3 New Jersey Towns, One Goal: Sustainability

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

 

Cape May

Five years ago, I traveled to Atlantic City for the inaugural Sustainable Jersey Awards Luncheon. We honored the first 34 towns and special award winners that achieved certification and excelled in the Sustainable Jersey program. These municipalities were forward-thinking, high achievers that understood the benefits that sustainable initiatives would bring.

RandyIn a blink of an eye, fast forward five years to today and I am making the trip again. With a sold-out crowd of 400 people, and 81 towns achieving certification in this cycle, the excitement and momentum for Sustainable Jersey continues to grow and inspire us.

This year we have the largest number of communities ever certified in a single program year. The certified communities represent 30 percent of the state’s municipalities. Camden County joined Mercer County in having all of their municipal governments registered, growing our program to 417 participating communities that represent nearly 75 percent of the state’s municipalities.

Big and small, rural and urban, each community has a different story or approach for how they organize themselves to complete the certification. Some towns are lucky to have a stand-out leader, or a mayor and local government that support and push through sustainability initiates, or a community of volunteers that work hand and hand with their local government to get certified.

Real progress and change is happening community by community as municipalities voluntarily choose to work through the Sustainable Jersey certification program. As we reach the 565 municipalities in New Jersey, these towns provide direct access to inspire and educate residents, businesses — everyday people that need to hear the message.

Of the 81 towns certified or re-certified in this cycle, three Sustainability Champions were chosen. These awards recognize municipalities that have scored the most points in the Sustainable Jersey certification program in three population categories.

The 2014 Sustainability Champion award recipients are:

  • SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION (SMALL CATEGORY)with 545 points: Cape May City(Cape May County)
  • SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION (MEDIUM CATEGORY) with 475 points: Summit(Union County)
  • SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION (LARGE CATEGORY) with 410 points: Cherry Hill(Camden County)

Cape May City: The Nation’s Oldest Seashore Resort

This year, Cape May City scored the most points in the Sustainable Jersey certification program in the small population category, and has the most points overall with 545 points for this certification cycle.

Cape May previously earned this same distinction in 2011 and 2012.  Home to about 3,600 people, Cape May is a city at the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. With Victorian mansions and a famous lighthouse, Cape May is one of the country’s oldest vacation resort destinations.

Led by a mayor that fully embraces Sustainable Jersey, and is even a member of the Sustainable Jersey Board of Trustees, Mayor Mahaney works hard to integrate their long-range planning agenda with long-term financial and capital planning programs to create the overall sustainability plan. “The Sustainable Jersey program has provided the City of Cape May with the opportunity, technical assistance, and resources to plan, develop, and implement a long-range, comprehensive, and integrated program to ensure the sustainability, affordability, and resiliency of ‘The Nation’s Oldest Seashore Resort,’” said Dr. Edward J. Mahaney, Jr. the Mayor of Cape May City.

City of Summit: Four-Time Sustainability Champion

LocalMoving north and inland from Cape May, the City of Summit is located in Union County. Summit scored the most points in the Sustainable Jersey certification program in the medium population category with 475 points for this certification cycle. A four time Sustainability Champion, Summit previously earned this distinction in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

 

The City of Summit is home to more than 21,000 residents who speak over 35 languages, representing an economically and culturally diverse community. With direct rail access to Manhattan, Summit is in the top 20-highest per capita income brackets in the state and has long been popular with traders, investment bankers, and money managers, with nearly 20 percent of Summit’s residents working in finance and real estate.

In order to be successful, Summit has focused on community involvement and collaboration. They work hard to create positive and lasting environmental change by prioritizing programs and initiatives that positively impact the environment. The city has put continued emphasis on the importance of local purchases for the economic and environmental health of community.

From community gardens to book barns to hiking trails, Summit is working on it! Ellen Dickson, the Mayor of Summit said, “It is wonderful to be in a City where we are working together to create a sustainable future. Being awarded Sustainable Jersey Champion status for the fourth time and a silver-level certification for the third time is recognition of our outstanding work toward this important goal. We are thankful to Sustainable Jersey for its support and recognition, and this award.”

Cherry Hill: South Jersey’s Economic Center

ChrryHillLocated in Camden County, Cherry Hill has a population of 71,000, making the township one of the state’s 15 most-populous municipalities. Cherry Hill scored the most points in the Sustainable Jersey certification program in the large population category with 410 points for this certification cycle.

“Cherry Hill Township is proud to be named a Sustainable Champion for 2014. Over the last several years, our entire community – our residents, businesses, community groups, and government – have come together and truly embraced the concept of sustainability, and this is the wonderful culmination of those efforts,” said Chuck Cahn the Mayor of Cherry Hill.

“From Cherry Hill’s robust recycling and e-waste program, to our Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, to our support of local businesses, “sustainability” is about so much more than just recycling. We are building a healthier, more vibrant community, in all senses of the word, and we work hard to incorporate the principles of sustainability into everything that we do. Cherry Hill is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, and we want it to stay that way for generations to come,” Mayor Cahn added.

Learn More about Each Town’s Sustainability Initiatives 

You can review the different programs and initiatives that each of these towns did by looking at the Sustainable Jersey Participating Communities Map.  Find the green pin for Cherry Hill, Summit and/or Cape May.  Click on the town’s green pin to see a full certified report listing of the sustainability actions each town completed.

This has been a stand-out year for Sustainable Jersey. New Jersey communities are showing no signs of slowing in their commitment to sustainability. There is no going backwards.

 

Connect with Sustainable Jersey on its Website and Facebook page. Randall Solomon is one of the principals that founded and now co-directs Sustainable Jersey. He is a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog.

Posted in Community Building, Public Policy, Sustainable Jersey | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

New Jersey at the League: Arts and History Happen Here

Posted on by Ann Marie Miller, ArtPride NJ Executive Director

PicFrame League 2014

The 99th annual New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference  took place last week and it was ArtPride’s 13th year representing the nonprofit arts industry with over 2,600 exhibitors ranging from well know entities (and arts supporters) like Bank of America and PSEG to vendors like Johnny on the Spot and John Deere Company.

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As in the past, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts partnered with ArtPride, but this year the New Jersey Historical Commission and the New Jersey Historic Trust were new collaborators for a booth display and the panel presentation, “Dollars for Downtown: Arts and Heritage Tourism.

Being part of this gigantic League conference poses a unique set of challenges and opportunities. It’s big — the Atlantic City Convention Center is packed like a municipal grab bag with large vehicles ranging from garbage trucks, ambulances and snow removal equipment to playground apparatus, street lights, and paper product dispensers. All of these are items one would expect to appeal to the thousands of municipal officials in attendance who range from mayors and city clerks, council men and women, state legislators, association leaders, county freeholders, parks and recreation officers and other appointed and elected officials and their spouses.

So where does art and history fit in and at the same time, how do you stand out in the crowd and get noticed?

The fit in part is easy because arts and history are present in all 565 New Jersey municipalities in apparent and less obvious ways, from public art to historical societies, historic sites and local arts councils. It was easy to talk about arts and history with conference delegates from almost any town for that very reason.

“You’re from Paterson? How’s that new Art Factory going?” “Jersey City? We love the growing arts scene, all of the murals, a new home for ArtHouse Productions and Mana Contemporary!” Cape May? The arts and history are focal point in this resort town making it a year round tourism destination.

A great deal of creativity and collaboration went into the exhibit display that boldly proclaimed “NJ — Arts and History Happen Here!” ArtPride NJ commissioned Ylvia Asal, a local Atlantic City fiber artist whose studio is in the Noyes Museum Arts Garage to “yarn bomb” the booth. Ylvia created a giant 10 foot high lace replica of New Jersey with arts and history icons crocheted in appropriate locations. Einstein was present in Princeton, “The Boss” near Asbury Park, the New Jersey State House complete with gold dome in Trenton, pine trees and cones in the Pine Barrens, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, and so on.

It was a sight to behold along with a fiber mermaid that drew constant smiles, welcomed attendees and triggered continuous conversations (unlike the thousands of tote bags, pens and post it pads that were abundant elsewhere and not particularly good conversation starters).

The panel discussion was well attended and moderated by Mayor Alex Torpey of South Orange. Panelists included Nick Paleologos of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Sara Cureton of the New Jersey Historical Commission, Dorothy Guzzo of the New Jersey Historic Trust and Adam Perle of the  Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce that is also the regional destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau.

Facts and figures were offered regarding the return on investment of arts and heritage tourism along with examples of collaboration between arts and history communities and ways to access funding for cultural tourism related programs through grant programs of the state agencies. Questions were posed on how to get started in cultural heritage tourism, how to pull cultural assets together and how to sustain the energy that is generated as a result of their use in downtowns.

The challenge of participating in this very important statewide conference is clearly outweighed by the opportunities it offers to not only remind municipal leaders that art and history are important to defining the character of their towns, but to gain new supporters on the local level. After all, we all know that New Jersey is characterized by its “home rule.”

But you never know if that young city commissioner you just spoke to at length about public art will be the next State Senator, Secretary of State, or Governor. And chances are he or she will remember that giant state of New Jersey so beautifully rendered in fiber and that Arts and History do happen all over New Jersey!

Ann Marie Miller is Executive Director of ArtPride NJ, a statewide advocate for the arts, and a regular Dodge Blog contributor. Learn more at http://artpridenj.com.

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Dodge Week in Review

Posted on by Dodge

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Scroll through to learn more about what’s on the minds of Dodge Foundation program directors, what our grantees are up to and fun things you can do this weekend in New Jersey.

Just click on the links to learn more.

 

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Jersey Give Back Guide Returns to Simplify Year-end Giving to New Jersey Nonprofits

Posted on by Meghan Jambor

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We are excited today to debut this year’s Jersey Give Back Guide, an online giving tool designed to showcase and support some of New Jersey’s most effective and respected nonprofits.

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Meghan Jambor

Using the Jersey Give Back Guide’s online “Generosity Generator,” you can choose from four categories — Community, Arts, Environment and Newark — to learn more about this year’s 22 featured nonprofits. Pick one or more that fits your passion, and in just a few quick clicks, you can make a donation that will go directly to the organization(s).

Then sit back and relish that good feeling you get only when you help others. (Hint: Want to prolong that feeling? Make more than one donation.) Each and every nonprofit is worth your investment, even if it is $5. Every dollar counts.

How do we know? The Dodge Foundation and Victoria Foundation chose organizations that excel in collaboration, innovation, and community engagement. All have excellent reputations for their work and reflect the programmatic and geographic diversity of the nonprofit sector in New Jersey.

Just look at this impressive list of organizations you can support through the Jersey Give Back Guide:

This is the second year of the Jersey Give Back Guide. In 2013, more than 500 generous people donated $30,000 to the 15 nonprofit organizations featured in last year’s Jersey Give Back Guide.

Our hope is that you can help us double that amount to raise at least $60,000 for the nonprofits part of this year’s Jersey Give Back Guide. We know that with your help, we can get there.

And we know there are more than 500 generous New Jerseyans in our great state! Please help us spread the word about the Jersey Give Back Guide and how simple it is to donate. Tell your friends, neighbors, co-workers, book club, pick-up basketball team, prayer group, yoga class and happy hour companions. Get them to help you make New Jersey an even better place to live, work and play.

The Dodge Foundation couldn’t do this without our partners — the Victoria Foundation, Community Foundation of New Jersey and the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers. Thanks are also due to Jersey Give Back Guide media partners: NJ Advance Media and NJ Monthly magazine.

Connect with the Generosity Generator on Twitter @JerseyGiveGuide and use #njgives when you tell your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram friends about your donation!

Please check out www.JerseyGiveBackGuide.org and get busy giving!

 

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Philanthropy’s Role in Sandy Recovery Must Continue

Posted on by  Nina Stack, President, Council of New Jersey Grantmakers

learning and leading

On the anniversary of Super Storm Sandy last month, the Foundation Center released a report that was jointly commissioned by the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers and my colleagues at Philanthropy New York.

Giving in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy provides us with the first comprehensive look at how private philanthropy responded. Beyond reporting the numbers, my hope is that the report will also be used as a guide for foundations, corporations and other donors outside of our state as to the nonprofits on the ground with whom local funders have great confidence.

As this report makes clear, private and corporate philanthropy was exceptionally responsive after Superstorm Sandy came crashing into New Jersey’s coastal communities, flooding towns as far as 30 miles from the ocean, and upending the lives of thousands of our neighbors, schools, small businesses and communities.

Notably,  we just marked the second anniversary; and the need is still great with many outstanding nonprofits at the forefront of the rebuilding and future resiliency efforts. Philanthropy’s role is not finished.

Housing remains the primary challenge. For renters and homeowners alike the seemingly endless obstacles — changing rules, mounting paperwork, disappearing contractors and misinformation — to rebuilding and returning home are monumental.

“One way to measure need,” according to Staci Berger of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, “is to look at the state’s primary government housing rebuilding program RREM (Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation). The most recent The State of New Jersey’s “Non-substantial Amendment to the Action Plan report found at a minimum, 10,000 Sandy-impacted households still need homes created, rebuilt or repaired.” From the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group we learn that “for every person we meet in the RREM system, there is another one who is not registered.”

Dina Long, Mayor of Sea Bright, still remains out of her home nearly two years after the storm.

“Having lost my home and still being displaced almost two years after the storm, I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what many people are dealing with in terms of the Sandy legacy,” Long told NJ Spotlight recently. “It’s frustrating because for folks like me and thousands of other people, Sandy is still an everyday thing for us. For most of the country and New Jersey, everybody’s moved on, they think Sandy’s over, it’s all better. I think they don’t realize that it’s still going on today.”

Talking with Donna Blaze, CEO of the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) you also learn that 45 percent of those seeking assistance are, sadly, paying rent and a mortgage payment, with the ratios in Ocean County even higher. Blaze also sees rents increasing as victims with more means are able to pay more while waiting for their homes to be repaired. This leaves those with less means, struggling to make mortgage payments on houses that are not yet habitable plus rent with fewer and fewer options.

To assist with some of these issues a number of innovative and effective programs are getting underway and showing results. In July of this year, the AHA opened a storefront housing recovery center in Monmouth County and launched a traveling center on wheels in order to reach into Ocean and Atlantic counties.

New Jersey Community Capital, one of New Jersey’s leading statewide CDFIs, created a Gap Funding Initiative (GFI). The program offers grants of up to $20,000 to help homeowners cover the gap beyond what RREM provides toward the costs of home repairs they face as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

The clock continues to tick in a number of ways. Of deepest concern to many is the end of the State’s contract with Catholic Charities, which has been managing the bulk of the case management. Originally set to end October 31, an extension was approved for a maximum of just six months. It is unclear, however, what will happen to the hundreds of active cases as well as the hundreds more who have not yet been registered in the system after the six-month period.

Throughout the state, central to so many of the personal recovery stories have been the Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs). Working through volunteer committees focused on case management, emotional support, and advocacy issues (to name just a few), the LTRGs are the lynchpin on which so much of the victims’ recovery has hinged.

With LTRGs in Atlantic, Bergen, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean Gloucester and Salem counties, as well as a LTRG dedicated solely to Atlantic City – they are on the day-to-day frontlines. Sadly only the Ocean County LTRG has enough funding in place to carry it forward far into next year, and only then until June 2015.  One worries how the vitally important work — the local safety net for so many — will continue.

And then there are those working to help our communities, municipalities and counties rebuild and plan for the future … the inevitable next disaster.

New Jersey Future and Sustainable Jersey are standouts for their programs embedding planning professionals directly into some of our hardest hit communities. New Jersey Future has placed Local Recovery Planning Managers in six Sandy-impacted communities where they are working on Strategic Recovery Planning Reports, community vulnerability assessments, securing resources and implementing plans.  Sustainable Jersey launched the NJ Resiliency Network whereby Resiliency Managers work with local officials to identify needs and technical assistance resources for the towns so that they may become more resilient to future extremes.

Throughout the past two years, New Jersey has seen our exceptional nonprofit community take on challenges they never imagined supported by private philanthropy. They continue to inspire and serve, bringing innovative ideas that can and will prove to be the solutions that our neighbors and communities both need and will build upon.

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