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by Alyssa Ritterstein, DC EcoWomen Board Member

DC EcoWomen celebrates Earth Day annually you might even argue that we honor it every day through the work our members do. One of the ways we showcase the incredible environmental efforts of our members is through our annual photo contest. We recently sat down with the 2017 People’s Choice photo contest winner, Maggie Dewane, to revisit the photo she submitted from her travels to Antarctica – “In the Midst of Climate Change” – and ask what Earth Day means to her.

 

“The Earth is our home and we are all connected to it, regardless of our beliefs or background. We owe it our respect and appreciation all year round. “

 

DC EcoWomen: Why did you submit a photo for the Photo Contest?

Maggie Dewane: DC EcoWomen provides this really wonderful and warm platform for women in environmental fields to connect and support one another. Following my expedition to Antarctica, I felt proud to have taken an opportunity to broaden my professional development and environmental awareness. Sharing my favorite photo from the expedition with such a supportive network seemed like a great idea! And now, one year later, that photo and the photo contest have connected me with new friends and professionals. I have DC EcoWomen to thank for that.

DCEW: Why were you in Antarctica?

MD: I traveled to Antarctica because as an environmentalist and writer, I often try to communicate the story of climate change to a wide range of audiences. By seeing climate change firsthand and learning from scientists who study there, I gained a new and unique perspective into that story. Following my expedition, I made a short video [below] to educate audiences and encourage them to learn more so that they may feel empowered to fight climate change.

DCEW: What were you thinking about while you were there, especially as you were taking this photo?

MD: When this photo was taken, I had just seen three Adelie penguins – a penguin species that serves as an indicator of climate change. We were on Petermann Island, historically a nesting ground for Adelies. These penguins thrive in the most frigid and freezing temperatures of Antarctica, but as summers are getting warmer and winters are getting shorter, they are having to move further south down the continent. So this moment was novel and exciting. Additionally, the majestic backdrops were breathtaking and humbling. How outstanding to be in one of the last untouched wild places, in its raw beauty. However, the bright and beaming sun and those penguins served as a reminder of the reach of anthropogenic climate change, even this far removed from civilization.

DCEW: What does Earth Day mean to you?

MD: Earth Day, to me, is associated with such fond memories. Earth Day symbolized spring and new beginnings. I remember planting trees and flowers as a kid with my mom in our backyard. As I’ve grown older, it obviously has taken on a deeper, more profound meaning. The Earth is our home and we are all connected to it, regardless of our beliefs or background. We owe it our respect and appreciation all year round. There is truth to the adage, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, but we borrow it from our children.”

DCEW: What would you tell women who are considering submitting a photo for this year’s contest?

MD: Do it! Be proud of your accomplishments because we’re all rooting for you.

Now it’s your turn! The DC EcoWomen photo contest will launches on Earth Day (Sunday, April 22) and submissions will be accepted through May 23 at midnight. Photos should feature environmental issues, career growth opportunities, D.C., or all of the above. Details and contest rules can be found on the Photo Contest page. We hope you participate, and good luck!

Maggie Dewane is the US Communications Manager at the Marine Stewardship Council and a DC EcoWomen Member.

 

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by Stacy Knight

As a marine scientist and conservationist, I’ve been inspired by many of the scientific greats—Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, and Edward O. Wilson. But I am proud to have a long list of inspiring women to look up to, as well. Throughout history women have fought to be recognized, pushed to make a difference, and augmented the norm. As with many industries, women in science struggle with equity in pay, opportunities, and recognition. Despite these imbalances, many major scientific discoveries are attributed to women. Because March is an important month for women with Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day (March 8), and the anniversary of the 1913 suffrage march in Washington (March 3), DC EcoWomen is celebrating women all month long. I would like to celebrate the following amazing women who have inspired me throughout my career and pushed me to make a difference.

Dr. Euginie Clark was a Japanese American marine biology rockstar! Like me, she was drawn to the ocean through a place accessible to all Americans—the local aquarium. This experience inspired her to become SCUBA certified, and during her career she performed more than 70 deep submersible dives. She earned a Ph.D in 1950 and dedicated her career to studying fish and sharks. Her passion to debunk myths and fears about sharks earned her the nickname “Shark Lady”. She helped create Mote Marine Laboratory, which focuses much of their research on shark biology, including the presence of cancer in the species. Reading about this research as a kid fueled my never-ending curiosity of elasmobranchs.

Dr. Theodora Colburn was a trailblazer for endocrine disruption research. Her seminal research showing that small concentrations of chemicals can alter human reproductive, metabolic, and immune systems is chronicled in the novel Our Stolen Future. Born in 1927, she spent her early career as a pharmacist and went back to school at age 51 to earn an M.A. in freshwater ecology and a Ph.D. in zoology. In 1985 she “started” her career with a fellowship advising Congress on science. Over the next several decades she directed research on toxicology and human health and testified about the effects of chemicals in front of Congress. My early research in an endocrine disruption lab was encouraged by her work, but today, more than ever, her efforts to push  for Congress to make science-based decisions, and her commitment to disprove industry claims with scientific evidence is inspirational.

Dr. Amanda Vincent is a Canadian marine scientist and seahorse guru. In 1996 she co-founded Project Seahorse, an international, non-profit organization focused on seahorse conservation and community-based sustainable ocean ecosystems use. Dr. Vincent’s recognition that coastal communities rely on ocean resources served as the foundation for her innovative ideas integrating local communities and social science into conservation needs for seahorses, such as marine protected areas and small scale fisheries. Learning about her dedication to protecting the ocean without excluding humans from its use was a pivotal moment for me, which drew me to the sustainability and conservation field.

DC EcoWomen celebrates women every day and we’d love for you to celebrate women with us all March long by sharing on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #celebratingwomen and #dcecowomen. We’d love to hear who inspires you and how you’re celebrating women. Let’s start a conversation!

Each one of us has the power to inspire, and what better way than through our signature event: EcoHour. Join us on the third Tuesday of every month at Teaism Penn Quarter for an hour of inspiring stories about career growth from women in the environmental field.

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Stacy Knight is a marine scientist and a DC EcoWomen board member. She recently moved to DC to apply her diverse science skills to the environmental policy arena, and currently works for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership on the Political Affairs team. A science nerd at heart, she loves nature, the ocean, and photography. In her free time, she can be found enjoying local restaurants, sampling craft beers, and taking landscape photographs.

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by Tamara Toles O’Laughlin

February is Black History Month, and it couldn’t have come any sooner for your local chapter of EcoWomen. We are at a crossroads in Washington D.C., and the nation. Challenges for women in the environment are compounded by a hyper local tightening of political tensions, regulatory rollbacks, revised—and frankly regressive—policy decisions. What better time is there to engage in a month-long reflection on the contributions, struggles, and textures of American life through the lens of black people? I live my life through this lens, and as a leader, engaging the environmental sector on access, equity and justice, I am a lifelong student of the past, with my eyes trained on the present. History is in the making.

The past is full of policies that aimed to frame the appreciation of the biota as the province of men, white men, at the expense of the stories of women and humans of every background whose lives and livelihoods were diminished by force of law and violence. Recent history is silent on those missing voices of environmental work; as the ethos took those cues and turned them into a culture of exclusion and compartmentalized norms of melanin in absentia. (That’s a different blog post!)

Text that reads Black Lives Matter on a background of pink roses

So where are the heroes in technicolor? Here, here, here and here, for a start. They are everywhere. And I suspect that they always were.

The future looks bright for environmental organizations taking this culture correction to heart, as leadership and membership shifts to closer approximate the population, and include diverse access points and perspectives.  It is a great time to consider the unnatural paucity of milestones and connect the dots on the homogeneity of voices that have shaped the narratives, and ask, to what end?  

As the DC chapter of EcoWomen looks forward to its fifteenth year, we are wrestling with questions of our existence as a body, our presence in the District, and whether or not we are walking the walk on equity and inclusion beyond the benchmarks of diversity. Operationally, this means taking a look at the depth of our bench in programs centered around inclusivity of women of different ages, capacities, and stages of life. It also means we are examining who we choose to lead our panels and programs—including our monthly EcoHour speakers—and whether or not our choices reflect a bias towards any branch, specialty, or perspective on environmental issues. We are taking up the challenge of articulating our aspirations and charting their emergence in internal and external policies. We are reviewing our goals, mission, and programs with the awareness of heteronormative, gender based, and age targeted assumptions. We begin by making no presumption that we are doing it “right” or that we can exist as DC EcoWomen in community without some careful thought about who is in the rooms where decisions are made.

As we move through these considerations we plan to open the questions up to our membership—you! So, be on the lookout for opportunities for feedback including surveys, focus groups, or polls where we will request your input on how you might like to see us express our desire for a representative chapter on the way to meaning well and doing it too. We expect that after some thought we will articulate policies about how and why we work and any action plans that would allow us to make it a matter of praxis.

Thank you, as always, for your membership and continued support of DC EcoWomen.

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By April Martin, DC EcoWomen Co-Chair

The holiday season is upon us! Lights are going up, orders for Thanksgiving turkeys are posted at grocery stores, and I even got the Christmas blend at Starbucks this morning! As we plan our holiday meals, celebrations and gifts, it is also the season to give back to our friends, families, colleagues and communities.

DC EcoWomen has been hard at work this year—and every year—since 2003 to empower environmental women in the greater DVM. We have a hard-working board of 22 women, who collectively work to organize and manage our organization of nearly 6,000 members!

Together, we put on over 40 events a year that run the gamut from professional development to outdoor activities and outings, to our signature EcoHour, where professional women can come together to network and find community.

I’m proud of all that we have accomplished: since 2004 we have put on over 160 EcoHours and featured women leaders from local and national environmental groups, environmental journalists and bloggers, and leaders in the governmental arena. In 2017 alone, we have featured strategists from leading conservation groups, cleaned up pollution at our coastline, arranged conservation tours at the zoo, and now we are encouraging women to use reusable shopping bags through our Nickels for Non-Profits partnership with Whole Foods in Montgomery County.

Reusable bags help generate money for DC EcoWomen at Whole Foods.

But wait, we are not done! Next Tuesday, Nov 21, we are hosting an EcoHour with Dr. Helen E. Fox, senior director of Our Changing Planet grants program at the National Geographic Society. She will share insights from her 20+ years of experience strengthening science and marine conservation.  

The following Tuesday, November 28, is #GivingTuesday! What is #GivingTuesday you might ask? Besides a hashtag, it is an international day of giving, whether it is through giving your time, your money or your voice. Do you have a story about how DC EcoWomen has benefited you? Share it!

This year, I hope that you will consider giving to DC EcoWomen, an organization that gives back all year long. Please join with our community, come out to our events and get involved! There are volunteer opportunities, and opportunities to express your leadership by participating on our board. Your donation will go towards the development of women as leaders in the environmental community.

Speaking of developing women leaders, are you ready to take your career to the next level? Join us at a Leveling Up workshop on Saturday, December 2. This comprehensive skills-building workshop where a team of experts will walk you through how to manage a team, measure your effectiveness, present with confidence, and deliberately manage and shape your career. You’ll also learn about finding mentors and career coaches, cultivating connections, branding yourself, and much more!

As we close out 2017 and move into 2018, my Co-Chair Tamara Toles O’Laughlin and I are excited to see how we can develop our board and our offerings to our membership.

But, we need your support to take DC EcoWomen to the next level.

You can read all about it in Tamara’s blog, and here are a few of her thoughts to close out:

“April and I will make change that support and evolves our mission to broaden our service to all the women who make up our community, while continuing to be the hub for vanguard leadership and programming.

“Watch this space as we tinker with the definition of membership, develop affinity groups to reach the seasoned members of our community and make the most of the forty events the DC chapter puts on each year.

“In these fraught times for women and the environment we have seen that our community isn’t just a place to network but a landing spot for cultivation of equity, curiosity and a catalyst for women making their place in the sector. We hope that each of you who count yourselves as members will stick with us as we flesh out our capacity to serve as a force for good in the Nation’s Capital.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself! I am wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

Warmly,

April

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on A Dietary Pattern for a Healthier Planet

Vegetable-based diets can be better for the planet.

by Joanna Pustilnik, Bodacious Nutrition

A condo building is going up in my neighborhood, and my husband and I were worried it might cause more traffic congestion. We already live by a highway, and I’ve read that can increase the risk of high blood pressure. But then I read the world is going to house 9.6 billion people by the time my baby daughter is thirty, and the condo suddenly seems like a very minor concern.  

Already, one in nine of us—or about 13 percent of people worldwide—don’t have enough to eat. That’s not fair. I like food. You like food. We should all have enough of it. As a dietitian (and a human), I’m perplexed – how are we going to feed the 3 billion more people that will share our space with us? We’ll have even less resources by then.

Food production would need to increase 70 percent to feed all our new friends. Globally, producing food already eats up 70 percent of fresh water and causes 80 percent of total deforestation. Ten billion acres of land across the globe – an amount the size of Africa – is being used to raise livestock.

We can’t increase our global food production ? we don’t have the space. Instead, we need to drastically change how we grow, produce, and eat food. The most powerful thing we can do as individual consumers is to eat sustainably.

Food security and sustainable dietary patterns

To feed our 3 billion new friends, we need to be food secure. Food security is when we have enough safe, nutritious food. A sustainable dietary pattern has minimal environmental impact but maintains food security and nutritional value.

A “dietary pattern” is essentially the way we normally eat. It includes our typical portions, combination of commonly eaten foods, and the variety in our habitual choices. To be sustainable, a dietary pattern should be healthy, shouldn’t decrease the biodiversity of an ecosystem, should be economically sound, and should optimize our resources.

Plant based diets such as the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and a vegetarian (or vegan) diet seem to fit this bill. Health benefits of these diets include lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and they boast a lower amount of red meat, processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables. Studies are repeatedly finding that diets high in animal foods are not sustainable.

Beef, in particular, uses a lot of resources and produces too much waste. In one Italian study, beef was the food tied to the greatest negative impact on the ecosystem while a vegan diet had the lowest environmental impact and greatest health score. Beef and lamb require the most fossil fuel per calorie of protein ? 250 times more than beans!

Here’s a graph from the World Resources Institute that shows the impact of various foods on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Notice animal-based foods use consistently more resources:

Here’s a graph from the World Resources Institute that shows the impact of various foods on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Notice animal-based foods use consistently more resources

Overall, agriculture is responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but 18 percent of this is due to raising livestock. That’s more than the transportation industry and all industrial processes combined – they only emit fourteen percent.

Another issue is that meat increases per capita land requirements while feeding less people overall. The grain we feed animals doesn’t go as far as it would if we just were to feed it directly to people, and we feed 40 percent of grain globally to livestock instead of our hungry 1 billion human friends.

Meat also produces a large amount of waste – methane and other gases as well as solid waste that pollutes land and waterways. A plant-based diet with a smaller amount of meat is making more sense.

Harvard and the European Union have both looked at sustainability research to develop diets. Harvard’s plate boasts more fruits and vegetables than USDA’s MyPlate, more whole grains, and focuses more on plant protein while limiting red meat intake. It also encourages milk and dairy no more than 1 to 2 times a day.

The European Union’s LiveWell for LIFE diet has been found to reduce GHG production by 25 percent compared to current intake. It too promotes a plant-based diet with a focus on more plant proteins than a typical person eats with no more than 1/3 of the diet consisting of foods from animal sources.

How we eat now

Currently, we are not eating in line with either of these diets. Most of us eat a Western-style diet that’s high in red meat, dairy, and processed foods (think packages, boxes, bags, and the center of the grocery). We include few fruits and vegetables, limited legumes and beans, and not enough whole grains.

We especially love our red meat.

In 2009, we ate 14 million tons of beef ? about 92 lbs. per person. By 2030, this number is projected to increase to 17 million tons. The average man only needs 56 gm of protein per day, but he eats over 100 gm daily! Demand is also increasing worldwide as countries become more industrialized.

Simple changes we can all make

First, we can shop locally. This limits GHG produced by the transportation of food from far away. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is also a smart choice, and not just for health reasons. Consumerism is powerful. We need to show our government that sustainable farming practices that maintain the soil are demanded.

We can also limit ourselves to our fair share, because excessive energy intake requires more energy use. We can also shop for fresh food to decrease waste from packaged goods. Also, we throw away 40 percent of our food. Eating more mindfully would help decrease this amount and preserve our vital resources.

And finally, eat less animal products. If just 10 percent of us limited consumption of animal products, enough food would be saved to feed 1 billion people.

That’s huge.

From a nutritional perspective, limiting meat would only promote positive health. We don’t all have to abstain and become vegans, but research shows any decrease in meat consumption increases sustainability AND improves decreases disease risk.

I like to call a plant-based diet a gracious diet. Include small amounts of meat if you like, but let’s remember to conserve. We can get everything we need while still being considerate of future generations. They’ll be hungry, too.

To continue supporting sustainability, DC EcoWomen is partnering with Whole Foods’ program Nickels for Non Profits through December 17th. On your next shopping trip, bring a reusable bag to Whole Foods Markets in Montgomery County, and ask to donate your earned nickel to DC EcoWomen. For more information, visit: http://dc.ecowomen.org/2017/10/31/nickels-for-nonprofits/ 

Looking for healthy and sustainable meals for the holidays? Kristin Bell shares her best vegan holiday fare at http://holiday.wholefoodsmarket.com/tips-and-recipes.html. I’m getting hungry already…


Joanna Pustilnik is a DC EcoWoman, dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and health coach with a tele-health private practice, Bodacious Nutrition, and a beautiful new baby daughter. She blogs at http://www.Bodaciousrd.com, and is passionate about sustainability and helping others find their best selves. She hasn’t been eating meat for about 11 years, but she admits she craved the occasional hot dog during her pregnancy. Contact her at bodaciousrd@gmail.com

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by Jennifer Witherspoon, DC EcoWomen Executive Board, Vice Chair of Communications

The Dollars and (non) Cents of Single Use Plastic Bags

Whole Foods recently selected DC EcoWomen to be a recipient of donations through its “Nickels for Nonprofits” program. Now through December 17, each time you use your own reusable bag instead of a plastic bag at any of the Whole Foods’ store locations in Montgomery County, MD, 5 cents will be donated to DC EcoWomen. Please be sure to specify at the point of purchase that you want your nickels to be donated to DC EcoWomen!

Why is this important? You’ll be supporting DC EcoWomen and our mission to inspire and empower women to become leaders for the environmental community, plus you’ll also be doing your part to reduce plastic pollution.

Plastic Bags are Suffocating the Planet

According to One Green Planet: Single-use disposable plastic bags are suffocating the planet, with 60,000 plastic bags being consumed in the U.S. every five seconds. Manufacturers produce plastic bags by using non-renewable resources, such as petroleum or natural gas. Plastic bags take huge amounts of energy to manufacture, transport across the country, and recycle. They don’t break down in landfill sites, but over time they release dangerous chemicals. Plastic bags are difficult to recycle, blocking the sorting equipment used by most recycling facilities. They contribute to a widespread, global litter problem.

Plastic trash washed up on the shore in Mexico. © John Schneider (via Flickr)

More Plastics in the Ocean than Fish by 2050

According to the Ocean Conservancy: Trash in the water and on the shore can be mistaken as food by wildlife, or entangle animals with lethal consequences. Plastic also attracts and concentrates other pollutants from surrounding seawater, posing a contamination risk to those species that then eat it. Scientists are studying the impacts of that contamination on fish and shellfish and as well as the possible impact it may have on human health as well.

Plastic bags were only introduced to the American shopper in the 1960s. In a business as usual scenario, researchers from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predict that plastic production will triple in volume from 2014 to 2050, and project that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean (by weight) by 2050.

Bag the Plastic Bag

Fortunately, cities, states and countries have been implementing bag fees since 2002. San Francisco was the first city in America to regulate the use of plastic bags in 2007 and Washington, DC soon followed with its own “Bag Law” – the first in the nation to impose a bag fee. Revenues from DC’s bag fee go to the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund and have been used to implement a variety of watershed educational, trash capture and stream restoration projects throughout the Anacostia Watershed. Though reports have been mixed on DC’s overall success in reducing plastic bag use as well as how the funds are allocated, it seems clear that we can all do our part to reduce plastic waste.

Get Active, Fight Plastic Pollution, Spread the Word!

Let’s get into action to fight plastic pollution! Please join DC EcoWomen in bringing a reusable tote to shop at Whole Foods and ask that your nickel go towards DC EcoWomen. Put an extra tote in your purse or backpack for those unanticipated shopping moments. You can purchase an EcoWomen tote bag for yourself, or to share this holiday season.

The funds from Whole Food’s Nickels for Non-Profits program supports DC EcoWomen in hosting educational events such as our recent EcoHour conversation with Julie Lawson, the co-founder of Trash Free Maryland, who led efforts to pass DC’s “Bag Law.”

We’ll have a flyer available soon so that you can help spread the word in your office or in your community. You can also follow DC EcoWomen on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and re-share our posts with your community. You can post photos of yourself shopping with a reusable bag too! Please tag @WholeFoods and @DCEcoWomen and consider using hash tags such as #BagPlastic #NickelsforDCEcoWomen.

If the plastic bag was introduced to shoppers 40 years ago, let’s ban it in the next 40 years!

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Reflecting on the Greenermind Summit

By Caroline Howe

A number of DC EcoWomen attended the Greenermind Summit in late September, an annual sustainability event that provides a forum for mission-driven people to come together to share innovative ideas, teach each other new skills, make meaningful connections, and even just have solo time to rest and recharge.

The Greenermind Summit began in the Bay Area, bringing together people interested in connecting as people, rather than as jobs. A refreshing break from traditional networking led by, “What do you do?” questions, the Greenermind Summit focused getting to know who we are, what drives us and what makes us feel alive. DC EcoWoman Christine Jacobs moved from the Bay Area to DC, and was hungry for that type of connection, particularly hard to find in this career networking-focused city. She brought together volunteer organizers to organize the first Greenermind Summit East. 

Held at the gorgeous Camp Varsity in Madison, Virginia, the weekend included a mix of play, reflection and community building. By disconnecting from our phones, our work and our daily lives, we were able to connect more deeply with the gorgeous late summer weather in the woods as well as with each other. 

We enjoyed a mix of workshops facilitated by participants on everything from Cuba and its environmental challenges to improv and finding “enoughness” in a world that always values more. The Greenermind Summit is a participant-driven event, not a panel of “talking head” experts. There’s an un-conference, which means that the agenda for a series of small group conversations is set by the attendees themselves. 

In Saturday’s “un conference,” we engaged in conversations proposed by participants around topics like the future of community, financing climate initiatives, and sharing our food histories. We also harnessed the collective brilliance of the group, by having a workshop that focused on five participants’ ideas or current challenges in a “brain power hour.”

In our closing circle, we all shared a sense of being refreshed and rejuvenated from our time outside and in play, as well as energized by the powerful community. 

I’ll be taking inspiration from my experience at the Greenermind summit and will apply it to my participation with DC EcoWomen and in other areas of my life. I am a member of the DC EcoWomen Executive Board, on our Programs Committee, designing the activities that connect EcoWomen through shared service and shared learning about our world. Post-GMS, I intend to bring play into more of our activities, as well as offering some guiding questions as we get to know each other during activities of service or exploration. I will be applying a sense of play to my participation in DC EcoWomen, as well as organizing more moments for us to get outside and play together!

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Photo of the 2017-2018 Board

 

By Tamara Toles O’Laughlin

Over the last few years I have been incredibly fortunate to take on several roles on the Board of DC EcoWomen. First, as a member of the Professional Development Committee where I learned the ropes of planning our signature event, EcoHour, and eventually became the vice president of that team. With the aid of several smart, innovative and hard-working women, we altered the standard format of that offering from a lecture style to a fireside chat interview format, doubled the number of intimate mentoring events to ten per year and very intentionally diversified the topics, perspectives and broadened the lens of leadership of these events to highlight women of color, interfaith women, and to draw members of all ages.

I look back at those learning experiences with gratitude and pride in the sheer number of new and often unseen voices we have brought to the membership of DC EcoWomen, from the District’s first Latina National Park Service park ranger, to the fearless and unsinkable leader of Green 2.0., to no nonsense women reporting on the environment, and women creating sustainable modalities in womenswear, and I can say that it has all been a great time.

As the 2017 Board Year ends, and we begin our programming for the new fiscal and Board Year, I am thrilled to announce that we are taking another leap to better serve our members.

Generally, we are led by a chapter president, who takes on the ministerial and administrative duties of running this nonprofit powerhouse for women, by women. And this year will be no different except, that it will be run by not one but two women; myself and the indomitable April Martin. To level up the offerings, engagement, and support the growing membership of this chapter of EcoWomen, we’ve decided that we need to shift the leadership model, as and such we will be your joint co-chairs through 2019. We made this change to address the fact that as the chapter grows, the mantle and responsibility grows and serving our members and our mission means increasing the hands on deck to do the work. We believe that capacity increases when power is shared and we are shifting our structure to support that evolution.

April brings a wealth of knowledge to the position. She started on the professional development committee before moving on to lead the membership and outreach committee for two years in addition to her regional directorship of the REAL School Gardens. She will focus on supporting the infrastructure growth that will increase the capacity of our chapter.

I will shift my attention from an exclusive focus on career and consciousness raising through programming to overall oversight of our board and the further embedding of equity, inclusion and leadership in all shapes and sizes to our overall direction in addition to my role as the executive director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network.

As long-time members and supporters of this chapter of the national organization EcoWomen, I expect that April and I will make change that support and evolves our mission to broaden our service to all the women who make up our community, while continuing to be the hub for vanguard leadership and programming. Watch this space as we tinker with the definition of membership, develop affinity groups to reach the seasoned members of our community and make the most of the forty events the DC chapter puts on each year.

In these fraught times for women and the environment we have seen that our community isn’t just a place to network but a landing spot for cultivation of equity, curiosity and a catalyst for women making their place in the sector. We hope that each of you who count yourselves as members will stick with us as we flesh out our capacity to serve as a force for good in the Nation’s Capital.

We are terribly proud of the new and returning members of the board and hope that you will take this opportunity to get to know the women leading your chapter of DC EcoWomen.

In sisterhood,

Tamara

posted by | Comments Off on Photographing “Teaching and Exploring the Chesapeake”

DC EcoWomen launched its spring photo contest in April and received more than 30 submissions of high-quality, on-topic photos showing how our great community is advancing environmental efforts in DC and around the world. The photos also showed how our members are learning and growing from environmentally-related experiences and putting their leadership skills to good work.

Our Third Place photo contest winner, Mary Polacek, shared a photo of DC students in 7th and 8th grades connecting with the Chesapeake Bay at the Echo Hill Outdoor School in MD. We sat down with Mary to hear firsthand about the winning shot and the inspiration behind it.

DC EcoWomen: Take us back to the time this photo was shot. What was the experience like being there?

Mary: The photo was taken place at Echo Outdoor school on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The experience there was beautiful; I personally have not seen the bay for awhile, and some of these DC students never have. So the experience was highlighted by the students, who were engaged right away, filling their senses with the water, sand, critters…  and overall getting to experience the Chesapeake Bay.

DC EcoWomen: We love opportunities that help EcoWomen members learn and grow. Did this experience help you grow and learn anything about yourself or about the environment?

Mary: Teaching in general, I have learned, is always a growing process. But the moment this photo was taken, the learning experience was trying to convey to the young girls that we could not bring stones and shells back home, and why it was important to leave them for the habitat and others to visually enjoy. They wanted to have tangible items to remember the experience, I tried and hoped to convey that with photographs you could have the memory and potentially something tangible.

DC EcoWomen: What words of wisdom do you have for future photo contest winners to try to snap a winning shot?

Be respectful to the people in your photographs. Try so that their faces aren’t directly seen and/or get their permission to use them in a photo.

“Teaching and Exploring the Chesapeake” by Mary Polacek

Mary Polacek is an Environmental Scientist and has worked around the country on various large infrastructure projects, working for local municipalities with a focus water quality. She moved to DC in 2012 and started working for DOEE’s Water Quality Division, where she was part of the inspection program and investigated illicit discharges to waters of the District. In 2016, she became a full time mom and started teaching with Anacostia Watershed Society for their Saturday Environmental Academy for DC students in 7th and 8th grade. She enjoys reading, traveling, planning, photography, cooking, and chasing her daughter Sophia.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Thoughts on Standing “In the Midst of Climate Change”

DC EcoWomen launched its spring photo contest in April and received more than 30 submissions of high-quality, on-topic photos showing how our great community is advancing environmental efforts in DC and around the world. The photos also showed how our members are learning and growing from environmentally-related experiences and putting their leadership skills to good work.

Our People’s Choice photo contest winner, Maggie Dewane, shared a photo of herself during her travels to Antarctica to see climate change firsthand, where unseasonably calm weather was a stark reminder to the realness of a changing planet. We sat down with Maggie to hear firsthand about the winning shot and the inspiration behind it.

DC EcoWomen: Take us back to the time this photo was shot. What was the experience like being there?

Maggie: Of all the days spent in Antarctica, the day this photo was taken was particularly meaningful to me. I had just seen four Adelie penguins—a penguin species that is an indicator of climate change. We were on Petermann Island, historically documented as a nesting ground for Adelies. These penguins thrive in the most frigid and freezing temperatures of Antarctica, but as summers are getting warmer and winters are getting shorter, they are having to move further south down the continent, which means there’s less habitat for them to colonize. So this sighting was novel and exciting, as it is one of the northernmost settlements they live in. Additionally, the majestic backdrops surrounding us were breathtaking and humbling. “We’re actually here!” I and my friend, the photographer of this image, kept saying to one another. We were seeing one of the last untouched wildernesses, in its raw beauty. Though the bright and beaming sun, and those nearby penguins, served as reminder to the reach of anthropogenic-caused climate change, even this incredibly far removed from civilization.

DC EcoWomen: We love opportunities that help EcoWomen members learn and grow. Did this experience help you grow and learn anything about yourself or about the environment?   

Maggie: Absolutely. I traveled to Antarctica because I wanted to be able to play a more active role in climate change conversations. I believe climate change is the greatest threat to our world today, having rippling effects into national security, human health, economic development, environmental justice, and beyond. Being in Antarctica, learning from world class scientists and explorers, who after years of travel to and from this wilderness could attest to changing trends in weather patterns and wildlife behavior, seeing this place firsthand, gave me a unique perspective that I’ve been able to bring home with me. For example, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to tell EcoWomen’s readers about the plight of the Adelie penguin had I not gone on this expedition! The trip also connected me with many passionate conservationists from all walks of life and various professions. To me, this is how change happens: people working together toward progress. We shared ideas, created goals, and went home feeling invigorated to spread messages of conservation and sustainability. For example, the concept of climate change is so unwieldy to so many of us, it can feel like we as individuals cannot have an impact on the broader picture. But if so many of us make small changes, then that can turn into something really huge! For example, think about things you do that require energy or fossil fuel use: can you limit or remove those actions? Take small steps and we’ll be on our way!

DC EcoWomen: What words of wisdom do you have for future photo contest winners to try to snap a winning shot?

Maggie: Be in the moment and don’t actively think about trying to take a great photo. If you’re loving the moment you’re in, reflect on it and enjoy. I was fortunate to be with someone who was always snapping candids, so when she saw me basking in the natural beauty around me, she took the shot! Genuine emotions make for better photos in my opinion.

“In the Midst of Climate Change” by Maggie Dewane

Maggie Dewane is the Press and Communications Officer to the Environmental Investigation Agency. She previously worked for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the United States Senate. She has a bachelors from Seton Hall University and a masters from Columbia University. Her hobbies include painting, writing, traveling, soccer, and camping and hiking with her dog Argos.