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The Open Space Equity Problems Are Deeper Than I Initially Imagined

“Will you help Olivia get parks for Camden kids?”

Conservationists  Caught Red Handed in Cynical Propaganda & Fundraising

Camden, NJ - a place Chris Hedges has written about as a "sacrifice zone"

Camden, NJ – a place Chris Hedges has written about as a “sacrifice zone” 


Modern psychology has a word that is used more than any word in psychology: it is the word “maladjusted”.

Now of course we all want to live a well adjusted life to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities.

I would like to say to you today, in a very honest manner, that there are some things in our society and some things in our world for which I am proud to be maladjusted.

And I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted to these things until the good society is realized.

I must honestly say to you that I never intend to adjust myself to racial segregation and discrimination.

I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry.

I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, and leave millions of God’s children smothering in an airtight cage of  poverty in the midst of an affluent society.  ~~~  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  1967 (watch at time 55:30)


I proudly admit to the fact that – for the last several months in particular – I have been playing the class warfare and race cards in various criticisms: of the manipulative role of wealthy Foundations (i.e. Dodge & Wm. Penn); in exposing the incestuous financial self dealings by elite conservation groups; in viewing open space as a modern tool in an historical pattern of exclusion by a landed gentry using restrictive covenants; and in criticizing the $1 million propaganda campaign waged by the Keep It Green Coalition in support of the Open Space funding ballot question.

But, I had hoped that these were really just desperate opportunistic, entrepreneurial, and selfish lapses – i.e. that the conservation groups and individuals involved would, upon reflection, come to their senses and begin to do the right thing.

That these groups would begin to reflect upon their consciences and understand that basic human decency called for them to compromise.

Instead, they failed the first test of integrity and missed the opportunity to do just that yesterday during the Senate hearing on implementation legislation.

Instead of acknowledging the mess they made and pledging to work to fix the damage they caused to State Parks and DEP environmental program – or to begin to admit that there are environmental justice and urban issues that must be addressed –  they showed no remorse and selfishly doubled down and demanded even more public funds, to the detriment of virtually the entire state of NJ.

Hey, millions of NJ residents who visit State Parks, breathe polluted air, drink polluted water, and live near a toxic waste site – fuck you, we had to make difficult choices for all you proles:

difficult choices had to be made and many programs won’t be funded at sufficient levels, especially in the short-run.

Although only reported in the Star Ledger story, the primary conflict that emerged during that Senate debate was the issue of equity and fairness: the rural wealthy elites versus poor urban NJ.

Kim Gaddy, a Newark resident and the environmental justice coordinator for the New Jersey chapter of Clean Water Action, told the committee she voted against the ballot question.

The change diverts money from the state’s corporate business tax that had been dedicated to, among other things, capital improvements at state parks, water quality testing and programs to remediate brownfields and fund the removal of underground storage tanks — programs that benefitted the state’s more populated corners.

“In the urban communities, we need help right now,” Gaddy said. “We can’t continue to cut the funding and not support our communities. It’s not fair.


Quite a bit of that debate centered on urban parks and food deserts, where urban children not only lack access to open space and safe local parks to play in, but to fresh produce, contributing to high rates of childhood obesity.

So, what did the conservation groups targeted by the criticism do in response – right out of the box, literally less than 2 HOURS after the hearing ended?

After getting called out for stealing the entire State Parks capital budget, slashing environmental programs and running a deceptive $1 million propaganda campaign,  did they lay low on the highly controversial environmental justice and urban equity issues?


They not only didn’t blink on those issues, the actively fundraised on them! No white liberal guilt and no compromise on the substance – the NJCF members feel proud of themselves! Pimp my ride!

NJCF fundraising email titled: "Will you help Olivia get parks for Camden kids?" (12/8/14)

NJCF fundraising email titled: “Will you help Olivia get parks for Camden kids?”

And here’s what really makes that NJCF effort ugly.

Yes, Olivia Glenn from Camden does work for NJCF (note the Charter School background, which does not inspire confidence)

But the NJCF fundraising email claims this “canoemobile” event occurred “in September”.

But there is nothing on the NJCF website events calendar that supports that, nor did NJCF issue a press release about the event.

Apparently, from what I can tell, the “canoemobile” event occurred from October 8-12, and it was sponsored by Wilderness Inquiry, not NJCF. NJCF isn’t even a partner organization of Wilderness Inquiry.

[Please NJCF, tell me I’m wrong here, that you held your own September event, and that you didn’t just cynically cook this up.]

Turns out that Trust For Public Land IS a Wilderness Inquiry Partner, so I assume that TPL gave NJCF the idea to put this garbage out there is response to the debate on urban parks and environmental justice.

And I thought the use of this photo was really low: (again, appealing to history)

KIG website photo

KIG website photo



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