We began Environment Day in Bergen LEADS this year with Eric Fuchs-Stengel, the 21 year old Founder and Executive Director of Mahwah Environment Volunteers Organization (www.mevoearth.org). Eric is the poster-child of millennial leadership. Energetic, passionate, committed, he lights up a room as soon as he steps into it. More importantly, however, is the wisdom he imparts. MEVO has been conducting clean-ups of the illegal dumping at Stag Hill for years now. Yet as many tons of tires, construction debris and old toilets as MEVO volunteers pull out, more keeps arriving. Eric let the facts drive the discussion to the point when a Bergen LEADer called out “Is this legal and if not WHY, HOW can it still be happening?”
In 20 minutes, Eric moved a room full of folks from unaware of the problem, to analyzing the systems that have allowed the problem to persist, to activists ready to be pointed in the right direction to lend their voices and their voting power to solve a solvable problem. It was a tour de force in visionary leadership.
We ended the day with Captain Bill Sheehan, the Hackensack Riverkeeper (www.hackensackriverkeeper.org) . Captain Bill wasn’t wearing one of his collection of Jimmy Buffet style shirts this time, but if you tilted your head just right, you could hear the beat of “Margarita Ville” when he walked into the room. Captain Bill talked about compromise, looking for the win-win and leaving a legacy. As he took us through the alphabet soup of EPA and DEP, through Superfund or not to Superfund, the lawsuits waged and won, you begin to see the bureaucracy-slaying giant in the soft-spoken man. There are hawks and eagles in the Meadowlands because of his efforts and his willingness to work with anyone who would listen.
Give yourself the gift of enjoying how beautiful Bergen County is this spring. Paddle down the Hackensack River from Overpeck Park, help haul some tires out of Stag Hill or plant vegetables at the new MEVO farm at 200 Campgaw Road in Mahwah. And while you do, think about how lucky we are to have leaders like Eric and Captain Bill here in Bergen County. And then think about how you are going to make your mark in our community.
From the desk of Lynne H. Algrant, CEO