I started this letter after the Parkland shooting, at a time when the memory was fresh in my mind.
I wish I could say I’ve never felt hurt the way I did when I found out that my peers across the country had been killed in a place many of us consider to be a home away from home. School is supposed to be a safe haven, a place where the future is born, manufactured, and put into practice.
I felt as passionately about these things then as I do now, but the memory of my fallen siblings burned like acid across my mind, and I couldn’t help but see myself, my brother, my friends among those that come next.
As time passed, and the movement subsided, I left this letter unfinished. I moved on, I had schoolwork, better things to work on. “People know what’s best, they’ll figure it out” I said to myself, trying to somehow convince myself that my silence was not unwarranted, that I was somehow doing the right thing by staying quiet.
But this week I was reminded of just why this letter needs to be written. As my classmates and I readied to head out to volunteer at an elementary school, we were stopped by our head of school, who (obviously trying to keep calm) ordered us upstairs and away from the windows. Once we were corralled into a central room, he explained to us that there were reports of shots heard nearby, and that we were to stay put until the situation was resolved.
The discomfort I felt from my peers was tangible. It hung in the air like a depressing mist. No one had actually ever believed that this could be them, that they were exempt of responsibility because of this preconceived notion that it would never be them.
In this moment, I realized that none of us are exempt of responsibility. It is the duty of each and every one of us to do something. We are all citizens of the same country, and that makes each one of us a little responsible for every child that dies due to gun violence. This attitude of deferring the blame and responsibility leads to an unhealthy cycle in which no one takes ownership for any of these tragedies, and nothing gets done.
This letter needs to be written because we need to wake up. None of us are exempt, none of us are blameless, and none of us are helpless.
Not one more child should die in this country because of gun violence, and I am refusing to accept any other solution.
The author is a student at Newark Academy.
Letter carriers to host food drive
I am a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service, and work out of the Montclair office. Saturday, May 12, 2018, marks the 26th year, of The National Association of Letter Carriers annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
As carriers, we deliver to every address six days a week. What better way to help serve the community, by helping residents of Montclair who deal with hunger. All you have to do, is leave a bag of non-perishable food by your mailbox, and your carrier will collect it. It’s that simple. All donations will be going to the Human Needs Food Pantry on Label Street. We look forward to another successful year.
The author is a coordinator of the NALC Food Drive.
Yes, leaf blowers are back
Thank you, Lynn Hendee, for your letter in last week’s Montclair Local suggesting we tell our neighbors how much their leaf blowers damage their soil while rattling our nerves.
They also make my husband and others suddenly sick by blowing pollen and dust into the air.
At a national meeting I heard Congressman Jerry McNerney from California say that if our country really cares about climate change, we will prohibit all power lawn machinery nationwide. That audience of hundreds of mathematicians clapped uproariously. (Leaf blowers thwart thinking.)
It is not practical yet to campaign for banning all power lawn machinery, but some towns have banned leaf blowers. They have found that the cost of lawn care does not rise after doing this. Official studies corroborate my own observations that they do not save time.
If I, an old woman, can rake my lawn as fast or faster than young and middle aged men can blow them, we should not tolerate this imposition into our safety, efficiency, and sanity.
The council should ban all leaf blowers in Montclair as soon as it can. Meanwhile, the township staff should stop wasting our tax money by using them. Studies indicate that users suffer considerable hearing damage even while wearing ear protectors and that a tenth of the users actually go deaf. Let’s stop the horror of leaf blowers.
Montclair cleans up
The sixth Annual First Ward Beautification Day saw another record turnout – well over one hundred residents joined forces last Saturday, April 21, to pick up garbage and branches, rake leaves, paint and repair park benches and spread mulch. Volunteers worked a number of locations throughout the First Ward including Carlisle Woods, the Bonsal Preserve, Mountainside Park, Sunset Park, the Upper Montclair Business District, the Upper Montclair Train Station and Yantacaw Brook Park.
The Township generously supplied us with gloves, paint, brushes, and garden and refuse bags. Residents came equipped with rakes, shovels, tools, wheelbarrows and plenty of muscle and sweat!
The Upper Montclair Business Association, Yantacaw Brook Park Conservancy, Neighborhood University Watch, the Friends of Sunset Park, Friends of the Bonsal Preserve, Friends of Mountainside Park and many other groups participated. Elementary, middle and high school students also took part and earned community service hours in the process.
Thank you to all those who put in their time and hard work. The First Ward looks wonderful – just in time for the Montclair Film Festival, May in Montclair and the Iris Festival, as well as our Township’s many other events.
The author is Montclair’s First Ward Township Councilman.