Archive for April, 2012

A good friend of mine died in her sleep early Sunday morning. Jackie Stevenson spent over forty years in Minnesota politics as a trailblazer and a fierce advocate for women’s rights.

But what many people didn’t know about were Jackie’s ties to New Jersey where she was born. I always felt that that spark, that fire that animated Jackie and the passion that she brought to grassroots politics and women’s rights arose from those New Jersey links.

Jeff Blodgett writes on Facebook of Jackie’s close friendship with Paul and Sheila Wellstone, two other fierce, passionate advocates of grassroots politics and the common good, lost to the world too soon.

And who can ever forget Jackie’s fierce and undying support of Hillary Clinton.

To a large extent, Hillary’s path forward was forged by women like Jackie fighting the good fight year after year in the state parties and in their local communities to ensure that women had a place at the table and a path to leadership.

One of my fondest memories of Jackie was having breakfast with her in Hopkins MN, the day after Obama’s June 4th St. Paul Rally in 2008, where she was one of a handful of Hillary supporters to get face-time with the soon to be president.

I, an Obama supporter and she a Hillary supporter, marveled at the fact that the race barrier was broken before the gender barrier. We both agreed that there was still a lot of work that needed to be done to ensure that the gains women had made over the past 1/2 century weren’t lost.

And who can ever forget her beaming and just lighting up the room as we watched on the big screen Nancy Pelosi being sworn in as Speaker of the House.

Jackie was a key supporter of my efforts in Minnesota to garner DFL support for legislation to end the statue of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse and was a long-time supporter of The Domestic Abuse Project in Minneapolis.

For Jackie, all politics was local and effective politics started with an inviolable right to a secure, safe, sense of self.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Lori Sturdevant writes of Citizen Jackie:

Stevenson started volunteering in DFL political campaigns in 1952, she said. While she loved the excitement of a campaign, what hooked her was the satisfaction of helping to shape government. She wasn’t a person with money or fame. But she had significant influence because she earned it, through unflagging commitment to the person-to-person work of building a political party.

Well, Jackie’s gone now, but we all of us, men and women alike need to step up our game and make sure that women have a seat at the table and a path to leadership, this year, next year and 50 years from now.

But as Jackie would be the first to tell you, it’s not just about Feminist Politics or Women’s Rights. It’s about everyone’s rights to a safe and secure home, a secure sense of self, and to safe and healthy communities.

She will be sorely missed.

Cross-posted at Blue Jersey


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For those interested in issues affecting New Jersey’s landbase, this event, NJ Spotlight Roundtable Series: The Growing Conflict Over Smart Growth,on Friday at 11:45am in Trenton looks like a very good event to attend.

John Weingart, the Associate Director of Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics is on the panel. John is very insightful when it comes to planning and environmental issues in New Jersey and held various senior level positions at NJDEP before coming to Eagleton.

His book Waste is a Terrible Thing to Mind is a fun read and details his efforts to find a site for NJ’s low-level radioactive waste via a collaborative and open effort. Read the book to find out what happened!

Other panelists include Dan Kennedy, Deputy Director, Office for Planning Advocacy, Business Action Center, Department of State, Eileen Swan, former Executive Director, Highlands Council, Peter Kasabach, Executive Director, New Jersey Future, Robert Antonicello, Executive Director, Jersey City Redevelopment Agency.

No one from NJDEP, the State Department of Agriculture or the State Agricultural Development Council is on the panel though, which I find quite interesting.

I won’t be able to attend though as I’ll be working in Manhattan Friday. But I look forward to reading New Jersey Spotlight’s excellent coverage.

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Perhaps in New Jersey the new concept of terraculture is just reinventing our old forms of agriculture, the kind that has given us the nickname the Garden State.

This TEDx talk by Jon Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota details the ways in which our agricultural practices contribute to climate change and calls for new practices that feed the world’s growing population while decreasing agriculture’s impact on land, water and climate.

Agriculture uses 70% of the water people consume worldwide, contributes 30% of our greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 60 times more land than suburban and urban land uses combined. Foley argues that we need to direct agriculture to areas where it already works well instead of constantly expanding into new and uncultivated areas.

In New Jersey, we’ve been using many of our agricultural lands since the 17th century. How’s that for reuse!

Foley calls for a new kind of agriculture that brings together the best ideas of commercial farming and the green revolution with the best practices of organic farming and environmental conservation.

New Jersey may be well suited for this intertwining of farms, open space and business development as I pointed out in my 2010 post Farms, Open Space Preservation and Business Development: Perfect Together!”

Our incredibly fertile soil, our abundant water resources and location between New York and Philadelphia as well as being right smack dab in the middle of the Boston to Washington D.C. megalopolis makes agriculture New Jersey’s one true competitive advantage.

However, New Jersey’s land base is under pressure and we need to make bioregional agriculture, open space preservation, and water supply & quality preservation a top-level, statewide priority now. All of these issues are key parts of New Jersey’s $82 billion food and agricultural complex.

Agriculture, open space preservation and water quality are entangled issues in New Jersey and need to be addressed in concert with one another as we develop plans for New Jersey’s future and struggle to jump start the economy.

Foley’s presentation is now up on the worldwide TED site as well as the TEDx site and is just under 18 minutes long. It’s well worth every minute.

Update Cross-posted at Blue Jersey

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In 1934 the NJ State Horticulture Society announced the birth of the Rutgers Tomato after eight years of breeding the tomato and field testing it at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

The goal was to create a better tomato for marketing and manufacture. Camden’s iconic Campbell Soup Company was actually birthed in the fields of South Jersey and owes it’s existence to the New Jersey tomato. Have you had your soup today? It’s too bad Campbell’s no longer manufactures in New Jersey though.

In 1933 the Rutgers Tomato was field tested at 75 NJ farms from Sussex County in the highlands of northwest New Jersey to Cape May along the coast in the extreme southeastern part of the state.

The Rutgers tomatoes that you see today are merely descendents of the original Rutgers tomato stock.

I tried some container gardening with the Rutgers Tomato last year but didn’t have much success, though I did get two smaller tomatoes that were unbelievably red, juicy and that had a nice tang to them. I have challenging sun/shade conditions on my patio and there’s no real consistency of light over the course of the growing season as foliage and the sun’s angle changes.

Sickles Market in Little Silver sold the Rutgers as well as the Ramapo Tomato last year. The Ramapo Tomato was also cultivated at the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) way back when.

Both the Rutgers and Ramapo tomatoes are part of the Rediscovering the Jersey Tomato project at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

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Came across this wine from Auburn Road Vineyard and Winery in Pilesgrove Township last weekend at the  spring fever NJ wines tasting event at Branches in West Long Branch.

I really enjoyed this wine. It’s smooth like Miles and made with Atlantic County blueberries.  It will make an excellent desert wine and I’m picturing it paired with pound cake and fresh strawberries around Memorial Day.


Auburn Road will have a presence this year at The Glassboro Marketplace

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Real nice discussion of the bounty of the Garden State by Gloria Einhorn in New Jersey Jewish News.

She discusses how New Jersey’s bounty connects to both Passover and other Jewish Traditions like Shavuot and Sukkot. A good, quick read and chock full of information:

Local produce: glorying in the Garden State

The Farm and Food Guide of the The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey is a good resource to find places that offer this bounty.

The sidebar on this site also has links to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s in-season and farmers market guides.

Cross posted at Blue Jersey

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