Parents engaged in public schools have a tremendous opportunity to effect change and improve the lives of hundreds of children. Whether your personal passion is nutrition, outdoor learning, mindfulness, conscious alternatives to reward and punishment systems, movement, gardening, recycling and composting or other topics related to health, wellness and sustainability, there are lots of ways to get involved and inspire others.
Moms Clean Air Force is organizing its fourth annual Play-In for Climate Action on Thursday, July 13. This family-friendly advocacy opportunity includes fun climate-themed activities for kids followed by a press conference with lawmakers and advocates for children’s health and the environment. Read More
Spring is always full of great events. This May, join me at events where other women and I will be sharing our experiences as mothers, healers and creative individuals. Read More
The Environmental Health and Asthma Subcommittee of the Arlington Public Schools School Health Advisory Board is holding its first Clean Air Awareness event on Monday, May 1, the first day of Clean Air Awareness Month and Allergy & Asthma Awareness Month. The group hopes to educate parents and APS staff about the connection between children’s health and the environment and to raise awareness about clean air habits, including turning off a car’s engine when parked and getting to school by bike, bus, walking or carpooling.
Last week was World Breastfeeding Week, and August is National Breastfeeding Month. My family and I celebrated by attending a local Big Latch On Event. The Big Latch (or BLO) on is an event that takes place on the first days of World Breastfeeding Week where moms go to latch their babies at the same time to be counted in a world-wide total. The goal each year is to host enough breastfeeding moms to break the previous record. Tallies for this year have exceeded 9,000. In Northern Virginia alone, there were at least three BLO events. In DC, the month will close out with the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington‘s annual Breastival. Read More
It’s probably no surprise to anyone living here that the air quality in the Washington DC area is poor; it gets a grade of F in ground-level ozone (smog) from the American Lung Association, putting the Metro DC among the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities in the ozone category. This matters to every living being, but especially to small children whose bodies are more acutely affected by inhaled toxins. Organizations like the American Lung Association and others advocating for healthy air quality describe breathing smog-filled air as “getting a sunburn on your lungs.”
Leaders of Northern Virginia’s environmental education scene met last week to discuss recent renovations and sustainability initiatives taken at George C. Marshall High School in Fairfax County and to discuss plans for a possible statewide environmental education organization.
Members of the leadership team of NoVA Outside, an alliance of environmental educators, took a student-led tour of the school and its green features. The school’s student environmental organizations, Earth Force and the Native Species Club, sponsored by Barbara Brown have been busy for years on environmental initiatives and were successful at getting several environmental features and design components worked into the renovation.
NoVA Outside leadership team member Elenor Hodges shared some of the sustainability components that were worked into Marshall’s recent renovation. Hodges, a member of the Arlington Public Schools Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability and also the director of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment said, “I was really impressed with what they had accomplished, specifically with the student-driven projects and the excitement and engagement of the students. It was very apparent that these were students who had come up with these ideas. I was inspired, and I hope that we can learn how to take a lot of what Arlington focuses on in LEED certification and take it to the level of using student leadership and student ideas.”
The best example at Marshall, Hodges said, was a green roof. A student who has since graduated wanted a green roof to be in a very visible location even if students did not have access to the roof. During the renovation, this was made possible. The money needed to install and expand the green roof was raised by students. The students who led the tour talked about what it does to reduce the school’s stormwater impact but also noted the fact that it’s a visible project that students can see every day. The students did the design, planning and fundraising for this and other projects. Hodges said Marshall has great examples of student initiatives as well as greenovation.
Hodges said there was also lots of student engagement with the two courtyards they viewed on the tour. One of which was a modern space for which, after the renovations, students in the Native Species Club designed a complementary landscape plan using native plants. One feature is this herb spiral that helps drain water down the courtyard.
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!”
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!”
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.
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.