By Ed Lipiner
This is quite an auspicious moment to assume the position of Building Committee Chair. I view this as an opportunity to pursue an intentional strategy aimed at the physical renewal of our meetinghouse and property in an environmentally sustainable manner. I believe the Society needs to actively demonstrate and showcase practices that are visible to our guests and to the community at large. In this regard, I believe the ideas and values expressed both by our Society president and our new leader are directly aligned with my own.
My education and professional career comprised the fields of urban planning and environmental science. Working in the public sector proved challenging, however, insofar as the constraints of governmental bureaucracy and political decision-making often undermined my overall effectiveness and sense of value.
In retirement I have gravitated toward those volunteer opportunities where I could make a tangible impact. I worked with a crew making minor home repairs for elderly and disabled residents throughout Bergen County. I continue volunteering at a unique garden setting in Montclair open to the public for education and enjoyment.
Pruning, composting, nurturing
I have quietly been performing work somewhat sight unseen here on the meetinghouse grounds for a number of years: pruning, composting, and nurturing a small patch of perennial plantings. My newfound attraction to pruning may well be a visceral response emanating from my career experience.
Building chairs of the past have included several talented individuals having an extraordinary ability to craft solutions, relying on their own skills and labor to a great extent. The Society now aims to professionalize its overall approach to building management, using outside skills and expertise. In this effort I will be ably assisted by Javier Valencia, who has wide-ranging experience in the construction industry both as a laborer, manager, and entrepreneur, as well as the innate ability and willingness to engage and negotiate with outside contractors.
Relying on others’ offers of help
There will be instances when the use of in-house skills and labor will prove to be the most effective approach. Our current president, leader and former building chairs are a wealth of information and have assured me of their willingness to provide advice and assistance. I’m always willing to roll up my sleeves and will gladly hold the ladder for anyone willing to climb up on the roof.
I hope to provide ongoing communication of our progress and welcome any feedback and collaboration from the membership.
Edward Lipiner is chair of the Society’s Building Committee.