Dock of the Bay
Volume VII Number 16
From Dirty Socks to People-Powered
Mad-Genius Racing, the World Goes Green For a Day
No ordinary rubber ducky: A Human Powered All Terrain Kinetic Sculpture.
In Havana and Seattle, they'll be sowing seeds of cooperation when Cuban and American conservationists in both countries gather on Earth Day to plant trees.
In the African country of Uganda, the Peasant Farmer's Association will be teaching people better ways to cook food so that poor people don't wipe out their forests for charcoal. In France, Ecoropa will be holding a seminar this week to talk about genetically modified food.
Meanwhile, in Nova Scotia, the Chamber of Commerce is holding a "Dirty Socks" contest, in which people put white socks over exhaust pipes for 30 seconds to see who can come up with the dirtiest sock of all.
The cars making dirtiest socks get free engine tune ups.
Across the globe, people will be gathering beginning on April 22 to celebrate the biggest Earth Day ever. Even in the war-torn Balkans, the Ecological Club of Albania is sponsoring events. (If you want to take part, call 011-3555322529 for information.)
Gaylord Nelson, the former senator who founded Earth Day 29 years ago and who has many friends along the Chesapeake Bay, has some advice for Americans: Make natural heritage a highlight and a commitment.
"Work toward building a nationwide network of protected wild lands and help protect the national forests, parks and wildlife refuges. There's too much riding on it for our kids for us not to act responsibly today," he said.
Nelson, 82, who is now counselor to the Wilderness Society, recalled getting his Earth Day idea from Vietnam War protests. He began by using "teach-ins" to warn of threats, and his idea took hold.
"People sometimes forget the magnitude of the first Earth Day," he recalled. "American Heritage Magazine calls it "one of the most remarkable happenings in the history of democracy."
You can find out about Earth Day events globally at www.earthday.com. And along the Chesapeake Bay, here are some events:
-BL & MB
If It's Spring, This Must Be Solomons
Like a new butterfly, Solomons Island emerged from its winter cocoon last weekend as Spring Launch Weekend brought residents out of their protective winter shell and into the sweet nightlife of the season.
"I think it's the official christening of the summer season, like the swallows returning to Capistrano," said Dave Boyer of Harbor Sounds Restaurant.
Capistrano is not far from the truth. Solomons is Chesapeake Country's southern source of hot evenings of excitement for young adults. Revelers flock to the tiny village in search of island culture. It's our land's end, where you've gone as far as you can go without crossing the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge. It's our best answer to Key West, where rules supposedly fall by the wayside. It's our island where mystery casts her shadow over everything.
By day, Solomons is a place in transition, a fishing village transforming into a lifestyle town. By summer night, Solomons becomes a party where you can immerse yourself in a new identity. Crossing the entrance into a new lifestyle, you have a chance to become anybody that you want, to get lost in the crowd.
Young adults fresh on the heels of their 21st birthday like to start the weekend with a trip to the Island. Married couples dine downstairs at a popular restaurant and then walk upstairs to end the evening with entertainment. Professionals unwind from the hectic work week with a drink and a song.
Traveling down the main street strip, the party begins at Rhumb Line Inn. Their front lounge holds performing bands or deejays. Partiers who can't sit still prefer the small dance floor.
"We usually roll right with the crowd. We make sure we have plenty of shooters and Mai Tai's ready to go," said Stephanie Opsahl of Rhumb Line Inn.
Next door, Catamarans packs a crowd upstairs in their deejay dance party area every weekend.
Harbor Sounds brings in entertainment of all varieties. Bands specializing in bluegrass, progressive rock, oldies or hi-energy sounds play for the crowd.
The end of the road is crowned by the Tiki Bar, which started it all.
Spring Launch developed out of "Solomons Business Association's desire to give people more to do when the Tiki Bar opens than get sloshed," said Jim Gschiedle, owner of Lazy Moon Books on the main street, Solomons Island Road. Now the party continues by day with merchants, Calvert Marine Museum and Annmarie Gardens contributing to a family weekend with diverse appeal. As Gschiedle explained, after the Tiki Bar opened in 1980, "it turned incredible."
The outside setting invites the crowd to mingle around without the confines of walls. Still, no boundaries do not always bring more room.
"It was so packed you couldn't move. We had to wait 30 minutes to get one drink," said spring launcher Travis Altimus of LaPlata of the Tiki Bar's 1999 opening night.
Again this year, Spring Launch Weekend's celebration opened the Solomons season, bringing back memories of summers gone by and the promise of those yet to come.
Public parking lots overflow. Late evening arrivals line the street with their vehicles. At the far end, barricades block the strip from automobiles, allowing only foot travelers to pass through.
"It's basically crazy," Boyer said.
Music spills out into the dark unknown. Partiers huddle close in the chill of the early night air. For the eager, waiting lines seem to stretch to the heavens.
Inside Solomon's party heavens, loud, laughing voices echo. Dancers groove from late night until the wee hours of the morning as deejays play tunes to keep people moving.
When the lights came up and the tunes wound down last weekend, a disgruntled sigh rumbled as the deejay said, "See you next weekend at Solomons Island."
Not Annapolis. Not Baltimore. Next weekend the same thrill-seekers will arrive at Solomons Island, ready to hit the strip again.
-Mary Catherine Ball
In Annapolis, 100 Take Back the Night
Inside St. Anne's Parish Hall, an intense silence settled. Overhead lights dimmed and darkness closed in as ralliers lit candles to Take Back the Night and stand for hope for women victimized by sexual assault.
In the hall glowing softly with candlelight, survivors of attacks stepped to the podium. The hardwood floor creaked and the cry of a child sounded in the distance. Time seemed to stand still. Two women described the horrors they had been through and the long and continuing process of recovery.
"The rape changed my life. It is part of the thread of my life but not the entire fabric. We can turn this around if we use it to gain strength. The only way is to find each other and speak out," explained Kathy Marasa.
The stories of these survivors was the emotional pinnacle of a rally that sought to inform, honor and challenge.
Annapolis' The Take Back the Night Rally on April 19 was part of an annual, nationwide effort to raise awareness about violent crimes against women during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The rally, sponsored by the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Anne Arundel County, opened a forum to an issue that few want to talk about - but one that needs words.
"In a sense we are all victims of these crimes. Every time a woman is raped, it affects all aspects of society. It makes me feel less safe. It takes another chink away," said former Annapolis police captain Zora Lykken.
The third Annapolis Take Back the Night Rally is also occasion to honor survivors, as Holly Enders of North Arundel Hospital explained:
"This is a night to celebrate the survivors of sexual violence and celebrate those that can rise up and go forward and reclaim their lives after the destruction of sexual violence. We celebrate for you and with you."
The event's third purpose is to explain networks of support.
The front line of support is the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Anne Arundel County. With a 24-hour crisis hotline, the Center counsels victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in crisis, both on the phone and at hospitals. Trained volunteers rush to meet victims, listening to their stories and guiding them through the trauma and through the medical and legal systems. The Center also supports after the attack with eight weeks of free therapy, offering a safe place for victims to regroup, begin to recover and reclaim their lives.
"There are still a lot of battered women who don't know help is available," said Center volunteer Sally Green. There are choices available. They can get financial help, shelter and counseling. There is somewhere else to go."
Take Back the Night speaks not only to survivors but reminds us that we all feel the effects of sexual violence. In the United States a woman is raped every two minutes. One in three women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Rallies give a face to a nameless crime and help victims find comfort.
Survivors show us that these horrors can be overcome. But events like this also force us to see that there is much to do before we have taken back the night.
Cleaning AA's Orphan Roads
drawing by Emelia Brumbaugh
On moral grounds, County Executive Janet Owens cancelled Anne Arundel County's Adopt-A-Road program. On physical grounds, what will happen to our littered roads now?
Especially now that Gov. Parris Glendening has proclaimed April Maryland Earth and Litter-Free Month. This initiative asks Marylanders to show respect for their land, keeping it free from trash.
On state roads, the decade-old Adopt-A-Highway Program continues. Individuals and groups volunteer to keep highways clean by picking up litter. Throughout Maryland, the program cleans over 2,000 miles of state highways. But no country roads. Anne Arundel's 1,700 miles of roads have now lost their clean-up volunteers.
Signs crediting groups from Fairhaven's Queen Anne's Hills Community Association (the county's first adoptive clean-up crew) to Outback Septic came down last month. In their holes, along 26 miles of adopted road, went short signs saying "Do Not Litter." The county program was ended, shy of its third birthday, when the Ku Klux Klan tried to join in.
Still, county roads will look better, at least in the short term. Residents in over 310 communities, including Fairhaven Cliffs and Franklin Manor, hopped out of their beds at eight Saturday morning and cleaned hard until four that afternoon picking up roadside and beach trash, depositing it in county dumpsters and dump trucks. They were pitching in for the 16th Annual County-Wide Clean Up Day.
Over 201 tons of trash were moved from county roadsides last weekend. Combined with roadside trash were tons of driftwood that floated downstream when the Connowingo Dam was opened under pressure of high water earlier this year.
"We filled the dumpster completely. There was a lot of debris on the beach from the dam and we were able to clean that up," said Scott Smith of Fairhaven Cliffs.
Countywide clean-up continues on May 7 in 310 northern county communities.
In addition to clean-up days from April through October, the county schedules monthly days for residents to drop off their hazardous wastes for proper disposal collection. The next household toxics drop-off day is May 15 at the Western District Roads recycling center in Odenton.
During one weekend in August, the 13th through the 15th, the county trucks dumpsters to communities for cleaning out the house and yard. "If you have a washer that hasn't worked since Hector was a pup, this is the opportunity to dispose of it," said Mike Cadogan of Anne Arundel Public Works.
All that supplements regular five-day-a-week schedules of the county's five landfills and recycling centers.
Community clean-ups also give neighbors occasion to come together. Said Smith of last week's clean-up day: "I got the chance to be out with my neighbors. My wife had the kids out cleaning the road, sending that message home."
On moral and physical ground, the residents of Anne Arundel County are prepared to carry on.
Way Downstream ...
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science may create a sanctuary corridor in the Bay to protect crabs. Scientists proposed the idea for the Virginia part of the Bay after documenting a startling 71 percent decline in the Bay's population of breeding-age females. Maryland, too, has talked about the idea ...
In Pennsylvania, it was a remarkable turnout for clean-up day. Over 60,000 people showed up in Philadelphia to pick up trash, scratch out graffiti and plant flowers ...
In Colorado, a Canada lynx reintroduced into the Rocky Mountains has been found dead, apparently of starvation. That makes four deaths of the five released in February. The next 30 will be held for 21 days to allow them to build up fat stores ...
The news is better in Denver, which can't be accused of going high-tech to eradicate weeds in wilderness areas. The city is deploying a furry army of 100 floppy-eared Kashmir goats, which prefer noxious weeds to grass and native plants, the Denver Post reports ...
Our Creature Feature this week is a reptilian tale of ill-gotten gains. A Florida man, Tommy Crutchfield, was sentenced last week to 30 months in prison for smuggling two kinds of boas from Madagascar.
In January, he also admitted to smuggling in exotic turtles from Japan. You have to wonder if he's any smarter than the creatures he's bringing in: He'd already served time for smuggling iguanas from the Fiji Islands.
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Volume VII Number 16
April 22-26, 1999
New Bay Times
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