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The Price of Privilege: Inheriting the Earth, Like It or Not

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CAPE WIND FARM
AP File

I can be a lazy slug retreating to my bed when it rains (okay, also maybe when it's below 65 degrees or Valentine's Day). Really any excuse will do. So an invitation to visit the unveiling of The Far Hills Country Day School's four Windspires during damp and grey Earth Week was an "Are you out of your mind?" moment for me. However, because the invitation came from Andrew Drexel Allen, a philanthropist, smart banker and dead ringer for Simon Baker on The Mentalist, I J. Crew-ed myself up with appropriate gear and figured it wouldn't hurt to make an effort. Lord knows, I still have ample brain space to fill up with something worthwhile.

As we zipped through the Holland Tunnel, getting farther away from burping smoke stacks and train tracks with rats the size of chihuahuas, we drove through fancy towns with names like Bedminster and Peapack where Jackie O used to fox hunt. Daffodils and forsythia were busting out and I was giddy with this Fresh Air fund feeling -- a city kid seeing how the other half lives.

So here we are at this very preppy FHCDS with girls in Tom's sparkly shoes worn with Juicy Couture striped tights and boys all khaki-and-blazered up and I'm actually stopping to ask where they shop. No nose rings in this crowd. Marching into the gym/auditorium each carried a pinwheel in honor of the Windspires while I carried a warm chocolate chip cookie from the school's Chef Mike, my appetite stimulated by the fresh air. Principal Jayne Geiger explained in her best Grade 1-6 voice that the kids needed to become "Stewards of the Environment" and never once used the word "sustainability," which is too uber-highbrow for anyone.

Of course, the attention span being short -- not just for the kids but for me -- we moved on to Andrew Drexel Allen, chairman of the Energy and Sustainability Committee at the FHCDS. Andrew's family has attended the school for centuries and after tasting the cookies, I so get it. Speaking to his wiggly noogie-nudgy audience, he age-appropriately shared that these Windspires will provide power to the school and this project proves if you put your mind to something you can get it done. Educational lessons thinly disguised.

The whole project, funded by energy czar and dad Doug Kimmelman, a big deal at Energy Capital Partners, was a follow up to a previous gift of solar panels. We clapped, unveiled a plaque, pledged our allegiance to the flag and the best part -- start to finish 30 minutes. I pushed aside a couple of first graders to grab cookies and discussed a fabulous pink "Sami and the City" sweatshirt, obviously created for a classmate's bat mitzvah, with 13-year-olds. I traded business cards with the mayor of Far Hills, Paul Vallone -- nephew of the famed Peter Vallone -- and had my picture taken with Chef Mike.

But all silliness aside, I actually got why I was there. Think about this -- while our public school kids in the South Bronx or Newark are fighting for a hot breakfast and desk space, these lucky duck kids are the ones who may have the money and time to focus on the quality of life going forward. Privilege comes with a price: they're learning early lessons thanks to parents and a school which understands time could be running out for Planet Earth if we muck it up. Yes kids, you will inherit the earth and everything wrong with it and your mission -- like it or not -- is to make it better.

As the Windspires began to hum and spin, one little fellow asked if you could make money from harnessing wind as an energy source. To which I say, let's get Boone Pickens on the phone, and Con Ed while we're at it.