MILLBURN, NJ - Yellow is fast becoming the most popular hue in Millburn, appearing on t-shirts and bumper stickers around town. The force behind this color revolution is a new group, Happy Millburn, taking the town by storm with a simple mission, "to showcase the positive things Millburn has; our residents, local merchants, government, schools, parks, recreation leagues houses of worship and everything in between."
Created by residents Roger Chinchilla and Adam Goldberg who were dismayed by "negative community interaction" and the tenor of the discourse on social media sites regarding controversial issues around town, sought to bridge the divide with positivity about Millburn. Their Facebook group page boasts a goal of "encouraging solution-oriented discourse that promotes positive outcomes for all stakeholders." But don't mistake Happy Millburn for a political organization, founder Chinchilla made it a point when speaking before the Township Committee that, "Happy Millburn is not a political movement or organization, but we do, as they say, have the numbers."
In two short weeks, Happy Millburn had 950 members and continued to grow at a rapid pace. Today, there are over 1350 group members sharing the message of positivity, posting about great experiences at local businesses and even giving shout-outs to community members that go out of their way to make people happy.
Before appearing at the last Township Committee meeting to introduce the group and make their mission clear, Happy Millburn organized a 'Parklet Party' to bring community members out to enjoy one of the unique elements of the downtown. Even a little rain didn't dampen the Happy Millburn spirit as residents came by to say hello, get a bright yellow t-shirt and meet other township members. At one point almost 40 people swelled at the corner of Millburn Avenue and Main Street in support of this new "happy" effort.
At the committee meeting following the parklet party, Goldberg took to the podium during public comments to express his love for the town and also list over 25 things that make Millburn special in his view. Though both founders admit that the town isn't perfect, part of Happy Millburn is to discuss what is wrong and find ways forward without negativity. Goldberg said, "Share the good things with each other… as well as the bad. Things are not perfect, so let’s focus on addressing and fixing those things." He also pointed out that some of the discourse had gotten out of control stating, "Be nice to each other. Stop all the yelling. If our kids did that, we would send them to their rooms."
Chinchilla's comments followed later during public comments. He said "I want Millburn-Short Hills to be a vibrant community that is action-oriented. We need to find reasonable solutions to our differences and find a path forward. We clearly have a lot of work to do, so let’s get to work." After detailing his struggle with a different town Facebook group, Chinchilla outlined how it became his call to action to change the narrative. Thus Happy Millburn was created.
He said, "How can we expect to show progress or change if we’re constantly bickering about problems and not bringing forth solutions? How awesome would it be to show my children and the families in our neighborhood the wonderful effects of togetherness, positivity and overall happiness?"
Happy Millburn had a stand at the Millburn street fair on Sunday, and many community members stopped by the bright yellow tent for Happy Millburn gear including shirts, balloons, pens and magnetic car stickers. Chinchilla and Goldberg plan to continue promoting and spreading the Happy Millburn message that "fosters inclusivity and welcomes input from all Millburn and Short Hills neighborhoods," to garner solutions to community issues and make the community a more positive place.
Additional information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/287725928373428/.