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Blog :: 07-2015

Montclair: More Trees Than People

IMG_6288I often tell clients how living in a walkable suburb just feels better, but have never given much thought to quantifying it. However, others apparently have! There's an article in the New Yorker ("How Trees Calm Us Down") that talks not only about how people feel healthier the more trees are around, but also goes on to say that the benefits come mostly from trees in front yards and those planted at the curb - trees that can be enjoyed by people who walk by.

The scientists said that ten additional trees on a block had the effect of people feeling better to the degree that they would if they were seven years younger - or were given $10,000. That's pretty darn good in my book.

They can't really say what it is about trees that provides such solace and healing, but it seems that the benevolent power of trees will uplift you whether you're a nature lover or not. The "softly fascinating stimulation" of trees, according to the article, is good for our soul. And just being around trees is beneficial to memory, attention and mood.

Wait...did I mention Montclair has more trees than people? Close to 40 thousand! That's a lot of feel good trees. I guess it goes without saying that I'd be delighted to take you around to see some of them - and of course the houses that go with them!

Police Ticket Bikers in Montclair!

I guess it goes without saying that a walkable town is also a bikeable town, but there are things a town can do to make biking easier and safer, and Montclair keeps doing them. Community group Bike and Wbike picalk Montclair recently worked to install new bike racks at the train stations and throughout shopping districts, and this summer they have been packed with bikes.

Bike and Walk Montclair also advocated for a Complete Streets policy in town, which makes sure that roadway design can safely accommodate cyclists. They run safety workshops, a Safe Routes to School program and just generally make biking in town better and more fun. In September, they will host Montclair's first Open Streets Event, closing down specific areas to car traffic so people can bike, skate, (and dance!) in the streets.

Recently, I discovered this awesome thing: Over six weeks of this summer (July 13 through August 31), kids who get "caught" wearing a helmet while biking or skateboarding around town may receive a "ticket" from the Montclair Police Department! The officer pulls them over and gives them a ticket that entitles them to a free tasty treat from one of four participating local eateries. The tickets are given out at random, whenever an officer sees a kid on his beat exhibiting safety practices. Tickets are redeemable at Tiny Elephant, Montclair Bread Company, Cakeaholic Obsession and Little Daisy Bake Shop. (Yum!!!) The whole thing is the brainchild of Tracey Diamond, a local designer who liked the idea of a reward program for kids who travel safely. Even kids in bike seats!

Sadly, I cannot pass for a kid anymore, which is too bad because, between you and me, anyplace that calls itself Cakeaholic Obsession has my name written all over it!

Axes to Grind/Knives to Sharpen - Montclair Watercooler Offers It All

Montclair Watercooler Digest Number 8046 arrived in my email on Monday at 7:49PM. It contained questions and answers about water bill rates and a question about ease of parking at a nearby commuter park and ride. Also, someone found a pair of glasses on Church Street, someone else was looking for a good employment agency to hire temps, and various people needed a professional carpet cleaner, a contractor to build a deck, and a line dance teacher. Someone was selliOil and Waterng a car. Someone else lost a cat. Then found it.

I also learned about a free film, a Coffee and Conversation, and more than I ever could imagine about solar panel installation.

The Montclair Watercooler is a Yahoo group that started 15 years ago and now has almost 3,700 members and a Facebook Page. To me, this online group functions like a big backyard barbeque where people drift in and out of conversations about every imaginable topic, gathering information and sharing what they know. Sometimes the conversations get heated, sometimes they warm your heart. I remember once after a terrible storm, a member of the group offered his Wet-Vac to anyone that needed to pump their basement. People created an online queue and passed vacuum along, one to another. There's also a member who occasionally offers to sharpen people's kitchen knives - for free. That spirit abounds here, making the Watercooler both invaluable and beloved -- and another one of the things that makes this community so special.

Comedians in Sneakers in Montclair

comediansThe day Jerry Seinfeld was in town to shoot his web show with Montclair's Stephen Colbert, it was big news. I read about it at and I think it was also mentioned on the Montclair Watercooler, our popular local online message board where people discuss everything from dog parks to parking decks.

If you're not familiar with Seinfeld's often delightful web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, the title could not be more accurate. In each episode, Jerry drives a fancy car to pick up a funny friend and they go somewhere and grab a cup of coffee. Frequently, hilarity ensues.

Our local media sites -- Patch and Baristanet -- have pieces up today. I don't think the media buzz is simply about a famous person showing up - Montclair is home to many high profile personalities - but rather because they filmed a big part of the episode at the Bluestone. Bluestone is my go-to coffee shop; it's a quick walk from my house and a favorite breakfast destination, both for meeting friends and doing business. I could have easily been in there while they were filming, but alas I wasn't.

If I had been, I would have leaned over to Jerry and said, "Listen, if you ever want to move to Montclair, you can ditch the car altogether. This is a walkable suburb, you know." And then I would have suggested a slight title change: Comedians in Sneakers Getting Coffee.

However, without my input, the show apparently carried on as it was originally conceived, and the episode is premiering tonight. Even without the sneakers, I'm pretty excited to tune in.