The coming retirement of Jeff Tittel as director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club is a highly significant event in New Jersey politics. Raised in Hillside by politically engaged parents, Tittel grew up with a deep sense of environmental justice.
He attended the 1963 March on Washington, where he received the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., which he fused with his own family’s radicalism and the raw political pragmaticism he learned locally from people like the late Charlotte DeFilippo.
A veteran of the 1968 Presidential Campaign of Bobby Kennedy, Tittel built himself into one of the state’s leading environmental authorities. Throughout his 23-year stewardship of the NJ Sierra Club, he combined those unique qualities to become New Jersey’s leading environmental leader and activist.
In an InsiderNJ interview tonight, Tittel reflected on his career, spoke about those governors he believes did the most to advance the cause of a green New Jersey, and considered the terrain ahead. Asked to name the three most pressing issues we most confront, the Sierra Club champion did not hesitate.
He named global warming, environmental racism, and clean water as our most urgent challenges.
Tonight, the New Jersey native maintained his usual spirit of deep dedication and aliveness for the possibilities of a state that often seems like a lost environmental cause. At times during his career as the leader of his organization, the irrepressible Tittel seemed to fulfill multiple jobs, including not just fearless gadfly and power-challenging justice and natural resources advocate, but also educator, and even muckraking newspaperman. His press releases read like old school news dispatches, loaded with substance and the materials necessary for both policymakers and the public to gain greater understanding of environmental issues around the state.
Even thought he’s retiring, he intends to remain in his home state, fighting the battles he has always fought: for open space preservation, for habitat protection for endangered wildlife, clean drinking water and clean air, brownfields remediation, and environmental justice.
If you care about the perilous condition of the environment in this state, you must acknowledge work well done by a giant of the movement.
Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club.
A true natural New Jersey resource.