Final Project: MEVO, Stag Hill, and the Illegal Landfill

For my final project, I will be focusing on the efforts of Mahwah Environmental Volunteer Organization (MEVO) to create a more sustainable and greener, cleaner environment. A lot of MEVO’s work is based in the Ramapo Mountains of New Jersey.

I had my first experience with MEVO over the summer of 2014, where I took part in a one-day service project cleaning up Stag Hill with the mentors of Project OutReach, a week-long program for incoming first-year and transfer students the week before Welcome Week at NYU focusing on service. I was impressed with the work MEVO was doing and was excited to have been a part of it. When it came time to come up with an idea for our final projects, I immediately thought of MEVO and their mission, as well as my experience working with them.

I remembered how shocked I was that people were illegally dumping their trash onto this land and treating it as a landfill. I had difficulty comprehending, and was overwhelmed by, the sheer amount of trash on this land. There were whole cars, hundreds of tires, bottles, children’s toys, and even whole carpets and insulation woven into the earth and around the roots of trees, etc.

While MEVO works on other environmental projects, including regular beekeeping, education programs in schools, planting trees, among other things, I will highlight particularly MEVO’s work cleaning up Stag Hill and working with the Ramapough Lunapee Nation to whom that land belongs. Through a short documentary-style film, I will first present some background information about MEVO and how it originated, what inspired founder Eric Fuchs-Stengel to start it, and what has helped it grow over the past few years. If possible, I will get some short interviews with other MEVO members as well.

The organization also has regular meetings with the tribe, and I’d definitely like to attend one and get some general footage of that. I would like to get an interview with the chief about his thoughts and feelings regarding the problem as well as the solution MEVO has implemented and been working on; perhaps I will be able to interview some other tribe members who are there as well.

Obviously, I will center as much of this as possible around the environmental issues and the sanitation issues that are present on Stag Hill and in the general Ramapo community. I do want to present the problem and show some footage of the area and the trash that is there; if there are any volunteers cleaning up on a particular day, it would be nice to get some coverage showing that as well.

The Ramapo Mountains are highly politicized, so I will have to focus more on the solution rather than the problem; however, I do want to make a point of highlighting the problem, especially from an overarching standpoint of sanitation problems worldwide.

I haven’t done anything like this before and I don’t have experience creating a documentary filming (so I will have to enlist some help there). There will definitely be adjustments made along the way based on circumstances, timing, footage I’m able to get, and the schedule and input of MEVO and its founder.

Most importantly, this is a story – and I want it to be presented as such – about MEVO and about how it has found and implemented a solution to a huge environmental problem that relates not only to New Jersey, but a much larger problem all over the world.