The newly-minted Class of 2012 met this week for our opening retreat with two solidly packed days of meeting, greeting and
. Bergen County
After an early breakfast, we became acquainted with our new best friends…Ms Spoon-on-her- keychain, the AFLAC Duck Guy, Mr Flag Shirt, Ms Boat Prism, Mr Picture of Daughter - and the list goes on! Oh don’t let me forget that woman – the one whose grandmother named her – we wouldn’t have remembered she was late except she pulled a microphone out of her bag!!!! (and yes Caffie - we also think Amanda’s e-mail said !) See Lynne, your exercise worked for good or bad - we remembered all our new best friends!
The first order of business was to have us stop and think – Leaders need to be aware! Great Leaders look beyond themselves! Those that had watches moved them to their other wrist so that when they looked where it always is and was no longer there – we would stop and think what else is different? (amazing how many people do NOT wear watches anymore? Can this exercise start to include cell phones?) What is your wedge of consciousness? Are we aware of what is around us? Are we operating in a bubble? Do we stop and look around at how we work, teach, share and pay attention to the world around us?
We were educated in the art of BLAME it on Bergen Leads. Hopefully we will all take Lynne’s advice and step out of our comfort zone to call or meet someone in
to talk about issues. Let’s cause trouble for ourselves and others and Blame it on Bergen County Leads! Bergen
In an atmosphere where people are constantly confronted with Corporate Greed, political leaders who are crooks (although not all – actually not most) we are reminded that many of the leaders in the news are there for selfish reasons. The “True Leaders” are behind the scenes – making positive change for others in addition to themselves. Leaders are looking beyond themselves for a greater good.
At this point, we broke up into teams and were sent on a scavenger hunt around our designated area of
. (It was rumored that someone saw the Aflac Duck man racing through the County before trying to find our meeting spot – apparently Amanda’s email was wrong again!) There were great stories of new-found treasures, historical sites, restaurants, playgrounds, farms (with really good donuts), and places we want to go back to with our families. But we have to wait until tomorrow to debrief. Bergen County
From the early rumors, the best part of our trips was the lunch we each shared with different non-profits in
. We met face to face with Bergen County REAL BERGEN COUNTY LEADERS. Each of them looking beyond themselves and making a real difference in our society – they are all agents for growth. This exercise was quintessential BERGEN LEADS!!! Local groups, under the public radar that are making real impacts on people’s lives that in turn benefit all residents of . Bergen County
Our next order of business was a great presentation by Professor Phil Dolce of
. He taught by example showing us how leaders are giving, humble and not afraid to acknowledge what they do not know. We learned about Suburbia – how it was set up and that parents are the cause of yet another problem in society. Apparently, parents were supposed to move back to the city after raising children – leaving Suburbia to the growing families. Well, parents liked it so much that they stayed. (I wonder if parents realize that IF they went back to that small apartment in the city – us kids would not have moved back in after college and stayed until we were 35!). I hope this blog isn’t responsible for another real estate bubble when the parents realize this. Bergen Community College
Professor Dolce led us to look at the opportunity around us - not the liabilities. We should focus on building communities, not just buildings. We should look at shared services and convince our communities that shared services is not all bad – look at water and power. Our leaders should be smart and not try to sell shared services with hot button services – ie Police and Fire. Let’s start with something small and build on it.
In a very educated way, by quoting the Greek (?) meaning - we were advised by Professor Dolce not to spectators in our communities or we will turn into Suburban Idiots!
From here we went to New Bridge Landing for an unbelievable history lesson (although, we think Pat was eying up another bridge for a toll!).
Kevin Wright, past BCHS President, met us on the front porch of the Steuben House. We lucked out with a beautiful day, (Hurricane Irene had flooded the first level and the floor was still drying out!) so we could really appreciate the talk he gave looking directly at the river and imagining a time past. Having grown up less than 3 miles from here and not realizing the importance of this place – I was quickly reminded of being a Suburban Idiot – Thank you Professor Dolce!
Prof Wright (Honorary degree compliments of Bergen Leads) taught us that you cannot predict the future based on the past but you can certainly learn from the past and that will have an effect on the future!
Tourism is NJ’s Second Largest Industry and not enough credit is given to
or to its History. Two-thirds of the US Revolution was fought in NJ with most of the fighting done right here in Bergen County . The Bergen County was the only crossing except for the “Little Ferry” that only ran when the captain of the boat felt it necessary. New Bridge
We learned that George Washington became the first Commander-in-Chief in
. This is where he took control of the American Garrison of Fort Lee, called all the soldiers back from the Palisades to west of the river and delayed British and German forces from taking control. (And all we thought Hackensack NJ did in Washington was sleep in a lot of different houses.) Bergen County
We were reminded (although a good number of us probably didn’t know or remember) that on
November 20, 1776 this was the only Democracy in the World. AMAZING! And was the first Multicultural Democratic Society. AMAZING! The majority of the population were Dutch, but there we African Americans, German, Scots-Irish and others that all lived in this area. (And how come we did not remember this? Or better yet – why doesn’t everyone know this?) Bergen County
Where we were standing was a beach just 60 years ago. Hard for us to imagine, but if it was still beach, would Snookie and the Situation be on location at Historic New Bridge Landing (although maybe in Colonial Dress!)? Maybe we should consider ourselves lucky.
The architecture of the Steuben House – one story gabled roof - thought to be Dutch – is actually home grown right here in Northern NJ and Southern NY. Professor Wright said “Any architecture student (of any worth that is) would look at picture of this house and say that the design could be traced to
and a few other counties in close proximity.” Who says NJ doesn’t have culture! Bergen County
Paramus, was known as the Celery Capital of the world. In the 1950’s the Garden State Parkway and arrived, replacing the celery in Garden State Plaza Paramus with shopping malls. Hello Suburbia! is the premier suburban county in the Bergen . USA
The issue of education - What curriculum? Who goes to what school? Who will pay? Makes you think a newspaper article from this time could be reprinted in the Bergen Record with a few changes to occupation and nobody would be the wiser. Commuters to NYC want a high level of education for their children while farmers are more concerned with an agriculture education and help on the farm. Well then what did they do? Each group set up their own school and funded the operation of paying for teachers and heat, etc which is why there are so many school districts in
. Bergen County
How many of our friends and neighbors wonder why each municipality has its own school board?
We learned that this set-up led to disagreements and legal battles – not unlike what happens today. Oradell drew their municipal boundary to include the water company property because it was the largest taxpayer in the area. Petesburgh (currently the borough of
New Milford) sued Oradell and lost.
This resulted in The Township Consolidation School Act of 1894. This act provided the basis for school board and munipality boundaries to match. In one year, 46 boroughs were founded as a result of this law. Where was the planning? Where was Bergen Leads at the time?
After a tour of the second floor of the Steuben House, Bergen LEADS marched like revolutionaries (hungry for food, not freedom) across
to Sanzari’s New Bridge Inn for great conversation and an excellent meal! (NB: the author of this blog has a degree in Marketing – not History, so please take any and all errors or embellishments into perspective. Please direct all friends and neighbors to Bergencountyhistory.org) New Bridge