These are the people in my neighborhood

(or…why Facebook groups suck)

Let’s start my 40th year with a rant!

I live in a little town in Southern New Jersey that was kind of a pit while I was growing up. About fifteen years ago, a main street renaissance of sorts began and a bunch of quaint shops opened on the main strip. The rest of the township is comprised of 85% beautiful (and overpriced) Victorian and duplex houses, and 15% giant apartment buildings. The town has a lovely vibe, with lots of neighborhood festivities and good restaurants, which is why I decided to rent here six years ago.

You may find this a bit hard to believe, but some people in the boro are pretty anti- our dee-luxe apartments in the sky. Why? Well, because all apartments have shady characters from time to time. There are also a lot of people here on fixed incomes, and some people here who get their rent subsidized. We’re also the last “line of defense” between their lovely painted-pottery, book festival world and the city of Camden. My boro is over-the-top liberal, except when it comes to these tenants who are bad news, drag the property values down and drag the high school’s ratings down as well. RENTERS ARE TEH EVILZ! It’s comical.

A coworker of mine who lives in the same town invited me to join a Facebook group comprised of the members of our boro. It has a real hippie/hipster vibe to it; people looking for CSAs, people talking about biking, people talking about yoga, people taking about the new business they opened or the neat Indian restaurant that’s set to open. But mostly, it’s filled with drama. Like ALL internet groups are.

Back in March or so, some of our senior citizens were assaulted in the parking lot at night by some guy from Camden. A few weeks back, the management at my Dee-luxe apartment in the sky hired a tree service to trim back a lot of the trees on property and around the perimeter, as well as trim back the shrubs. Branches that came close to the balconies were removed, as were dead branches and branches that blocked light from hitting the parking lot at night. The tree service…was less than perfect. They took the tops off of some of the trees at the corners of our property. Some of the trees look fine, but those topped trees look pretty bad.

On Friday, a person came by (probably on his recumbent bicycle or in his VW hippie bus), saw the topped off trees and felt the burning desire to snap a picture of it and put it on the group. And this is what ensued. I smudged out all names, and replaced profile pictures, except for mine.

(image heavy, so putting it after the jump!)

(caption this!)

A few points:

1) Ouch. Was this even necessary? I kid you not, the trees along the corners were so tall they did block a lot of the light from hitting the parking lot. Trust me on this. I live here.

2) This is rich: this is when the original poster started “mansplaining” to me why trees are important and why people care. By the way, NPR had a story on “heat island effect” three days prior. I saw it, too.

3) My coworker chimes in. He’s good people.

4) This one actually ratted out the apartments to the boro. Thanks to her, my rent might go up, depending on how much “restitution” our town decides to ask for.

5) This is when I gave up following the thread entirely. Yes, our people on the tenth floor conspired to top the trees to have a better glimpse of the closed-down dry cleaning business.

You’ll also notice that I never once said it was a good job. A common thread here is that based on the picture, there were no lights, so OBVIOUSLY cutting down the trees were wrong. And trees, especially really tall trees really closely planted together can block out moonlight, making the lot extra-dark. But here’s what they didn’t see while they were clutching their pearls.

Yes, Virginia, there is a street light across the street from the topped trees, along the very busy intersection of two main roads, which is a big source of ambient light.

This is the corner with the topped trees. These are … LIGHTS! Behind these lights are the trimmed & topped trees. The trees, when tall and bushy, also blocked this light from that corner of the parking lot.

These are the topped trees, but you can also see where the branches were cut. In the middle of those trees – LIGHTS!

Not the best picture, but stick with me. That is the SUN, which provides LIGHT. Those trees used to be really tall. And tall trees cast what are called shadows. The taller the tree, the longer the shadow. I’m not a scientist, but long shadows from tall trees can actually make the OTHER side of the parking lot dark as well, especially at night when you’re dealing with much smaller and less-powerful man-made lighting.

I know I’m veering perilously close to the “Someone is Wrong on the Internet!” line, but you can probably tell from my screenshots above that the people in my neighborhood, while charming and smelling slightly of patchouli, don’t really listen to reason.

Epilogue: Six hours later, the group’s founder announced that the group would be closing because it (Let’s call it “Awesome Peeps of QuaintTown”) veered a bit further away from his original intention. A second group (“Awesome Peeps of QuaintTown, the Sequel”) was formed 10 minutes later, and even though it’s open, I was not invited. Original founder also created a closed group for just him and his buddies (“Real Awesome Peeps”).

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