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Volume 16, Issue 47 - November 20 - November 26, 2008
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Seeing the Forest through the Trees

Ezarthwatchers train at Edgewater for global action

An expanding girth may not be a good thing — unless a flourishing tree is doing the expansion.

Armed with tape measures and tags, two teams of volunteers each spent a week this month tromping through forests to measure the expanding girth of trees at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater. Their volunteer fieldwork was part of a five-year, $100 million global partnership among banking/asset conglomerate HSBC, Earthwatch Institute, World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Institute.

Earthwatch Institute volunteers measure a tree’s girth as part of climate research program at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater.

“About 10 times a year, we recruit citizen volunteers for a two-week field program at Earthwatch Institute’s North America Regional Climate Center,” explains Earthwatch spokesperson Kristen Kusek. The site on the Smithsonian Edgewater campus is one of five Regional Climate Centers around the world. Others are in the U.K., Brazil, India and China.

“The Chesapeake Bay region is a new place for Earthwatch,” says Kusek. “We haven’t previously worked in this area, and we are really excited about the response to the program.”

Close to 40 applicants — most from Maryland and D.C. — sought the 20 spots for the November study.

“The teams conducted research for several hours each afternoon, looking at the role of forests and climate change,” explains Rebecca Wadler-Lase, learning and communications manager for the Earthwatch Regional Climate Center. “They measured every tree over one centimeter in diameter, working across six hectare plots. Each tree was tagged and will be re-measured in five years to check progress.”

The volunteer groups — called Community Action Teams — spent mornings and evenings in the classroom, learning lessons about science and leadership.

“The goal is when they leave, they go away with a personal action plan and what they want to do as part of their Community Action Team,” says Wadler-Lase.

Danielle Williams was one of the volunteers.

“I work at National Geographic where we have a green initiative,” Williams said. “Focus is put on creating staff awareness of alternative ways to get to work, resulting in a reduction of emissions. Fourteen hundred people work at National Geographic, so we can make an impact.”

Williams left the week-long Earthwatch program with fresh knowledge and clear goals.

“Personally, I brought back information to apply to National Geographic’s green initiative,” Williams said. “And my Community Action Team discussed larger themes and problems — a real call to action for environmental change. We took away a lot of the science on the effects of climate change on the Bay region.”

The experience didn’t end when the week did. Williams’ team continues to work together, developing a “climate-change tool box.”

“We are taking what we learned and adapting it to our community,” said Williams. “We plan to work as a group on legislative actions at the local, state and federal level.”

Earthwatch Institute plans similar programs at its Edgewater Climate Center in the spring and fall of 2009. Volunteer after the first of the year:

–Margaret Tearman

A Grand Ole Osprey

Making music and money for Annapolis Maritime Museum

This week Annapolitan history comes home to roost at the second annual Grand Ole Osprey. The November 22 variety show captures the best of Annapolis, following the traditions of its nominal inspiration — Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

“What we’re trying to achieve with this program is a variety of show that reflects the variety of Annapolis,” says Maritime Museum director Jeff Holland, who hopes to surpass the $32,000 raised by last year’s show to further the museum’s educational programs.

Changing the title from opry to osprey doesn’t mean there will be avian performances. The show gets its name from Holland’s favorite neighbor.

“Osprey are one of my favorite birds,” Holland says. “There’s a nest right off of McNasby’s [at the Maritime Museum], and we watch them all summer long. Osprey are wonderful birds, very local and apropos of the space.”

The show features such local favorites as Them Eastport Oyster Boys, of whom Holland is one. But Holland’s looking forward to younger music.

“We have three youth groups involved, two from George Fox Middle School, their ukulele ensemble and their selected chorus,” Holland says. “They’re involved not only in performing but also writing the song. The kids worked with Janie Meneeley at a songwriting workshop and wrote a great song called George Washington Slept Here.” They also made their own ukuleles.

Beyond musical inspiration, the program delves into the history of the capital, with recreaters from acting troupe Remember Inc.

“Last year they did interpretations of stories that we were collecting,” says Holland, stories captured in Ginger Doyel’s Eastport book Over the Bridge. This year, the group expands from recent history, covering figures from all 300 years of Annapolitan life. “The first act celebrates three centuries of Annapolis history, dating back to when the city was founded in 1695. We do that through dramatic presentations, songs and comedy sketches. The second act is all about Eastport.”

Even in a bad economy, Holland remains hopeful that the Grand Ole Osprey can combine entertainment from Annapolis’ past and present to secure its future.

5-7pm VIP reception; 7-9pm @ Maryland Hall, Annapolis. $25; rsvp: 410-280-5640.

Read more about the George Fox Middle School ukulele ensemble in this Bay Weekly archive feature:

–Diana Beechener

Be an Angel

Help YWCA bring Christmas to Chesapeake Country

Mortals like us like our giving rewarded, but angels soar above what’s-in-it-for-me motives. You can Be an Angel right here on Earth, through the intercession of YWCA Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Through December 21, the Y festoons its holiday Angel Tree with the names of families whose holidays need an angel’s help. You’ll Be an Angel by adopting a family from the tree and making their Christmas with gifts, including new clothing, toys, diapers, formula, coats, gloves and hats.

“You can be confident that their gifts go directly, and without excessive overhead, to those who are truly needy,” says the Y’s Emilia Poiter.

Choose your family and bring your gifts to the YWCA at 1517 Ritchie Hwy., Arnold: 410-626-7800 x129 or

–Sandra Olivetti Martin
© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.