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Articles by Sandra Olivetti Martin

It doesn’t need to be the Appalachian Trail to push you forward

Have you had your summer adventure yet?    
    Kids are going to camp, families to the beach, couples on cruises, boaters daring the Great Loop, RVers traveling the highways, sisters reuniting for long road trips, roamers climbing mountains, paddlers kayaking unfamiliar passages, sightseers wandering ­exotic cities …
    I was pretty impressed with 19-year-old Calvert Countian Evan Metz’s 41⁄2-month-long 2,189.2-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail, recounted this week by contributing writer Selene SanFelice, who has her own adventures lined up.
    Then new staff writer Kathy Knotts tops that. Her friend Brady Adcock of Mars Hill, N.C., an ultra-marathoner, picks up his pace, running on the AT.
    Apparently, you can always push it farther.
    While you circumnavigate the Bay, somebody else rounds the globe. You fly round the Earth in 80 days; somebody else does it in a week. You climb 5,270 vertical feet up Mt. Katahdin. Somebody else climbs Denali at 20,322 feet. Still somebody else summits Mt. Everest at 29,029 feet. You snorkeled in the Florida Keys. Our dear old proofreader Dick Wilson and wife Ellie scuba-ed around the world before retiring their masks and tanks. You visit your kids in St. Louis. Your friend makes her family visit to Singapore.
    But that’s not the point, is it?
    What matters is doing it. Your doing it.
    Every adventure is the achievement of its own adventurer.
    The distance you travel is your distance, and it can reach up mountainsides, down into lightless depths, across oceans, the Bay, rivers or creeks.
    You can even make your journey inward, into the depths of human time and mind. That’s where I find myself, compelled by my journey even though the book I’m writing is about Illinois country women while my friend biographs Italian type designers and English caricaturists.
    What’s your summer adventure? Inspire me — and the rest of us on this page — with your story. Tell us where you went, why and one wonder you encountered:

Sandra Olivetti Martin, Editor and publisher

Reflections on heroes and superheroes

Mayhem at the Deale Library, I feared, on seeing the Batman logo on its window and remembering that stylized bat, projected by searchlight, was Gotham City’s cry for the superhero’s help.
    No, librarians explained. Anne Arundel and Calvert are among the Maryland libraries using the national theme Every Hero Has a Story to encourage kids to keep reading all summer long. Hence the bat logo and, hand-painted on the library door, the question Who’s your hero?
    Young readers at Calvert libraries enroll in the Hero Training Academy, reading books and making crafts that explore superpowers ranging from flying to super strength to mutation.
    We love our heroes.
    Summer’s blockbuster movies feature superheroes and super-antiheroes, from Ant Man to Mad Max and Furiosa to all the Avengers — Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye, Hulk and Iron Man. They follow on the heels of earlier releases real and fictional: the American Sniper to Unbroken Louis Zamperini to ­Katniss Everdeen to Birdman. Comic books and videogames aren’t big enough to hold our heroes. They need the full exposure of the big screen.
    In the realer world, Donald Trump may have shot down his hopes for the presidency by denying the heroism of Arizona senator and former presidential candidate John McCain because of the five and a half years the then Navy flyer spent in a Vietnamese prison camp.
    That’s heresy in post-9/11 America, where every soldier, all First Responders and their dogs, too, are heroes. In this startling new world, we need heroes to keep us safe.
    Where do you go to train your own hero? If you’re not a soldier, firefighter, officer of the law or nurse, reality television can be a stand-in, maybe even an inspiration.
    That’s the theme contributing writer Selene San Felice explores this week in Becoming a Ninja Warrior, her feature story about the quests — and training school — spun off from the NBC series American Ninja Warrior.
    Whether ninjas qualify as heroes, let alone superheroes — and in this office that’s debated — the guys San Felice introduces are transforming themselves much more energetically than, say, Superman. Clark Kent had only to duck into a phone booth and strip off his civilian clothes for his superpowers to emerge. What he claimed by birthright, other heroes have to suffer to achieve. Look at Hulk, for example, and Spiderman.
    Training as American Ninja Warriors in Marylander Tony Torres’ Alternative Routes gym, Sean Darling-Hammond and Chris DiGangi are grunting and shimmying for their goals.
    Which is what Torres wants. “I want them to fail, because I want them to know what failure does. Failure should push you to keep trying,” he explained.
    Synchronistically with her story, Free Will Astrologer Rob Brezsny quotes Nietzsche on what it takes to be a hero: “Simultaneously going to meet your highest suffering and your highest hope,” the philosopher wrote.
    Whether or not you’re a Virgo, that’s a good definition to keep in mind in these hero-wishful times.
    Meanwhile, you can enjoy Darling-Hammond and DiGangi’s vicarious sweat in this week’s paper and follow Darling-Hammond, if you’re so inspired, on American Ninja Warrior on August 10.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

The eating is good and local

Plant a seed and it will grow. That’s the truth of midsummer, especially this wet midsummer when Earth up here in our northern hemisphere is cloaked in vegetation. You’ll remember it wasn’t like this six months ago; sticks and Earth were bare. Now it’s gangbusters.
    Corn grows rampant. Cucumbers and squash hang pendulous and beans in curtains on their vines. Canes break out with raspberries. Tomatoes swell and burst in the sun. Earth reverts to the Garden of Eden, where it’s all yours for the picking.
    If ever you’re going to eat local, now is the time.
    Corn grew so tall and thick it shaded the narrow lane I traveled on the way to the Bay Gardener’s Upakrik Farm in Deale, where Dr. Gouin is calling in friends and carrying baskets to the SCAN Food pantry to help eat his way out of abundance. His is a mighty garden.
    Even a little patch on the edge of shade like ours feeds the family generously if a bit monotonously. First came our salad days. Then the feast of radishes. Now cucumber salad is a nightly dish as we wait and hope for the tomatoes to go riot. No vampires will visit my home, where a year’s worth of garlic dries in braids I learned to tie from the Bay Gardener. I had parsley (until it went to seed, in its second year) and have basil and oregano enough to feed Fairhaven. My lemon balm would make tea for all Annapolis.
    If you planted a seed this spring, it grew.
    Multiply that bounty by all the gardens and farms in Chesapeake Country, gather it in dozens of farmers markets and roadside stands, and we’ve all got some eating to do. Because, as Dr. Gouin says, “over production of vegetables often occurs, and it is shameful to allow it to spoil.”
    In case you’re not doing your part, Maryland designates the coming week of high summer, July 18 through 26, as Buy Local Challenge Week. Your assignment, if you accept it, is to make a personal commitment, pledging (at to eat at least one thing from a local farm every day of the Challenge Week.
    Where will you start?
    Simple and unsurpassed for the tomato eaters of Maryland is a perfect tomato sandwich: Thick slices of tomato on your choice of bread moistened by butter, mayo or olive oil, topped with salt, pepper and, if you go the olive oil route, basil. Make it meaty with crisp strips of bacon. Yes, locally raised meat is becoming standard at local farmers markets, if not farm stands.
    If you’re ready to step out, try the recipes in this week’s paper. Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan’s instructs us how to make two Korean dishes — pork bulgogyi and cucumber salad, both favorites among her family. Step out a bit further with avid home cook, artist and fermentation enthusiast Caiti Sullivan, who simplifies canning, pickling and fermentation with in-season recipes for Spiced Cherry Preserves, Bread and Butter Pickles, Canned Tomatoes with Italian Herbs and Sauerkraut.
    If you’re really into challenge, try the complex and delicious recipes created by local chefs from local ingredients from local farms for the Governor’s Annual Buy-Local Cookout. This year’s recipes include not only Hogan’s bulgogyi but also, to sweeten the menu, Firefly Farms Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce and Grilled Black Rock Orchard Peach Compote, by Doug Wetzel of Gertrude’s in Baltimore.
    Find Governor’s Buy Local Cookout cookbooks and recipes from 2009 to 2015 at
    It’s midsummer, and the eating is good and fresh. But the season is short. Stock your kitchen, fridge and pantry with local bounty. Make a habit of shopping farmers markets and roadside stands for the best local produce, brought to you freshly harvested by the farmers who grew the good things we love to eat.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

Who gets to march in our parade?

Did you see America as your neighborhood’s Fourth of July parade marched, rolled and roared by?
    That’s what we’re looking for, don’t you think, as we watch and wave from sidewalk and roadside.
    The parades of Chesapeake Country were fresh in my mind the afternoon of this July Fourth when my son Nathaniel called from St. Louis to report on the parade in his community, Webster Groves.
    So I thought I was reading Nathaniel’s words when my husband passed this report to me on his iPhone the next morning.
    No, I realized, as the time frame sank in.
    These were the words and thoughts of my husband’s old colleague and later editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, William F. Woo. This parade passed  24 years ago, in 1991. Bill Woo died in 2006. Yet his words — shared on Facebook by his wife Martha Shirk — were timeless.
    As I’ve never read a better story about a Fourth of July parade, I share a slightly reduced version of Bill Woo’s with you.
    My family waited for the Webster Groves’ parade on  the shady southeast corner of Gore and Swon. We had
set the lawn chairs out early, and we bought small American flags for 50
cents apiece from a Boy Scout on roller blades.
    A few minutes after 10, the motorcycle police drove by with sirens
blasting, and shortly thereafter came the fire department aerial truck.
Now the parade began in earnest: The VFW and American Legion color
guards, the mayor and council members, the noisy string of old fire
engines, the finalists for Miss Webster, the children of the Webster
Groves Day Care Center.
    Then, in white, came a delegation from Right to Life, and after it the
Indian Guides, Miss Safe Boating of 1987, Camp Webegee, the high school
marching band, the neighborhood drill teams with umbrellas and lawn
chairs and the rest: all familiar, everything good natured, the whole
parade as exciting and satisfying as fried chicken, potato salad and
    Afterward, we went across the street for an after-parade buffet. The
comfortable old frame house was cool and the porch was crowded with
neighbors and the hosts’ friends. I stood on the lawn with a man I know
from the neighborhood, the two of us drinking cold beer and watching our
children splash down a water slide.
    Too bad about the Pro-Life group in the parade, he said. It was out of
    No, I protested. I was glad they were there, and I was sorry the
pro-choice people were not. The Fourth of July belongs to all of us, and
it is good to see people in the parade who believe strongly in something.
    Pro-choice would have made it even worse, the man said. Controversial
issues create tension. They would ruin the parade.
    I persisted. America was raised on political controversy and exists
because of it. What better day to acknowledge this than the Fourth?
    He said: How would you like the Ku Klux Klan marching in the Webster parade?
    I had to think about that. Logically, my argument
required me to accept the representation of every political, social and
economic cause, no matter how unpopular; for all of them have an
inalienable right to publicly celebrate liberty. If one cannot march on
the Fourth of July, the parade is meaningless for the rest. Yet, did I
wish to sit with my family and listen to the jeers, feel the sullen
silences and watch angry, demanding people go by?
    The parade that we watched depicted an idealized America, showing only a
partial reality. Perhaps it was quite enough for the community to have
briefly taken innocent, untroubled pleasure in itself. Nonetheless, my
friend had disquieted me.
    A few years ago, when our son Bennett was at the day care center, I
marched in the parade myself, pulling him on a red plastic fire engine. The kids were an adorable lot — wonderful little faces of the future.
But what if instead of pulling a beautiful three-year-old on a riding
toy, I had been pushing my mother in a wheel chair? What if I and other
family members of old men and women with advanced Alzheimer’s disease
had marched with our relatives, all silent and crumpled, looking dimly
out from withered faces that may be yours and mine someday?
    What if the unemployed people of Webster had marched, white collars and
blue, reminding those of us with jobs that our brothers and sisters in
community lack economic opportunity? What if the gays and lesbians who
are our neighbors were there? What if the drop-outs and the illiterates
from the schools walked the parade route alongside the cheerleaders and
the marching band?
    We would still be Webster Groves; we would still be America. But it
would be a very different Fourth of July. It would be more honest, but
it would be disturbing, and I cannot honestly say that I would look
forward to it, year after year, as I do this celebration …
    As the fireworks blazed in the distance [that evening], I remembered a far grander
display I once witnessed as a reporter from the banks of the Neva River
in Leningrad, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Communism.
The huge crowd then was perfectly controlled, immaculately behaved. No
one was out of line or loud.
    Now the people of Leningrad have voted to restore the name of St.
Petersburg. Communism is dying and the Soviet Union is falling apart
with rot. I reflected on that as I watched the people around me, some of
them attentive and quiet, others rude and boisterous, all of them having
a good time. There was nothing artificial here.
    When we got home, the six-year-old was asleep and had to be carried to
bed. I put the three-year-old in pajamas and read him a book about a cow
and an elephant. Stay with me a little while, he said when it was
finished and I turned off the light.
    Some neighbors were setting off firecrackers. I thought again about the
parade and the question the man had raised. No good answer had come. I
thought about that well-mannered display in Leningrad and how much
better the Jeeps with noisy teen-agers were;  and
before I could think of anything more the boy and I were both asleep.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

Beyond pomp, parade and fireworks to shared heritage

Weather in Philadelphia in early July 1776, was hot and sticky, just as ours is 239 years later. Fifty-six suited, vested and stockinged men, some bewigged, were embroiled in a quarrelsome task: finding the words to declare independence from Mother England. Opinions, drafts and revisions flew. If the tall windows of Constitution Hall were open, as some paintings suggest, papers that made history rustled and declared their own independence.
    History doesn’t happen in the abstract. Winds blow, humidity rises, rain falls. Real people sweat and scratch, even when they’re taking action so audacious that its only repetition in the history of the nation they began nearly severed that nation, at the cost of 620,000 lives.
    Imagining the circumstances of history brings it home to me. None of those 56 men of mostly English and Irish extraction are my ancestors, as far as I know, though I descend, in part, from men and women from those nations. Yet of all us Americans, no matter what nation we derive, share the legacy of these men whose articulate, far-thinking bravery gave us the nation we celebrate this July Fourth.
    Fireworks and parades highlight the celebrations of Chesapeake Country as towns, business associations and ballparks honor president-to-be John Adams’ wish that Independence Day “be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”
    I love fireworks and parades, and assuming you do, too, we bring you a full listing of Chesapeake Country’s indulgence in such gleeful celebrations.
    Still, my favorite independence celebration is the annual Fourth of July naturalization of new citizens at the Annapolis home of William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The people about to become Americans share a special connection with Paca and the other fathers of our nations: None was born an American citizen.
    In that spirit, I honor Independence Day in yet another way. It’s become my custom to reimagine the Americanization of my own foremothers and fathers. Imagine I must, for these are stories I’ve never heard, neither directly nor passed down. What a terrible loss, I think, that these stories were baggage jettisoned as my recently American ancestors moved, in the American way, steadfastly and swiftly into the future.
    Why did they make the enormous decision to separate from the lands of their births to become Americans? I doubt if their motives were as articulate or lofty as those expressed by our white, upper-class, Anglo forefathers in still-ringing words that instill responsive harmonies around the world.
    Still, those great men and my lowly, all-but-forgotten ancestors each sought the improvement of their physical circumstances. Certainly, too, audacious hope was a shared motive, born of the in-the-blood-and-bones conviction that each of us small human beings is, in Thomas Jefferson’s winning wording, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    Perhaps inchoate, those are the feelings I like to imagine that in 1920 inspired Catherine and Sylvester Olivetti, with their small son Massimo and the gestating daughter who would become Elsa, my mother, to leave behind their family and village of Pessinetto in the Italian Alps above Turin, travel to Le Harve, France, to steam to America, eventually to settle in the impoverished coal culture of Franklin County, Illinois.
    I imagine that what they left and what they hoped was much the same for the Martin and Nairn ancestors for whom I have not even the shred of a story. Nor so different — for all our details of difference — from the hopes and lettings go of any new American, including those who join our family on this Independence Day.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

Let’s give the guy a little respect

Parenting is a job that leaves nobody satisfied. Children, like Freudians, lay the blame for all sorts of neuroses at their parents’ feet. Spouses bash one another for inherited faulty genes and difficult personalities. Parents censure with themselves, even — or maybe especially — those who’ve read a book or two on the developing human body, mind and emotions and whose kids give behavioral testimony to their parental units’ having done a pretty good job. Try to compliment one of those, and you’ll hear a litany of nitpicking should-haves.
    I, for one, have evolved to illumination on my hundred thousand mistakes and could advise my kids, surviving despite my errors, how to do better themselves — if only they’d listen. That’s probably my fault too, for not listening actively enough to them. Oh, if only I’d read Dr. Spock instead of believing his presence in the house was sufficiently therapeutic.
    Fathers and mothers both, gender be darned, we’re all in this job of parenting together. So we’re giving Dad his equal due, equal responsibility in Jane Elkin’s story The Poetry of Parenting, a job so tough that only poets have the words for it. In that spirit, the CalvART Gallery poetry reading where this story began featured two fathers — poets Michael Glaser and Jeffrey Coleman. Jane chose to add open-mike reader Rachel Anastasia Heinhorst, a mother. Herself a poet and parent, Jane included her perspective to balance genders but without altering the conclusion: It’s mostly guesswork, hunch and whim we follow as we lay out our children’s road to independence. At least that’s where we hope they’re headed.
    Quibbling aside, occasionally even a parent gets it right.
    How very right you’ll see in our paired first-person tributes to fathers on the celebratory occasion of Father’s Day. Diane Knaus, who writes of her father Marlow Hankey, is old enough to be the grandmother of 18-year-old Theodore H. Mattheiss III, who writes of his father Dave Mattheiss.
    Diane we’ve known forever, as far back as that old millennium when we were New Bay Times Weekly. It’s been ages, however, since she’s appeared in our pages.
    Mattheiss is a brand-new acquaintance, at Bay Weekly intensively for two weeks on the recommendation of his English teacher Amanda Newell (daughter of our contributing writer Diane Burt) to complete his senior internship and get to graduate from The Gunston School. A Stevensville lad, he’s off this fall to Washington College, where we hope that in four years he’ll win the Sophie Kerr prize, the largest undergraduate writing award in the nation. Reading his story, you’ll see we have some grounds for this hope. In the short term, we have a surer bet: that his father Dave — to whom this story comes as a surprise — will weep.
    Yes, both of these fathers have gotten it right. On at least one score.
    For we’re not going whole hog, let alone whole hippopotamus. Each writer applauds Dad on a single narrow achievement. Diane, who admits to “a curious relationship” with her father, credits him for teaching her by example and apprenticeship how to maintain an auto. Theodore’s sweetly worshipful story lauds his father for inspiring and teaching him to play — and care for — the guitar.
    Otherwise, for all we know, fathers Hankey and Mattheiss might have been duds. Like the rest of us parents.
    Still, they’ve done something right. Who knows? Maybe we all have, fathers like and mothers alike.
    Wait! Did I mean to say that about him? Sure, on Father’s Day, let’s give the guy a little respect.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

Wondering how we’ll fare as leadership changes at DNR

A pre-visit look at Bay Weekly’s Facebook post of a toothy snakehead had my visiting family afraid to go in the water.
    No need to worry, I assured them. We’re reporting snakeheads in ponds, creeks, streams and rivers, not in the Chesapeake proper. On the other hand, visitors at the next-door Smiths waded with a pod of cownose rays. Then ensued a conversation about whether the first recorded encounter with a stingray was the fault of the stinger or of the stung, Captain John Smith.
    The Bay and its tributaries are full of life in many forms. Get out into it and a crab could grab your toes. A water snake could swim alongside you. An eel could slither against your leg. Fingerling fish could nibble at your toes. An osprey could soar down to hook a fish with its talons, or a tern could make its vertical dive to spear a fish with its bill. Underwater grasses could tangle round you.
    All these life forms — minus the invasive snakeheads and some would say the oyster-eating native rays — are proof of the Bay’s vitality. No species is thriving in historic abundance, but for many there is reason for hope.
    With a score of 64, rockfish earned the highest of a dozen measures of water quality on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2014 biennial State of the Bay Report. Oysters scored only eight, but they rose two points from 2012.
    Both of those species had fallen to historic lows before Maryland Department of Natural Resources broke with convention — and made a lot of people mad — to bring them back. Rockfish, the Bay’s signature sports fish and a significant commercial harvest, became a forbidden catch from 1985 to 1990. The moratorium worked, and now catches are carefully monitored not only in the Bay but also throughout the fish’s migratory route into the ocean and up and down the coasts.
    Nowadays it’s oysters rocking the boat. There’s no moratorium on oystering, a fishery almost entirely commercial. But DNR is pushing a bigger change, from the deep-rooted tradition of wild harvesting to oyster farming. Getting from here to there — a healthy oyster population for a healthy Bay — has meant new restrictions, including closing many harvest grounds in favor of sanctuaries. Reviving a commercial catch has meant creating aquaculture as a largely new industry, much like planting a wine industry in Maryland soil.
    Adding premium value to Maryland seafood — which used to be everybody’s for the gathering — is part of the plan, with brand-name Maryland oysters sought by high-end joints and picky consumers. Marketing Maryland fish — even snakehead — as delicacies with terrior has been part of the plan, with know-your-Bay campaigns reaching out to taste-making chefs.
    Many people have a hand in big shifts like these, but the orders come from policy makers. Under Gov. Bob Ehrlich, alien oysters were on a fast track to replace languishing Maryland natives. Gov. Martin O’Malley put natives back up front. Sen. Barbara Mikulski fought for the Bay in the U.S. Senate, and President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay Protection in 2009.
    The weight of carrying out those decisions falls on regulators in DNR. As secretary, Torrey Brown gave us the rockfish moratorium. Oyster revitalization came from Secretary John Griffin and his fisheries director Tom O’Connell. Griffin left the department to assist O’Malley.
    Gov. Larry Hogan chose a new secretary, Mark Belton, but otherwise left DNR in place for six months. Now he’s letting go the old for his own people, as he has every right to do. O’Connell and three other policy leaders are now out. Seafood marketer Steve Vilnit has chosen to leave.
    In their time, they’ve made a difference in our Bay. Now it’s time to look hopefully but critically at what the future brings.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

That’s what we want in stories — and libraries

For sharks like Mary Lee, the great white star of this week’s Creature Feature, mobility is the law of life. Though even she can’t be two places at once — despite a suggestive reading from her satellite transmitter that she was swimming toward Chesapeake Beach on May 29.
    For others of us, it’s hard to be anywhere but where we are. Though firmly rooted creatures like trees and oysters broadcast their seeds in uncountable abundance to transcend their immobility.
    Like Mary Lee, some of us are citizens of the world. Where are you from? is a question that means little to the child of a military family. But live in a place a while and you put down roots, sipping up through them the terroir of our lands and waters. So it’s with a satisfying sense of affinity that I welcome sister St. Louisan Kristen Minogue as a Bay Weekly writer this week. By way of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, science writer Minogue finds herself transplanted to Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, off Muddy Creek Road deep in woods that barely look like Edgewater.
    At Smithsonian, a big part of her job is bringing research into the language and experience of people who don’t speak science.
    “I’m very glad to see a new generation committed to good science journalism,” the director there, Anson ‘Tuck’ Hines, told me “to translate science for the general public, including resource manager and politicians.”
    In this week’s feature story, Minogue tells another story learned from evidence, highlighting people who came before the scientists in the 3,000-year history of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center land. Even for people rooted in a place, seeing through time takes specialized vision. Read it and you may feel, as I did, the mobility of a traveler through time.
    We do more time traveling this week in Diane Burt’s profile of baseball fan Ray Cox, whose appreciation of the Nationals rises from his teenage association with The Senators, a batboy on the field as history was made.
    Where are you from? From what place do your ­stories rise? We want to know.

A Library of Another Place — and Another Color
    In the ordinary way of things, I’m stuck in place like an oyster. But over the weekend, I adopted the mobility of a shark for a quick trip to San Antonio. Libraries were still on my mind from last week’s paper, and in my luggage to share with the editors of that city’s daily newspaper, the Express News. So the central San Antonio Public Library popped my eyes open wide. A six-story stack of red-earth and burnt-sienna rectangles highlighted in purple and silhouetted against a true blue sky, the 20-year-old Central Library encloses 240,000 square feet of space and 580,300 books plus all the other media and services that make a modern library.
    That $28 million bond purchase — plus $10 million to equip and furnish — has paid off, as a place defining its city while serving a system of 24 libraries and a county of 1.8 million people.
    Out of the debate over Anne Arundel County libraries, I hope we build places that, inside and out, reflect us as well. Budgeting decisions are only a week away. Now’s the time to share your vision with your elected representatives, your county executive and councilmen at

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

No matter which county issued your card, you can use any library in Maryland

Libraries are this week’s feature story, specifically Anne Arundel public libraries, which have come to the fork in the road and must, as Yogi Berra said, take it.
    Wherever you live, this story of one county’s conflict touches you. For there’s magic in your Maryland library card. No matter what library issued it, your card opens the door to every public library in the state. Wherever you roam, whatever special collections you want to browse, you’re a welcome visitor.
    For me and many South Arundel readers, as well as Calvert Countians, the Calvert County library system is close to home and heart.
    Calvert County’s 90,613 people have four libraries, all within 10 miles of every address. Like Anne Arundel libraries, Calvert’s run a full schedule of events. Most larger events are held at the Central Library and easily draw visitors from more than 20 miles. The four libraries, constructed between 1981 and 2006, encompass 47,140 square feet. The general recommendation for public libraries is a square foot per county resident. By this measure, Library Director Carrie Plymire tells us, Calvert Library is half the size that it should be to best serve the community.
    By the way, no Maryland library lives up to that standard. Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt comes the closest, at .0924. Anne Arundel’s system offers only .0481, the lowest of the nine central Maryland counties.
    Back to Calvert: The county’s central library is Prince Frederick, which moved in 2006 into a newly constructed building: “At 28,000 airy square feet, it doubled our space,” said Patricia Hofmann, the library director in charge of its creation. “There is plenty of room for information in all forms, 27 well-used computers, teaching and get-togethers, even a café.” The cost, 10 years ago, was $8 million.
    Since 2006, Calvert Library Prince Frederick has added another 20 public computers. The meeting rooms are used every day for library programming and community organizations and businesses. Plymire, who replaced Hofmann, says she “often wishes for another 5,000 square feet to accommodate more meeting rooms, a technology lab, creative space for audio and video production and other flexible spaces that would enable Calvert Library to better serve its community.”
    Two more of Calvert’s libraries are upgrading. In 2013, Southern library moved from 3,250 square feet in Lusby to an interim location in Solomons, 9,200 square feet of the old Woodburns grocery store The county spent a little under $1 million, and the Calvert Library Foundation added another $233,000 for additional windows, technology and furniture. A new 16,000-square-foot library for the southern part of the county is slated for land acquisition in fiscal year 2021.
    Twin Beaches branch is currently operating in 4,240 square feet of leased space in Chesapeake Beach. Staff are very creative with their programming — often borrowing space in neighboring senior centers or fire stations — as there aren’t any meeting rooms or dedicated storytime space in the branch. Twin Beaches is slated for a new 16,000-square-foot branch with architecture and engineering to begin in fiscal year 2019. That project is expected to cost approximately $7 million.
    The fourth branch, Fairview, has its feet solidly in the past, looking pretty much the same as when I first used it nearly three decades ago. At 5,200 square feet it is, Plymire says, “a very busy branch right on Route 4 that serves much of the commuting population.”
    With Maryland’s rare magic library card, they’re all yours.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

New mascot replaces PFD Panda

Going to the dogs is under reconstruction. In the olden days, going to the dogs described degeneration, as in another old saw: If you lie down with dogs, expect to get fleas.
    No more. Today’s dogs are superior beings offering the unconditional love that seems to be scarce elsewhere. From Haiti to Katmandu, they perform superhuman rescues. Closer to home, kids improve their reading with dogs as listeners.
    Now Maryland Department of Natural Resources is going to the dogs with Splash the Water Safety Dog — a handsome Chesapeake Bay retriever — replacing PFD Panda.
    “We decided there are no pandas in Maryland,” said Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candus Thomson. “We’re going homegrown with a mascot more in keeping with Maryland tradition.”
    PFD Panda came off the mascot shelf. Splash is unique, created by a one of-a-kind mascot maker.
    PFD Panda’s retirement was tearful, but the 20-year-mascot held no hard feelings, giving his replacement a new orange life jacket. The six-foot-tall Chessie now always wears the life jacket; except for a hat, it’s the new mascot’s only garment.
    Splash debuts tonight at Camden Yards when the Orioles face the Seattle Mariners during National Safe Boating Week. Look for Splash in the concourse behind home plate. Stop by to welcome Splash and, if you’re lucky, win a small plush replica.
    Hereafter, Splash will visit schools, fairs and other public events statewide to remind citizens that the best way to remain safe on the water is to wear a life jacket.
    Missing PFD Panda? See his farewell, with mascots from the Ravens, the U.S. Naval Academy, the Bowie Baysox, the Coast Guard, UMBC and Towson University:
    There’s one more change to learn: With Panda goes the term PFD. Nowadays, we all wear lifejackets.