Posts Tagged ‘ecohour’

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on DC EcoWomen’s EcoHour with Talia Buford

By Sonia Abdulbaki

DC EcoWomen is a group with a mission “to provide an educational forum for women that empowers women to become leaders in the environmental community and the world.”

Women. Environment. Community.

9RTw2657The monthly EcoHour event sets out to empower these words and apply the mission statement by inviting accomplished speakers to inspire other women with their stories. Talia Buford, a successful Black American environmental journalist, was invited to speak at the September EcoHour event to share her experience with us.

Buford received a degree in journalism from Hampton University and then went on to acquire a master’s degree in law from the Georgetown University Law Center. Currently, she is a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity and formerly an energy reporter for Politico, where she covered natural gas and the Department of Interior and authored the daily Afternoon Energy newsletter. Prior to that, she held a position as legal affairs and municipal reporter for The Providence (R.I.) Journal. The Rhode Island Press Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Foundation have all recognized her work.

Buford spoke fondly of her work at her hometown newspaper in Michigan because it reflected her community. It was while working there that she was exposed to the environmental justice reality created by a power plant near her neighborhood. The issue was reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is still pending for 17 years to date. This issue hit close to home and motivated Buford to investigate on more of the same and to make sure the public and communities like her own were informed.

Her work as a reporter for The Providence Journal was described as tedious and prolonged, taking the immediacy out of journalism. She expressed that sitting in court, vigorously reporting on cases through serial narratives, was not her calling. Instead, she shifted her focus to reporting on environmental justice and labor issues; those topics have always appealed to her, especially because her loved ones were directly affected by these issues. Buford’s approach was informative, humble and relatable.

"It's important to see women as journalists. It's important to see people of color as journalists. It's because we tell different stories, and that's valuable." - Talia Buford at ??EcoHour?

“It’s important to see women as journalists. It’s important to see people of color as journalists. It’s because we tell different stories, and that’s valuable.”

Recently, Buford reported on the EPA Office of Civil Rights’ response to environmental justice issues. She unearthed various civil rights complaints that were made to the EPA since 1964 that had never been addressed or thoroughly investigated. EPA is reforming their approach, especially with the ability to submit complaints online.

Other issues she has covered include vital pesticide regulation in California, radioactive dumping in New Mexico and issues surrounding the EPA’s environmental racism.

She expressed the importance of journalism, to her community and to her own identity as a Black American woman. The advice she gave EcoWomen was to advocate for ourselves, something she wishes she’d known to do at the start of her career.

Buford was a lovely speaker who spoke with a natural conviction that will resonate with the community of environmental women.

Sonia Abdulbaki is a freelance writer and the vice president at Daly Gray Public Relations, a firm specializing in hospitality. Sonia has extensive experience in the field of communications that includes her work at Green America. She is a contributing writer for Business Traveler magazine and contributing editor for MovieswithMae.com.

posted by | on , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ecology and the National Mall

The following is a guest post from EcoWoman Board Member Alison Alford

 I recently attended DC EcoWomen’s EcoHour with Teresa Durkin, Senior Project Director for the Trust for the National Mall.  I was astonished to find that the Trust plans to make over 700 million dollars of improvements to the mall over the next decade, and raised over 350 million to match the government’s funding to get to the 700 milllion dollars needed for the project.  Teresa told us that each year, there are over 3,000 permitted events that bring 25 million people to the the Mall.

How do you capture their hearts? With all of those visitors walking around and through the Mall each day, this is the question on Teresa’s mind. After all, the 700 acre plot that make up the National Mall isn’t just a landmark, it‘s a teaching moment for ecology.

At Templeville University in Philadelphia, Teresa learned that building things right the first time is the key to saving money in the end, and applies that knowledge to projects on the National Mall.  You can’t just throw money at the trampled grass on the Mall and just replace it with new grass; you need to restore it with a working system. The National Trust for the Mall decided to dig four feet down into the earth, re-blend the soil and add turf and native grass plants before replanting the grass.  They also added a curb, and a solar powered irrigation system that grabs weather data from satellites. The reflecting pool was cracked and leaked 6 ½ million gallons of potable water into the tidal basin, but the Trust for the National Mall spent 100 million dollars to fix the cracks and refill the pool with 4 million gallons of fresh water from the tidal basin.  Now, the reflecting pool no longer leaks, and the Mall does not need to waste drinking water to fill an ornamental pool.

Teresa tries to develop learning initiatives, so when people visit the National Mall, they learn a little about ecology and environmental preservation, along with the rich history that surrounds the Nation’s Capitol.

Teresa did not start out as a landscape architect.  In fact, Teresa began as a film producer and went back to school for landscape architecture when she was in her thirties.  She was apprehensive, because she thought she would spend her life designing perennial gardens for “ladies who lunched,” but she became a protégé of Ian McHarg and  learned that “Land Matters.”  Ian McHarg taught her that we need to think of the impact of our designs, and that green roofs and storm water management will make more of a difference to the landscape than just a few ornamental trees planted here or there.

Before working at the Trust for the National Mall, Andrea worked for Andropogon Associates, a design firm that focused on sites covered with invasive species and restoring them to their native and natural habitat.  In fact, Andropogon Associates is named after a pioneer native grass species. Teresa worked on creating infiltration beds, restored sites, and wetlands where no wetlands were before it.   At Andropogon, Teresa learned that, when you communicate creatively with people, you get them to believe in your science and ultimately in your goals.  

As a living example, when Teresa worked at global firm in Dubai, she found herself trying to sell storm water management to a place that receives only three inches of rainfall a year.  Since Dubai is built on top of salt flats, in monsoon season those three inches of rainfall actually amount to 4 million gallons of water all at once. Without storm-water management, the city would be wasting over 4 million gallons of water a year.

Teresa told us that we must think of cities and parks as whole systems – not just individual components.  Urban forests are in poor shape, watershed parks in cities now need stewardship because they are too small of a system to take care of them.  Without access to nature, children need to be taught environmental stewardship.  We need policy changes, legislation and management to all come together to get something to work.

It’s wonderful to find out that the people that take care of our National Mall love it and work hard to preserve it for generations to come.  After attending DC EcoWomen’s EcoHour, I can take my out-of-town relatives to the Mall and truly turn the visit into a teaching moment – just as Teresa envisioned it to be.

VIU

 

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Toxins in the Environment, Toxins in Your Body

The following is a post by DC EcoWomen boardmember Alison Alford.

http://myggm.org

I recently attended a fantastic DC EcoWomen EcoHour on environmental toxins and their effects on your body. I was spell-bound as Heather White, Executive Director of the Environmental Working Group, told us that EWG preformed a study on ten Americans and found levels of harmful chemicals in their blood, including BPA, mercury, phthalates, and triclosan. EWG knew that these toxins didn’t come from the air, water, soil, or food, because the ten blood donors were newborns.  Toxins are showing up everywhere – in our cleaning products, produce, cosmetics and sunscreens, and they are flushed down the drain and polluting our rivers and oceans.

Fortunately for us and our children, there are numerous resources to use when trying to find the best product to clean, cook, or consume.  Heather advised us that knowledge is indeed power – and that our voices are the best weapon to protect us from chemicals in every day products.

Find out about cosmetics, cleaning products, sunscreen and more on EWG’s website:

Once we educate ourselves on toxins in the environment, we need to speak up, and to speak up oftenWrite a letter to your member of Congress to let them know that you will no longer accept toxins in your sunscreen and cleaning products.  Sign a petition to stand up to pesticide lobbyists.  Show your support with your wallet by purchasing environmentally-friendly cosmetics, produce, and cleaning products.  But, most importantly, become educated on the dangers of toxins in the environment – because then you will know how to keep those toxins out of your body!

Want to read about the right things to put in your body? Check out our post on nutrition and malnutrition in women.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on EcoHour with Thu Pham – Can we have it all?

Below is a post by EcoWoman Dawn Bickett.  Dawn is a former science teacher passionate about combating environmental and social injustice through non-profit work. New to Washington, D.C., she is proud to learn from, and contribute to, the active DC Ecowomen community.

Before EcoHour began on Tuesday, November 13, speaker Thu Pham was already engaged in discussion with attendees about the struggle many working women face in cultivating a stable work-life balance. “We need to stop being so hard on ourselves,” she told the table over dinner. Nodding to Ann Marie Slaughter’s much-discussed essay in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” Pham noted that “‘Having it all’ means something different for every woman.”

This week, Thu Pham offered her thoughts on the challenges of creating a satisfying professional life and still finding time for personal fulfillment. As the executive director of Rachel’s Network—an organization that builds leadership and connections between conservation-minded, philanthropic women—and as the mother of three young children, Pham is well-versed in the hurdles that women professionals face.  Prior to her work with Rachel’s Network, Pham was a finance director and consultant on congressional campaigns, and an associate director of development for the League of Conservation Voters. At Rachel’s Network, she is dedicated to creating the collaborative and affirming work environment she envisioned throughout her career.

During her talk, Pham provided three key pieces of advice drawn from her own experience. First, don’t let others impose their expectations of your career path on you. Pham discovered this tenet early in her professional life when she felt pushed toward a career in a field that didn’t suit her. Over time, she learned to reject others’ expectations and find a direction that truly suited her interests.  Second, actively seek out a work environment that is positive and fulfilling. For Pham, this meant finding mentors that inspired her and believed in her abilities, and co-workers she enjoys working with. Third, create a personal network of peers to support you.

During the question and answer after her talk, Thu Pham circled back to one of her most resonant messages: Don’t be so hard on yourself. She suggested that we give ourselves permission to say ‘I’ve had enough today,’ and define our own work-life balance. Pham also encouraged her audience to support and lift up the women around them, because all of us benefit from a positive workplace environment.

Attendees of the November EcoHour left wondering not whether “having it all” was possible, but rather what “having it all” means in our own lives—and how we can help other women achieve a balance that works for them.

For more from Thu Pham, see her response to “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” at Forbes.

posted by | on , | Comments Off on October EcoHour: Bicky Corman talks about making a career

On October 16, women gathered in the basement of Teaism to hear Bicky Corman of the EPA recount her career as an environmental lawyer.  Not being overly interested in environmental law, I was only mildly interested in what she had to say.

Two minutes into her account of her career, I was fascinated and inspired.

Bicky didn’t have a huge life plan that she’s followed to the letter to get where she is today.  She didn’t go to a top tier law school and she didn’t jump straight into high positions.  She worked her way up by being good at what she did (and making friends along the way).  Bicky commented that one of the most important things in building a career is not just to network, but to make friends who will think of you later.  As someone who really hates networking, this was a wonderful way of framing it – and makes networking seem less scary!

Throughout her career, Bicky has worked in both legislation and policy.  There is a fine line between legislation and policy, but that line is not made in cement – it’s flexible.  You might find yourself working on both legislating a regulation and working on policy at any given time; you don’t have to decide between the two right now.  In the same vien, you don’t have to choose what your specialization is right now.  You can pick up an area of expertise along the way, following what interests you and what gets thrown your way.

The point that Bicky made that I really loved, was when she talked about the difference between working on a federal level and a local level.  Bicky has worked for the EPA and for the District Department of Environment.  Bicky remarked that at the federal level you know you’re having an impact, but at the state level it’s more visible.  And because of that great feeling, since going to work for the EPA again, Bicky has stayed involved with her local community, tutoring local kids (and inspring them to be environmentalists!).

Bicky was a wonderful speaker.  She made thinking about planning a career seem less daunting, and really drove home the idea of getting involved in local issues in my community.  I’ve been looking at my job search differently since hearing her speak, and am much less worried about finding that ‘perfect’ job right away.  Each challenge will shape me and push me a direction I might not have planned on.

Thanks to Bicky Corman for her wonderfully inspring talk!

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Thriving At Thrifting

By Kate Seitz

 

 

Growing up, the extent of my thrift store experience involved sifting through racks of old t-shirts at the Salvation Army. Dated Cleveland Indians gear that perhaps no longer seemed relevant to a disgruntled fan. A cast-off souvenir from Jamaica. An outgrown pee-wee hockey league championship memento. For whatever reason, my girlfriends and I couldn’t get enough of these worn tees, and the more random the motif, the better.
It wasn’t until a few years back that I realized the multi-faceted benefits of thrifting and really came to view it as a means of discovering a wide range of unique items (clothing, home décor, kitchen tools, you name it) that still have plenty of life left, and for a fraction of the off-the-shelf price. I have since vowed to embrace my admiration for all things vintage and recycled and take the time to find distinctive, second-hand items instead of rushing to the nearest mall to buy new.
I’ve stepped foot in pretty much every thrift and consignment store within a 15 mile radius. I’ve hounded Craigslist for many furniture and athletic equipment needs. I’ve discovered a charming cluster of antique stores out in Loudoun County, Virginia. And I’ve even turned up some great vintage shops on Etsy. My favorite finds thus far include a hand painted dish set; my current road bike; various vintage necklaces; a leather couch and matching chair; a beautiful oak-framed mirror dated 1906; and various dollar-a-piece picture frames and flower vases, many of which I used as décor at my wedding reception and are now sprinkled around my apartment. All for a pittance of what it would cost to buy these new.

1) A sample of my thrifted jewelry collection

2) A hand painted dish set I found at an antique store.

 

 

Thrifting sometimes gets a bad rap for being tricky and tiresome. It does indeed require patience to sift through other people’s cast offs. It sometimes can lead to buried treasure, and other times leave you empty handed. But boy, is it a joyous occasion when you dig up a worthwhile piece. To me, giving a second life to thrifted finds is simply recycling what would otherwise end up in a landfill. Our country’s consumer-driven nature constantly bombards us with reasons to buy new, upgrade, purchase the latest and greatest. Some of this may be necessary, and in fact good for innovation and economic growth. But many times, it’s downright wasteful.

These days, whenever I feel the need to make a purchase, I first evaluate whether a thrifted item would fit the bill. This mantra continues to lead me to unique finds that have an interesting history, or that perfectly worn-in feel. It truly is a win-win, both for the environment and the wallet. The next time you’re looking for new workout tees, jewelry, dishware, a new kitchen table…whatever!….I encourage you to first check out the multitude of options out there for buying second hand (Craigslist, Etsy, a local thrift/antique/consignment store, a neighborhood yard sale (my fave, especially in the summertime!), an EcoWomen clothing swap) and see what treasures you uncover. Happy hunting!

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Environmental Community Activism Grows with Earth Day Approaching

By Kate Seitz


With Earth Day just around the corner, activists and volunteers are finalizing plans and gathering support for events intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the natural environment. This time of year is flush with trash cleanup efforts, gardening seminars, tree plantings, and composting demonstrations taking place across the globe. Whether or not you are a recycling novice or have already incorporated numerous “green living” strategies into your daily life, there are a plethora of opportunities to engage in environmental community activism.

This Earth Day, I will be busy fundraising for Climate Ride, a 300 mile 5 day bicycling journey that aims to raise awareness about climate change, sustainability, and bike advocacy. Climate Ride participants have the option to participate in the NYC to DC trek, which takes place in the spring, or the Eureka to San Francisco, California ride in the fall.   I have chosen to participate in the California ride, but have made ties with riders participating on the local ride this spring. A few colleagues that participated in the NYC to DC ride a year ago spoke volumes about how wonderfully rewarding the entire experience is: raising money for charities dedicated to climate change and sustainability solutions, biking en masse through NYC as onlookers stare curiously, peddling on through the countryside in three neighboring states, and finally, reaching the finish line at the steps of the Capitol building amidst a throng of supporters and climate change activists. Climate Ride is a challenging yet rewarding adventure that benefits a multitude of eco-minded charities.

Whether you plan to participate in an eco-seminar, teach others about the benefits of buying local produce, or trade in an old, inefficient refrigerator for an ENERGY STAR model®, the options to celebrate the environment and its protection are limitless. In what ways do you participate in environmental community activism?

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Join DC EcoWomen for the September EcoHour, featuring:

Monica Murphy

Manager of Advanced Technology Demonstration Programs for General Motors

What if driving could be a more sustainable transportation option? What if increased fuel efficiency were not only more sustainable for the planet, but more sustainable for your wallet? Wait, you were thinking the same thing?

Then join us for our September EcoHour as DC EcoWomen presents Monica Murphy, Manager of Advanced Technology Demonstration Programs for General Motors (GM). She will speak about her career, GM’s work on fuel efficient vehicles, and will show off a Chevy Volt right outside of Teaism!

Learn more about our speaker, Monica Murphy.

 

When

Tuesday, September 20
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Where

Teaism Penn Quarter* (Map)
400 8th Street NW; Washington, DC
Metro: Archives/Metro Center/Chinatown

www.teaism.com

RSVP

On Facebook; or send an e-mail to [email protected]

*Teaism is a generous sponsor of DC EcoWomen and provides their space free of charge. Please help us say Thank You by purchasing a drink, dinner or a yummy salty oat cookie!

Note: Please remember that our EcoHour event is for women only.

posted by | on | Comments Off on July EcoHour: Understanding and Reducing Earthquake Risk in the Nuclear Field

Earthquake risk to nuclear plants has been in the news lately. Are you wondering how experts at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission work to understand and reduce risk to people and the environment? Come learn about the science from an expert in the field, Dr. Annie Kammerer, Senior Seismologist and Earthquake Engineer at the U.S. Regulatory Commission.

when

Tuesday, July 19; 6:00-8:00 p.m.

where

Teaism*
400 8th Street NW; Washington, DC
Nearest Metros: Archives/Metro Center/Chinatown
www.teaism.com

rsvp

On Facebook; or send an e-mail to [email protected]

*Teaism is a generous sponsor of EcoWomen and provides their space free of charge. Please help us say Thank You by purchasing a drink, dinner or a yummy salty oat cookie!

about annie

Dr. Annie Kammerer is a senior seismologist and earthquake engineer in the Office of Research of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where she coordinates the NRC’s Seismic Research Program. She also undertakes her own in-house research on seismic hazard and risk and is responsible for the update of earthquake-related guidance, including Regulatory Guide 1.208, which describes the seismic hazard requirements for new nuclear plants in the US.

Prior to joining the U.S. NRC in 2006, she was a consultant in the Risk and Advanced Technology groups in the international design firm, Arup. As seismic hazard lead for the Americas, her consulting work encompassed a wide variety of areas including geotechnical earthquake engineering, structural dynamics, seismology and risk assessment. Her work focused principally in the energy, industrial and transportation sectors and included dozens of projects around the world.

Annie holds three degrees from the UC Berkeley, including a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Geotechnical Engineering, and a PhD in Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering, with minors in Seismology and Structural Engineering. Dr. Kammerer has authored dozens of technical and research publications over her career.