The Unglamorous Work of Making a Difference
Annapolis Harbour Center, the busy shopping center off Solomons Island Road, is home to two dozen shops and services, a movie theater, and a popular Amish market. It’s also home to at least 75 wild turtles of five different species.
Didn’t know that? Most shoppers and moviegoers were unaware what lived in the drainage pond that sits at the corner of the shopping center—me included—until three years ago. That’s when a Bay Bulletin story landed on my desk: the owners of the shopping center were planning a major construction project to improve the pond and prevent runoff pollution. But when the pond was drained and heavy machinery came in, what would happen to the turtles living there?
That’s where Jeff Popp of the Terrapin Institute came in. For more than two months, he led a volunteer effort (with support from property owners) to trap the turtles, one by one, and move them individually to a temporary home at a nearby pond. The turtles were tagged before being released back to their original home once construction was complete. In all, Popp’s painstaking work saved 75 turtles. Today, shoppers who look carefully can see the tagged turtles sunning themselves on a log.
Many great achievements start with an individual on a mission. But accomplishing something you believe in isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes it’s long, arduous and repetitive, like driving to a shopping center to check turtle traps twice a day through the hot weeks of summer.
In this issue of Bay Weekly, we look to more individuals in the community who have taken on the unglamorous—but noble—work of making a difference. Longtime friend to Annapolis Carlester Smith, known as “the Walking Man” and other affectionate nicknames, has been picking up trash along West Street for decades. It wasn’t done as a grand gesture, but his mission to keep the streets clean made such an impact that local support for Smith is coming through in spades now that he is ill and no longer able to carry out his work.
As Smith’s mission comes to a close, another man’s mission is poised to get underway on the Chesapeake Bay. Chris Hopkinson, a father of three from Arnold, has decided to paddle the entire length of the Bay on a standup paddleboard—from Havre de Grace to Virginia Beach. He’s making the 240-mile water trek to raise awareness for oyster recovery. Hopkinson believes people don’t realize how much of a difference oysters can make in cleaning up the Bay, and his long, laborious paddle is just crazy enough to draw public attention (and win over a big beer sponsor!). It certainly got our attention: our parent company, Chesapeake Bay Media, is the exclusive media sponsor of the paddle.
Paddling the entire Bay, faithfully cleaning up Annapolis streets, and saving dozens of turtles from construction vehicles. Three different, bold missions from three individuals. But all achieved similar goals: making Chesapeake country a cleaner, healthier environment for the rest of us.