Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy People

On June 27, 2017 I traveled to Kutztown, Pennsylvania for a tour of the Rodale Institute. The visit, organized by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, was an opportunity to experience first hand how the power of sustainable agriculture can simultaneously improve our environment and build community wealth.

I’m still a novice when it comes to healthy soils, but the opportunities seem limitless.  Not only does implementing healthy soil practices do the obvious – build healthy soil – but it results in land that sequesters carbon, has higher production yields, and better withstands extreme weather.  Healthy soil builds healthier environments.  If that is not enough? It is bringing together diverse stakeholders; ones that have not traditionally worked together or found each other working on the same team.

I am looking forward to continue learning and seeing where the momentum around healthy soils takes the work in Maryland and beyond.

                              

 

 

The Challenge Of Unpaid Internships

The lack of diversity in the mainstream environmental community is apparent in almost every organization, meeting, and conference. And while the community discusses the approaches to better address diversity, equity, and inclusion (e.g. evaluating an organization’s make up and external outreach programs) there is one aspect that has never come up once in a DEI conversation that I have been a part of – unpaid internships.

I get it, it’s challenging, the nonprofit community operates on shoestring budgets to pay its own staff, let alone pay for interns. I was a product of unpaid internships and was grateful for those opportunities, but I also recognize that those who can take advantage of unpaid internships are those who are economically stable enough to do so. How many incredibly talented people is our community missing out on because of this issue of access?

Green 2.0 highlighted the diversity challenges in the environmental community. Not only do we need to be intentional about organizational make up and how we conduct hiring searches, but we need to be thinking about the barriers we are putting in place that becomes exclusionary to the next generation.

I obviously cannot speak for every organization and their strategies behind offering internships, but I believe they are an opportunity – a missed one for internships that are unpaid – to ready the next generation with the experience they need to hold their own in the job market.

So on this Earth Day, I appeal to my friends and colleagues – take your organizational reflection one step further and think about how you may be creating barriers for our next generation of environmentalists.

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One Lion ≠ Systemic Change

Jane Goodall released a statement on the death of Cecil the Lion.

“I was shocked and outraged to hear the story of Cecil, Zimbabwe’s much loved lion. Not only is it incomprehensible to me that anyone would want to kill an endangered animal (fewer than 20,000 wild lions in Africa today) but to lure Cecil from the safety of a national park and then to shoot him with a crossbow. I have no words to express my repugnance. He was not even killed outright, but suffered for hours before finally being shot with a bullet. And his magnificent head severed from his wounded body. And this behaviour is described as a “sport”. Only one good thing comes out of this – thousands of people have read the story and have also been shocked. Their eyes opened to the dark side of human nature. Surely they will now be more prepared to fight for the protection of wild animals and the wild places where they live. Therein lies the hope.”

For me, I have very little hope that this will result in anything more than what was happening before Cecil’s death. The amount of outrage and level of coverage is similar to that of any controversial and polarizing issue.

  • For a few days we have overnight activists who share their opinions, whether they are informed or not.
  • Then you have news coverage that usually only focuses on the specific incident and ignores the greater systemic issue it resulted from.
  • You might have organizations trying to leverage the amount of attention, but for the most part it goes un-utilized with no opportunities for engagement clearly presented.
  • And then 2-3 days later, we shift our attention back to the critically important on fleek eyebrows, selfies, and viral videos that populate our newsfeeds.

I think if there is any good that comes from the level of attention Cecil’s death has received, it will come from its ability to further cement the determination of the animal activists who do as they preach and see this incident as part of a larger systemic issue.

I do not see Cecil’s death resulting in systemic change and cultural shifts because the framing of the story already tells me that it will not. The world is upset over the death of one lion. That is not to say I do not care.  Trust when I say my ferocious little grumpy cat and I are upset. The problem is that Cecil’s death goes far beyond the death of one lion. It is about the deep complexity of corrupt government systems, impoverished countries, and the significant motivating forces that drive the market for trophy hunting. Most of the articles do not address this.  I can bet that most of the people upset, are upset from a place of anthropomorphism and not from a deep understanding of, or care for, the systemic issues that got us to this point.

This trend happens more then it should. For a few days, otherwise apathetic and passive individuals, share their opinions, hit a few “likes”, feel good about themselves, and move on. Some of these individuals would never move into meaningful action, but others might have had organizations leveraged the attention in an effective way that provided opportunities for deeper engagement.

We cannot place the responsibility of protecting our planet on the backs of a select few. Organizations need to effectively leverage the attention an issue is getting and individuals need to step up and practice what they preach.  We are not industry and we will never have money on our side.  What we do have is people and money cannot speak louder than a group of strong, informed and united individuals, demanding systemic change.

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A Challenge From A Pragmatic Environmentalist

As someone who works in the environmental field, I should enjoy Earth Day. Instead I actually find myself hating it more each year. For me, Earth Day has turned into an annual day of inauthentic concern and celebration for the planet.

The environmental community advocates 365 days of the year, with 364 of those days usually involving some sort of opposition and challenge. Earth Day is the one-day about us; where the media and the attention are focused on the planet. We do not have to “fight” per usual because for a mere 24-hours everyone seems to be a born-again environmentalist. We are given 24-hours where the opposition does not have an equal footing and environmental organizations and advocates let it be used for “happy” pictures and simple celebratory sentiments about the planet.

Maybe I would not be as frustrated with Earth Day if organizations used tactics to move the Earth Day “slacktivists” into more active advocacy roles. Instead, organizations and advocates allow for the annual day of born-again environmentalism to go untapped.

It is not enough to pick up a piece of trash or post a Happy Earth Day status.

Here is a reality check:

  • Municipal waste only accounts for 3% of total waste production in the United States.
  • Taking shorter showers will not stop the planet from running out of water. It will not fix drought stricken regions. Over 90% of water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The other 10% is split between municipalities and individuals.
  • If every person in the United States did everything Al Gore suggested in “An Inconvenient Truth,” U.S. carbon emissions would only fall by about 22%.

A picture of “happy trees” in honor of Earth Day will not make a difference.

In case there was any doubt, a “Happy Earth Day” post will not:

  • Secure the termination of the proposed Energy Answers incinerator in Curtis Bay. The hard, on-the-ground work, of United Workers and Free Your Voice did that.
  • Stand with concerned citizens in opposition to proposed mega-CAFOs, on Maryland’s lower eastern shore, threatening the public health of surrounding communities. Assateague Coastal Trust, Food and Water Watch, and the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project are doing that.
  • Improve the air quality of overburdened communities. Your zip code should not dictate your life expectancy. This is a reality that is very much within the confines of the state of Maryland. The Maryland Environmental Health Network is fighting for that.
  • Work long hours from January-April defending the right to a clean and healthy environment during Maryland’s Legislative Session. The countless advocates and constituents do that year after year.

Personal change is not enough. It is not a powerful political act.  Personal change does not equal social change.  

To the 24-hour born-again environmentalists: If you mean what you said or posted today, connect with your local environmental organization and get involved. The environmental community is fighting too many serious issues for you to hide behind a computer.

To the environmental advocates: Work to engage “slacktivists” in more active advocacy roles and utilize this day, and any where we are given more attention and leverage than the opposition, to its absolute fullest.

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

…but that means actually caring for the environment all 365 days of the year.

Town Creek Foundation Hosts Stakeholder Meeting to Explore “Avenues for Impact”

This post originally appeared on the Association for Baltimore Area Grantmaker’s Blog, Adventures in Philanthropy, on January 12, 2015: https://www.towncreekfdn.org//ht.ly/HkmfS

 

By Rebecca Ruggles, Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network

 
“We’ve always felt that as grantmakers, it is our responsibility to smartly deploy the full range of resources at our disposal, including grantmaking, communications, convening, and connecting. Like most grant makers, we’ve paid considerably more attention to grant making than we have to the other avenues for impact.”

With these opening words, Stuart Clarke framed the Town Creek Foundation’s stakeholder meeting on November 14, 2014 in Easton. Drawing over 100 Town Creek grantees and partners together was a deliberate investment – and Stuart might have said, an experiment – in exploring those “other avenues for impact”.

Town Creek, headquartered on the Eastern Shore, made the bold decision in 2011 to sunset in ten years. Among their reasons was a sense of urgency about achieving major gains in the areas of their investment – the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, fighting climate change, and promoting environmental sustainability. Citing that sense of urgency, the foundation convened what it called its First Annual Stakeholder Meeting at Chesapeake College.

As a Town Creek grantee, I had the pleasure of being among those whom Stuart tapped for advice as he planned the event. As an ABAG employee, I was also interested to see how a foundation that is spending up uses its “other avenues for impact”. ABAG members in attendance included staff from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Keith Campbell Foundation, Abell Foundation and Baltimore Community Foundation.

After the intense social buzz of morning coffee, Town Creek President Jennifer Stanley opened the formal program with welcoming remarks and urged us to participate actively. The morning featured a keynote from University of Maryland professor emeritus Gar Aperovitz followed by lively audience dialogue. After lunch, small groups met to address questions posed by Stuart and then convened together as a full group to report out.

One part of the morning was an overview of Town Creek grantmaking philosophy and practice, presented by Stuart Clarke and Meredith Lathbury Girard. Stuart’s remarks, which I had the opportunity to read in advance, offered a framework for viewing environmental work as both transactional (rooted in the politics of what is possible in the present) and transformational (working at what Stuart called “the scale of the problem”, instead of the scale of what politics allows).

Though he claims no plans to publish, I asked Stuart to allow us to post his remarks on the ABAG website. If you are a student of philanthropy, an environmentalist, or a grantmaker concerned that incremental change is not enough, you may find this paper intriguing. The paper also offers insight into the thought process of a foundation in its final 7 years.

To attendees, Stuart posed the question: Can we address Maryland’s pollution challenges by changing practices while leaving unchanged the structures that allowed that pollution? A provocative question, it stimulated much discussion during the afternoon’s small groups about the role of Town Creek, of funders in general, and of the diverse sectors in Maryland that seek to be change agents.

Lynn Heller from the Abell Foundation tackled the daunting task of summarizing the reports from the small group facilitators. Among the conclusions were a resounding desire to be enabled to work “at the scale of the problem” through changes in grant-making practices that address building grantees’ organizational capacity, investing long-term, and supporting ambitious approaches to the root causes of societal woes.

The Maryland Environmental Health Network convenes diverse stakeholders in the fields of health and environmental advocacy, research, and community activism, to support cross-sector education, dialogue and action that results in better protection of both human health and the environment. MdEHN is a project housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG).

The Happiest Philanthropic Day of the Year!

#GivingTuesday is right around the corner!

For those unfamiliar with the day, #GivingTuesday was created as a philanthropic alternative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday – a global day to celebrate generosity and to give.  This year’s #GivingTuesday will take place on December 2nd.

If you have not started planning, now is the time to start!  The key to success is to start building an online buzz now and utilize the resources on the #GivingTuesday and #MarylandGivesMore websites to develop an effective online presence.  You can download a free e-book “Guide to a Successful Giving Dayhere.

New this year is the #MarylandGivesMore initiative.  Convened by Maryland Nonprofits and a committed group of partners, #MarylandGivesMore is the most ambitious state-wide #GivingTuesday campaign in the country.  #MarylandGivesMore is an expansion of the wildly successful #BmoreGivesMore campaign, which raised $5.7 million for the city of Baltimore on #GivingTuesday in 2013.

The #MarylandGivesMore campaign has set a goal of raising $12.2 million on #GivingTuesday.  This is roughly equivalent to every Marylander donating $2. For more information on ways to get involved with #MarylandGivesMore, contact Allison Albert, Membership/Marketing Director, at aalbert@mdnonprofit.org or 443.438.2346.

NGO Participation Ideas:

  • Use the #MarylandGivesMore goal and #GivingTuesday as a new way to communicate with donors and kick off your year-end giving campaign.
  • Promote your current projects on #GivingTuesday: Sign up to be a Partner on the #MarylandGivesMore website and report in dollars raised on December 2nd.
    • Organizations have the option to launch new projects to capitalize on the enthusiasm and online traffic on the #MarylandGivesMore Crowdrise page.
    • Volunteer hours are also eligible – they will be monetized and counted toward the goal.
  • Announce your participation to your community on Facebook and Twitter (@MDGivesMore).

Foundation Participation Ideas:

  • Lend your stature and leadership to the effort, join the #MarylandGivesMore campaign by signing up to be a Partner on the #MarylandGivesMore website and reporting in donations on 12.2.14.
    • Announce your year-end grants on 12.2.14, #GivingTuesday, to contribute to the statewide goal.
    • Invite your grantees to participate
  • Spread the word about the #MarylandGivesMore initiative, and your involvement or support, via traditional and social marketing (find us on Facebook and Twitter @MDGivesMore).
  • To encourage generosity in donations on #GivingTuesday, provide matching fund grants to the overall #MarylandGivesMore campaign. Contact Heather Iliff, Vice President, at hiliff@mdnonprofit.org or 443.438.2348.
  • Support your grantees directly with matching grants on #GivingTuesday.

 

I encourage everyone to participate and bring this global day of giving to their local membership.  Happy Fundraising!

Meeting the Public Where It’s At

“We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are”  – Anaïs Nin

In the short time I have officially spent in the real world, I have observed the public health frame provide considerable strength to environmental initiatives.  This frame engages audiences in ways the environmental frame does not.  Lets face it; the environment is not of inherent concern to each and every one of the 7-billion people on this planet.

The effectiveness of the public health angle was most apparent to me when the Star Democrat published an article on the high presence of Vibrio on the eastern shore.  With 825 likes and the exposure of 220 shares on Facebook, the article received an incredible online response.  I combed through each and every comment and share that I could within the limits of Facebook privacy settings.  Surprisingly, at their core, the comments and shares were all the same – general alarm and concern for public health.  It is not uncommon for environmental articles to get the comment wrath of the Negative Nancy’s of the community, but those dissenting views could not be found for this article.  The community even went so far as to say the article did not go far enough.

I monitored social media in the days following the article’s publishing.  For an article that received so much online attention, there was not a single peep, like, share, comment, smoke signal, or carrier pigeon from any of the local NGOs.  This was such a great opportunity for engagement and it went ignored.

Fortunately or unfortunately, public health threats from water quality are popping up left and right in the news.  The coverage is creating what appears to be an opportune time for a greater dialogue on the health and water quality nexus.  Just last week 500,000 people in Toledo, Ohio were left without drinking water due to a harmful algal bloom (HAB) contaminating their water supply.  This bloom was a direct result of excess phosphorus caused by pollution sources like agricultural runoff, stormwater runoff, overflowing sewers, failed septic systems, and lawn fertilizers.  This specific incident may have happened in Toledo, but HABs derivative of excess pollution are nothing new.  Vibrio even received national media coverage for its rise in Florida and other southern states.

The Star Democrat’s article may have gone un-leveraged by local NGOs, but the issue of Vibrio continues to attract attention from other organizations and media outlets across the state.  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, South River Federation, and West/Rhode Riverkeeper have all weighed in on the bacteria, pollution, and public safety.  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation even reissued their 2009 report on the rise of infections from flesh-eating bacteria that threatens both ecological and public health.  This opportunity should not go un-leveraged.

When it comes to the nexus of water quality and public health, I often think of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition (WVRC) and their demonstrative success with the public health lens.  Responding to a water contamination crisis, the public health frame connected WVRC more deeply with their community.  WVRC gained the support of community members with close ties to the fossil fuel industry who, before the crisis, never supported WVRC’s efforts.  WVRC leveraged their strong base of community support to resolve the specific contamination incident and successfully pass new clean water legislation for the state.

There might not be an obvious call to action when it comes to naturally occurring Vibrio, but it does not make the opportunity for engagement any less real.  Taking advantage of natural opportunities to engage and educate  the community sets the stage for support when emergency issues arise.  After reading the Star Democrat’s article, the public wanted more information.  Local organizations could have filled this information gap and connected this citizen base into a larger conversation on water quality and threats to public health.

Part of successful organizing, particularly online, requires letting the community be the driver (Ward, 2011).  The community was there, galvanized and ready on their own.  Activism via social media does not stop at a “like” or a “share.”  It is up to the NGOs and other related organizations to provide the right asks that move a community into more active roles both online and offline.

Groups should think of “likes” on Facebook as virtually raised hands (Ward, 2011).  There were 825 people raising their hands concerned about the increase of Vibrio in the Talbot County watershed; 825 hands that went ignored.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project studied “the Social Side of the Internet.”  The project found that being social online means it is more likely you will be social offline.

  • 68% of all Americans said the Internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to communicate with members.
  • 62% of all Americans said the Internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to draw attention to an issue.
  • 59% of all American said the Internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to impact society at large.
  • 49% of all Americans said the Internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to impact local communities.

This is significant.  Based on this research, it is clear the online response to the local Vibrio article presented an opportunity for deeper engagement.  A chance to move those 825 “raised hands” into offline action.  I doubt those 825 people would be ignored if they showed up at an organization’s doorstep.

The stars are aligning around the water quality and public health nexus.  The public cares about this issue; they raised their hands.  Now it is up to the NGOs to meet the public where it is at, acknowledge their interest, and leverage the opportunity that naturally presented itself from utilizing a public health lens.

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Has Exhaustion Hurt Our Advocacy Efforts?

In our world of metrics and indicators are we missing something?

When we talk about the obstacles to transformative success (for whatever issue that may be) we talk about things like political power and corporate control.  We do not usually talk about the role personal exhaustion plays in success.  I recently came across a Huffington Post article on ending burnout in social change movements and our inability to build a thriving future on a platform of exhaustion.  Which got my wheels turning a bit.

Has exhaustion and burnout impacted the advocacy community in Maryland – specifically that of the environmental community?  Can exhaustion be linked to to the lack of success on bay and climate efforts?

“Overwork is a near-pandemic amidst people who are devoted to making the world better, whether you’re paid or volunteer, an organizer, educator, artist, entrepreneur or any other kind of change-maker.

It’s the conversation we’re not having, and we need to.”

I completely get where the author is coming from.  Advocacy work does not fit into a neat little 9-5 box.  Exhaustion can result in poor work performance and ill-planned campaigns.  I would easily wager that exhaustion in advocacy has risen with the evolution of the internet, wifi, and smart devices.

Is the exhaustion the author discusses a baseline exhaustion that has always existed in nonprofit work or is this a new level of exhaustion from our inability to disconnect from work?  Or, as I suspect, is it exhaustion derivative from decades of the same lax-luster campaign plans and voluntary efforts?

“The world does not need your 13th or 14th or 15th hour each day. It does not need more email blasts or campaign plans written with bleary eyes.”  

The above statement is very true, but I would add that the world does not need your 13th or 14th or 15th poorly planned email that is a part of an equally as poor strategy.  It is understandable to me how movement burnout could result from decades of the same voluntary approach and groups silo-ing themselves.  These strategies do not produce the desired end goal and just compound one another as organizations continue to apply them over and over in hopes something will change.

I believe burnout is a side effect of continuing to engage in the same ill-producing strategies and the lack of transformative success.  I think this is what we have seen in Maryland.  The tides do seem to be turning though.  Groups are becoming more cognizant of diversifying their alliances and breaking their silos.  Strategies are evolving and strengthening, but it is a slow process and will take time to permanently separate from the same lax-luster strategies we have been deploying for decades.

In a commencement speech given this year, Jim Carrey addressed the graduating class and shared “I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which, was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”  I could not agree more with this statement.  If you put your energy into the same strategies that have been ill-producing for decades and lax-luster at best, you will be successful, but only in producing the chronic exhaustion the author attributes to the lack of transformative success.  I firmly believe in doing what you love, but you must take a 30k foot view to understand if what you are doing will ultimately achieve your end goal.  If not, re-strategize and change course so as not to fall into the rut of exhaustion and underperformance.

Can We #Hashtag Our Way to Transformative Change?

Shonda Rhimes, who basically controls Thursday’s on ABC, gave a commencement speech at Dartmouth College this past year.  Among many of the thoughtful and encouraging words she read to the graduating class of 2014 was her comment that a hashtag is not a movement.

“And while we are discussing this, let me say a thing. A hashtag is not helping. #YesAllWomen #TakeBackTheNight #NotAllMen #BringBackOurGirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething.

Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing into your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show.”

If there is anything that drives me nuts it’s slacktivism and only participating in social change issues behind the safety of a computer.  Her words were music to my frustrated ears of online activism.  Opinions are like @$$ holes, everyone has one – but not everyone will get off the computer and take more impactful action.

I didn’t realize Ms. Rhimes’ comment got so many people in a tizzy until I saw a Buzzfeed article on it – specifically on if hashtags count as activism.  Buzzfeed reached out to “a number of people who use hashtags and social media to enable social change by email and asked them all the same question: Do you think hashtags count as activism?”

As much as I love Buzzfeed, their question misses the core of Ms. Rhimes’ comments.  She said #hashtags are not a movement.  She never said they don’t count as activism.  Instead of asking this seemingly one-dimensional question of if #hashtags count as activism, I would be more interested in learning from the respondents what role they feel online organizing, social media, and #hashtags play in movements to effect transformative change and how are they actually seeing that play out in their work.

#hashtags are a component of activism.  They help bring attention to issues.  They help build a groundswell of support to push an issue, to build a movement.  They, in and of themselves, are not a movement.  A “like” or #hashtag is not a powerful move, it will not itself alone create meaningful change. People need to stop believing their “like” is making an impactful difference and organizations need to start providing the right “asks” to get people more engaged.

Social media has created a platform where individuals, elected officials, and reporters can follow issues in real time.  We have seen this unfold in Maryland within the environmental community.  The Smart on Pesticides Campaign has thoughtful metrics and a strong online presence to push their issues.  They use their metrics (which are not a simple measurement of likes) to understand what their audience cares most about.  They give them directives and ways to get involved beyond a computer.  They keep them up to date on relevant issues.  Their social media presence is incorporated into a larger strategy and has help achieve the success they have seen in the 2014 legislative session.  The Smart on Pesticides Campaign is the movement.  Their #hashtags and online content are the tools to make the effort successful.

When social media presence is not well thought out or strategic it will plateau or fizzle out.  When I think of these issues,  I think of organizations who simply measure “likes” as a sign of impact or the immediate support that floods my newsfeed in the wake of a tragedy.  #YesAllWomen created a great dialogue, but weeks after its creation where do things stand?  I had a friend who was incredibly shaken up and upset about the shooting that inspired the #YesAllWomen conversation.  She started reading and sharing articles and making comments online.  As with most, her public concern for the issue died as quickly as it had emerged.  The movement and conversation that was created was great, but there isn’t/wasn’t a next step, a directive, and end goal to push supporters to.  It has just seemed to fizzle.

Shonda Rhimes was 100% correct.  #hashtags are not a movement.  #hashtags will not achieve anything from their simple existence beyond creating an online conversation.  But if the online presence is built into a strategic campaign or effort, it could create the base of support and awareness to create the transformative change we want to see in the world.

F is for …

…another failing waterway.

The 2013 Healthy Harbor Report Card has been released and Baltimore’s waterways are not doing so hot.  To be exact – they are failing.

The report card was released at a press conference held at Mill No. 1 on the Jones Falls.  Attendees included representatives from the Waterfront Partnership, Blue Water Baltimore, Baltimore City Department of Public Works, UMCES, Abell Foundation, Rauch Foundation, Baltimore Community Foundation, UMD Environmental Law Clinic, MDP, MDE, Choose Clean Water Coalition, National Aquarium, Brown Advisories, and a yellow-crowned night heron.

Blue Water Baltimore’s executive director, Halle Van der Gaag,used the release as a call to action for improving local water quality and harbor health – reminding attendees that we need to move faster and get more done.

I admired Halle’s speech for using the press conference to speak on the reality of water quality in Baltimore City and the need for change.  Instead of attempting to paint a pretty picture.

Our waterways may not currently catch on fire (thanks to actions like the Clean Water Act), but that does not mean our watershed health issues are any less important or serious.  Water quality is not just an environmental health issue, but a public health one.  An F is simply unacceptable.

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