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By Nichelle Harriott, policy specialist and DC EcoWomen member

I remember a time, growing up in a small rural community in the Caribbean, where my grandfather would disappear into the backyard on Sunday for about an hour and return with a chicken– dead and defeathered– for my grandmother to prepare for lunch. Back then your eggs, peas, and even orange juice came from the backyard. And, if for some reason you didn’t have enough, you called your neighbor over the fence.

These were my first impressions of food and how we eat. Food was not about driving to the grocery store, examining labels, or wondering whether you should pay the extra $2 for the organic version. I may be showing my age here, but while my childhood experience may be from another generation, our food system has changed. Drastically.

Food deserts abound in poorer communities, especially communities of color who, now removed from living in close cooperation with the land — like my grandparents did, fight the challenges of distance and decreasing paychecks to put fresh, healthy foods on their tables. These communities face very real food insecurity challenges that tend to go ignored.

Our diets have also changed. Indigenous varieties of corn, once in shades of black, red or blue have been replaced by yellow– the color corporate agriculture has decided we should prefer. Not only that, but this corn is genetically engineered to resist the pesticides we spray on fields, killing beneficial insects, and poisoning our waterways. Instead of chickens running in open backyards, like those at my grandparent’s house, thousands are crammed into tiny holding cages, often unable to walk and fed antibiotic and hormone-laced grain until they become so large and deformed that they cannot stand.

Let’s face it. The way we grow food and feed our families has changed. And while we are told large monoculture fields, factory farms, intensive chemical application, and corporate takeover of our seed banks is the way we will feed a growing global population, we are beginning to see the ravages industrial agriculture places on our environment and farmworker health.

However, there are sustainable ways we can grow our food system, put healthy foods on our tables, eliminate food deserts, and take pride in the stewardship of the land. Taking the lead are often small beginning farmers, many of whom are farmers of color returning to the ways our grandparents farmed with a few tweaks of their own. These farmers, along with farmer-led organizations that support them, are building collaborative networks in their communities integrating sustainable food production that enhances the environment and social health of people, while improving safe handling, distribution, and consumption of the food they produce.

African-American, Latinx, Native-American, Hmong farmers and others are finding ways to reintroduce indigenous varieties of fresh and healthy food back into their communities. These farmers are building their skills, training other farmers, focusing on building healthy soil, conserving water, and providing habitat for wildlife. They are in rural and urban communities, in food hubs, farmer’s markets, community gardens. They are involved with groups like the Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners (BUGS), bringing together farmers of color, educators, chefs and food justice advocates around conversations like, “Where does our food come from and who provides it?” and “Why don’t we see more Black farmers at the farmer’s markets?”

Unfortunately, at the national level, these farmers are often overlooked for federal funding to expand and retain their operations. For many years, federal policies did not grant the levels of support to farmers of color as they did to their white counterparts. This inequity has historically led farmers of color — often cash-strapped and unable to access credit or pay back loans — to lose their farms, pushing them out of business.

But things are changing and many organizations like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Rural Coalition, and others, are working on policy to increase farmers of color’s access to agriculture research and funding to sustain their farms. In December 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, the piece of legislation that oversees much of U.S. agriculture. There are some significant improvements to programs that support agriculture research for organic and sustainable systems, which will help beginning, underserved/farmers of color, and veteran farmers. These improvements include more funding for training and support. With new funds, these farmers will be able to get the support they need and help feed their communities.

The diversity of what we eat should be reflected by diversity in our food system and the farmers and workers who put food on our tables. A movement of farmers of color are primed to do just that while challenging our relationship with food. Will you join us?

Learn more about these farmers and organizations. Support sustainable food systems that also fight for food justice for all. Recommended Resources: Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners (BUGS) https://www.blackurbangrowers.org/; National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition http://sustainableagriculture.net/; Rural Coalition https://www.ruralco.org/

Nichelle Harriott has spent 10+ years working to educate consumers about the food they eat and advance environmental health and agriculture policy. She is currently a policy specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and lives in Maryland where she plans her next travels.

Photo credits: Pixabay, USDA

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By Lauren Meling, digital strategist and DC EcoWomen member

2019: it’s the start of a new year and anything is possible! Let this fresh start motivate you to push for more climate action this year. It’s no time to give up, since your voice is needed more than ever. But where to begin?

Look no further: the device you’re using right now can be the starting point for fresh activism in the new year. Online actions can be a crucial part of sparking action on environmental issues. Sometimes they get a bad rap — hence the “clicktivism” pejorative — but the truth is, digital and social media can reach more people at a faster rate than traditional media, educating them and inspiring further action. Don’t believe me? Here are 7 ways digital campaigns helped spur on real change.

1. LEGO: Everything is NOT Awesome

Everything is awesome? Not when you’re a kids’ company partnering with Big Oil. Greenpeace’s emotional video took Lego to task for its $116 million partnership with Shell, a company drilling in the Arctic — devastating the climate for the kids who play with its toys. After just three months and a million people showing their support, Lego ended the partnership. Meanwhile, Shell has halted its Arctic drilling exploration.

2. Clean Power Plan

Did you know the EPA received 1.6 million public comments about the Clean Power Plan — a landmark regulation that placed limits on the amount of carbon pollution emitted by power plants? As part of the federal rulemaking process, the public can submit comments to communicate their support for or reasons against a proposed regulation. Democracy! And in this modern age, you can do it online through regulations.gov.

Nonprofits and organizations across the country banded together to encourage as many Americans as possible to share their support for cleaner power and reducing carbon pollution from power plants.Today, the fate of the Clean Power Plan is in limbo, and the current administration is working on new rulemaking to replace it. If and when that happens, you’ll likely have a chance to get active online and demand stronger carbon pollution regulations. Follow the experts at Union of Concerned Scientists or Environmental Defense Fund to stay updated.

3. Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement — a worldwide commitment signed by 193 countries who promised to decrease carbon emissions in order to prevent climate catastrophe — is the biggest step the world has taken to address climate change. And while the US president says he wants to exit, the fact is he can’t — at least not until November 4, 2020.

So how did this global milestone happen? In short, the pressure had been building for years, with time running short on addressing climate change to keep global temperatures under 1.5* Celcius. By 2015, even the Pope got on board with his Laudato si encyclical. Environmental organizations worldwide combined forces to campaign for a strong agreement using online and social media. Together they delivered 6.2 million petition signatures at the United Nations for the start of COP21.

4. Standing Rock

When did you first hear about Standing Rock? Chances are, you first read about it through social media. Do you remember when everyone was ‘checking in’ on Facebook at Standing Rock and changing their status to “I stand with Standing Rock”? In 2016, a million people checked in to show their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL) in response to a viral post claiming that police were using Facebook to surveill and target protesters on site. Whether that was the case or not, one thing is sure – it certainly called an exponential amount of attention and support to the issue. This battle may have been lost, but the war wages on.

5. Flint, MI

When the mainstream media outlets weren’t taking notice, social media was lighting up with posts about the #FlintWaterCrisis. The problem in Flint still isn’t solved, but thanks to the spotlight shone on the problem first in social media, more organizations, nonprofits, and even celebrities stepped up to help, mobilizing funds and providing immediate assistance for those in need, likely saving lives in the process.

6. #StopSucking

More recently, one single item has earned the ire of social media gadflies everywhere: the plastic straw, making it the ‘biggest trend of 2018.’ Today, cities, states, and corporations are enacting or considering limits to plastic straws. But where did this momentum come from? In short, it can be traced back to one unfortunate sea turtle. After the video went viral, the Surfrider picked up the #StopSucking banner this year to campaign against straws. Soon after, celebrities and influencers showed their support on social media.

Reducing the unnecessary use of plastic straws is one relatively easy step in the right direction. But it’s only a starting point. Now if only people would also curtail their use of single use plastic cups and bottles too!

What can you do?

If you’d like to join in, there are several ways for you to get involved in 2019. First of all, make sure you’re following organizations working on the issues you’re passionate about on whatever social media you use most. That way, you’ll be in the loop when they have actions for you to make a difference. For instance, you can find DC EcoWomen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and more ways to get involved here.

Another tip: Tag a few of your friends or followers to make sure they get notified when you share an action online. You can also do the same thing by joining a Facebook group focused on your favorite topics, or starting a group chat with a few of your friends who care about the same issue – for example, water issues or reducing single-use plastic. (Just make sure you’re not sending out every message to every one of your friends — no one like a spammer!)

Lauren Meling has dedicated her career to finding what exactly it takes to make people take action online to serve a cause. She uses her digital strategy experience and skillset combining email marketing, social media, search engine marketing, website optimization, and content creation to engage online communities in meaningful action to confront some of the most challenging crises humanity faces today. She may not be a superhero, but she plays one on the internet.

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By Nira Sheppard, DC EcoWomen board member

The holiday season is upon us and for me, it’s a mixed bag. I love the dazzling lights, Christmas songs, and spending time with family eating delicious comfort food (pass the gravy please). At the same time, the expectation of giving and receiving gifts makes me dizzy and anxious with questions like, who do I give gifts to during the holidays? What should I give them? How much should I spend? What if they give me a gift and I don’t have one for them? The list goes on and on. If you have these questions too, unfortunately, I have no answers, but I can give you some pointers for making gifting eco-friendly and even pocket-friendly.

Be proactive. “A gift desired is a gift used” – Me. Does it make you feel uncomfortable and a bit guilty to get a gift you’re less than thrilled with receiving? Yes, it’s the thought that counts but all you can think about is, what to do with it (hmm, that’s not my style)? You’re not alone. Take control of your gift destiny and be proactive. Make it known what you would like from those who will likely give you a gift. Be specific or give them a category (good chocolate and natural body butters are winners for me). Also ask them what their preferences are, so you know what to get them. Help them out with questions, such as what type of books/clothes/snacks would they like and where can I get them? Once you know what they like, go the extra mile and try to get a version of the item that hits one or more of these categories: ethical, environmentally sustainable, local, and produced or sold by a woman-owned and/or minority-owned business.

Make a list. Not for Santa, unless you want to do that too (a child lives in all of us). You and those in your gift pool can use Giftster or MyRegistry.com to create a gift list to share with each other. Too much work? Cash or consumables, like wine, chocolate, coffee/tea, or candles should do the trick (please see aforementioned categories in the above paragraph). If cash is not your taste and you know this person doesn’t want or need a thing, gift them a charitable donation. I don’t recommend a gift card unless you’re pretty sure the person will use it because $1 billion in gift cards go unused every year.  

Decline extra packaging. After Christmas, the trash is filled with gift packaging – the packaging that comes with the gift and the extra that we add on top to make it pretty. To reduce waste, there are several options. Decline the gift box and wrapping service at the retailer. Reuse a jewelry box or gift bag you already have and then reuse it for next year. Repurpose it if it is no longer suitable for gift giving and then recycle it when no longer usable. If you don’t care, don’t package gifts at all.

Recycle. Say you decided to reduce packaging, but others did not? Collect the wrapping paper and packaging and recycle them yourself or ask the host about recycling what you collected. You can also take unwanted gift boxes and bags for future gift giving (I haven’t bought a gift bag in years).

Embrace gift-wrapping alternatives. Maybe you’re the person who thrills in watching your loved ones open your beautifully, perfectly, and carefully wrapped gifts. No need to deprive yourself. Here are six eco-friendly gift wrap alternatives and 15 more ideas that look chic, not cheap.

Gift experiences. An idea that is becoming more popular is to forego physical gifts for experiences, free or purchased. For example, you can gift someone movie, concert, festival, sporting event or museum tickets, yoga classes, a wine or beer tasting, etc. You can make the experience a shared memory by doing these things with them. You can perform a song or write a poem for them or give them a homemade gift (it may not technically be an experience for them, but they will appreciate your effort). You can also simply spend time together, perhaps while taking a walk or hike, at a cafe, or eating a home-cooked meal or cookies you made. If they trust you around their child(ren), you can gift them time in another way, free babysitting hours (this may be their best gift ever). Here are some more experience gifting options.

I hope these ideas have been helpful to you. Whatever you decide to do regarding the business of giving and receiving gifts, I hope your holiday season is full of love, warmth, and good cheer. Happy holidays!

Nira Sheppard is a member of DC EcoWomen’s professional development committee. She holds a BA from Soka University of America, an MA in Global Environment Policy from American University and a LEED Green Associate credential. Nira is passionate about recycling, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and waste reduction and is seeking opportunities in environmental sustainability and sustainable development. Find her on LinkedIn

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By Tynekia Garrett, DC EcoWomen board member

The inspiring journalist and social activist Dorothy Day once said, “the best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them away.”

Nov. 27, 2018 is #GivingTuesday – the annual global movement and social media campaign designed to help individuals and organizations give back to their communities. What better thing to do with “the best things in life” you have to offer, than give back to your community?

For me, that means becoming more engaged with the DC EcoWomen board. As the Treasurer, I provide financial oversight for the DC Chapter of EcoWomen. In my role, I formulate future year budgets, balance current year budgets, and support board members in purchasing goods and services for EcoWomen events. This helps other women by supporting their hard work and dedication to providing quality programming to members.

Join DC EcoWomen in participating in #GivingTuesday. Collaborate with our organization.  Help empower women to become leaders for the environmental community. Our hard-working board manages our organization of nearly 6,000 members and puts forward opportunities left and right! For the past 15 years, we’ve provided a space for women to share ideas and events that have focused on everything from professional development to outdoor activities and outings, to our signature EcoHour, which has featured environmental journalists and bloggers, and women leaders from local and national environmental groups and within government. We have much more in store for the new year too!

This #GivingTuesday, I invite you to give back in one of the following ways.

  • Donate – DC EcoWomen is a not for profit organization that accepts donations through PayPal Giving Fund. There are no fees associated with giving and tax receipts are provided via email.
  • Become a Member – We invite you to share and collaborate with DC EcoWomen by becoming a member and bringing your voice to one of our many events. Sign-up for our newsletter and community listserv for notifications of upcoming events.
  • Blog Away – Interested in writing about environmental or women’s issues? Join our Blog Team and provide your voice to the DC EcoWomen platform. Send us a message on Facebook to get started.
  • Raffle Time – DC EcoWomen is hosting its annual holiday party on Dec. 18, 2018. We are seeking non-monetary donations from businesses to raffle off to attendees at our holiday party. Proceeds from raffles will support DC EcoWomen future programming. Contact us on Facebook, if you’re interested in contributing.

All information for opportunities to get involved and donate are located on the dc.ecowomen.org website. I encourage you to join me in giving back the best you have to offer. While you’re at it, don’t forget to share how you’re giving back your best things in life. We’d love to know – tag @dcecowomen and #GivingTuesday!

Tynekia currently serves on the DC EcoWomen board as its Treasurer. She is also a Management and Program Analyst for the District Department of Forensic Sciences, where she manages budget and performance. She is proud to work for a public agency, where women are at the forefront of science. She speaks highly of the scientists, examiners, procurement staff, and the budget team that is comprised of a diverse group of women.

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By Lesly Baesens

With the holiday season upon us, food is at forefront of people’s minds. However, these joyous occasions also present an opportunity to consider what frequently becomes of our leftovers – food waste. U.S. households are responsible for wasting a staggering 238 pounds of food per person each year. Each scoop of mashed potatoes that ends up in the trash, carries with it the resources used to produce, transport, and process that food. This waste of resources is an economic, social, and environmental harm. For example, food rotting in landfills emits methane, a greenhouse gas with 25 more heat trapping potential than carbon dioxide.

Households are not the only source of wasted food. Food waste is a systemic problem that inhabits all parts of the food production process–from farmers unable to sell produce that fall short of supermarkets’ rigorous aesthetic standards, to restaurants serving portions too big for consumers to finish. As a result, approximately 40 percent of food produced each year in the U.S. is wasted. Despite the pervasiveness of the issue, there are no federal laws, incentives, or enforceable requirements to reduce food waste. Instead, some U.S. cities and states have committed to reduce food waste.

In the first iteration of its Sustainable DC plan, the nation’s capital committed to reducing food waste through establishing curbside organic waste pick-up for composting. Though composting is preferable to sending food waste to methane-producing landfills, it should be a second-to-last resort as the resources necessary to produce the food have already been expended. In my paper, Leading by Example: 20 Ways the Nation’s Capital Can Reduce Food Waste, I closely examined the issue of food waste in the District and provided the city government with recommendations on how to tackle food waste more efficiently and holistically.

The paper’s recommendations range from simple ones, such as establishing a food waste reduction target in the Sustainable DC Plan, to more politically challenging ones, including requiring grocers to measure and publicly disclose wasted food amounts. By establishing a food waste target, the city would be encouraged to move beyond composting to addressing food waste more comprehensively. By requiring grocers to disclose food waste amounts, the city would bring transparency to the amount of food discarded in this sector, which in turn would incentivize retailers to waste less.

Since sharing my paper with the Office of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and other city agencies, I was pleased to find that the city’s latest draft plan, Sustainable DC 2.0, includes several of my suggested measures. For instance, it steps-up the city’s food waste reduction efforts by committing to a target – reduce DC’s food waste by 60 percent by 2032. In order to develop recommendations on reducing food waste, the city will conduct an assessment of food waste in household and businesses – another one of my proposals. Sustainable DC 2.0 also proposes to educate residents and businesses on food “buying, storage, and disposal […] to minimize waste.” As discussed in my paper, consumer education campaigns can help households become drivers of reducing food waste.

These improved commitments are a major step forward for the District in its efforts to tackle food waste. However, I challenge D.C. to consider adopting bolder, more hard-hitting recommendations. We’ll need them if we want to become a model of food waste reduction in the U.S. and internationally, especially if we want to achieve the city’s goal of becoming “the most sustainable city in the nation.” In the meantime, I challenge you to educate yourself about the city’s efforts by reading Sustainable DC 2.0. Also, think twice before tossing those holiday leftovers. Find ways to reuse them and help our city become a leader in food waste reduction.

Lesly earned her Master’s degree in Global Environmental Policy from American University focusing on sustainable agriculture. A professional with more than 10 years of experience in project management, policy, and research, she is a die-hard food waste reduction advocate and is always looking for opportunities to advance the cause. Lesly volunteers with the DC Food Recovery Working Group, a group focused on food waste reduction and recovery efforts in the D.C. metropolitan area.

Photo Credits: petrr CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons; Sustainable DC

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By the DC EcoWomen Executive Board

In early August, in a community room of an apartment building in Northeast D.C., the DC EcoWomen executive team sat down to discuss the upcoming board year and work on a document that would help guide our efforts – the 2018-2019 Calendar. As we wrote down all the dates, we couldn’t help but get excited. We have upcoming events and content appealing to all types of woman in our DC EcoWomen community. We’re planning speaker events, skill-building workshops, meetings for a special-interest club, outdoor adventures and more. Keep reading for more information.

If you’ve attended an event of ours, it was probably one from our signature EcoHour speaker series. This year, we’re continuing the tradition. On the third Tuesday of each month (except December and August), we’ll hear from a successful woman in the environmental field discuss her work. The free event kicks off with some networking and runs from 6-8 p.m. at Teaism Penn Quarter. The next one will be Tuesday, October 16, and will feature Analisa Freitas, Campaign Coordinator for the Peoples Climate Movement. She’ll talk about how she helps orchestrate large-scale marches for climate justice and organize Latino communities around grassroots advocacy.

In terms of professional development, we’re holding a series of mentoring dinners. They provide a unique opportunity to talk with women in the environmental field in an intimate setting. It’s a time when 6-8 women can get advice and guidance on advancing their careers while sitting down to share a meal with one experienced mentor. The mentors are selected based on their professional accomplishments and alignment with our organization and mission. The next one will be in October.

We’re also planning a few professional development workshops that will focus on helping women develop the skills to succeed in the workplace. Previous workshops included topics like salary negotiation, resume writing and public speaking. Our next workshop will be in December.

As women who are passionate about the environment and getting to know our community, our upcoming programming involves several fun outings, volunteer opportunities and networking events. In October, we have a women-only craft brewery tour & tasting at Right Proper Brewing’s Brookland Production House. In way of eco-outings, we are looking into hikes, rock climbing, cave walking, paddle boarding, and a river clean-up and tour. For the book lovers, our book club will continue to meet to discuss a book or series of small articles, blogs and podcasts with an environmental angle. We’ll have happy hours, and a book and clothing swap, too.

Every year, DC EcoWomen also hosts a spring photo contest. The contest showcases artistic images taken by our members that highlight women in the environment, conservation in action, natural beauty, travel, iconic urban landscapes, etc. Details surrounding the 2019 contest and its themes will be available in the spring. To learn more about the 2018 grand prize winner, Sarah Waybright, check-out this blog on her photo and work at Potomac Vegetable Farms.

To keep current on the various activities that we have planned, please sign-up for the newsletter and track us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We also have the DC EcoWomen blog, which will keep you informed of various topics and issues relevant to our community. Our very own board members will write many posts and we’ll have some guest posts too.

We look forward to seeing you at an event soon!

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on The Story Behind “Port Lockroy”

By Alyssa Ritterstein, DC EcoWomen Board Member

Anne Christianson is one of the finalists of DC EcoWomen’s 2018 Photo Contest, which captured images of the incredible environmental work our members do each day. One of the categories that we put forward for this year’s photo contest was women providing career growth opportunities for other women, and Anne delivered.

Her photo takes us on a journey to Antarctica. The picture shows women teaching other women about Antarctic climate science with a beautiful snow-covered mountain in the distance. What a classroom! The Antarctic expedition was the culmination of 18 months of training and is part of a 10-year, all-female scientist leadership initiative.

Anne is a woman with a clear passion for environmental issues. During her PhD at the University of Minnesota evaluating international climate change adaptation policies and programs for ecological and social benefits, she interned at the White House Council on Environmental Quality and was a policy fellow at the Committee on Natural Resources. Prior to those positions, she managed the legislative portfolio for Rep. Ellison (D-Minn.) on international and domestic natural resources, energy and environment, agriculture, and Native American issues. She also worked as a lobbyist for Ocean Conservancy for their marine debris and ocean planning programs.

We recently spoke with Anne to hear more about the photo and the story behind it.

DC EcoWomen: Congratulations on being a finalist for this year’s photo contest! Let’s talk about the photo you submitted. What’s its backstory?

Anne Christianson: I was in Antarctica with 75 other female scientists from around the world. This was our final landing on the Antarctic Peninsula, at an historic British base. It was amazing being in Antarctica with these accomplished women! We had botanists, geologists, wildlife biologists, atmospheric scientists, and marine ecologists. Every time someone found a cool rock, saw an interesting penguin interaction, or the weather changed, we had an expert right there. We also learned from each other what it takes to be a successful woman and leader in STEMM [science, technology, engineering, mathematical and medical] fields. Although we were all different ages, from different continents, and in different disciplines, we all had experienced the same challenges as women in science. The solidarity and support we gave each other was a crucial aspect of the leadership initiative.

DCEW: I see that you have a lot of experience working on environmental issues for the White House, on Capitol Hill and at a Washington-based environmental advocacy nonprofit. How did you get from D.C. to Port Lockroy, Antarctica?

AC: I think it is because I had D.C. experience that I was chosen to go! Many scientists struggle to communicate their findings and passion to the policy-makers that ultimately act as gatekeepers – whether that be for appropriations for important scientific institutions, or the decisions made in D.C. that could strengthen or destroy entire fields of study. Being an environmental scientist with direct policy experience has been incredibly useful for my career, and I was able to add insight to the science communication discussions we had on the ship.

DCEW: Let’s switch gears and talk about the future. Where do you envision your environmental work taking you in the future?

AC: I am planning on returning to D.C. soon, but this time around I want to move beyond national policy circles and become more involved in international conservation work. I think some of the most interesting and relevant dialogues about the planet are happening on the international stage. I’ve spent the last year traveling around the world for my PhD research, having conversations with scientists and policy-makers, and I’ve been energized by the hopefulness and determination of these international communities. 

DCEW: You’ve been a member of DC EcoWomen for some time now. What kept bringing you back to the organization, and any advice for those interested in submitting a photo for next year’s contest?

AC: The community of support that DC EcoWomen gives keeps me coming back. The only way that women will see gains in the professional world – in terms of salary, leadership roles, and preventing harassment and discrimination in the workplace – is if we support each other, believe each other, and have each other’s back. DC EcoWomen provides this – a group of women who have similar passions and experiences, and can be there to help each other succeed, rather than be in competition. I found that incredibly refreshing, and it was instrumental to my early professional success. It’s amazing to see all the growth that has happened with the organization since I moved to Minnesota, and I’m excited to take part in all of the new ideas that future boards and members will have!

Anne Christianson is an environmental scientist at the University of Minnesota, where her research examines the social and ecological implications of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation.

 

 

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Woman in field. "2018 Photo Contest Finalist Guest Blog"

By Alyssa Ritterstein, DC EcoWomen Board Member 

Tacy Lambiase is one of the finalists of DC EcoWomen’s 2018 Photo Contest, which captured images of the incredible environmental work our members do each day. Her photo features an activity that resonates with many women in our community – volunteering to help protect the environment.

Tacy is not new to volunteer work. In 2013, she led 15 University of Maryland, College Park undergraduates on a week-long, environmental restoration trip with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. During that time, she educated students about environmental issues through service-learning activities and projects.

For the past two years, she’s volunteered as an environmental educator with the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS)’s Saturday Environmental Academy (SEA). She develops lesson plans and chaperones weekly field trips for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students interested in environmental issues.

Tacy’s photo contest picture comes from one of her trips this past spring, when she participated in a tree planting along the Anacostia River near Bladensburg, Maryland. Her photo follows one of her young SEA students planting a native sapling to stabilize the banks of the river.

We recently chatted with Tacy to hear more about the photo and the passion behind her work.

DC EcoWomen: Congratulations on being a finalist for this year’s photo contest! Let’s talk about the photo you submitted. What’s its backstory?

Tacy Lambiase: We were planting native tree species to help restore a portion of the riverbank along the Anacostia that was experiencing erosion (and a large build-up of trash). For some of the students, this was the first time they had ever planted a tree. How awesome is that?! I love that the SEA program facilitates meaningful experiences like this for students from underserved communities.

DCEW: I see that you have a lot of experience volunteering and working in the environmental field. Can you tell us why you are passionate about this area and how you got to where you are today? For instance, how did you get involved with AWS?

TL: I became passionate about sustainability and volunteering as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland. Participating in the Alternative Breaks Program was a game-changer because I had the opportunity to see environmental protection in action. It wasn’t a theoretical exercise, it was an experience involving hands-on, direct service to my own community, the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Ultimately, that experience inspired me to minor in Sustainability Studies and pursue sustainability-related job opportunities after graduation. It also led me to seek out volunteer positions with AWS.

DCEW: Let’s switch gears and talk about the future. Where do you envision your environmental work taking you in the future?

TL: I currently work on internal communications and employee engagement initiatives for the Urban Institute. I’d love to help foster a culture of sustainability within the organization. I’ve actually be given the opportunity to form a Sustainability Task Force with staff to kick-start conversations around: “How might we create a more efficient, healthy, and sustainable workplace? How can we become better neighbors and environmental stewards of our own community?” So, I’m excited to see how that evolves. And I will definitely keep volunteering with local environmental organizations in my free time.

DCEW: Is there any advice that you’d like to give folks interested in next year’s contest?

TL: Don’t be afraid to share your story! Whether you take care of your own backyard garden, volunteer with an environmental organization, or spend time in nature, your story about connecting with the environment is important. And a good photo can help your story resonate with others.

Tacy Lambiase is a volunteer environmental educator at the Saturday Environmental Academy (SEA), a program of the Anacostia Watershed Society. She also works as an Internal Communications Specialist at The Urban Institute, a nonprofit conducting research to expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector.

 

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The Woman Behind “Farming”: Q&A with Photo Contest Winner Sarah Waybright

By Alyssa Ritterstein, DC EcoWomen Board Member

DC EcoWomen launched its annual photo contest on Earth Day – April 22 – to capture images of the incredible environmental work our members do each day.

Several photos featured members enjoying the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin with friends and family. Other images took us a bit farther out of downtown – the Capitol building viewed from the United States National Arboretum, rock climbing at Great Falls State Park, and rocks floating on frozen water in Alexandria, Virginia.

Many folks showed us their green thumb. We received pictures of a tree planting along the Anacostia River, community gardens, a green roof garden at the University of the District of Columbia, and farms throughout the DMV.

Other folks showed us images of people helping people. We saw a picture of women teaching women about Antarctic climate science during an all-women leadership training course in Antarctica. Another picture was taken at the Virginia High School Leadership conference, where a woman had just given a speech to students on how to be an environmental leader in their schools and communities.

Our grand prize winner, Sarah Waybright, sent us a photo incorporating all three of the categories that we put forward for this year’s photo contest – women working on environmental issues, providing career growth opportunities for other women, and taking advantage of the D.C. area’s natural beauty. Her photo depicts her farming at Potomac Vegetable Farms (PVF) in Reston, Virginia, where she works alongside three women who run the farm and put on educational programs for young women interested in farm-based leadership.

We recently chatted with Sarah to hear more about the photo and the woman behind it.

DC EcoWomen: Congratulations on winning the Photo Contest! Let’s talk about the photo you submitted. I love how happy you look in it. What’s its backstory?

Sarah Waybright: This picture was taken on a little harvesting outing when a friend (who takes lovely photos!) came to visit. Getting to pick veggies you’ll eat right away is a privilege many people have never experienced, so when I have guests I like to upgrade their dinner with a farm trip! I see farming as a foundation for all the things I want to do with my career. Food is the intersection of nutrition and science, and farming is the intersection of food and our environment. Everything I want to share can “stem” from there. Working on this farm has been a true, unique joy. The people are all so supportive and kind, which isn’t something you can say of every work environment in the D.C. area!

DCEW: From your website, Why Food Works, I see that you are a Registered Dietitian, offer nutrition coaching services, and sell your own pottery – all while working on the farm. Can you tell us more about your career and how you got to where you are today?

SW: One of the things I’ve done well to this point in my life is design my days around the things I love to do, and no two are the same. I spend 20 hours a week health coaching, 15-20 farming, 10 doing pottery, and fit maintaining my brand (at times better than others!) in between those things for now. I come from a farming family that still runs a dairy farm in Pennsylvania and was lucky to grow up with a big garden. I never intended to be a farmer, but my interest in the health sciences brought me back to it. Our food systems and health are closely intertwined!

DCEW: When you submitted your photo, you wrote that you are working to open a farm where you’ll teach workshops on fermenting, cooking, growing, crafts, environmental principles, and good living. Do you have more details on it?

SW: Yes! I’m very excited that working at PVF has introduced me to a like-minded farming partner, Pam Jones. We’ll be establishing Gathering Springs Farm just north of Middleburg, Virginia, over the course of the next year. We hope to launch in time for market season next April with a few veggies we’ll grow over the winter. Things are still very much in the planning stages, but moving forward bit by bit almost daily now. That’s about all the information that exists, but stay tuned for more over the coming months!

DCEW: I see that you’ve submitted photos for our photo contest in previous years. Why do you continue to submit photos, and is there any advice that you’d like to give folks interested in next year’s contest?

SW: I was so excited to win this year. I thought getting a runner-up spot last year was pretty great, but my entry resonating with DC EcoWomen feels like confirmation that things are moving in the right direction. My recipe for success in submitting photos has been sharing a nice picture of something authentic that I’m passionate about and explaining why with a good description!

Sarah Waybright is a Registered Dietitian, the owner of WhyFoodWorks, a health coach for Wellness Corporate Solutions, and works at Potomac Vegetable Farms. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to get food tips, nutrition information and healthy recipes.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on DC EcoWomen Take a Spin on Two of the World’s First Commercial Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars


By Vanessa Trejos, Energy Engineer in the Fuel Cell Technologies Office at Department of Energy 

DC EcoWomen and the Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) at Department of Energy (DOE) partnered this year in a “Ride & Learn” to showcase two of the world’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell cars. The activity drew women from diverse professional backgrounds – marketing, policy and engineering – with an interest in cutting-edge and sustainable technologies that may change the way we think about energy and transportation. Participants had the unique opportunity to drive and ride the cars and learn how hydrogen and fuel cells have the potential to enable a cleaner, more secure and flexible energy and transportation system.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars use a fuel cell that converts hydrogen into the electricity that powers the car’s electric motor. These cars are known for their 300+ mile range, quick refueling times and generating zero carbon emissions at the tailpipe – only emitting water vapor. For the first time, they are commercially available and on the streets. Hydrogen stations to fuel them are up and running in select U.S. regions.

The DOE FCTO focuses on early-stage research and development (R&D) to enable the advancement of this technology. Efforts from FCTO-funded early stage R&D have helped cut the cost of fuel cells by 60 percent and quadrupled their durability in the past decade. The cars used for this event are part of the DOE fleet and on loan from the automakers as an effort to collect data that guides the agency’s early stage R&D in this emerging technology.

To learn more about how fuel cells work and get involved, download the Increase your H2IQ to give a hydrogen and fuel cells presentation to your class or community and visit the DOE FCTO website.

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Vanessa Trejos works in the Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) at the Department of Energy (DOE) where she raises awareness of hydrogen and fuel cells as energy and transportation resources. She helped coordinate the “Ride & Learn” event with DC EcoWomen.