Name: Chris Len
Where do you live? I live in Montclair, but I don’t think there’s a name for the neighborhood. Porter Park Adjace?
When did you move there? We moved to Montclair from rural southern Oregon in 2009, but we moved to our current home (with some interruptions) in 2013.
Where did you grow up? Pound Ridge, NY
How do you make a living? I am a public interest environmental attorney, specializing particularly in water. I am the executive director at Clean Water Advocacy Center, a non-profit law firm I recently founded to help people, community groups and non-profits who have important water problems but can’t afford a private law firm. I had previously worked for nearly every Waterkeeper organization in the area where, among other things, I led the attorneys contesting Indian Point Nuclear Energy Center, sued New Jersey to better regulate sewage discharged into state waters, and won a case in New Jersey appellate court to throw out the DEP’s rules on public access to beaches, shores and rivers. That’s the sort of thing we want to do at CWAC, but for you! Come see me at our office in the Montclair History Center, 108 Orange Road.
Coffee, tea or … ? Coffee, black, no sugar. I try to avoid Starbucks since Howard Schultz decided to maybe run for president, but a pro tip is if you order plain old coffee at Starbucks, you get it right away and the price is reasonable. The best coffee shop around, though, is 23 Skiddoo, in Bloomfield. And dear god, never, NEVER bottled water or anything out of a k-cup.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend day? I like getting out of town with my partner and our son; we are always looking for a new adventure, whether it’s a camping trip, a skiing trip or something grander.
What’s your favorite local restaurant? When we have a friend in town or it’s a special occasion, we eat at our good friends’ place on Church Street, Mundo Vegan. However, I’m a simple guy, so when it’s just me, I like to go to Taqueria Los Gueros in Bloomfield for the veggie tacos and a coke.
What’s on your nightstand? Like Darth Vader, I’m more machine now than man, so I have chargers for my phone, watch, kindle and earphones. I also have a le Carré novel, but not one of the better ones.
What are you listening to? I’ve been on a guitar noise kick recently, so Nowhere by Ride has been on repeat, after I did Sonic Youth all last week.
What are your current indulgences? Good Bluetooth earphones by a company (unlike Tim Cook and Dr. Dre’s brand) that stands behind their warranty – the RHA MA650 Wireless.
What talent you would most like to have? I wish I had a talent for languages, I took French for six years and I can barely order an espresso. I’d love to read books in their original language and move
through foreign cities like a native but it will never be.
What’s the worst-kept (or best-kept!) secret about Montclair (or your town)? That if you walk a lot, which Montclair is great for, and pick up all the little (and big) pieces of plastic you see, your neighborhood will be vastly better for it, and you’ll see how crazy it is that we wrap everything in the world in plastic. Also, Montclair needs more trash cans outside of the immediate area of Bloomfield Avenue so I can throw away all the plastic I pick up.
What do you hope they say about you at your funeral? I recently read that in Washington State you can soon have your body turned directly into mulch, so I hope my family does that for me and what they say at my funeral is “Well, where shall we plant Chris and this damned cherry tree?”