Originally Posted by hauntedheadnc
Before this thread turns into a bashfest, as such threads are wont to do, the more productive thing to do here would be to try to figure out how to keep people from leaving. This, in lieu of the typical "But we're like smarter and stuff so nyah!" crap that invariably gets thrown around. Obviously, that tack isn't working, because those smart people are still leaving. You're not just exporting your idiots; you'd have to be one yourself to think otherwise.
Your sense is not welcome in this thread!
Here are my ideas about New Jersey, a state that I have lived in for ten years and had a habitual love-hate relationship with:
New Jersey's cities are ailing. Newark is only at the very beginning of the uphill battle back to importance and self-sufficiency as a city. Corey Booker is a fighter and I think he has the power to bring it back, but for the time being, Newark and its immediate suburbs are the bane of the state's existence. Outer ring, rich suburbanites don't want to see their county taxes go towards failing urban renewal projects in a city that they don't use (see Millburn/Short Hills secession bid). The same goes for Camden in the south, except, if anything, Camden is in a downward spiral.
Jersey City is finally starting to see some big gains, but it's doing so by virtue of becoming a bedroom for young people who work in New York and companies who see it as cheaper real-estate. It needs to embrace its prime location, but keep its identity and start drawing people from the New Jersey suburbs into it, instead of out-of-staters who can't quite afford to live in New York.
Kids leave New Jersey because they go to colleges elsewhere and life seems exciting at college when compared to life in a boring New Jersey suburb. Kids in NJ really don't use its location to their advantage. Aside from the occasional sporting event or Broadway show, kids, even those who have a line running directly into midtown right in their backyard, forget that they're a short train ride away from the most fantastic city in North America, if not the world.
When I went away to school, I missed New Jersey and I missed my friends, but most of all, I missed being near New York. If more kids who grew up here were introduced to and allowed to use the city like I was, I don't think that they'd want to leave. Suburbanites are still very afraid of New York, so they shield their children from it, preferring for them to stay in the Suburbs on the weekend and drive drunk around winding subdivisions, complaining about how boring life is here.
In addition to that, I did get involved with things in my own area instead of drinking and partying all of the time. I went to local shows, took classes at the Center for the Visual Arts, took weeked drives to nature preserves etc...
The Northeast is going to continue hemorrhaging baby-boomers who won't put up with high taxes, but it can do a lot to keep its young.
So basically my plan goes thus:
1. Renew urban areas within the state.
- Draw in suburbanites
- Lower crime rates
- Improve schools
- Improve quality of universities within urban areas of NJ (draw in more young, educated locals)
2. Teach suburbanites that the city is to be embraced and not feared
- School trips to New York
- Advertising for NJ transit lines into the city at public schools
- Discounted student fares on weekends
3. Show people that the suburbs do have something to offer in terms of entertainment beyond Must See TV for adults and drunk driving for kids:
- Promote local arts centers in schools (I went to school one town over from the state center for the visual arts and only found out about it when I took a wrong turn while trying to find a sushi restaurant)
- School/Community Organization/Church events must be planned by the kids who will be attending them- not out of touch committees of adults.
4. Get the community involved in town hall.
- Ban subdivision community boards and make sure that all issues are addressed through the town hall committee
- This will get parents whose entire social circle consists of a few of their childrens' friends' parents and a neighbor or two out in an open, socially conducive atmosphere.
- Make the suburbs into a community that people will look upon fondly instead of the sterile, disconnected hell that most kids my age percieve them to be.