That night, a forest was cut

Posted: February 18, 2012 by None Smith in English
Tags: , , , , ,

When I was going to high school in the sleeper town of Ramsey, New Jersey, I worked in the produce section at a nearby supermarket/grocery store called Stop and Shop. Not an enormously large shopping center, it host about 10-15 shops, Stop and Shop being the largest. This center, named Boulder Run, had some of your big names; like McDonalds and Starbucks, along with your smaller shops like a mom & pop Mexican restaurant who’s roof would catch on fire about twice a year (I think it’s since been shut down).

Often when I arrived at work, there would be a small table sitting just outside the main entrance with a couple bearded fellows engaging people that walked by. They were asking for support to fight the owners of the Boulder Run shopping center and prevent them from cutting down a large swath of trees that would make space for a larger Stop and Shop. Their front was, “The woods have already been largely destroyed in the town for this shopping center – all we need is more trees being cut down for more consumerism.” Being in high school and not very involved with local social movements, protests or politics, I would walk right by these folks with the excuse in mind “I’m just trying to do my job.” I wished them the best and surely did not want to see trees cut down. I would give a couple dollars every once in a while.

Then, I left that job in 2005 to head off to college. Fast forward to 2009. I’ve since returned from my study abroad trip and finally had a reason to drive by Boulder Run – a new acquaintance lived in the area. As I drove uphill along that last stretch of road before Boulder Run, I wasn’t really sure what I was seeing. There was the Stop and Shop I used to work at, but unrecognizable from what I remember. It was bigger and fancier. All the shops had the same style shop front and there were way more shops in the center. Wine shops, sport shops, jewelers, cafes, restaurants and more. And what of those few gentlemen and women that braved cold winter mornings to talk to shoppers as they walked in and out of Stop and Shop? It’s sad to say they lost the fight. The swath of woods that was left around Boulder Run – that used to shield the light from surrounding houses, was thinly left to a couple trees between the road and the parking lot. Consumerism and the top dollar effectively won the fight and cut down all the trees. Now, in 2012, there are more shops and it looks shiny and new; yet as unappealing as ever.

It’s hard to say if I had taken a few extra minutes or given a few more dollars if that would have made a difference. I have no idea if they had lost by a landslide or just by a small margin. What it does do for me is reaffirm the fact that while capitalism leaves many with some of the best living conditions the western world has to offer, it also creates a concrete jungle that our children were be forced to play on. I’m not sure about you, but I grew up playing outside, climbing trees and scraping my knees on rocks. I would want that same standard of living and playing for my children – not metal playgrounds with fake grass.

Living in this area and seeing developments like this pop up left and right (I could personally cite 3-4 more examples of large areas of trees being cut down for development), reminds me of how important this expedition is to me and the charities we will be giving to. Old growth forests take hundreds upon hundreds of years to develop and become as majestic as they are. Even if we left some of our new growth forests (here in New Jersey) untouched, our children still wouldn’t be able to experience them as Old Growth.

This is our last shot to experience and see some of the most untouched places on this earth. Even Everest, the roof of the world, has become a tourist attraction for some. We hope to journey on this expedition as uninhibited as possible, using human power as much as possible to get us to our next destination. It’s going to take training and support – but we hope to communicate just how important the environment is to people who care to pay attention. Happy travels!

  1. ***The LensMaster says:

    Back in 2009, Typhoon Ondoy hit our country. The capital city Manila got flooded and many died in a day. That would have never happened had our people taken good care of the forest that surrounds our city. Sadly, since most of them are denuded, surely what happened in 2009 can and will happen again…

    • It’s true, forests and trees provide more than oxygen, home to flora and fauna and aesthetic pleasure. That’s a great example of the protection they afford to us humans. It seems our priorities are a bit misguided….

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