Letter to Santa Christie

December 21, 2009

Michelle Knapik, Environment Program Director

Letter to Santa

The policy visions were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that state government soon would be there. The real story here involves fifteen regional housing, transportation, planning and environmental organizations whose leaders have spent months to find “common ground” among their interests so they could (among other things) deliver a policy platform letter to Governor-elect Christie.

You’ll want to take in the details of the letter regarding the course these organizations are charting for clean energy, transportation, natural resource protection, compact development and affordable housing. These areas are critical elements for a healthy and prosperous New Jersey. The policy agenda item that struck me most, however, focused on the need to “integrate systems for making state level decisions that affect our future.”

Wow, fifteen organizations with cross sector interests highlighting a systems-thinking approach to policy, planning, design and decision making – now that is a special gift under the tree. In fact, maybe we could all look at making “whole thinking” a New Year’s resolution. Imagine policy advocates and policy makers who look at how all the pieces of the economic, social and environmental puzzle fit together.

I hope, too, that you take note of the tone of the letter. It is not a demand that the incoming Governor forsake his agenda for some righteous social and environmental agenda; rather, it is an invitation for the Governor-elect to call upon these resource and planning experts to help him meet his agenda and New Jersey’s challenges. These groups urge state government to take a “coordinated approach” that will “benefit all the citizens of New Jersey and the next generation.”

Now, Clean Ocean Action and American Littoral! now, New Jersey Audubon and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association! now, Tri State Transportation, Trust for Public Land and New Jersey Conservation Foundation! on, ANJEC and New Jersey Highlands Coalition! on, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey and Regional Plan Association! on, New Jersey Future and Pinelands Preservation! on, New Jersey Environmental Federation and Coalition for Affordable Housing and Environment!  To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! common ground is before us once and for all!