette Street School.

“Well-planned parks promote neighborhood cohesion and community-building. Enriched with arts and cultural elements, good parks express community identity. They are where neighbors come together. And the very act of helping plan and create a park can give residents a sense of empowerment to shape their environment and generate other civic improvements.”

Using this approach, the Trust for Public Land has worked with public agencies, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and other funders, and community stakeholders in some of Newark’s most vulnerable neighborhoods to create and refurbish parks and green space, including seven asphalt schoolyards converted to playgrounds.

Recent years have also seen the redesign of Newark’s Jesse Allen Park, the creation of Nat Turner Park in the city’s Central Ward and the development of Newark Riverfront Park on a former industrial brownfield along the Passaic River. In all, 96,000 Newark residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park we’ve helped to create or transform.

This work is important in many ways. Just last month, the National Park Service’s Parks RX Day highlighted the growing movement of physicians prescribing time in parks and nature for health and healing. Parks and greenways also support environmental health in a time of climate change, cooling the air, absorbing and cleaning stormwater, buffering communities from flooding, and serving as bike and walking routes for carbon-free transportation.

A happy boy smiles for the camera on the new playing field at the opening of a playground in Brooklyn.

A happy boy smiles for the camera on the new playing field at the opening of a playground in Brooklyn.

Additionally — and crucially — well-planned parks promote neighborhood cohesion and community-building. Enriched with arts and cultural elements, good parks express community identity. They are where neighbors come together. And the very act of helping plan and create a park can give residents a sense of empowerment to shape their environment and generate other civic improvements.

There is now a vital need to expand this work to more Newark neighborhoods, across New Jersey, and beyond. Nationally The Trust for Public Land has launched an effort to encourage cities nationwide to adopt a standard that every resident should be within a 10-minute walk of a park. As the nation’s most densely populated state, New Jersey’s cities should be at the forefront of this movement.

Park-building is tough work. But when government, funders, nonprofits, and — most importantly — neighborhood residents work together, we can create the parks people and communities need for health and an improved quality of life.

And even the planning can be fun. Just ask those kids at Lafayette Street School.


 

TPL Project Manager Anthony Cucchi in Morristown,

TPL Project Manager Anthony Cucchi in Morristown,

Anthony Cucchi is the New Jersey state director of The Trust for Public Land. He can be reached at anthony.cucchi@tpl.org. In New Jersey, the organization’s land conservation and urban park development efforts have always focused on protecting and creating the places that make our communities more livable. Whether helping residents of tiny Andover Borough stave off an ill-thought-out development, protecting the watershed of Barnegat Bay, or completing the landmark Newark Riverfront Park in our largest city, the diversity of the TPL’s work matches that of the Garden State. To learn more, visit the Trust for Public Land’s New Jersey website.

All photos are courtesy of The Trust for Public Land.

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Sustainable Jersey: What are the Biggest Sustainability Challenges Facing NJ?

Posted on by Randall Solomon, Co-Director, Sustainable Jersey

New gold standards to be unveiled at the 2016 New Jersey Sustainability Summit

SummitLogoForSocialMediaPosts

 

Sustainable Jersey will break new ground at the 2016 New Jersey Sustainability Summit with the much anticipated release of the first elements of the gold standard for sustainability certification in the foundational dimensions of energy and waste.

Defining a gold standard for municipalities in terms of measured outcomes rather than prescriptive actions represents a bold step that no other state-level program has taken. We anticipate it will lead to a lively discussion at the 2016 Sustainability Summit on June 15 and in communities across New Jersey that are serious about measuring progress toward sustainability goals.

Sustainable Jersey’s First Gold Star Standards

In our quest to secure a sustainable future we need to be able to say how much progress is being made; the Gold Star Standards set a course to do just that. For example, to determine the standard in the energy dimension, the primary goal is to have municipalities meet a target rate of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction per capita from a baseline year.  In other words, we are asking towns to do their part of what is needed to act in time to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.  Reduction “in time” to avert the worst effects of climate change is taken to mean that it must occur at a rate pinned to the 2007 New Jersey Global Warming Response Act (GWRA). The GWRA mandates the entire state to decrease GHG emissions by 80 percent from 2006 levels by the year 2050.

Like the Energy Gold Star Standard, the Waste Gold Star Standard will require municipalities to meet a target reduction rate, in this case for the total amount of municipal solid waste generated per capita, along with other requirements, such as increasing the recycling rate.  Sustainable Jersey will roll out the Gold Star Standards for Energy and Waste at the Sustainability Summit and will then move forward to define gold for other areas in 2017.

The Energy and Waste Gold Star Standards will be the focus of two of the fifteen breakout sessions at the 2016 New Jersey Sustainability Summit. These two sessions will give community members and municipal staff the information they need to start making measurable change in energy and waste–arenas that are fundamental to a sustainable future. Attendees will also position their towns to be ready to apply for the first Sustainable Jersey Gold Stars in 2017.

  • Breakout Session: Achieving the Gold Standard in Energy: Speakers will include: Gary Fournier, Sustainable Jersey Energy Director, Tony O’Donnell, Sustainable Jersey Economist, Nancy Quirk, Sustainable Jersey Program Coordinator for Advanced Infrastructure, Randall Solomon, Sustainable Jersey Co-Director, Ashley Miller, TRC Solutions Associate Project Manager and Dennis Henry, the Director of Public Works for Woodbridge Township.
  • Breakout Session: Achieving the Gold Standard in Waste: Speakers will include: Gary Sondermeyer, Vice President of Operations for Bayshore Recycling, Melanie McDermott, Sustainable Jersey Senior Researcher and Randall Solomon, Sustainable Jersey Co-Director.

To support the Sustainability Summit discussions, the 2015 New Jersey Sustainable State of the State Report, which was released at the first Sustainability Summit, will be updated to reflect changes in sustainability trends over the past year. The report provides an important vision and baseline for New Jersey with 57 distinct goals. The yearly updates will frame a report card on our progress in New Jersey.

2016 New Jersey Sustainability Summit

If you have not registered yet, there are just 28 days until the New Jersey Sustainability Summit on June 15. The one-day event brings together over three-hundred thought leaders and community members for sessions that range from the philosophical, such as citizen engagement, to nuts and bolts of best practices in communities.

With 15 concurrent sustainability sessions, participants learn, listen and discuss issues ranging from energy, waste, economic development and education to the arts and creative culture. The Sustainability Summit includes more than 50 experts and practitioners and a keynote address by Dr. Benjamin Strauss of Climate Central. Summit breakout sessions include:

  • Achieving the Gold Standard in Waste
  • Build Your Green Team’s Brand
  • Creating Vibrant and Thriving Communities
  • Innovations in Sustainability Education
  • Municipal Role in Water Quality
  • Achieving the Gold Standard in Energy
  • Facilitating Business Engagement in Community Sustainability Initiatives
  • Municipal and School Collaborations for Sustainability
  • Planning for Sustainable Communities
  • Tools for Effective Communication and Civic Engagement
  • Health, Equity and Environmental Justice
  • Moving as a Society Toward Zero Waste
  • Next Generation Sustainable Energy – Emerging Technologies and Practices in Sustainable Energy
  • Resilient Inland and Coastal Communities: Actions to Take Today!
  • Regional Hubs Can Make You Stronger!

 


 

Randall Solomon, Sustainable Jersey

Randy Solomon is a co-director of Sustainable Jersey and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Sustainable Jersey is a nonprofit organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability programs. By supporting community efforts to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental equity, Sustainable Jersey is empowering communities to build a better world for future generations. 

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