My Sustainable Day in Summit

A page from an imaginary diary, ten years hence

March 30, 2026 - I started the day by making an omelet with fresh eggs—that is, eggs laid by one of my neighbor Jenny’s hens.  When Summit's planning commission approved 'backyard chickens,' Jenny wasted no time hiring the high school’s carpentry club to build a henhouse. Larry, down the street, keeps bees and shares the honey. My neighbors help themselves to fresh herbs from my ever-abundant kitchen garden. 

After breakfast I pedaled my large adult tricycle down the road to meet the neighborhood children walking to their primary school.  We call it the walking school bus. The kids put their stuff in my trike’s big basket. We retired folks take turns being the walking-school-bus driver, and Thursday is my day. 

After “driving” the kids safely to school, we meet up with walkers from other neighborhoods for a social hour.  This morning we discussed two books about green investing.  Afterward, I pedaled into town to meet friends for lunch.  For my 75th birthday they gave me an electric motor for my three-wheeler. I park it in the bike corral in the tiered garage and plug it into the solar-powered charging station. The south side of the garage is covered with solar panels, as are most of the downtown rooftops. 

Summit restaurants offer reduced-price lunches for seniors from 11 to noon.  So after my farm-to-table vegetarian lunch, and a short amble around the shops, I pedal back home for a mid-afternoon nap. On Wednesdays I often take a train or bus into New York City to catch a matinee.  And all through the week there are lots of cultural activities and sports events in and around town.  This weekend I’m meeting friends to pedal out to the Reeves-Reed Arboretum to see the daffodils, which are blooming earlier each year.   One of the benefits of climate change is the longer growing season; now I can find fresh spinach from our many community gardens in January! 

But what a snowstorm we had last month: 4 feet of wet snow, schools closed for a week! Since our town has a virtual classroom, students and teachers didn’t get much of a break; they just worked from home. I'm grateful that Summit encouraged the formation of neighborhood resiliency groups several years ago.  This storm was another test of their worth during a weather emergency, and they performed well. When the power went out, we checked on our buddies, and gathered for potluck meals to clear out freezers. The power company was as stuck as we were until the roads were cleared.  

Like most people, we now have a stationary bike that can charge a battery, so we knew we’d have power for our electronic gizmos. Our high school entrepreneurs club developed this very useful product. Beyond that, we took the advice of Summit’s Resiliency Officer and joined the local power grid that connects our electric car battery to the town’s Hilltopper Wind Turbine. Since no one could drive anyway, we used the car batteries to keep the lights on until power was restored.  (Residents in other towns without the foresight to set up a local power grid were without power for more than a week.)  

Our neighborhood resiliency group meets 4 times a year for supper.  In the winter we watch a movie, and in the summer we enjoy sitting together outdoors sharing sustainability stories.  That’s how the walking school bus got started. We seniors realized that parents were driving the kids to school because they didn’t have the time to walk.  Meanwhile, we seniors were trying to figure out how we could get more exercise.  As we got to know each other better, we found baby sitters, dog-walkers, snow shovelers, and kids to help around the house. We even got a neighborhood Barbershop quartet that performed at our last potluck.  

Now all we need is the barbershop.

Marian Glenn is a professor of Biology at Seton Hall University who expects to be actively retired in 2026.

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