Sunday, September 29, 2013

Senator Simonaire's 2nd Annual Chesapeake Summit

Random Thursday evenings can bring you a myriad of things.  Given they are the night of Sept. 26, 2013 and you are in Pasadena, Maryland at Chesapeake Bay Middle School, what it'll bring you is the 2nd Annual Chesapeake Summit hosted by Maryland Senator Bryan Simonaire and his daughter Meagan Simonaire.  Inquiring minds might want to know what exactly it is that this brings.  Well, it brings together Senator Simonaire, the local community, several students from 11 area schools, and Dr. Donald "Mutt" Merritt on the subject of The Chesapeake Bay and the Oyster Restoration Program.


The 1+ hour program featured "Mutt" Merritt speaking on Horn Point Oyster Hatchery and the "true partnership between all concerned parties that led to the hatchery...and  the 3 factors that have taken our Chesapeake Bay oyster population (wonderful filters that they are) down, leading to the "demise of an inexhaustible resource:"

  • Over-harvesting
  • Habitat destruction
  • Disease
  • (and the lesser noted one:)  Misplaced priorities

He also spoke of the environmental, economical, and social importance of oysters--how they are the Chesapeake's equivalent to a coral reef, bringing together habitat and biodiversity, not just for oysters, but for many other marine species.  Add in the historic value of oysters on both Maryland and Virginia's past, and the oysters ability to clean & filter the water of sediment, nutrients, and overall-improve the water quality of the bay and its tributaries...we need these li'l oyster guys to flourish!  Especially since humans have led to their demise.

So insert the kids and the Senator here.

The Chesapeake Summit was started to stress that point that we "always need to be doing better."  Who else to do that and show case that than children?  Senator Simonaire paid tribute to 21 individual students from 10 area schools, and the whole student body of Eagle Cove School for their work to not only help the Chesapeake Bay, but also in areas of conservation, recycling, and environmental education as brought about by the students themselves.  Students from preschool age to high school age were honored for their eco-achievements.  A lot of good things are going on in Anne Arundel County Maryland for the environment and Chesapeake Bay area!!

Eagle Cove School was commended as a whole school for the entire student body participating for many years now in the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program. This year, 60 bags, at about 40 pounds each, were delivered to the water to await pick up by Marylanders as Eagle Cove School served as a drop off point for later pick up by community members.  Children as young as 3 and as old as 5th grade served as that 2,400 pound total transportation system.  Senator Simonaire had citations ready for every Eagle Cove student (in addition to the other 21 students honored), and presented them to the 7 ECS children who were able to attend the ceremony with their parents.

In a world where the nightly news brings along enough bad news per night to fill up your week, it was nice to be surrounded by "the good stuff" for once, seeing these young kids from all these school, doing so many great things for our planet!!

To see pictures of the event over at Senator Simonaire's website, be sure to click here.

To see highlights of Eagle Cove School's Oyster Day last year, click here.

All pictures here taken from my camera the night of the event 
or from the ECS citations awarded by Senator Simonaire.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

If You're in the Neighborhood of Cambridge Maryland...

...on Saturday, October 5th from 1-5, this might be just the event for you!

If you're in the neighborhood, come celebrate the Chesapeake Bay and their oyster restoration program at the Bill Burton Fishing Pier.  Bill Burton was known for his outdoor reporting for many-a-year for the Baltimore Sun, and honored & memorialized with a named fishing pier in 2010.  His words say it best in a video I've shared before, but well worth sharing here again!

To read more about Bill Burton from the GTG archives, check out:

Video from

Sunday, September 15, 2013


At the mention of the word "role model," what comes to mind.  Perhaps you see religious figures like Mother Theresa or the Pope.  Maybe celebrities, athletes, or world leaders come to mind.  Or perhaps people closer to home enter your brain:  moms, dads, teachers, preachers, grandparents, family friends, coaches, or youth group leaders.  Here's what's app had to say--which shows it can be just about anybody:

It was along those lines that Eagle Cove School's "R.O.L.E. Model" program was created this summer by our science teacher and a professor friend of his.  Why?  To tie together Eagle Cove's commitment to environmental stewardship with community citizenship. (Not to mention, tying with basic tenets in our school promise, song, and mission statement.)  This year, we are actively looking for and celebrating student role models at school.  "R.O.L.E" stands for "Respect for Others, all Living things, and the Environment."
The purpose?  To inspire students to take action, make decisions & good choices, and show leadership in positive ways by helping out their community--in big and small ways.  During our Friday "Morning Meetings," we are taking a moment to honor and celebrate the kindness and accomplishments of others who have done something positive for their peers and community.

Our first R.O.L.E. Model recipient:  Lennon.  

Lennon was attending a local day care program this summer while his folks went to work. On the first day of his summer there, he came home a bit bummed that they didn't recycle like he was accustomed to at Eagle Cove.  So he talked to his folks, who contacted me, about ways he could bring more recycling to the summer program.  I loaned them a handful of eco books like Michael Recycle that he could share with the kids at the center.  Then, Lennon shared with them how Eagle Cove School recycles juice pouches (like Capri Suns) through Terracycle.  He even did some digging around on the Terracycle website with his family to learn about how it works.  He set up a bin for recycling, and voila!  They were in action!

As can happens in real life, the momentum dwindled after awhile, and Lennon discovered how hard it can be to be one fella trying to save the world.  But in the same respect, he discovered what one person CAN do.  He created a "Recycling Robot" costume with a myriad of recyclables he had inspired the group to collect.  He brought the juice pouches to school to add to our upcycling collection. On the costume, he included this sign (which is a tad hard to read when the picture is enlarged, so here is the text):

"One Goddard School collected 182 recyclables in one week.  There are 385 Goddard Schools in America.  If all of the Goddards collected trash over the summer, in total there would be 840,840 pieces collected.  182 x 12 x 385 = 840,840."
This completely answers the question:  "I'm only one person?  What can one person do?"  Clearly, if every one person did something, collectively, we'd be doing a lot!!

Lennon exemplified what it means to be a role model.  He was completely worthy of earning our first R.O.L.E. Model medallion of honor!
Will every month bring about big ideas like this?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, again, little actions, just like the pebble thrown in still water, can create many ripples. Back to that one person idea again:  we can make a lot of ripples in that water if everyone gets busy and works toward making the world (or our school community) a better place!
For added inspiration (and a bit of "on campus marketing"), here are some of the R.O.L.E. Model posters my class created to help inspire the school community to be role models.  We used school iPads and the Motivational Poster app to create these posters and will be hanging them around school this week.
May the ripples of role model-making begin! 
Special thanks to Lennon's folks for letting me share his story, which is also now a great ECS story!!

Images taken at ECS school highlighting Lennon's project, with the inclusion of's screenshot of the app's definition of "role model."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Plastic Chandeliers

''I had a vision of them put together
Not like a man, but like a chandelier.'' ~ Robert Frost

When one envisions a chandelier, one pictures a certain level of prestige. One can imagine it as the focal point in the center of an ornate staircase within a mansion, with glittering crystals laying prisms beneath and upon all who enter the foyer.

Katharine Harvey has that ability to create an eye-catching display with her chandeliers, yet they aren't formed of cut glass. Instead, she has a slew of hanging installations created from recyclables. Her Plastic Art Installations are just as breath-taking, yet formed from re-purposing materials.

Katharine Harvey has shown exhibitions at Toronto (where she currently resides), DC, Montreal, Quebec, Calgary, and more. She participated in many shows and artist-in-residencies from the Yukon Territory to Newfoundland.

At her website, you'll find 16 plastic art installations where Katharine Harvey elevates plastic to a new level of sophistication. Just imagine the amount of waste in these that she is diverting from both landfills and recycling centers. (Here's where the recurring reminder that it is far better to "reuse" versus spend the energy "recycling" crops up!!)

Image #1: Chandelier, 2013, recycled plastic, aluminum hoops, monofilament, 21 x 15 x 15 feet (First Canadian Place, Toronto)

Image #2: Chandelier, 2012, recycled plastic, aluminum hoops, monofilament, 21 x 15 x 15 feet (Winter Garden Lobby, World Financial Center, New York)  

Image #3: Waterfall, 2013, recycled plastic, monofilament, 18 x 34 x 2 feet (Bank of America Building, Los Angeles, California)

Image #4:Chandelier, 2009, recycled plastic, monofilament, aluminum hoops,21 x 15 x 15 feet (Allen Lambert Galleria, Brookfield Place, Toronto)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

GTG Summer Quest 2013

Anyone who has been following along for a few years knows that I am a big fan of Maryland Park Quest. I have written about it several times in the past.

(In fact, to do any tripping down the GTG memory lane, click here for past Park Quest posts.)

With the annual motto being "Where a family becomes a team," Park Quest promotes fun-filled outdoor adventure--a concept that is great in our over-teched world. It is a great way to keep "No Child Left Inside." Richard Louv would love it!!

This year is our family's 4th year of taking part in Maryland Park Quests. Of the 24 annual quests of the 24 participating Maryland State Parks, every year prior to this, we have met the 10 park minimum to take part in the "Park Quest Rendezvous," typically at the end of September. This year stands out in a notable way that has been quite different than previous years: this year, in a way, we failed miserably. This year, we completed only 2 of the minimum 10.

But even while I say that we failed, I've gotta say, I don't truly believe it. Yes, we only participated in/ completed 2 quests this year. Rain got in the way of a few, canceling out plans. But I think the real reason we fell short was BECAUSE of all our "a family becomes a team" adventures that fell outside of our Park Quest passport:

  • Our daughter graduated from 5th grade which brought about festivities, fêtes, and out-of-town family.
  • We replaced our defunct and rusted backyard pool with a bright shiny new one, and we spent time near-daily out there, splashing about.
  • We bought bikes this summer and went romping about a number of places.
  • We read boatloads of "Magic Treehouse" books with our 2nd grader, and even more books by ourselves, yet together.
  • We camped with friends at the start of the summer and had a number of backyard bonfires at home.
  • We had multiple day trips with old friends we haven't seen since last summer, and even more good old-fashioned chatty phone calls with other long time pals.
  • My 6th grader and I spent a week working through Jeff Kinney's online writing camp over at
  • My kids and I drove 13 hours to IL to visit my original homeland and far-away family.
  • We had our own family vacation which landed us on the beach in Atlantic City...then later found us on hiking trails, biking routes, swimming holes, and the back yard of a team of 18 sled dogs in Massachusetts. Essentially, during that week, we created our own virtual "Massachusetts Park Quest."
  • We wrapped up the summer in St. Mary's City, at water's edge--romping through the 4th oldest English settlement (seeing archaeology at work) and kayaking in the Patuxent River.

These were just the biggies.  (Not to mention, the puppy!)

So although we may not have triumphed in the Maryland Park Quest arena, I think we had a pretty full and adventurous summer. In looking at the overall end goal (= to turn our family into a team), I think we accomplished our mission. Yes, sometimes we hit some bumps along the way (sometimes multiple bumps in the same day)... but that's all part of the adventure too.

So while we may wind up missing the fun, culminating extravaganza at the wrap up PQ Rendezvous (which I whole-heartedly support and love), this year, I have to say that we are going forward richer based on our summer experiences. We may not have completed Maryland's Park Quest, but I do believe we successfully completed our own "Dabrowka 2013 Summer Quest" after all.

Pictures from our summer family adventures.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back to School Celebrating 20 Years of Bill Nye the Science Guy

Bill Nye The Science Guy
It's back to school time (we started just this week), and it's that time of year that is symbolic with learning... and of course, back to school.  Along those lines, this fall marks the 20th anniversary of the Bill Nye The Science Guy!  In fact, we're just a few days shy of that anniversary.  According to Wikipedia, the show debuted on Sept. 10th, 1993 and ran its 100 episodes until June 20, 1998.

In recent years, Bill Nye has come out even stronger on his climate change stance, and has received some "heat" on the subject by some folks who STILL aren't quite buying it (or his scientific stance on evolution and more).  But, to be seeing this "Science Guy" saying the same things (yet stronger) here for two decades is quite telling.  More so as the "ppm" ("parts per million") of carbon dioxide continue to go up and far exceed the recommended 350 ppm for climate stability and environmental safety. (We are currently over 400 ppm of CO2--all of which can lead toward excessive and erratic weather, warming of oceans, melting of polar ice caps, and more.)

It's a problem that hasn't gone away yet...much like the fact that we all are all still fighting the "Earth Day" fight, 40+ years later.  Interestingly enough, burying our heads in the sand isn't solving it either.  Maybe it'll help as he hits the dance floor on mainstream television's show "Dancing With the Stars" this fall.

Click here to see this clip on YouTube.

Video first seen at; Photo from the Bill Nye Facebook Page:

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Newbie in the Eco-World I Call Home

Our family of 4 has now expanded. 
We are now a family of 4, 2 canines, and some fish.

Welcome to Faolán, our "Little Wolf" or "River Gift," Portuguese Water Dog. A descendent of our former dog Nemo (who has since passed), who was born (Faolán's great great grandpappy was our Nemo's daddy).  Our then-pup, just as our now-pup, was from the same breeder that helped bring Bo to the White House.  

Allergies overrode rescue dogs in our house. Yet puppy lovin' is high!!!  (Our 3-year-old Shih-Poo isn't quite so sure yet, though!)

May we sleep tonight!!!

(Not to mention, the first week of school this week!!)

Images from our camera!