Culturally Inept

Whenever I come back to NJ, I expect to see changes. Not so much people, as of course there are always changes there, but I’m speaking more about changes to this place; suburban NJ, the suburbs of New York City and Newark.  I expect to see some new buildings, new construction projects, and generally speaking.. signs of a new era… new ideas… the future. Among those changes for the new era, I keep a close eye out for developments related to energy conservation, pollution, and sustainable living.

As is typical for much of the US, this region is especially a hub for car culture.  You can hardly do anything without an automobile, so while in Amsterdam it seems that everyone rides a bike, in New Jersey it seems that everyone drives a car.

Every year I return and end up, naturally, in a car on a highway.  This year it is no different, but considering the fact that global warming has finally reached the mass audience and seemingly has been accepted as a problem, I expected to see some changes.  Smaller cars perhaps.  More of those hybrids people talk about.  Less people driving or at the very least, less cars with only 1 person in them.  In each of these cases, besides the occasional hybrid, I’ve seen almost none of these things. Just like 7 years ago, back when I still lived here and global warming was a myth, there is nothing but cars  and traffic jams.  If anything they’ve gotten worse, more cars leading to traffic jams all over this state at any given time of day.

As I visit people’s houses and walk the streets, I look for signs of energy conservation.  Solar panels? I guess that was wishful thinking; there are none.  More people turning off lights and turning down the heat? No one seems to mention it or think about it.  Plenty of those little flourenscent bulbs, that is about the extent of the energy saving practices I see adopted.

At any shop you find lots of green labels and references to all-natural, clearly people want to feel better about their choices and actions.  But seeing the amount people here consume; whether its goods or energy, despite everything they know about their impact on the planet… none of it has slowed down. If anything, this state, like much of the world, seems to be marching even more quickly towards environmental holocaust.

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9 thoughts on “Culturally Inept

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  • December 1, 2007 at 1:48 pm
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    Absolutely. Nothing of substance is being done. At most in this country, our best minds are wasting their lives figuring out ways to keep cars going by burning hippo-shit and corn.

    The car is always going to be needed, it’s just how much it’s needed is the question. Rather than focus on maintaining the insanely high auto transportation rate we currently have, we’d be much better off examining the layout and geography of our cities, suburbs, and towns and reconfiguring them towards a more walkable, human scale.

    I have little optimism for this.

  • December 3, 2007 at 10:55 pm
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    Don’t think those Garden Staters are culturally inept, they’re doing exactly what NJ culture expects them to do drive. Not culturally lacking – just different and with more horsepower.

  • December 4, 2007 at 3:39 pm
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    Does this mean you are going to be in Philly this week? I could give you a tour of LAVA, the home of Philly IMC on wednesday is you are around.

    • December 4, 2007 at 10:29 pm
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      How about Friday during the day?

  • December 4, 2007 at 9:28 pm
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    I get kind of ill every time I go to jersey as well… and I only live across the bridge in Philly (apparently near your friend Mike up there since I am around the corner from LaVa). I hate that I have to drive everywhere in Jersey. In Philly I can go months without seeing the inside of a car. I bike everywhere and I love it. I feel bad for people trapped in their cars.

    When I talk to families that have a little bit of money in Philly (aka the ability and will to leave), and ask why they don’t move to Jersey to get away from the crime and violence, they always say the same thing. “If I lived in jersey, I could never get around anywhere, I would be stuck on an island, there is no mass transit anywhere!” Maybe that is a big part of the problem… but maybe it is just the culture.

    • December 4, 2007 at 10:28 pm
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      i dont think it has to be culture but it has become a culture.. a tradition… normal. and thats sad cause its bad.. bad for people.. bad for the environment. I know the freedom to drive is cool but youre not really that free anymore.

  • December 6, 2007 at 7:28 am
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    i live in jersey. i take mass transit as often as i can. i worked in newark and play in nyc and red bank, so nj transit is an option. the gym, the liquor store, and the farm market are only a short run down the highway, and the henry hudson trail gives me bike access to most of the county… but i still have to drive my car at least 3 days a week. and when the temperature drops into the teens (or lower), i have trouble running more than half a mile. so i am a slave to my honda civic.

    but, c’mon… when in your lifetime was suburbia EVER a place to “expect to see some new buildings, new construction projects, and generally speaking.. signs of a new era… new ideas… the future.” i’m just here for the beaches and state parks.

    hey, if you’re going to be around the monmouth conty area, swing by and i’ll cook up some falafels and open my finest bottle of ale.

    • December 7, 2007 at 5:26 am
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      I expect too much — i know. I like how youve carved out your way tho.. I do.

      Im going to be futzing around the Asbury Park / Bernegat regions close to xmas time with 2 lovely ladies.. so umm.. put on some extra fallafels?

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