I had heard about Sustainable Jersey City for years. I had been invited to go to events, saw them on Facebook, and knew people who were active members, but with everything else Jersey City I had been doing, I never made it to an event. Evelyn Von Gizycki invited me to their SJC Green Drinks +ART @HudsonPLAY on April 5th. With Earth Day being so close (April 22th) this was the perfect time to learn and write about them. I didn’t have any expectations walking into the event, but I left with so much more knowledge about the amazing things SJC does. I connected with artists and learned about their projects and met Jersey City residents who want to help make the city greener. And because I give away ideas like water, I involuntary volunteered to help with multiple projects.
The amazing thing about SJC is that it is completely run on small donations and volunteer time. All the artists, projects, and programs they have are done without a budget. They have a volunteer base that is so strong headed by Debra Italiano who is the full time Director and Chair. She runs the organization with a streamlined and pragmatic focus and is a wonderful person to talk to and engage with. As Denise Bailey said of Debra “She is a dynamite!
Here are some of the major projects Sustainable Jersey City is supporting and procuring:
1. Treekeepers Workshop – Jersey City has an issue with our tree canopy. We have 13% coverage and cities need a minimum of 30%. Offered in partnership with SJC and The Jersey City Parks Coalition, The New Jersey Tree Foundation is hosting a treekeeper workshop where 75 treekeepers will be trained in basic tree biology and identification; maintenance, planting, and pruning; and understanding environmental impacts of trees.
This event is sponsored by the Jersey City Municipal Authority and the Department of Public Works has donated 5 trees.
Check out City of Trees Jersey City on Instagram!
FYI – If you have an empty tree plot, Jersey City tree applications are now being accepted. Apply here and see the amazing new tree application.
2. GOOD FOOD NOW! - “initiative is a Jersey City food systems networking and education project to help existing and planned urban farming efforts, community gardening projects, farmers markets, CSAs, and healthy wholesale, retail and cooperative food enterprises find synergies to work with one another toward improving access to local and healthy foods across ALL Wards of Jersey City.”
A. Community Garden Network – Jersey City has 20 community gardens and they provide a learning, growing, and community space in our shared backyard. Sustainable JC has created a map so if you wanted to garden a little, drop off compost, or make Jersey City a little greener you can.
Community Compost Company is a for profit company that is a table to farm food scrap recycling company. Located in Hudson Valley they will come and collect your compost and create quality soil for farms. They work with residential, commercial, and institutions so if you do not have a compost center nearby and you live in the New Jersey or New York area, contact them.
B. Eat Well Guide –Working with Grace Communications a guide will be created based on nominations from Jersey City Residents. This guide is live and interactive throughout the United States. Because this will only be nominations, we can make sure the businesses we nominate are helping the environment and doing good things are getting the recognition.
3. Friends of the Walkway Community – Along the water surrounding Society Hill is a gorgeous walkway with 80 mature trees. It looks like the walkway in Hoboken around the Hudson River, but it is hidden and beautifully quiet and serene. These trees are BIG and in 2014 the associations of Society Hill wanted to cut them down because “They are ruining the sidewalk.” With the help of SJC, Denise Bailey, the founder of the Friends of the Walkway, was able to involve the city and save the trees. In the words of SJC “Jersey City is in need of more trees, not less!”
In 2012, these trees were instrumental in saving the area from major damage that could have been caused by Hurricane Sandy. They are a shelter-belt and a fun fact is mature trees can hold 50-100 gallons of water a day and that is what these trees did during the hurricane.
Getting back to the sidewalk, in reality, the sidewalk is blocking the trees from growing, so with a little bit of help from Sustainable JC, the Friends of the Walkway have saved these trees and want more people to come and enjoy the beautiful walkways and view.
4. Tree Speech - SJC has connected Friends of the Walkway with Anne Percoco, an artist, who will be curating a multimedia art show called Tree Speech. Trees in Jersey City will be getting a twitter account and people will be speaking as the trees. JC Fab Lab will be creating nameplates for the trees with their twitter accounts. Together they are using art to raise awareness of the walkway and the tree canopy issue in Jersey City. To find all the trees in Jersey City check out the Tree Speech Website.
5. Eco Schools - "One goal of SJC’s Sustainable Schools initiative, is to get more parents and community members involved in school sustainability projects." At Ferris High School they are working on a Power and Design program headed by Science Teachers, Diane Thornton and Alex Cladakis. The school doesn't have air conditioning so how can they bring it to the classroom while making it a teachable science moment. To find out about the multiple programs in the city click here.
Sustainable JC was prepping for Earth Day which happens April 22. They helped teach and provide lessons on how to be more green all year round. Events:
- "Branching Communities Together" - 4th Annual Sustainable Living Empowerment Conference
On Saturday April 23rd at Saint Peter's College there will be a panel discussion on climate change, urban sustainability, food security, poverty and health & wellness. Then after our panel discussion there will be breakout groups with thought-provoking round table discussions.
- The Great Jersey City Cleanup - Mobilizing through all the amazing neighborhood organizations in Jersey City, the city is putting on a HUGE cleanup. This is part of a bigger clean up throughout the united states called the Great American Cleanup. There is so much garbage and trash scattered all over our city join the 20k plus communities cleaning up their neighborhoods. Click to learn more and find a neighborhood organization to join or become a team captain.
- Jersey City Earth Day Festival - In front of city hall participate in a day of fun and green learning from 11am-6pm. Vendors, food, and learning experiences will be presented so we can take action. Check out the facebook invite!
- Celebrate Mother Earth Festival - Historic JC and Harsimus Cemetery from 12-7pm on April 30th. Welcome the new baby goats with lots of activities from music from local musicians, our friends RIVIV JC and the Betties will be there, Rutgers Co-Op Extension & Master Gardeners, and more. Check out the Facebook event.
- Liberty State Park Earth Day Run/Walk and Fair - 5k run and festival on April 16th.
Follow Sustainable JC Here:
The event was hosted at Hudson Play who is "dedicated to providing you with exceptional service and experiences. With the latest technologies and cutting edge products, we designed a constantly shifting full body workouts for kids and adults that focus on building core strength, creating balance, and increasing heart health. You will explore the strength of your bodies and minds. Come with your friends and rediscover the excitement of play."
They have an American Ninja Warrior course with sessions for children and adults.
They are following the ISO certification going beyond LEED and Green Building Initiative in the US.
The photos are provided by John Matthews a resident and active member in Jersey City.