Over this past week Sustainable JC (SJC) has fielded a good number of inquiries about the recent launch of the Greener JC initiative, and questions about whether this was a rebranding of SJC, or some shift in direction within our network.  As the Founder of SJC, I thought it would be useful to answer those questions publicly.

No, we have not relaunched SJC and changed our name…! 

We can certainly appreciate the confusion though, given the VERY similar mission statements, and the fact that Greener JC seems to be seeking to replicate our work within City Hall.  SJC and Greener JC are NOT the same entity, nor related in any way.  Given the mirroring, it would not be a far stretch for the outside observer to see this as yet another effort to sideline and marginalize SJC’s efforts, which, of course, really bothers us.

Yes, SJC is in the midst of major changes as an organization.  For the past six months we have been in deep planning mode, re-imagining and revisioning ourselves.  We have long resisted the impulse to become “yet another” 501c3.  But after years of soul-searching and resistance to such a move, we have begun the process of registering as a non-profit organization. 

Our core values and functions will continue to stand strong.  We will persist in our efforts to be a collaborative network of organizations and individuals whose activities are primarily focused on educational advocacy for a more sustainable and resilient Jersey City.  We will continue to expand the opportunity for MANY organizations to jump in and contribute to the City’s sustainability and resiliency efforts, as there is A LOT of work to do – we are true to our Collaborative Network roots, and we are certain this is the only way Jersey City, collectively, will  achieve all that needs to be done.  WE are all in this together.

No, we are not working with Greener JC at this time, although we have on many occasions offered to work with the JCEC Green Team, which is the genesis of this group.  We also hold out a standing offer to support municipal greening efforts by bringing our talents and hard work to bear.  But true collaboration is a challenge – it takes trust, and we don’t seem to be there yet.

Yes, SJC concurs that it appears that the municipality sponsored this non-profit entity to serve its own as yet unclear purposes.

No, SJC will not be co-opted by a political agenda, be it local government or community politics, and we will remain an independent entity aligned centrally with our Charter.  We have and will NEVER compromise our values and will absolutely continue to promote and advocate for environmental justice, social and economic equity.  Nor will we cease to demand that Jersey City speed up and align its efforts to create a more sustainable and resilient city and educate its workforce on behalf of green economy standards, including greener energy efficient buildings, more green infrastructure, and a resolution to illuminate the black hole regarding our waste streams.

It is our JOB to hold the City’s feet to the fire… ! To push them to places they are reluctant to go and to seek accountability for those matters we feel compromise the integrity of the greater good.  We take PRIDE in this mission and we will never cease or desist in our efforts to PUSH the City toward greatness.

A wise woman once said, if your dreams do not make you uncomfortable, you are not dreaming big enough.

I believe this blog post should alleviate the confusion shared by our constituents and some government officials after the launch of Greener JC.   It could well be that SJC is just not the type of partner that the administration is looking for.

Looking forward, I would like to assert that this sort of smash-and-grab has to stop.  It is slowing the City down and taking those of us who live and work here down a circuitous road that disregards the urgent need to overcome years of inaction and corruption toward truly making JC a City of the future.  For both newcomers and long-standing residents and businesses, we urge you to make your voices heard.  There are many smart, good people in city government who have high energy and great ideas, but they are hampered by some of the wrong guidance, bad habits and poor attitudes of their colleagues.  Demand change.

Efforts to marginalize civic thought leadership groups like SJC seems to happen all too often in this City and, unfortunately, when competent groups wish to engage at a higher level of contribution, they are turned away.  The time has come for Jersey City government to embrace genuinely progressive concepts like participatory planning, civic and community budgeting and collaborative decision making, not to mention making a concerted effort to grow the civic discourse.      

In closing SJC thanks you all for your continued support as our ranks and projects have grown, and we continue to be motivated by all of our neighborhood colleagues’ commitment to further education about the change paradigms that are upon us and becoming the change we all seek in our respective communities.  We toast 2019 and beyond – let’s do this Jersey City !

Warm regards,

Deb Italiano

Founder & Chair

Sustainable Jersey City


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