Category - General

1
A Hidden Gem: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
2
Healing emotions with Accunect
3
Gearing up for World Breastfeeding Week
4
Hundreds flock to Play-In for Climate Action
5
Climate action play-in during EPA hearings on Clean Power Plan
6
Lotus and lilies lovely in July!
7
Yoga Camp at 532 Yoga
8
Lil Omm: a haven for family yoga this summer!
9
Moms turn out in force to call for action on climate
10
Visionary Mom Inspires Play-In for Climate Action

A Hidden Gem: Annmarie Sculpture Garden

Even with school already here for those in much of Maryland and DC or just around the corner for many Northern Virginians, the late summer weather is crying out for day trips. Once older children get back into the swing of school, their need for imaginative play grows even bigger.

Before soccer and fall festivals get into full swing, there’s a place I’m dying to take my kids. Alexandria mom of two Pallavi Raviprakash told me about Annmarie Sculpture Garden in Maryland, whose 5th annual Fairies in the Garden outdoor exhibit closes on September 1. I can’t wait for my children to pretend up a storm there! Thanks to Pallavi for this lovely guest post!

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Healing emotions with Accunect

The first time I learned about Accunect, one of the healing modalities that Centreville mother of four Laura Freix uses in her practice, was at the Everyday Health & Wellness Conference this past February. Laura made what seemed like some funny motions around my head, and I tell you, I felt calmer right away and tremendous through the day and beyond!

Accunect Self Care (072614) 040 (1)

Just last week, my children’s doctor told me Accunect would be helpful for me to learn for my children to help them ground and calm.

Two great opportunities are coming up to learn about Accunect. On Thursday, August 21, Laura will be part of a panel at the August evening meeting of the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network on the topic of “Supporting Children’s Emotional Health.”

The following Sunday, August 24, Laura will be teaching a self-care workshop in Centreville, Virginia, 11:30-3:30 p.m.

I asked Laura to explain a little bit more about her work, and here’s what she had to share:

“Accunect is a wonderful healing modality that is based on ancient Chinese medicine and modern neuroscience.  The beauty lies in its simplicity.  In essence, the Accunect system leverages the body’s ability to heal itself by restoring balance.  Unlike most energy healing modalities, which are purely intuitive, the Accunect practitioner uses muscle-checking and a Health Map to guide their intuition, which is a more powerful way to refine intuition.  By looking for areas in the body/mind that are ready to shift for better balance, the balances are generally powerful and long lasting.  Simple tapping is then used to create the shift.  Accunect is great for individuals, families and even pets!

Imagine the following real-life scenarios.  What would you do…

  • if your child was in a state of overwhelm?
  • if you sliced your finger almost to the bone?
  • if something popped in your shoulder as you grabbed your suitcase on your way to the airport and you can’t move your arm more than about five degrees before a knife-like pain radiates down your tendon?
  • if your child came home from practice with a goose egg the size of a tennis ball on her forehead and is leaving for camp the next morning?
  • if you have your first-ever colonoscopy scheduled and don’t want to use anesthesia?
  • if you are out running and your knee locks up, nearly sending you to the ground?
  • if your father had a minor car accident and went into a state of shock?

In all of the above scenarios above, the tools taught in the Accunect SelfCare workshop were used to address the situation without any additional medical intervention. Although that is not always the case, I hope that you now understand why I believe that Accunect® SelfCare is a tool every family should have in their toolbox.

After taking the SelfCare workshop, one mother reported that she has successfully taught her four young children Accunect® SelfCare, empowering the next generation in their own healthcare.

If you want to take it to the next level and learn the system, Accunect Connect is the foundational course.  In Connect, you will build on the principles taught in the SelfCare workshop and be able to do full Accunect healing sessions.  For me, the gift of Connect is learning to tap into your inner guidance system.  As a math major and former senior math analyst with GE Aerospace, I was definitely not in touch with my intuitive brain. Although you are taught to use this in the context of a session, I have found it to be useful in everyday life.  Listening to your body and trusting your internal guidance system are wonderful skills to model for your children.

The other gift of this work is empowerment.  Everyone leaves the workshop with the ability to do the work immediately; it is that simple.  I was able to teach my 10-year old nephew who began doing sessions on his cat (who had recently had a stroke.)  The founder’s son is now six, and he receives some of his best balances from his son.  Kids are great because they don’t have to “un-learn” anything; it simply becomes part of their world.  One girl of nine reported “I don’t know what you do here, but it is like a massage for the mind.”

I originally wanted to learn this work to support my family, but eventually I decided that this work was just too good not to share. I now have my own home business, and a vision for my life after kids, as all but one have left for college and beyond.

FreixFamilyDuck_0156

My son will call from the university and ask for distance sessions when he feels the need.  My daughter has a lot of anxiety and did not like talk-therapy; the psychotherapist recommended medication. With Accunect we are able to address underlying belief systems without her having to verbalize or even consciously know what is bothering her.  Another mom did a session on her teenaged daughter, where the belief “People will like me if I am nice,” came up.  A great heart-to-heart talk ensued about “who was she if she wasn’t ‘nice’?” and the difference between being nice so people like you versus being authentic.  Truly a wonderful tool.

I share in the vision of Future Medicine Today to make Accunect a household name.  I hope you will consider attending one of my upcoming SelfCare workshops.  You will find the current workshop schedule under the SelfCare tab of my website www.iEmbraceWellness.com

For more information you can refer to the following links:

www.FutureMedicineToday.com

www.Accunect.com (relatively new; still under development)

Empower yourself; empower your children.  Learn Accunect!”

 

And whenever you do check out a practitioner or a workshop you heard about here, be sure tell them Mindful Healthy Life sent you!

 

Gearing up for World Breastfeeding Week

With World Breastfeeding Week upon us, there are events aplenty here in the DC area to show your support for breastfeeding, to learn, and to win some great prizes as well!

The Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington is hosting four events, described in detail at http://breastfeedingcenter.org/support-us/wbw2014/. They include the second annual Breastfival Friday, August 1, 2-6 p.m., The Big Latch-On Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (arrive at 10:00) and a screening of the new film, The Milky Way at 11:00

Be sure to register ahead for Friday’s Breastival Festival, sponsored by Lansinoh. I was amazed at the turnout last year with over 100 mamas enjoying delicious snacks and soaking up the positive vibe of the renovated space, which, since I took my first child there, has dramatically expanded its store, upgraded its downstairs facilities and added another room upstairs, which is now hosting regular yoga classes.

Breastfeeding-Center-for-Greater-Washington-Breastival-5

The action will mostly be in the Center at 2141 K St NW, Washington, DC 20037. There will be food and fun, including baby footprints and handprints. Additionally, the waiting room at Children’s Pediatrics will be used as a toddler playroom, and in nearby Washington Circle Park, participants can enjoy babywearing demos and Q&A with the Center’s babywearing instructore Clare Branson between 3:00 and 5:00, prenatal yoga with Manisha Tare of Falling Leaf 2:30-3:30 and Mommy & Baby yoga with Alleah Clark of Embrace DC.

Raffle tickets are 3 for $5, 10 for $10 and 25 for $20. There are some amazing items including lots of nursing gear and clothing, photography sessions, massages and bodywork, and food. It’s enough to make you want to get pregnant all over again if you’re not already! Check the complete list of raffle items here. The drawing will happen at 5:30.

Breastfeeding-Center-for-Greater-Washington-Breastival-4

All the proceeds from the event will be used to create new free classes including a new support group and additional classes in other areas in the Metro DC area. They Center would like to duplicate the very popular Tuesday class for moms with babies 0-4 months, a class that has saved many a mama (including this one!) and spawned longtime friendships.

The Center was founded in 1997 by lactation consultant Pat Shelley. It moved to its current location in 2003 and expanded in 2012. Parking in the building garage is likely to fill, so, if you don’t take Metro or find a metered spot on the street, consider the lot on L Street at 22nd (cash only) or the lot on 21st between K and Pennsylvania.

This is the Center’s first year doing a Latch-On, during which moms will nurse for one minute at precisely 10:30 a.m. in locations around the world and be counted. Register for the event ahead and get your tickets for the 11:00 screening of new documentary The Milky Way at the nearby West End Cinemas. (If you miss the film this time, there’s another screening in Alexandria the evening of August 14).

On Tuesday, August 5, head over (after the conclusion of 1:00 support group if you want to walk en masse) to a celebration 1:30-3:30 at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and enjoy snacks and swag!

If you’re across the river in Virginia and further south, the second annual Big Latch-On in Woodbridge will also be on Saturday, August 2 at 10:30 (arrive at 10:00). The event is being organized by Anna Burmeister Rademaker, founder of Little Green Cabbages, a support community for “greenish” parents in Woodbridge. A lactation consultant and childbirth educator, Anna is passionate about sharing information, empowering parents, and spreading the word about breastfeeding.

There are several great vendors lined up for this event, taking place at Lake Ridge Park Marina, including The Farm Table, Whim Pops natural popsicles, BirthCare and Women’s Health, and more. Proceeds from the vendor tables will benefit ACTS Emergency Shelter, and proceeds from raffle tickets will go to Gar-Field High School for its program that allows teen moms to complete their education with the help of an on-site nursery.

big latch on woodbridge

Preceding the official Latch-On on Saturday will be a “flash mob” Latch On Friday morning at 10:30 (arrive at 10:00) in the Potomac Mills Mall playground (in neighborhood 2, near TJ Maxx). For details on both events, see the event Facebook page and click “See More.”

And if you’re looking for a from-a-distance way to connect with your inner nursing goddess, or if you want a good laugh about other moms trials and tribulations with breastfeeding, enter the Goodreads giveaway for the anthology Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding. I’ve got an essay in the collection about what my nearly three-year-old had to say about my breasts after jogging and another about my first (somewhat thwarted) attempt to for a retreat of just a few hours when he was a baby.

I’m so grateful to the Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington for helping me get through those early nursing challenges so that I could go on to breastfeed my son for three years (see us illustrating the word “Toddler” on the wonderful “Nursing Our Future” video from Holistic Moms Network) and to then confidently nurse my daughter when she came along a year after that.

Hundreds flock to Play-In for Climate Action

As if the July 9 Play-In for Climate Action on the Hill weren’t enough to inspire an environmentalist parent, Moms Clean Air Force, along with a host of environmental and faith allies, organized another impressive event on July 29 during the EPA hearings on its Clean Power Plan.

Sure, one result may have been for parents like me to get religion on the importance of the plan, but of course the real goal of the July 29 Play-In at Federal Triangle was to show the government how much public support there is for action to clean up the air address climate change.

The Play-In brought out more than 300 people from all around the DC Metro area and many other states besides to call on the government to support limits on power plant emissions. The plan would cut carbon pollution from existing fossil-fuel power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

At the press conference, the array of speakers addressing problems with human health and the health of sea life and forests was truly impressive and included several VIPs who had just testified or would be testifying later that day. These speakers included Delaware Governor Jack Markell; Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Cindy Parker, MD, MPH, Board Member, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Professor, Johns Hopkins University; Senator Ed Markey (D-­MA); Cristóbal J. Alex, President, Latino Victory Project; Mark Magaña, President and Founder, Green Latinos; and Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. The event was emceed enthusiastically by Terra Pascarosa, Virginia field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force.

The closing speaker was New Jersey Moms Clean Air Force field organizer Trisha Sheehan with her 8-year-old son Logan, a duo that would be testifying later that day. Together, they asked, “What do we want?” to which the crowd answered, “Clean air!”

Trisha and Logan Moms Clean Air Force EPA

The bookend performances of the band Emma’s Revolution ignited the crowd at the outset and, after the speeches had concluded, sent everyone off with hope and inspiration. And with a fabulous rendition of “This Land is Your Land!”
Sunny and Erika Trippel with Emma's Revolution EPA ActonClimate rally

It was a morning to feel lucky to get to demonstrate and participate in democracy.

Trisha reports that, later that day, she delivered to the EPA the banner pictured above with another New Jersey family, Nancy Kunz-Merry and her son, Jack, and then she and Logan delivered their testimony.

Trisha Sheehan EPA testimony

Logan had his own ask that he was adamant about adding at the end: “Please help Moms Clean Air Force and bring back clean air.”

To view the hearings, go to http://www.c-span.org/video/?320725-1/epa-public-hearing-clean-power-proposal

For more on the July 29 rally, read my report on TheDCMoms.com.

I was also inspired to reflect on my own role as mother and activist on my personal blog, Crunchy-Chewy Mama, where you’ll find more photos and some of the rally quotes that moved me the most.

Climate action play-in during EPA hearings on Clean Power Plan

The DC Area gets a failing grade on air quality, but air pollution isn’t just unhealthy to breathe; it threatens our children’s future. That’s why Moms Clean Air Force is calling for government action to limit climate change.

On July 9, Moms Clean Air Force held a historic “Play-In for Climate Action” along with 200 moms, dads and kids, in Washington, DC.

It was so much fun, they’re doing it again! This time, the event is taking place while the Environmental Protection Agency will be holding hearings about the proposed Clean Power Plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants. The goal of the action is to make public support for the plan visible. Similar actions are being planned for Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Denver where more hearings are being held.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 pinwheel

On Tuesday, July 29, Moms Clean Air Force is holding its second Play-In for Climate Action with many partners, including Virginia Conservation Network, Interfaith Power & Light, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, American Lung Association, Clean Water Action, and Environment Virginia.

This outdoor, family-friendly protest and press conference will feature a festival atmosphere. Kids will enjoy playing with an Earth parachute, inflatable globes, pinwheels, sign-making, free ice cream, and more.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 parachute

Activities for the July 29 event begin at 10:00 a.m. with the press conference at 10:30 and short rally to follow its conclusion at 11:00 a.m.

The location is Federal Triangle, near the William Jefferson Clinton East Bldg., 1201 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington DC.

Organizers ask that you register ahead of time so they can plan the appropriate number of red shirts (and water bottles!). Register for the Play-In at  http://www.momscleanairforce.org/play-in-climate-action and join the Facebook event .

If you’d like to testify during the public hearings, email ASAP to Terra, tpascarosa@momscleanairforce.org.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 attendee

Questions? Want to help out in other ways on the 29th?  Contact Julie at jhantman (at) momscleanairforce (dot) org.

Lotus and lilies lovely in July!

In midsummer, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is transformed into a flower paradise. The lotus are at their peak now, and walking among them is truly a transformative experience. The ponds are filled this time of year with what seem like fields of floating flowers.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens child with lotus

There are light pink lotus and dark pink lotus with beautiful blossoms and leaves that are bigger than a toddler’s torso and rounder than their heads. Other ponds feature different kinds of lilies including white and purple varieties.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens purple lilies

I’m told the large “Amazon” lilies will bloom later in the season, toward late August.

A very cool (and tiny) lizard on the steps leading toward the nature center was a great find to begin our day.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens lizard

This year, we met up with friends, and it was a completely different experience than the visits we’ve taken in the past with our children, now 8 and almost 4. Our friend’s older son, almost 8, is a true nature explorer who finds interest in the smallest spider and excitedly flips over finding a frog. He was great to have in our walking party! We spied — and heard! — plenty of frogs.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardensfrog

The many turtles we met ranged from palm-of-your-hand small to one that appeared to be nearly two feet long that a kindly visitor pointed out to us as it swam among the lotus.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens large turtle amid lotus

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens small turtle

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens turtle

My kids enjoyed the trip the two previous times we’ve gone, and I liked walking further out to a viewing area where we saw herons when my daughter was in a stroller. But this year, with my daughter a little older, and sharing the experience with two buddies my children’s ages and another friend a little younger, no one needed to coax the kids to do anything. It was a regular self-directed nature class, with them out-doing one another to find cool stuff.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens looking for wildlife

We didn’t travel as far in our 90-minute excursion as we had in years past, but we certainly went a lot deeper.

The park’s website recommends you head there in the morning before the flowers close in the summer heat. The grounds open at 7 a.m., and the garden shop (where your youngster can get a Junior Ranger activity book) opens at 9:00 a.m.

For more info, see http://home.nps.gov/keaq/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Looking for more locations for lotus viewing?  The lotus flowers in the pond at Green Springs Garden Park in Alexandria (near Annandale) are reportedly blooming now, too, and Meadlowlark Gardens in Vienna, Virginia also has lotus in its three lakes. Further up north is Lilypons Water Garden in Adamstown, Maryland where I’m told the lotus are nearing the end of their peak bloom, but lilies will be blooming through October.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens children looking at lotus

Bottom line on lotus viewing:

  • go soon (this weekend!)
  • go early in the day
  • wear hats, sunscreen or long sleeves/pants if you’re out past 10 a.m., and some natural bug repellent
  • take at least one camera! (My son got some of the best shots!)

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens lotus

Yoga Camp at 532 Yoga

Some of the best summer options for kids are the ones planned by passionate people in the promising weeks of spring, long after special issues of camp round-ups have gone to press and summer fairs have introduced hopeful parents to what seem like the only options. Not so, as I learned when I put together a list of unique camps and yoga camps for the summer, a compendium I hope to grow next year.

Last week I learned that 532Yoga in north Old Town Alexandria was offering a Kids Corner yoga camp.

532 yoga kids camp

It had been a while since I had seen owner Suzanne Leitner-Wise, the leader of a fabulous yoga retreat I went on when I was seventh months pregnant in 2010, and I hadn’t yet made it to her gorgeous new studio. Talk about light and airy! And its front room contains two beautiful couches and a lovely array of clothing, books, jewelry and art.

The camp was planned as a weeklong experience but also offered a drop-in daily option, which worked great for us since we had other afternoon commitments a few of the days this week. It’s important to me that my kids learn to see yoga as a fun and healthy way to feel centered and grounded. And sometimes, they need to see that from another person! (I hope to learn more and get inspired to integrate yoga into our home life more this fall at the first National Kids Yoga Conference on September 27).

 

My children attended 532’s Kids Corner yoga camp on Monday and had a great time. When I arrived early for pick-up, energetic and bubbly teacher Lisa Sonntag — a special education teacher in Fairfax County, a certified yoga teacher, and an experienced camp counselor — said she could not believe how quickly the time flew. “Miss Lisa” shared that the children did an early savasana after a first half of class full of active asanas, or poses,

They then moved on to snack and crafts, including braiding yarn and making and coloring a “You Can Do Yoga” booklet and an accompanying coloring book/journal to be used through the week.

532 yoga camp group

I sat with the class as Lisa closed that first day with a reading (peppered by lively discussion) of the Dr. Seuss book, My Many-Colored Days, which associates different emotions with different colors.

532 yoga camp book 2

During the class, while I enjoyed some kid-free time at the Starbucks across the street, I sent Lisa some questions for further reflection.

Mindful Healthy Life: What was your favorite thing about the first day at yoga camp?
Lisa Sonntag: I loved having the children feel comfortable and active at the studio. They talked a lot and showed me what yoga poses they could do already.
MHL: What made you want to teach a kids camp this summer?
Lisa: I have always been excited to be babysitting and teaching children either over the summer in a camp environment or during school. After getting my 200-hour yoga teacher certification this year, I just knew I would incorporate my love of yoga with my love of children!!
MHL: What are your goals for the campers?
Lisa: My main goal for the campers is to enjoy yoga and have a great time learning new things that they can do with their bodies and minds. The campers will be listening and visualizing during meditation activities, communicating their thoughts and feelings, playing games and hearing stories that promote movement with yoga poses.
MHL: What are your goals for yourself as a teacher of young children?
Lisa: My personal goal, as with all teaching that I do, is to instruct the child where they are at and help them learn to be the best that they can be. It is okay being different!
MHL: What made you decide to pursue yoga teacher training after working for so long as a special education teacher?
Lisa: I have always wanted to be a yoga teacher and as I continue to work as a special education teacher, I realized yoga would be beneficial to my students as well as for me personally. 

In addition to accepting drop-ins through this session’s final day, July 18, 532Yoga will repeat this kids camp with Lisa Sonntag the week of August 4-8. Interested parties can contact the studio to inquire about a sibling discount or register through the workshops page on its scheduling site.

Disclosure: I received a discount on drop-in tuition for my two children in exchange for writing this post and sharing information about the camp.

Lil Omm: a haven for family yoga this summer!

When an email from lil omm yoga studio recently landed in my In box listing its upcoming family-friendly classes, my jaw dropped at all the offerings! I promptly asked if I could steal the info and post it all here!

lil omm circle

If you’ve never been to lil omm, north of Tenleytown and south of Friendship Heights on Wisconsin Ave. in NW DC, it’s a truly beautiful place. There are great classes and workshops that can be enjoyed by anyone as well as classes that cater to families with young children and opportunities for mothers to refresh and renew.

Even though I have a hard time even making it to a studio a few miles from me, lil omm got me out last January to see author Katrina Kenison, in April to journal with Abundant Mama Shawn Fink, and last month to sit and practice with Zen Buddhist priest and author Karen Maezen Miller.

During the weeks my kids are not in camp this summer, I’m also hoping to get to studio for a class by myself while they are in childcare (limit of 5 kids and offered for select classes, as seen on the lil omm schedule) or for a “Yoga Flow/Playtime” class when my kids can participate or play. There are also Saturday Family Yoga classes (ages 3-8) and a new “Backyard Bootcamp” that studio owner Pleasance Silicki is hosting out of her NW home on Thursday mornings (kids welcome). We have aged out of the Baby & Me and Movers & Tots classes, but check out the Class Description page to see all those offerings and more, including prenatal and postnatal.

lil omm family

In addition to these regular offerings, here is what else is coming up at lil omm this summer and fall!

Family Partner Yoga (all ages)- Sun 7/27 @ 1pm.  Pleasance leads families with children of all ages in a playful class that  incorporates breathing, movement, creativity, and flexibility AND family connection.
lil omm hula hoop
Let it Go: Frozen-inspired Yoga (families with children 3-8 years)- Sat 8/9 @ 5:30pm.  Yoga, dance, crafts, and glitter! Costumes welcome as we celebrate the music and themes from Frozen.
Circus Inspired Family Yoga (families with children 5+)- Sun 8/17 @ 2:30pm.  Explore circus and acro-yoga poses, mindfulness, and team work!  Also offered on Sat 9/13 @ 2:30pm
lil omm fam_partner[1]

Downward Doll Yoga (ages 3-6) – Sat 10/18 @ 2:30-3:30. Drop off your kiddo and his/her favorite doll or stuffed animal for a fun-filled, spirited yoga class followed by tea and cookies!

Lil omm is also teaming up with YoKid to put on the first National Kids Yoga Conference on Saturday, September 27, 2014. Read more about the conference here on the lil omm blog and check out this opportunity to sponsor a teen to attend!





Moms turn out in force to call for action on climate

Wednesday’s Play-In for Climate Action organized by Moms Clean Air Force was a great example of parenting meets civic engagement. The message the group wanted to deliver to Congress about climate change was: “Use your power to clean up our power!”

As the morning drizzle faded into a pleasant morning in Upper Senate park at 10:00 a.m., children and their parents donned red t-shirts that read, “Fighting pollution with mother love” on the front and “Tell Washington: Listen to your mothers!” on the back, picked up Moms Clean Air Force “MOMpartisan” buttons and Klean Kanteen stainless water bottles, and registered to win an organic mattress or pillow from Naturepedic. Children practiced yoga courtesy of lil omm yoga studio, enjoyed the healthiest snacks you’ve ever seen at a mass event like this, played with a parachute and with pinwheels, and worked on posters to carry for the march portion of the event.Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 posters

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 yoga

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 parachute

I had the chance to talk to a few of the moms who turned out for the event, which was conceived of by Biome Studio principal and NoVA mom of two Heather Clark, who shared more with us about her vision before the event in this interview.

Two of the attendees I spoke to were originally from the West Coast and had moved to Northern Virginia within the last two years. Elizabeth Epstein of Fairfax said she felt the “urgency of the moment,” especially as she prepares to welcome her second baby in September. After she learned of the event through an online forum, she thought, “How could we not attend?” It felt good, she said, for her and three-year-old Deena to be visible supporters of the effort.

Phoebe R. of Arlington, who has worked as a sustainability consultant, said she came because she didn’t want the generation of her daughters, aged two and a half and 4 months, to look at her generation and think it let the opportunity slip by.  “Let’s let our generation be the one to act rather than kick the can down the road. It’s not fair to our have it be our children’s problem,” Phoebe said.

At 11:00, children from around the country formed a semi-circle for the press conference, during which they held giant signs that would be delivered later that day to individual Senators to ask them to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan announced in June.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 press conference children

Moms Clean Air Force’s Gretchen Dahlkemper-Alfonso emceed the event, opening with the hope that politicians would put aside partisan bickering so that her three children would be “gifted a world that is healthier than the one they were given.” With her message of hope and love – including the reminder, “Guess what? Love always wins” – Gretchen set the stage for an event that stuck to positive energy in the face of some scary possible futures that the sponsoring groups hope to keep from happening. The partnering groups for the event were Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environment,  Climate ParentsHealthy Child Healthy World, and The Mothers Project United for Sustainability.

Heather Clark shared the prediction that her children will see 12 times as many heat record days per year but offered that “visionary changes are here today” and called Congress to stand behind those promoting innovations that can address climate change.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 press conference Heather Clark

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) opened by asking for a show of hands of how many people had or knew someone who had asthma. It was tough to spy any hands that weren’t raised. She introduced Senator Shelton Whitehouse (D-RI) who told the crowd, which numbered upwards of 200, that “nothing has the power to stop an idea whose time as come.” He optimistically spoke of gaining momentum for the understanding that you “can’t recklessly pollute air and water.”

When Danielle Hilton of Charlotte, North Carolina came to the podium, she spoke of having done “all the little things” one person can to limit her family’s carbon footprint but that, as the EPA tells us, it’s not individuals like her who are the major source of the problem: it’s the power plants. If regulation is not going to come from the states, as it likely won’t in North Carolina where Danielle lives in the 8th most polluted city in the country, we “need Congress to take the lead.” Danielle, who sits on the Board of Clean Air Carolina and is involved with Charlotte Environmental Action, called on Congress to put public health over private interest.

Director of Programs for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments Katie Huffling, RN, CNM, spoke of the harm polluted air can cause to a child’s developing young lungs, noting that ozone inflames the lungs like a sunburn hurts skin. Ozone levels in the metro DC area are high with the District and counties in Virginia and Maryland all receiving grades of F from the American Lung Association in its State of the Air report.

First-time expectant mom Leah Qusba is involved with Climate Parents and, in her work with the Alliance for Climate Education, has tried to “change the face of who cares about climate change” by activating and inspiring youth and helping lawmakers see that the issues of air quality and climate change are important to their constituents. “Climate change is apple pie and baseball,” Leah said; it’s not something apart from our reality.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 baby with world

Keya Chatterjee explained how the issue of climate change hit her “like a ton of bricks” in 2010 when she was expecting her first child. Senior Director of International Climate Policy at the World Wildlife Fund, Keya is the author of Zero Footprint Baby. She expressed optimism that “we are going to win,” in part because renewable energy is getting cheaper than “dirty energy” and also because of people power, as evidenced by the Play-In.

After the press conference concluded, attendees gathered signs and marched across the street to the front of the Capitol building chanting, “Clean air for kids!” “Our children get sicker, their pockets get bigger,” and “What do we want? Clean Air! When do we want it? Now!”

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 marching

A group photo taken in front of the Capitol showed the event’s strength in numbers.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 capitol front

Heather Clark closed the official event at 12 noon and invited interested attendees to stay to deliver messages to some 40 senators’ offices. A group of parents and children went door to door in the Russell Senate Office Building to deliver state-specific signs with children’s signatures and hand prints along with a letter calling on the senators to act on climate change.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 New Hampshire office

 

Visit http://www.momscleanairforce.org for more information and opportunities to take action.

Visionary Mom Inspires Play-In for Climate Action

Northern Virginia mother of two Heather Clark is so serious about climate change that she’s organized a day of play to playin_logodraw attention to it! On Wednesday, July 9, parents concerned about the effect air pollution is having on climate change will join Moms Clean Air Force for a Play-In for Climate Action on the Hill to raise awareness and demand action from politicians.

I had the chance to chat with Heather to learn more about how this event came about. As principal of the Biome Studio, Heather has long been passionate about sustainability. Her work is involved in visionary projects that start to change the places we live and the way those places behave with an eye toward zero energy communities.

Heather says, “We currently have the knowledge to redesign the places where we live so that they can power themselves with renewable energy, clean themselves with plants and micro-organisms, produce food organically, and provide habitat.  This is the type of work I do – I have firsthand experience that it is possible. By overcoming climate change, we will solve other problems in the process – toxic waste, air pollution, water pollution, habitat destruction, etc.  As a society, we just need the vision and will.”

350.org climate change childrenAfter Heather had her second child, now two years old, she spent more time researching climate change in particular. In February 2013, Heather attended her first protest since she was a teenager, the “Forward on Climate Rally” in Washington, DC organized by 350.org, an organization that has led global climate action events since 2009. She brought her children, aged 1 and 3 at the time, in a double stroller with a sleeping bag with a sign that read, “We need a future. Please! Stop dumping carbon.”

 

When Heather got loads of attention from photographers, NPR, and other reporters because of her children, she saw the promise of parents getting together around climate change.

Inspired by sit-ins for civil rights, Heather mulled the idea over for an organized action around climate change, initially envisioning something in Congressional buildings. “It’s hard not to notice kids playing in a government space,” she says, adding that she hopes Wednesday’s Play-In for Climate Action will be replicated by informal groups across the country of parents and their friends. Wednesday’s event took off after a friend of Heather’s at the Natural Resources Defense Council pointed Heather to Moms Clean Air Force, which got very excited and ran with the idea.

Heather Clark 1

Here is a modified version of Heather’s blog post for Moms Clean Air Force:

“I have tended to be fairly quiet about sharing my thoughts about climate change, until now. As a mother of two toddlers, I realized that creating a smaller carbon footprint at home is not enough. I am deeply concerned about what the world will look like in 2045 when my children are my age and having children of their own. Climate change threatens our food supply, our homes, our safety, and most importantly, the health of our children.

I first learned about climate change in seventh grade. Then I studied climate change in college, but it seemed so abstract and futuristic that I had a hard time believing it would happen. Somewhere between Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, climate change became very real for me. Those storms prompted me to read climate change reports from the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed by the United Nations, the Pentagon, NASA, the National Academy of Sciences, The U.S. National Climate Assessment and other sources.

On YouTube, I watched the Philippine representative at the UN Climate Summit announce his hunger strike, as he spoke tearfully about how climate change is devastating his country. I also began looking at flood maps of Cape Cod and Virginia Beach, where my sisters and parents live. I cringe when I think about the world our families will live in if we don’t do something now to curb climate change.

As a parent, I know that we must take action! After attending my first climate change rally when my kids were one and three, I experienced the power of children and families together, calling attention to climate change. I recently came up with the idea of a Play-In – a family-friendly event that gives parents the opportunity to demand action from our politicians.

Sadly, some polluters and politicians are doing everything in their power to undermine solutions As parents, we must vocalize our power by supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency efforts to regulate carbon at power plants.

Please join my family at the Play-In for Climate Action in Washington, DC on July 9, 2014. As parents, let’s join together and let our voices be heard loud and clear!”

play-in horizontal

Thanks to Heather for talking with us here at Mindful Healthy Life!

For more information on Wednesday’s event, which will take place 10 a.m. to 12 noon in Upper Senate Park on Capitol Hill,  go to http://www.momscleanairforce.org/play-in-climate-action/ or the Facebook event page.

Attendees who register ahead of time are eligible to win either one organic crib mattress or two organic pillows from Naturepedic.

Here’s a glance at the schedule for the event:

10:00 – Arrival and sign-in

10:15-11:00 – Yoga with Holly Clay-Smith of lil omm yoga studio; Music with Rose Tootle; Parachute activity; poster-making

11:00-11:30 – Press conference

11:30-12:00 – March to Senate offices

Refreshments to be provided by MOM’s Organic Market

Copyright © 2015 Mindful Healthy Life. Created by MtoM Consulting.

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