I'm poor. I'm chronically ill. I live in Paterson, NJ. My parents were immigrants.
Paterson is majority-minority. It is largely an African American, Muslim, and Hispanic city.
On those rare occasions when my suburban co-workers give me a ride home, one sound seals what my address means. As we cross the border and enter Paterson – CLICK – their car doors lock.
Nature is my lifeline. Nature heals me. Nature shows me God. No matter what figure my bank account records. No matter what diagnosis the doc has to share. No matter if my car has just been vandalized. Through Nature, I transcend. After I got the last, scary diagnosis. I went for a long walk. At Garret Mountain.
You see, Paterson has nature: Rifle Camp Park / Garret Mountain is a park complex located partially in Paterson, New Jersey, and partially in what used to be West Paterson, but what changed its name, in recent years, to Woodland Park, so that its residents would not suffer the stigma of association with Paterson.
Rifle Camp Park / Garret Mountain is not just *any* park. It is, in fact, world famous.
Birds migrate. For migration, they require habitat. Habitat = water, native plants, and a critical mass of these, far enough away from predators, that they can survive their migration.
Migrating birds follow routes, routes that are hammered into the birds by evolution and vast reaches of geologic time. New Jersey is a vital passage on the Atlantic Flyway.
New Jersey is the most densely populated state. That makes it, potentially, the most deadly for migrating birds. Even so, Nature insists that the birds follow the Atlantic Flyway, right over New Jersey's shopping malls, freeways, and parking lots, all of which spell death for birds.
This is where Rifle Camp Park / Garret Mountain comes in.
Yes, I live in Paterson. And, guess what. I AM PROUD TO BE A PATERSONIAN! Because we survive. Because of Alexander Hamilton. And because of Rifle Camp Park / Garret Mountain.
This park is a destination for *international* birders. Because it is a destination for *international* birds. This park, surrounded by New Jersey's traffic-jamming, nerve-rattling, floodplain-exhausting urban development, is green. It is nature. It is a migrant oasis. Of international standing. I've seen bald eagles here. A Mississippi kite, far from home. Great Horned Owls. All in my own city.
People want to destroy Rifle Camp Park / Garret Mountain. The Passaic County Freeholders, and writer Christopher Maag, say, "Hey, we see some trees left in New Jersey – trees being enjoyed by poor and brown people. By immigrants! By birds! And people who come from thousands of miles away to see those birds! Can't have that!
"Let's cut the trees, pave the earth, and build a golf course! So rich white suburbanite hipsters can play golf in poor minority people's one place to experience nature.
Hey, the northern, richer, whiter portion of Passaic County has plenty of trees. Poor, brown, and immigrant southern Passaic County don't need no stinkin' trees."
If you care about birds having this one oasis when they are making their epic migration north, if you think a poor black kid has as much right to see a robin's nest as a rich white kid, then please sign our petition.
Petition is here: https://www.change.org/p/freeholders-of-passaic-county-save-rifle-camp-park-stop-the-disc-golf-course
Friends of Garret Mountain Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/238256699670035