New Jersey Green Teams Say Yes
People often ask me if I think Earth Day still has meaning. The Earth Day creation stories vary, but generally Earth Day evolved out of a growing disconnect between the environmental policy that communities at the local level wanted and what the government was willing to make into law.
On April 22, 1970, twenty million Americans celebrated Earth Day for the first time. Some say that this event launched the modern environmental movement.
Forty-five years later, April 22 continues to unite those who believe in caring for our world and the people and species that depend on it. More than one billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
In New Jersey, many of the 423 participating Sustainable Jersey communities celebrate Earth Day and use the day and month as a time to promote awareness and an appreciation for sustainability.
8th Annual Living Local Expo
Just last month, the 8th Annual Living Local Expo brought a wide variety of resources together to educate and inspire residents to live a healthy and sustainable life. The event featured sustainable local businesses, community groups, local farms, cooking demonstrations, hands-on workshops and speakers.
What started as Lawrenceville’s green fair has turned into a multi-municipal county-wide effort. Organized by a volunteer committee from the Mercer County Sustainability Coalition, the event included six Sustainable Jersey green teams: Ewing Green Team, Hopewell Valley Green Team, Lawrence Green Team, Sustainable Lawrence, Sustainable Princeton and the Trenton Green Team.
The Coalition also includes the Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability. Sustainable Jersey provides certification points for towns that hold a green fair and additional points for towns that can ‘green their green fair.’ Here is what the Living Local Expo did: Greening Our Green Fair.
“This year’s Living Local Expo took a giant leap in the expansion of our joint vision. Green teams in Mercer County came together because of a greater awareness of our collective strength; the realization that working as a team generates better ideas, resources and exponentially increases the impact to the region,” said Tahirih Smith, president of the Sustainable Lawrence Board of Trustees. “It’s no longer a competition to be the town with the most certification points or the most solar panels. Each green team wanted to participate and contributed to the event. This is a step forward. If all towns commit to working together, we can more effectively address issues of waste, transportation, local economies, etc. And our growing community will learn the very practical benefits of being sustainable.”
Maplewood Green Month
This year, the Maplewood Green Team decided to dedicate the whole month to green events. “After seven years of holding our annual Green Day fair, we’re celebrating this year by engaging the community all month long with eco-educational events rather than just a one day event,” said Tracey Woods, chair of the Maplewood Green Team. “We feel the sustainability movement growing and know that our message is resonating with the community.” Green Month activities can be found on the Maplewood is Green Facebook site.
Attend an Earth Day Event
To help you find an Earth Day event or clean-up, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has coordinated a 2015 Events Calendar – Earth Day, Earth Week which has great ideas and resources. In addition, below are a few of the many events and activities planned by Sustainable Jersey green teams and partners.
- Saturday, April 18, 2015: Woodbridge Earth Day Fair
- Saturday, April 18, 2015: Hoboken Earth Week Clean Up!
- Sunday, April 19, 2015: 10th Annual Montgomery Twp. Earth Day Fair
- Monday, April 20, 2015: Nuclear Power’s Role In A World Of Climate Change And Energy Needs, with the Sustainable Ewing Green Team
- Saturday, April 25, 2015: 2015 Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival
- Saturday, April 25, 2015: Warren / Watchung Green Fair
- Sunday, April 26, 2015: ACUA’s 25th Annual Earth Day Festival
- Sunday, April 26, 2015: Voorhees Township Earth Day-Come Fly a Kite
- Sunday, April 26, 2015: Annual Edison Earth Day Celebration
- Saturday, May 2, 2015: Maple Shade Green Fair
- Sunday, May 3, 2015: South Orange River Day
- Saturday, May 9, 2015: Secaucus 2015 Green Festival
- Saturday, May 16, 2015: City of Hoboken Green Fair
- Saturday, May 16, 2015: Galloway Green Fest
- Saturday, May 16, 2015: Ocean Fun Day-Seaside Park
- Sunday, May 17, 2015: Ocean Fun Day-Sandy Hook
So yes, Earth Day is still relevant and important. The green team movement in New Jersey is growing with the 423 participating New Jersey municipalities and now with our 255 participating school districts and schools through Sustainable Jersey for Schools. Don’t believe it? Attend one of these Earth Day events and I think you will be inspired.
Rolling Stone’s historic failure to verify their reporting on campus rape at the University of Virginia hits on perhaps the most important question facing journalists and journalism today:
How do we understand, measure and support quality journalism in the digital age?
As the Columbia Journalism School shows in its scathing report unraveling how the magazine got it so wrong, the answer is not as easily defined as you might think.
The Rutgers School of Communication’s newly published report Defining and Measuring Quality Journalism seeks to clarify shared values around quality and understand journalism’s role in the digital age. (Read the 65-page report, part of the School’s News Measures research project funded by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Democracy Fund, here.)
This question is profoundly important to me personally. I’ve spent much of my life in public service, seeing firsthand the impact of news coverage, or the lack thereof, on public debate and civic engagement. If we believe that journalism is core to our democracy, then we must support it actively and hold it to the highest standards.
It is also important to us at the Dodge Foundation, because we care deeply about New Jersey. For more than 40 years, Dodge has supported nonprofit organizations and initiatives dedicated to improving the quality of life of all New Jersey residents.
Together with our partners in the field, we envision a better New Jersey where people are healthier, happier, and more prosperous; where residents are connected to each other and to the natural world around them. We believe we can overcome the big challenges before us as a state with collaboration, creativity, and innovation, and position New Jersey as a model for these efforts.
This work starts with an engaged and informed public, with residents who know what’s happening in their backyards, are able to connect that with what’s happening in other communities and seek to improve their lives and those of their neighbors.
At Dodge, we are pioneering new approaches to investing in and supporting local news. With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Dodge helped establish The Center for Cooperative Media and its NJ News Commons initiative at Montclair State University, which acts as a clearinghouse of free support, services and resources for the entire NJ news ecosystem.
With that framework in place, we are continuing to work with the Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and others to experiment with new community-driven reporting and revenue models, and to explore how we can create more collaboration across large and small media throughout the state.
I’m encouraged by recent research from the Pew Research Center and the American Press Institute that show that across the United States and across generations, there is still a hunger for news and a clear understanding of its civic role. But people want news that responds to their needs and interests – that focuses on what is important to them.
Many communities here in New Jersey and around the country are at once living in traditional print coverage news deserts and at the same time drowning in a flood of instant and around-the-clock digital media and information. And what is most troubling, whole communities — and the people that comprise them — are being left out.
The Rutgers researchers, in a soon-to-be-released report also funded by Dodge and Democracy Fund, examined the health of local news ecosystems in three New Jersey communities — Morristown, Newark and New Brunswick. What they found is stark, but not a surprise.
In one sample week, Morristown received 23 times more news stories per 10,000 residents than Newark, and New Brunswick received 9.3 times more news stories per 10,000 residents than Newark. (Look for the report in the coming months on Dodge’s Local News Lab, where we chronicle what we’re learning in our creative experiments in journalism sustainability.) These numbers raise important questions about the comparative breadth of local journalism in low, moderate and high socioeconomic communities.
The Pew and Rutgers research highlights what is a profound opportunity. To take full advantage of that hunger for news, journalists need to listen more deeply to their communities and engage them more fully in their work.
At Dodge we believe that trust and quality are measured best by the strength of the relationships news helps build, not just between journalists and residents but also between neighbors themselves who put news to use in improving their communities.
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Trustees recently approved 63 new grants totaling $3.4 million to nonprofit organizations in New Jersey dedicated to building creative, sustainable, and informed communities.
“A better New Jersey begins with the people who make each place unique,” said Chris Daggett, Dodge Foundation President and CEO. “At Dodge, the nonprofits we support are dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone by putting community first. We believe that by working together we can address the complex challenges before us with creativity and innovation to build a better state.”
The Dodge Foundation awards grants three times each year to arts, education, environment, and media nonprofits. Grant announcements will also be made in July and December.
The majority of grants approved at the March meeting of the Trustees support arts and environment nonprofits. Additional grants awarded support the Foundation’s Morristown, Public Policy and Technical Assistance initiatives.
About the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was established in 1974 through the foresight and generosity of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, daughter of William and Almira Rockefeller. For more than 40 years, Dodge has supported leadership, collaboration and innovation, with a focus on addressing the issues most pressing to New Jersey. Dodge also offers a comprehensive technical assistance program geared towards strengthening the capacity of New Jersey’s nonprofit community.