Dock of the Bay
Volume VI Number 8
May 7-13, 1998
NBT Bivalve Birthday Bash:
Fun, Sun, Success
Below, host Jerry Osuna and 13-month-old son Nicholas Alexander enjoy the day. Live music, next below Sudden Exposure, began and ended New Bay Times' 5-Year Anniversary Bivalve Birthday Bash.Last photo, Oyster Recovery Partnership Executive Director Bob Pfeiffer opens the benefit auction. photos by Diane Knauss Diamond and Betsy Kehne.
The sun shone on New Bay Times' fifth birthday party and good-cause fund-raiser - literally and metaphorically.
If you were to calculate your chances of fair weather coinciding with the day you threw a lawn party for hundreds of people, you'd not send a single invitation. Especially in the extraordinarily wet year of 1998. Yet the sun shone brilliantly throughout the afternoon of Sun., May 3, creating a summer-like oasis in a deluged weekend.
Just as foolhardy was creating a newspaper in the year 1993, in the midst of a long drought season in the journalism business. Yet five years later, New Bay Times was around to celebrate.
Over 600 friends, well-wishers and just plain party animals came around, too. They celebrated with us, despite that day's competing lures: walking the Bay Bridge; motoring in the Whitbread wake; and shopping for a dream boat in Annapolis' Spring Boat Show. For some, NBT's Birthday Bivalve Bash was the third or fourth event topping off a full day.
From land and by sea the crowd thronged at Jerry Osuna's Surfside 7 in Edgewater, many guided by placards from Sunrise Sign Studio in Deale. They basked and browsed at the Birthday Bivalve Bash as water and sun, balloons and volleyball, healing touch and good vibrations filled the day.
The healing touch came courtesy a trio of three holistic healers. Working out life's kinks with free seated massages were massage therapists Vicki Halper and Margot Gerrity. A chiropractor, Dr. Daniel Collins, measured the shapes of partygoers' spines.
Many of the good vibrations were of the musical kind. Opening were the Unpredictables, who contributed a birthday song to the occasion.
"NBT, NBT, NBT's so fine - and it doesn't even cost you a dime," wrote the Unpredictables' Fred Peters. "So if you want some news with good couth, read NBT for the truth."
Adding more good vibrations from the musical stage were Dean Rosenthal, Detour, Sudden Exposure and Unity Reggae Band. Nearby, author Mick Blackistone signed books while Senate President Mike Miller, Del. George Owings, Anne Arundel County Council Member Diane Evans and Calvert County Commissioner Mark Frazer made their rounds.
Hamburgers and hot dogs flowed in a smoky, ceaseless stream from host Osuna's grill. Bill Bagdasian, proprietor of Adam's the Place for Ribs, produced an entire barbecued pig. Bob Platt from Pirate's Cove laid out smoked bluefish. John and Anne Remy from Lagoons rolled up 85 pounds of chicken into Caribbean fajitas. Mike Sellinger from The Old Stein Inn served German savory sausages with sauerkraut. Scott Sorrell from Olde South Catering barbecued more mouth-watering pork than you can imagine.
It was enough to entice a vegetarian off the wagon.
No sweet tooth went unsatisfied. From Herrington on the Bay, Anna Chaney sent brownies. From Rusty's Wayside Grill, Cheryl Ward sent a basket chocolate chip cookies. And from the Chocolate Box, Susan Marshall sent a giant sheet cake, adorned with sea shells to celebrate New Bay Times' alliance with the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
For the day was dedicated to the Bay's long-suffering, hard-working oysters. As you walked along the deck into the party, you saw their ability with your own eyes. We've been told that a single adult oyster purifies 50 gallons of water in a summer's day.
To bring that abstraction to life, Partnership Director Bob Pfeiffer had set up an aquarium populated with oysters. Before our eyes, muddy waters cleared.
To bring back oysters and bright waters to Chesapeake Bay, more friends had donated the makings of a lively auction.
Then, while the sun shone, Judy Howard and Pam Parks - WhittMar Auctioneering's ladies with a gavel - made hay, coaxing almost $6,500 out of nearly 100 bidders. Among the highest money earners -
Add $169 from Shirley Allwine's 50/50 raffle and contributions from Comptroller Louis Goldstein and 33rd District Democratic candidate for House of Delegates Gayle Powell, and NBT's Birthday Bivalve Bash bought the Bay about 6,500 oysters for the South and Severn Rivers.
Not as cheap as a 25-cent oyster shooter at Middleton Tavern, but these oysters will last a lot longer, produce billions of progeny and rebuild oyster communities on the Bay bottoms.
"I want to thank you once again for the wonderful show of support you provided the Oyster Recovery Partnership," wrote director Pfeiffer.
"One question remains unresolved, however. Who on your staff has a direct line to the weather? By the time I got home, I was unloading in the rain."
At New Fairhaven School, A Goal of Freeing Kids to Learn
Below, after long last, Fairhaven School founders gather at the school site in Upper Malboro. photo by M.L. Faunce.
Spring was in the air, but the thoughts of parents and students at the ground breaking for the new Fairhaven Democratic School were fixed on school year that will finally begin in the fall.
If that sounds like heresy with most children bursting to leave school for summer vacation, you'd have to meet some of the students signing up at Fairhaven School.
The school, west of Davidsonville in Prince George's County, is a school without walls, mortar or brick. Right now, the seven-acre site is a clearing of land surrounded by trees and bordered by a stream. Climbing to the top of the tiered, recently cleared parcel, families gathered, joyful and excited, connected by a promise and a soon-to-be-realized dream.
On this spot, the old is preparing the way for new. Roots of cleared trees protrude from the earth like anchors to another age - a flood plain said to hold fossils two million years old. Soon fertile young minds will learn and create and take responsibility for themselves in a setting as idyllic as the new school's name, Fairhaven.
On a perfect late April day, the children who will attend an ungraded school with no set curriculum and no tests unless they want them (they probably won't), turned over the soil of their new school. If this had been a test, the brigade of enthusiastic kids with spades, shovels, picks and hoes would have passed with flying colors.
Alice Meyer, 11, of Lothian seemed to have a special understanding of the foundation being laid here as she offered her thoughts on this ground-breaking day.
"I'm going to bring my own kids back here and tell them I built this school," she said.
As if to foretell her own future success, five-year-old Imani Stewart read, yes read, from a sheet of paper about how happy she was that the "Fairhaven School will have lots of space and lots of computers."
A committed group of 12 families worked for four years to make this project a reality. Joe Jackson, project treasurer, introduced many, among them Romey Pittman, who Jackson called the "Fairhaven Freight Train."
Pittman helped guide this dream through years of planning, site searching, land purchase and over hurdles erected by state and local government agencies.
Fairhaven is Maryland's first school on the Sudbury model, an alternative to traditional schooling based on what adherents call "self-initiated learning in a democratic setting." Mimsy Sadofsky who founded Sudbury Valley School 30 years ago outside Boston, came to lend her personal support. While raising her own three children, Sadofsky developed the educational philosophy that would shape 20 other schools in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states.
At Sudbury, the three R's are a vital part of learning. But these three R's are Rules, Respect and Responsibility.
Alice Wells, a Fairhaven founder, will send her six-year-old daughter, Johanna, to the school. Wells said she wanted "a place where my children can develop unfettered and safe from adult meddling so that who and what they are can evolve."
Wells added: "Each child contains a spark of special brilliance that can be snuffed out by other people's ideas of what is correct. We never find out who we are unless we are free to."
Jim Meyer, 11-year-old Alice's parents, said that the Fairhaven School "fills an important niche for the area. He said that his six children, ages 11 to 22, are independent and self-motivated, "all moving on positive paths."
Meyer learned about this alternative educational philosophy from Mark and Kim McCaig. The McCaigs, who lived in Fairhaven (thus the name for the new school) until joining the Sudbury School community last year, promoted the concept throughout South Anne Arundel County.
Another founder, Marty Perkins, of Crofton, was busy helping get cars parked on the rough terrain at the school site. Between puffs of dust and arriving cars, Perkins pointed out his son Zeke, who will be seven in June. At Fairhaven, his father said, Zeke "will be able to pursue his own interest and his own passion."
A busy summer will lead to fall school opening. Soon, the building layout and preparation will begin. The foundation will be laid, then the floor framing and subfloor. "Timber raising" is set for the week of Memorial Day. While other families are heading off for the beach, parents and students of Fairhaven School will be here.
When kids are as excited about going to school as these kids are, it seems parents will do anything to make it happen. Kids like Alice Meyer, are laying the foundation for their futures.
(To learn more about Fairhaven School, talk to a founder at 410/798-8527 or 301/261-1128.)
Steward's Shipyard: New Finds Yield Clues, Mysteries
Liz West scoops dirt to be screened for artifacts at Steward's Shipyard, below.
Archaeologist Liz West strained brown earth through a hand-held screen and there lay a piece of white, salt-glazed stoneware about 250 years old.
The shiny artifact - along with brass pieces, lead shot and hunks of iron - is part of the latest trove unearthed along the West River in recent weeks at the site of the old Stephen Steward Shipyard.
Deploying ground-penetrating radar, archaeologists working under a contract with Anne Arundel County recorded a major find this month: two large post-holes - one containing a cannon ball - indicating the precise location of an old Steward building.
The finds add puzzle pieces to the Lost Towns of Anne Arundel Project and contribute momentum for a newly designated Annapolis-London Town Heritage Area in competition for state money.
As county planners look to build tourism, the firm commitment to archaeology by County Executive John Gary is showing signs of paying off. More immediately, the discoveries illuminate a slice of Maryland history that is not fully understood.
"We didn't really know much about shipbuilding here - what was going on or what kind of buildings there were," observed archaeologist Jim Gibb.
History has recorded some of the events here. From 1753 until the 1780s, Steward built an array of boats that ranged from sloops to ocean-going merchant ships. He also constructed vessels for the colonial navy, which is why two British ships, Monk and Hope, proceeded as far up the West River as they could on March 31, 1781. They meant business.
This is what they destroyed, according to the weekly Maryland Gazette: "A ship of 20 guns that in a few days would have been launched; the dwelling house with most of the furniture; two or three storehouses filed with articles of every kind for conducting the business of building ships tools, timber, everything was lost."
The new discovery suggests that one of the buildings that might have perished was about 16 by 28 feet, held up by sturdy wooden timbers a foot in diameter. But pieces of brass found in the ground pose a new mystery: How was brass - ornamental but not strong - used in making ships built for utility and fighting?
Al Luckenbach, county archaeologist, believes that the brass was used to sheath the wood on ships so as to protect it from weather and worms.
It may be a while before that question is answered - though probably not another 200 years. Rather than being extensively dug, the new finds have been covered to protect them for educational purposes. The Steward Colonial Shipyard Foundation is working on a series of projects, among them an educational coloring book and miniature replications. The foundation received $25,000 from Anne Arundel County this year in addition to the costs of research.
That money - along with the new finds - are propelling Steward's Shipyard toward a future as bright as its revolutionary past.
"Since the first of the year, things have been going in leaps and bounds," observed Lyman Hall, who owns the property. "It's been a real thrill these last few months."
Update: Gardeners Grow a Home Fund
On Saturday afternoon, NBT stopped by Centenary United Methodist Church to check on progress at the weekend plant sale to raise funds to rebuild the Shady Side home of Sarah Matthews and Mary Tyler.
Over $400 was raised in just four hours on Friday evening despite the steady rain, reported Dottie Fender, church member and volunteer. Saturday business was brisk, with Mary Tyler, Matthews' daughter, on hand to help out and thank all who donated their time and money to the sale. NBT got there just in time to buy one of the last flats of colorful impatiens and posts of healthy herbs.
The Matthews-Tyler house rebuilding project is sponsored by Arundel Habitat for Humanity (NBT April 6-22: "Have You Got a Hammer?") If you missed the sale, you can still contribute: 410/384-9212.
Way Downstream ...
In South Carolina, Clemson University researchers decided to test the fields of poultry farmers to see if they were applying too much fertilizer. In 24 of 25 fields examined, they found excessive levels of nutrient pollution, the Columbia State newspaper reported last week
In Virginia, the state Department of Environmental Quality reported last week that the state has 2,200 miles of rivers polluted with fecal bacteria, contaminated storm water or toxic chemicals. That number rose by 700 miles, or nearly a third, since testing two years ago ...
From China, the river news is even worse. The South China Morning Post reported this week that the Hongshui River alternates between the colors black and red now - black from coal pollution and red from soil erosion. The newspaper reported that the sudden and strange colors have create "a state of panic" among people in the Guangxi Province ...
Panama was the venue of a high-level conference that concerns us and many of our readers: saving chocolate. The New York Times reported this week that representatives of Mars, Cadbury, Nestle and Hershey recently met with conservation groups at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to set strategies to grow cocoa now that rainforests, where cocoa grows so well, are dwindling ...
In Arkansas, Gov. Mike Huckaby has apologized for accusing environmental advocates of worshipping nature instead of God. He ended his letter of apology with these words: "With egg (Arkansas produced, of course) on my face, crow in my mouth and the welts of many a lash from a green stick on my behind, I remain, naturally yours" ...
Our Creature Feature this week comes to us from New Hampshire where, very shortly, a lot of political animals will be cavorting in preparation for the first presidential primary. But the animals in the news today have wool and are related to a honey named Dolly.
The New Hampshire Public Service Co. last month imported 500 sheep from Montana "to chomp down on overgrown vegetation," the Boston Globe reported. The local union might not appreciate the move, but environmental advocates will: The utility said it hopes the "natural lawnmowers" will cut down on its work crews and reduce its use of herbicides.
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Volume VI Number 18
May 7-13, 1998
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