Letter to Santa Christie

Posted on by Dodge

Michelle Knapik, Environment Program Director

Letter to Santa

The policy visions were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that state government soon would be there. The real story here involves fifteen regional housing, transportation, planning and environmental organizations whose leaders have spent months to find “common ground” among their interests so they could (among other things) deliver a policy platform letter to Governor-elect Christie.

You’ll want to take in the details of the letter regarding the course these organizations are charting for clean energy, transportation, natural resource protection, compact development and affordable housing. These areas are critical elements for a healthy and prosperous New Jersey. The policy agenda item that struck me most, however, focused on the need to “integrate systems for making state level decisions that affect our future.”

Wow, fifteen organizations with cross sector interests highlighting a systems-thinking approach to policy, planning, design and decision making – now that is a special gift under the tree. In fact, maybe we could all look at making “whole thinking” a New Year’s resolution. Imagine policy advocates and policy makers who look at how all the pieces of the economic, social and environmental puzzle fit together.

I hope, too, that you take note of the tone of the letter. It is not a demand that the incoming Governor forsake his agenda for some righteous social and environmental agenda; rather, it is an invitation for the Governor-elect to call upon these resource and planning experts to help him meet his agenda and New Jersey’s challenges. These groups urge state government to take a “coordinated approach” that will “benefit all the citizens of New Jersey and the next generation.”

Now, Clean Ocean Action and American Littoral! now, New Jersey Audubon and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association! now, Tri State Transportation, Trust for Public Land and New Jersey Conservation Foundation! on, ANJEC and New Jersey Highlands Coalition! on, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey and Regional Plan Association! on, New Jersey Future and Pinelands Preservation! on, New Jersey Environmental Federation and Coalition for Affordable Housing and Environment!  To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! common ground is before us once and for all!

3 Responses to Letter to Santa Christie

  1. Bill Wolfe says:

    Dear Michele – Ouch!

    I plead guilty. So sorry.

    After 20 years of education (gosh, and all that environmental science, regional science, planning theory, public policy, law, economics, political science….) and 30 years of State government and ENGO practice, my work has just been exposed as just some kind of piecemeal, poorly toned “righteous social and environmental agenda”.

    And to think, those 15 groups could accomplish such a monumetnal task in mere “months” of deliberations!

    So sorry – really. Sorry.

    Please, oh please Mr. Christe adn the Gang of 15, can you kick me just once more?


  2. Michelle says:

    The blog post was meant to highlight a collaborative effort – something news outlets don’t regularly pick-up on. It was not an attack on anyone or any group. I will say, however, that without an integrated approach to policymaking few of NJ’s land use concerns will be addresed in a way that won’t have unintended consequences in other areas. Also, while the process of exploring common ground helps create a shared agenda for change and a vision for what is possible, it does not imply that there are no fights or struggles ahead. Finally, (and this is a personal opinion) I don’t think that a little humor negates the seriousness of the land use (and other issues) facing the state – look at Grist and its power to move new audiences into the environmental arena.

  3. Bill Wolfe says:

    Michelle – Did the 15 groups themselves make any effort to generate media on the “Common Ground” agenda? I must have missed the press conference.

    Don’t you find that a little odd?

    You are a mature analyst – do you really think that the current context warrants an uncritical “insider” letter pledging to support and work with the incoming adminstration?

    Are you at all familiar with the Christie campaign statements and transition actions I’ve documented and been writing about in detail for the last month?

    Do you really think, analytically and politically, that that is what is called for?


    (and if the Common Ground groups are so confident in their strategy, tactics, and content are sound, why didn’t they open theer deliberations up more broadly?)

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