Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on The Woman Behind “Farming”

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 , , , , | 1 comment

By Maheen Ahmad

We all want to make smart, eco-conscious consumer choices. In the quest of becoming a conscious consumer, I began to do some digging. I was able to scope out some of DC’s greenest, most sustainable establishments. I used the following criteria to identify green businesses:

  • The business is certified by one or more third party organizations;
  • The business incorporates environmentally sustainable materials in their products and operations;
  • The business contributes to or invests in energy conservation causes.

Local, green eats

Veg

MOM’s Organic Market

Several locations in D.C.

MOM’s Organic Market stores named by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of its Top 30 Retail Green Power Partners.

Green initiatives: using low-watt LED light bulbs and sustainable building materials, and having charging stations for electric vehicles.In 2015, MOM purchased 8,300,000 kWh of Wind Power Renewable Energy Credits to offset 100% of the company’s electricity consumption.

Hot tip: MOM’s stores also collect items for recycling – including electronics, compost, and clothes.

Busboys and Poets

Several locations in D.C.

Busboys and Poets is a member of American Sustainable Business Council and Innov8energy.

Green Initiatives: using 100% renewable wind energy, reusing their cooking oil for biofuel, and using recycled materials.In addition, the restaurants locally source their ingredients and serve 100% fair trade coffee and tea.

Founding Farmers DC

Just across from the White House, Founding Farmers DC is LEED Gold-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, rated by U.S. Green Building Council).

Green building features: efficient HVAC and lighting systems and building materials made from reclaimed wood and other recycled materials.

Green initiatives: The restaurant is owned by the North Dakota Farmers Union, and they source their food directly from family farms. They also use cooking oil for biodiesel and purchase carbon credits through carbonfund.org.

Fitness and sports

extendYoga

This yoga studio is an EPA Green Power Partner, running on 100% wind power provided by Ethical Electric. In addition, it is Green Certified by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection.

Green features: It uses energy-efficient HCAV systems and LED lighting as well as Eco-friendly yoga mats and cleaning products.

Washington Nationals Ballpark

The stadium is LEED-certified, with features including plumbing designed to conserve water and recycled building materials. In fact, approximately 10% of its building materials are recycled. To date, the stadium has recycled a total of 5,500 tons of construction waste.

Nats

Beauty and hygiene

Seventh Generation

Seventh Generation sells household cleaning products.

Green features: Good on the inside as well as outside, they use 100% recycled materials for packaging, and they source products from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified Bioproducts. These are primarily U.S. suppliers. They also supply certified sustainable palm oil.

The Honest Company

The Honest Company sells baby, personal care, and cleaning products.

Green initiatives: It is a certified B Corporation, is Gold-certified by Green America, and is working towards LEED certification for all its facilities. Many of its products are BioPreferred by USDA and EPA’s Design for the Environment standards for use of safer, environmentally-friendly chemicals.

Zosimos Botanicals

soap-sudsZosimos Botanicals consists of an array of skincare, makeup, hair, and bath products.

Green features: The products exclude synthetic materials such as parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, and fragrance oils, opting instead for naturally occurring ingredients such as shea butter and essential oils.

Green initiatives: The Zosimos Botanicals studio in Gaithersburg runs on 100% wind energy, is a certified by Green America as a green business, and recycles its materials and office supplies.

Nusta Spa

Nusta Spa is a LEED-certified spa.

Green initiatives: Nusta is committed to energy efficiency through use of LED lighting, fluorescent lamps, Energy Star appliances, and recycled materials. The spa also donated old furniture to Dinner Program for Homeless Women and DC Preparatory Academy and recycled the construction waste.

Clothes

Kohl’s Department Store

Green initiatives: A member of EPA’s Green Power Partnership, Kohl’s purchased 1.4 billion Renewable Energy Credits, making 106% of its power usage sourced from solar and wind energy. Its major providers are 3Degrees and Carbon Solutions Group. Many of its locations are also LEED and Energy Star certified.

The North Face

Green initiatives: Also a member of EPA’s Green Power Partnership, The North Face purchased over 17 million Renewable Energy Credits, allowing 106% of their power usage sourced from solar and wind energy. The North Face is also partnering with its Chinese suppliers in energy efficiency programs and with industry partners such as Bluesign Technologies to reduce water and energy in its manufacturing processes.

There are many more green, local businesses in DC. Share in the comments if I have left out any of your favorites!

Maheen Ahmad works in energy policy in the D.C. area.  She loves reading, writing, traveling, and finding new places to get coffee.  She has an M.A. in International Relations.

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Dig In and Know Your Trash: Hazardous or Not?

By Stephanie Tsao

We all produce household waste. Beyond the banana peels and plastic wrappers, some common household items need special treatment. If not disposed of properly, certain light bulbs, batteries and unused electronics can be hazardous to the environment and to public health if thrown in with your regular trash.

That is why everyone should take steps to learn what is hazardous.

This post focuses on two common household waste items: compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and rechargeable batteries.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)

CFLHave you heard of those swirly bulbs called CFLs? A similar product are energy-saving LED blubs (more formally known as light-emitting diodes), which are becoming more common in cities and buildings as they strive for energy efficiency.

CFLs are hazardous wastes because they contain a small amount of mercury in their curly tubes. If the bulb is broken in a garbage truck or in your house, you can expose other members of your residence, pets and the environment to mercury vapors.

To properly dispose of a broken CFL, the EPA recommends opening a window and airing out the room where the bulb broke for five to 10 minutes. The shards from the bulb should be double-bagged using Ziploc bags. The EPA provides further detailed instructions for disposal on their website.

For unbroken bulbs, keep them in an old coffee can or sturdy container and check your county website to find  hazardous waste disposal sites. Or, you can drop them off at certain local hardware stores such as Home Depot, which offers a CFL recycling program.

BrokenCFL

Rechargeable batteries

LithiumBatteryRechargeable and lithium batteries commonly used in cell phones and computers are another common household hazardous waste.

Your standard alkaline AAA and AA, batteries are considered universal wastes under federal waste regulations and can go in your regular trash. Rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries that are used in mobile phones, cameras, and other electronics cannot go in the trashcan.

Where you can dispose of household hazardous waste

Washington, DC and surrounding counties offer a drop-off locations for hazardous materials.

  • Within Washington DC, the drop-off location for household hazardous wastes is at the Fort Totten transfer station, located at 900 John F. McCormack Drive, NE. It is open on most Saturdays from 8am-3pm.
  • Arlington County, Virginia collects CFLs at certain libraries and rechargeable batteries at certain fire stations, which are listed on their website.
  • Another option is to visit Mom’s Organic Market, which has locations in northeast DC, Maryland and northern Virginia. The market offers a recycling program that accepts a mix of hazardous items such as light bulbs and electronic wastes, but also takes non-hazardous items like old shoes and eye glasses.
  • You can search Call2Recycle to find areas near you that offer drop-off locations for batteries and old cell phones.

Hazardous wastes are tough to dispose of because of the risks that they pose. Some people may opt for the easy way out: throwing the item in the trash. I recommend learning to identify your hazardous wastes. There are many others, such as aerosol cans and expired medicine.

Know your trash! Know what is hazardous and find out if there are local disposal options. That little bit can prevent a pet or the environment from being exposed to mercury and chemicals.

Further resources:

Stephanie Tsao is a journalist and freelances in her free time. Outside of writing, Stephanie enjoys hiking, biking and exploring the outdoors. Her views are her own and do not reflect that of her employer.

 

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why Should You Care About Community?

By Tamara Toles O’Laughlin

Think big potato, act small fry

The conclusion of COP21 created much needed space for serious efforts to incite comprehensive, structural change for the planet and its inhabitants. By whatever means, we’ve got a critical mass that at least agrees that merely mitigating the most damaging effects of climate change isn’t enough.

The next challenge is to break from the attitudes, systems, and assumptions that got us into this mess. Huzzah! We are, at long last, looking at the scope of environmental questions through a lens of global, geo-political, inter- and intra-governmental equity, and with no time to spare.

As we shift from old methods to new practices, we rouse the bulwarks of fossil fuel energy—coal, oil and natural gas. We take on a future filled with more people and considerably less time, natural resources, or room for error. And we look with no shortage of hope for technological advancement to make ends meet.

GratisographyIt’s an awesome time to be alive! Each of us has in her own way accepted the vexation of big environmental questions because we are Ecowomen, actively creating kinship to face the challenge of our time: survival.

I propose that in contemplation of the big deal we draw our response to scale. Let’s take ownership of the future with our present day decisions.

As engaged Ecowomen, it behooves us to link grand efforts to ground level actions that support the nearest and most immediate form of power available to us: community.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Community is a combination of persons with shared aims, interests, or ends.

Functionally, community is a living thing, composed of living things, organized by choices. It performs as a series of relations characterized by the raising up and pulling down of interpersonal boundaries, replicated in reality. Consequently, community is a construct of our experience and our making.

Community as a creature of proximity

Last year, I heard Bryan Stevenson speak on the subject of pursuing justice. In his conclusion, he issued a challenge that struck me as an entirely elegant mode of approaching problems. He dared the audience to get into proximity with the things we find most uncomfortable. In discussing the tragic folly of mass incarceration, he implored us to “find our way to justice” by avoiding the temptation to sidestep problems that seem too big or scary to handle.

So, let’s start there. As Ecowomen, we unite in concern for the health of our planet. We nourish our bodies with foods on the low end of the food chain, choose glass over plastic, and conserve resources to diminish our ecological footprint. Collectively, we a force for sustainable economics, politics and bionetworks. We begin with people we know and increase capacity in our spheres of influence,plying our individual skills and abilities in the places we work, live, and play.

Neighborhood Gratisography135H

Make yourself at home

In the District we don’t need to look too far to find the makings of community. There are truly local environmental concerns of every stripe within the 68.25 square miles we call home.

  • There are trash transfer stations in the Fort Totten, Brentwood, and Langdon neighborhoods that cause residents to question the effects of commercial activities on their long term health.
  • In recent years, the Capitol Power Plant was at the heart of local debate on coal fired plant conversions and the changeover to natural gas.
  • Months ago, residents of Northeast’s Ivy City took up the fight against pollution clustering from a planned bus depot, and won.

Free stock photo dc metro

Community as a creature of necessity

The national news is flush with stories about communities of necessity. Groups who may be friends or neighbors who transcend those associations when faced with out-sized danger, from ecological events or man-made forces.

Communities of environmental concern stretch across borders and boundaries because they are forged by the power of empathy. Its members arrive as strangers drawn together to address a common plight. Whether the cause is contrived deprivation, or rising tides, those who are able go where needed to join with vulnerable peoples fighting corruption and the unfettered evil of scarcity or degraded resources.

There is strength in amalgamated capacity. It supports transformation or avoids catastrophe in the making. When the need arises, community comes together as quickly as is dissipates. And it has, in Virginia, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and North Carolina, among others.

As change agents, we should add our voices and leverage the strength of whatever agency we possess to tackle local, regional, and national environmental issues because we see ourselves in the plight, the fight, or the solution. And we don’t need permission to do it.

Multiracial earth photoThe larger environmental movement is an aggregate of the actions we take in community. Our level of engagement aides our sophistication; it colors who we see as victims or victors, what we see as wrongdoing, and our response to the call.

So, what are you waiting for? The issues are the invitation.

Tamara is an environmental advocate focused on civil society and justice issues. She holds degrees from The City College, City University of New York and two advanced degrees from Vermont Law School. Her hobbies include reading boring books about politics and neuroscience, writing diatribes about what she reads, traveling, and yoga. 

posted by | on , , | 1 comment

By Meg Hathaway

Hello Ladies!  Everyone knows that the best way to keep cool in the summer is to head for the water.  This year I decided to up my game and become a certified SCUBA diver.  It’s a lot of fun, and I hope to see some of you soon under the sea!

First of all, no, you won’t have to go diving in the Potomac.  It would be dangerous with all the boat traffic, and there’s too much sediment to see clearly down there anyway.  Dive shops in the DC area have arrangements with hotel, university, or rec center pools where you will do your initial training.  For your final certification dives, you can use a local quarry (that’s what I did), or get referral paperwork and fly to the exotic SCUBA destination of your choice.

There are three basic steps to becoming certified as an open water diver, or entry-level SCUBA diver.  In addition to completing four “confined water” (i.e., pool) dives and four open water dives, you’ll also need to do some reading and pass a written exam.  Most people do the pool work over one weekend, and the open water dives over a separate weekend or on an upcoming vacation.  Your dive shop will walk you through the process.  How do you choose a dive shop?  Google it, and trust me on this, pay close attention to the Yelp reviews.  I won’t name names, but there is one local dive shop in DC that has a reputation for pushing beginners to buy way more gear than they need.  I went to a meet-and-greet at that place and promptly made plans to do my training elsewhere.

That said, there’s no getting around the reality that you’ll need some start-up cash to get into diving.  You’ll be expected to buy your own “personal gear” prior to taking an intro to SCUBA class, which includes your mask, snorkel, fins, and special booties designed to be worn with the fins (like socks).  I wear glasses, so I paid extra to get a SCUBA mask with prescription lenses.  It is awesome!  Contacts also work with SCUBA masks, but be forewarned that a required emergency skill in SCUBA class is how to remove and replace your mask underwater.  This is a prime opportunity for your contacts to wash away, which stinks because you need to see clearly in order to read your gauges.  Bring extra contacts if you decide to go that route.  One final note on gear – the SCUBA community is very good about accommodating people with different needs.  Divers with limited or no leg mobility, for instance, can propel themselves with special underwater scooters or webbed gloves instead of fins.

If you aren’t sure SCUBA is for you, I highly recommend signing up for a Discover SCUBA session before you commit to a full introductory class.  In Discover SCUBA, you pay around $80 to spend a few hours in a pool learning the very basics of SCUBA, all gear included.  Some dive shops will credit the price of the Discover SCUBA session towards an intro class if you decide to continue.  This is the route I went.  For me it worked perfectly because I was able to spend my Discover SCUBA time getting over the initial weirdness of breathing under water, then pay closer attention later on during my Introduction to SCUBA sessions.

What will you do in an introductory SCUBA class?  You’ll familiarize yourself with how to set-up and break down your gear; stuff yourself awkwardly into a wetsuit; jump in; work on the proper techniques for diving, swimming, and ascending; and then run through how to handle various emergency situations.  A few key points will be drilled into your head.  There’s the cardinal rule of “just keep breathing!” which seems incredibly obvious until you get distracted fiddling with all your gear underwater.  There’s also the importance of safety and the buddy system.  The person next to you in the water is your auxiliary air supply if anything goes wrong, so it’s in both your interests to be respectful and stay close.  Your buddy is also there to help you plan a dive that you both agree will be interesting yet safe, double-check that your equipment is rigged properly before entering the water, and of course, be there back above water to verify your wild tales about all the cool things you saw.

For me, SCUBA diving so far has been a great experience because it pushed me out of my comfort zone, taught me new skills, and opened up new possibilities for places I can see around the world.  I’m just starting out with diving, but ultimately I’d love to go on a conservation mission-based SCUBA dive trip.  There are programs out there where you can help scientists photograph and track marine life, capture invasive lionfish, or rebuild coral reefs by hand.  How amazing is that?

Meg Hathaway is a Chemical Review Manager for the Office of Pesticide Programs in the US Environmental Protection Agency. She enjoys contra and swing dancing, studying international environmental policy, flipping merchandise online, and telling herself she practices guitar every day. She’s also on the DC EcoWomen executive board. 

posted by | on , , , , , , | 2 comments

D.C.’s Wintering Birds Are Right Outside Your Door

A snowy owl perched on the Washington Post building last week, causing a 15th street commotion as locals and bird-enthusiasts scrambled for a sighting. The bird sighting, though unexpected, wasn’t all that rare this year. Snowy owls have been spotted across many southern states, and scientists aren’t totally sure why — but Harry Potter fans are delighted at the influx of Hedwig look-alikes.

But if you missed the snowy owl, have no fear! Even in winter, D.C. is rich with bird species — adorable snowy owl aside. Some of the city’s most exquisite ones might even be perched on the lamppost right above you.

Next time you take a stroll through Rock Creek Park, keep an eye out for some of D.C.’s loveliest winter birds:

Tufted Titmouse 

A  little gray bird with an even littler mohawk, the Tufted Titmouse is a has big black eyes, a small rounded bill, and an echoing voice.

If you miss the mohawk (also known as a bushy crest), you’ll be able to recognize it by its black patch right above the bill, surrounded by a silvery-gray back and a white front. They like to hang around chickadees and woodpeckers, and when it comes to birdfeeders, they dominate the smaller birds.  Titmice flutter when they fly, and can be found in backyards and parks.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

It’s probably easy to guess the defining characteristic of the yellow-rumped warbler: a stark patch of gold, smack dab on the tushie. The rest of the bird’s colors are subdued throughout winter, mostly a pale brown except for the rump. But in springtime, their molt brings an infusion of bright yellow, grey, and white to their feathers.

These warblers are larger than the songbirds mentioned above. They have a large head and a long, narrow tail. They like open woods and shrubby habitats, especially in parks and residential areas, and they whistle a sweet, even-pitched trill.

Golden Crowned Kinglet

The king of the songbirds (or perhaps, the kinglet), the Golden Crowned Kinglet is another tiny bird with a big voice. They have relatively large heads with very short, small bills, and skinny tails. You’ll spot them by their distinctive feather pattern: a bright lemon-yellow crest outlined bluntly in black, a pale olive body encasing a black-and-white striped face, and black and white wings edged in yellow.

The kinglet often keeps very high in the trees so it can be hard to find right away with the naked eye — better to listen for their thin, high-pitched song.

Hermit Thrush

The Hermit Thrush is a soft brown bird that sings a melancholy song.

You’ll be able to recognize it by its throat — with brown smudged spots that give way to soft white feathers — its chestnut head and back, and its warm reddish tail. The thrush is similar in stature to the American Robin, but slightly smaller. Its tail is fairly long, its head upright.

Hermit Thrushes hang around understories, so you don’t have to crick your neck to see it on your next bird-watching outing!

Downy Woodpecker

On the smaller side for a woodpecker, the Downy Woodpecker is the most common of its subspecies in urban areas. A black-and-white striped forager, you’ll be able to spot a male by red patch on the back of its head. Males and females alike have black wings barred in white, giving a checkered impression, and a bold white stripe down its back.

The trick here is to determine betwen the Downy Woodpecker and its larger cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker. They look extremely similar (apart from their size), but the Downy likely has more white stripes on its wings, and a thicker white band on its neck. You’ll find these small woodpeckers on tiny branches or deciduous trees, or shrubby edges in city parks, backyards and vacant lots.

White Breasted Nuthatch

The White-Breasted Nuthatch has a black or gray cap framing its white face — it kind looks like it’s wearing a hoodie. You can spot this nuthatch by its black, gray, and white streakings on its wings and back, over a stark white underbelly. It has a very short tail and a long, narrow, slightly upturned beak. While foraging, they sometimes lurk sideways, or even upside down!

This nuthatch likes deciduous trees like maple, hickory or oak, and often hangs out (sorry) in similar areas as the Titmouse: near a feeder, or in a park.

Northern Cardinal

Some say the Northern Cardinal is the most responsible for getting people to open up a field guide for the first time — a gateway bird, of sorts, as the “perfect combination of familiarity, conspicuousness, and style: a shade of red you can’t take your eyes off.” There’s no doubt about it, the cardinal is an iconic winter bird.

The male cardinal’s red makes for a beautiful contrast to the white snow, and the females also have an elegant color palette: brown accented with red. Both male’s and female’s plumage stays the same year-round, making cardinals perhaps the easiest to spot on a winter walk.

Starling


The starling is a quite possibly my favorite bird. From a distance, it looks like a plain black bird —  boring,  uneventful… and there are just so MANY of them. But with a closer look you may find that this is one of the most colorful birds in the city; in summer, streaks of iridescent purple and green scatter their plumage. In the midst of winter, their brown feathers are covered in stunning white spots.

The best part? A group of starlings is called a “murmuration,” and together, their coordinated flight patterns can make for a dazzling experience — if you’re lucky enough to catch it! (Watch this video and be blown away).

—-

Next time you take a lunch break, or a hike in the woods, make sure to look up and see the plethora of bird life around you. Think you can spot them all? Let us know in the comments!

posted by | on , , , , , , | 1 comment

You can be a leader. You already are a leader.

These words of wisdom were heard from Keynote Speaker Dr. Betty Spence at the  First Annual DC EcoWomen Conference: “I’m Here, What’s Next? Building Your Sustainable Career.” Betty spoke to a roomful of women, full of infectious anticipation, about why women need equality in the workplace, and how they might get it.

Dr. Spence said that in her experience, women only want to bring other women up. We all face certain barriers, but we have a network of support to overcome them. This network is of utmost importance, especially in a city like Washington D.C.  The network can include mentors, sponsors, and even just acquaintances from networking happy hours.

Betty’s words coordinated well with the final event of the day:  a networking workshop with Suzy Mink, Director of Principal Gifts for the Mid-Atlantic region of The Nature Conservancy. Suzy touched on several things discussed in the Networking for Introverts post on our blog, and gave even more helpful tools and resources to help women excel at networking.

We were all there to support each other.  But one of the lessons learned that day was that women should not be afraid of the other side of that equation, to ask for favors – even from someone you’ve only just met. In order to create change and parity for women in the workplace, we need a network of support. This network has to start somewhere – someone has to ask first.

If you weren’t able to attend the conference, we’d like to provide you with some support!

Here are Dr. Spence’s 10 Strategies for Success:

  1. Perform beyond expectations – get things done before they are due, do more than what is asked
  2. Build expertise & credibility – make sure you’re getting experience that builds your skills
  3. Take the initiative – if there is an opportunity, don’t hesitate to jump for it
  4. Take risks, step outside of your comfort zone
  5. Diversify your experience. Learn the different parts of your field.
  6. Meet a Mentor. Some say mentors are key to success. In any case, they can only help.
  7. Get known. Talk about what you do, make your successes known.
  8. Find a Sponsor
  9. Network! Meeting people is the only way to break into some careers in D.C.
  10. Take responsibility for your career, own your strengths
Suzy Mink also left us with several insights on networking:
  1. Practice good etiquette
  2. Be willing to engage, to be the one extending a helping hand
  3. Persevere, be resilient in creating contacts
  4. Believe in yourself, be confident
  5. Talk about your aspirations – people like to hear what gets you excited!
  6. Listen. Ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes or no.’
  7. Use the virtual world, whatever means you have, to keep in touch
  8. Anyone you meet can be helpful if you make the connection

 

At the end of the day, the EcoWomen were left with feelings of connection, excitement, and empowerment. That excitement was taken to McGinty’s for the networking happy hour, to practice the newly learned skills and discuss the workshops.

Stay tuned for more updates on the workshops themselves! And don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and make a new connection. You never know who could be the person to lead you to your dream job.

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Like” Social Media? Then Tweet your Professional Brand!

by Vesper Hubbard

In the Gen Y era, social media is as ubiquitous in our professional lives as it is in our personal lives. Most of us remember the beginning of social media as Friendster and MySpace, then Facebook came along and changed the game.  I remember my freshman year of college and the buzz on campus was a semester long campaign to have Facebook host our tiny liberal arts university. Ah the glory, finally we were able to connect with our old friends from high school studying at schools near and far, share our photos, give props to our friends, and attempt to boost our social status by our frequent and measured activity online.  Now this life-sharing and communication concept has made its way to new platforms with the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Fourquare and many more. These social media platforms when utilized correctly can lend more than a place for social bragging rights but a place to advertise with purpose and to sell yourself!
If you are looking for a new job, social media can be a great way to brand yourself and let potential employers know about your skills and experience. The most popular platforms are Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
The first principle rule social media gurus stress is do not put anything out on the Internet that you wouldn’t want your coworkers, grandma, or anyone else who’s opinion you value, to see.  The Facebook college days are over and if you are out of school and developing a career then who you are has to or is starting to evolve, so take care to update your information.  Use a current photo, update your “about me” info to include education and other relevant information, and don’t be afraid to display your personality.  It is common for professionals to feel that their “work” lives and “real” lives are separate and should remain that way.  However, who you are is who you are, you bring that to work everyday and your interest and hobbies are valuable ways to show you’re a real person and deepen connections.

Stay tuned for more professional tips and information on using social media to your advantage!

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?