Inspire personal connections to South Jersey’s ecological resources, promote environmental education, and serve as a nexus for community engagement.
During the challenges of COVID (which forced us to cancel all in-person events including our biggest yearly fundraiser Earth Festival), SSJ is revamping. Our short term goals are to add board members, commit to partnering with other organizations for all events, host small socially safe events (such as restarting our bird walks), and find new sponsors. In 2022, we hope to host our Earth Festival which includes the big expansion plans we shelved in 2020. If you are interested in getting involved, please see the ‘Get Involved’ menu at SSJ website.
Please see some of our key (pre-COVID) events below:
Liney Ditch Park is a lovely park nestled between a Camden neighborhood and a wastewater treatment plant. Camden residents are mostly lower income and predominantly black and Latinx. Years ago, when the wastewater treatment plant was built, it was placed next to this underrepresented neighborhood. This action was typical of what the Environmental Justice efforts are fighting against.
On a positive note, the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority has been working to minimize the wastewater treatment impacts (along with many other initiatives to improve the lives of residents). The Liney Ditch planting focused on creating an elevated ‘tree barrier’ between the wastewater treatment plant and neighborhood to reduce odors. At SSJ’s event, volunteers planted more trees, weeded, added mulch to existing trees, and performed general park cleanup. SSJ had lots of help, including local residents, and our partners: CCMUA, Center for Environmental Transformation, NJ Tree Foundation, and Sustainable Jersey.
For over a decade, SSJ hosted our yearly Earth Festival which included live local entertainment, food and drink, craft vendors, activities, kid’s events, tree give-aways and more. Each year, the festival grew in attendance (5,000+ people) and 2020 was slated to be even bigger (with new partners and a new location).
In partnership with Tri-County Sustainability, SSJ hosted information and networking sessions every other month. Typical meetups had three ‘lightning talks’ (10-minute presentations to promote conversation) followed by open-mic (attendees were encouraged to speak for 1-minute on a topic or question that they had) and more free food and networking. We hope to restart these events when COVID allows.
In October 2020, we partnered with Sustainable Collingswood and local environmental filmmaker Jared Flesher to premier his latest film, Pine Mud. This documentary film follows the ongoing struggle to defend the New Jersey Pine Barrens against illegal off-road vehicle damage. The film was well-received by attendees and included a Q&A with Jared. This event was held outdoors with masks and enough space for social distancing, making it a success.