Archive for July 2019 | Monthly archive page

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Five Rewarding Jobs for Women in the Environmental Field

By Kyaira Ware, Community Conservation Manager at Potomac Conservancy

Working in the environmental field can be a fun, rewarding alternative to the traditional corporate-office position. Whether you’re looking to change careers or simply want to see what’s out there, scroll down to read about five rewarding jobs for women in the environmental field!

Community/Grassroots Organizer

If you can enjoy working one-on-one with communities, organizing events, and managing large groups of volunteers, community organizing might be a good fit for you. The entry to mid-level salary ranges from $38k-$55k, and usually comes with other perks such as less time in the office and more time leading events in the field. For this position, you’ll want to make sure you’re organized, can meet strict deadlines, and feel comfortable speaking to large groups.

Keywords for job search engines: community organizer, grassroots, volunteer management, coordinator

Social Media/Communications Strategist

Know your way around social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook? You just may have what it takes to become a Social Media Strategist. Though a relatively new job field, social media positions have become essential components to many organizations. Starting salaries in the non-profit sector range from $38k-$60k. Many employers will want to see prior experience writing a variety of blogs, social media posts, and other digital content, as well as the ability to think strategically about engaging audiences on social platforms.

Keywords for job search engines: social media, strategist, communications, digital, writer, journalist, Instagram, Facebook

Development/Operations Associate

Fundraising is an essential responsibility of most development positions. If you enjoy using your creativity to attract new donors, planning large-scaled events, and making relationships with important stakeholders, this might be the perfect fit for you. Entry to mid-level salaries range from $38k- $50k.  You’ll want to have solid writing skills, work well with deadlines, and enjoy engaging higher-up stakeholders.

Keywords for job search engines: development, operations, board, fundraising

Grant Writer

Similar to development positions, grant writers are responsible for increasing funding through timely, high quality grant submissions to family foundations and corporate companies. There is usually no prior experience required, however, you want to make sure you can write concise, narrative-like content with tight deadlines. The average salary for a non-profit grant writer is almost $46k/year.

Keywords for job search engines: grant writer, writer, development, operations, foundations

Start your own consulting business!

As a wise woman, and the author of this blog, once said, “The most rewarding job is one that allows you to work for yourself.” If you have any specific skill sets that could be useful to an organization, consider offering your services as an independent consultant. Typical services range from communications strategy to the development of diversity, equity, and inclusion plans. Consultants are usually seen as experts in their field and are often not treated as regular employees, meaning they set their own hours and rates. The average salary for established consultants with many clients range from $50k-$100k+.

Kyaira Ware is the current Community Conservation Manager at Potomac Conservancy. She is passionate about connecting urban communities to environmental sustainability and looks forward to the day when we can all agree that climate change is real.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on A Note on 2019-2020 Leadership Transition

By Tamara Toles O’Laughlin

It is with gratitude and every other kind of emotion that I reach out to you as I conclude my board service with the District Chapter of Ecowomen. In the six or so years since I returned to Washington D.C. to pursue another chapter of my career, to marry, and make friends in a new city I have been rewarded. I have taken part in so many great conversations with leaders across the field, enjoyed opportunities to grow my leadership in ways that no single job could offer, and have helped to guide the evolution of our “moose lodge for women” where we have explored ideas for how working life balance may be made to meet the needs of modernity. And I have blogged about so much of it.

In my board service terms’, I have been fortunate to have worn a few hats. As a member of the professional development team, I supported two years of Ecohours, Mentor Dinners, and special programs that are a part of the forty program offerings each year put on by your chapter of volunteer board members. Next, I held the position of vice president of professional development where I focused on revamping the organization’s signature salon and monthly educational forum—Ecohour. During my tenure the professional development team changed the format, of our salon, from  a lecture program to a fireside chat style and worked hard to add some humor, accessibility and humanity to the offering. In those years, I thoroughly enjoyed the twenty or so Ecohours where I engaged in one hundred eighty hours of preparation for twenty hours of interviews, dialogue and discussion with women who are reshaping the world of work for women in the environment in the District.

In the last two years, April Martin and I joined forces to lead our chapter as a co-chairs. This was an intervention to the tradition of one woman as a single source of leadership and guidance as an experiment in governance based on our experiences in the chapter. I can say without hesitation that it has been a sincere pleasure to try on each of these roles and to continue to advance my personal mission and life work in this space—the meaningful engagement of women in the environment across, race, class and ability as partners, champions and principals.

Our work at Ecowomen has resulted in the intentional inclusion of black, indigenous, and women of color who have been thought leaders in environment and conservation, non-governmental organizations, federal agencies and start-ups. In my oversight of the salon we set goals for and provided real time demonstrations of the ways that the work of black, indigenous and all women of color is always present. And with intention provided a space to reflect with agents of change, in a public dialogue on the many ways our shared work has been made invisible as the status quo.

If I could do anything differently, I might have tried to organize a space where our community could more explicitly examine the role of a feminist practice in our work; and programmed for reflections on the ways that racialized dynamics are heightened amongst women who should be allies and often don’t quite make it. As I leave the chapter, but not this deeper work and conversation, I look forward to seeing what the new leaders, the board members, President and what each of you bring to this discussion and to our shared goals to create an equitable and healthy society where we live, work, and exist as Ecowomen.

Thank you for taking the time to connect over the last six years, to add your energy and talents to the building and rebuilding of this community. Thank you to the women on the board from 2013 to the present day who work consistently and constantly to make Ecowomen a space where good things are made to happen for and with women.

As I leave the District chapter, I have been thinking a lot about the dormant Baltimore City chapter and what I might bring to it as I make my home there. In the meantime, I will continue in my day job as the North America Director at 350.org and hope to see you in it  as Ecowomen and as fellow humans in adult and aging ally response to the youth call for climate action on September 20-27, 2019. It looks to be the largest global climate mobilization to date and will be followed by a week of action that will only strengthen the work of our lives to protect people and planet.

Feel free to reach out to me directly If you ever want to talk. And do sign up today to get involved in the climate mobilization which is already supported by partners including the Women’s March and 500 women in Science among others.

Fondly,

Tamara  Toles O’Laughlin

@Tamaraity

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mosquito Misconceptions and Protecting Yourself from DC’s Skeeter Scourge

By Mayda Nathan, insect ecologist

DC’s mosquitoes are enough to drive a person crazy. Abundant and stealthy, they make enjoying the DC summertime a real challenge, and they can transmit some nasty diseases, to boot. But they’re a natural part of this swampy environment, probably playing some underappreciated but pivotal ecological role, so we should accept their annoying presence at our barbeques and in our gardens…right? Wrong.

As an insect ecologist, I have a dark fascination with these maddening fellow residents of our city. Over the years that I’ve lived here, I’ve read about our mosquitoes, talked to experts, and participated in a local monitoring program. I’ve run into many misconceptions about who these critters are, what they’re doing here, and the ways we can protect ourselves and stay sane during the summer months.

Misconception #1: There’s just one kind of mosquito in this region.

In North America, we have about 200 species of mosquito. A very small fraction of those bite humans (and, of those that do, it’s only the females who do the biting). There are 30+ different species of “DC mosquitoes.” They all depend on standing water to reproduce, but the type of water they want varies – for some species, only saltmarshes will do, while others insist on ephemeral pools in woodsy settings. Some species prefer the sorts of little pools of water that us humans are great at (unintentionally) providing, like in the form of abandoned tires and clogged gutters. Those are the species we tend to encounter most often in our neighborhoods.

Misconception #2: Mosquitoes are a natural part of this region’s ecosystems.

Yes, there are native mosquitoes here, but most mosquitoes in your DC yard are relative newcomers to the regional ecosystem. The most abundant, irritating mosquitoes in DC neighborhoods are of one species: Aedes albopictus, AKA the Asian tiger mosquito. As its name implies, this species is not from around here. Accidentally imported to North America sometime in the 1980s, the Asian tiger mosquito has taken a liking to its new digs and is now found throughout eastern North America, even becoming the most abundant mosquito in some cities.

We also have several non-native Culex mosquitoes in our midst (though they don’t seem to reach the same aggravating densities as the Asian tiger). Additionally, we have a new arrival. In 2011, Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, was discovered in Capitol Hill.

Misconception #3: Bats and other predators in DC depend on mosquitoes for food.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could conscript our bat, bird, and spider friends to wage war on mosquitoes, on our behalf? Alas, while this may be true in wetlands and boreal zones, there is very little support for this idea in urban settings.

Bats in the DC area, for example, are almost certainly not mosquito-eating machines, hoovering up thousands of mosquitoes every night. For one, the Asian tiger mosquito is a day-flier, so its odds of encountering bats are low. Secondly, our bats probably focus their efforts on more rewarding insect prey; mosquitoes are like flying celery sticks, compared to the winged cheesesteaks that are moths and katydids. This is likely the case for many predators in our region; they will eat a mosquito but would probably rather eat something else.

Misconception #4: There’s no environmentally friendly way to control mosquitoes.

I get it – some of our past efforts to control mosquitoes, in the form of large-scale wetland drainage and DDT spraying, had environmental repercussions that are haunting us still. But there are quite a few things you and your neighbors can do to keep from getting bitten, and even to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your house, that have minimal impact on other species.

Defense tip 1: Protect your skin.

There’s an endless array of products that claim to repel mosquitoes, but only a very small number have repeatedly been shown to be effective. I’m only advocating for products that have stood up to rigorous scientific scrutiny. The consistent winner is DEET, followed closely by picaridin (a synthetic version of a molecule found in pepper plants). Oil of lemon eucalyptus has been shown to be effective, but it must be re-applied more frequently than DEET (every 6 hrs v. every 10 for DEET). Also, throw out your citronella sprays and candles. That stuff’s useless.

Defense tip 2: Stagnant water is the enemy.

Start by removing ALL standing water around your house – what the pros refer to as “tip-‘n-toss.” Asian tiger mosquitoes can breed in amazingly small quantities of water, so no potential container should go overlooked. In my neighborhood, some common sources are:

  • Planter saucers.
  • Backed-up gutters.
  • Trash and recycling cans with broken or missing lids; submit a request through DC 311 to have yours fixed/replaced, and in the meantime, drill a small hole in the bottom.
  • Those accordion-style gutter extenders that direct water away from a house; pop a nylon knee-high over the end to keep the mosquitoes from going inside.
  • In-ground drain lines; secure a piece of window screening over the opening to keep mosquitoes out.

If your yard has a fountain or something similar that you can’t empty, pick up some mosquitofish (Amazon will ship you live ones!) or Bti dunks or Bti bits. These latter products contain a strain of bacteria that are toxic to mosquitoes and a few close fly relatives, but are harmless to everyone else – you, your dog, birds, bees, butterflies, etc.

Defense tip 3: Go on the offensive – but spray only if you must.

If removing standing water and using an effective repellent don’t keep the mosquitoes at bay, you still have a few options – from the passive to the nuclear.

  • Gravid Aedes Traps, or GATs. These nifty contraptions use water to lure in female mosquitoes who are looking for a spot to lay their eggs. There’s a big caveat: the traps are only effective if most contiguous neighbors deploy them. It won’t hurt if you’re the only one on your block who has GATs in your yard, but it won’t help much, either. On the plus side, areas with more than 80 percent of households using GATs have seen remarkable declines in mosquito numbers.
  • Some commercial spraying companies offer “natural,” “garlic-based” alternative to insecticides. This product doesn’t kill mosquitoes; it merely repels them. Online reviews are positive. But it is pricey and needs to be applied frequently.
  • Commercial spraying operations – the nuclear option. If you’re pregnant or expect to become pregnant, or have an infant or someone else in your household who’s immunocompromised – that is, if someone in your home is particularly at risk from mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile virus or Zika – then you might want to consider this option. It works, but it works because it’s a serious pesticide being applied to the vegetation and foundation around your house.

* In order to preserve insect biodiversity, consider making commercial insecticide treatment of your property a last-choice option. The treatment often involves pyrethroids – a group of compounds that are generally safe for mammals and birds (yay), and that don’t stick around long in the environment (yay), but that are highly toxic to a broad swath of insects (boo). For effective mosquito-killing power, pyrethroids are sort of the least-bad option, but using them will wipe out a lot of the wonderful, harmless insect biodiversity you might otherwise get to experience in your yard.

Go forth, armed with mosquito knowledge, to enjoy your porch beers, barbecues, and backyard play dates. Hopefully this information will help keep you sane and healthy all summer long.

Mayda Nathan is completing her PhD at the University of Maryland, where she studies insect ecology. She has lived in Washington, DC for ten years, and loves the city – mosquitoes and all.

 

 

 

 

Photo 1: Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito – frequent crasher of DC picnics, barbeques, and gardening sessions. Photo credit: James Gathany, CDC. Photo is in the public domain.
Photo 2: Species like the little brown bat will eat mosquitoes, but they don’t eat them exclusively, and they’re unlikely to encounter the day-flying mosquitoes that plague DC yards and parks. Photo credit: “Healthy little brown bat” by Ann Froschauer, USFWS, CC BY 2.0.
Photo 3: Citronella candles have been shown to be totally ineffective at repelling mosquitoes. Don’t waste your money; buy some DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, instead. Photo credit: “Citronella Kerzen” by Joho345 CC BY 4.0.
Photo 4: Clogged gutters: a common mosquito breeding site in cities like DC. Photo credit: “Gutter clog” by Eric Schmuttenmaer CC BY-SA 2.0

posted by | on , | Comments Off on Ecotourism: Good or Bad?

By Artisha Naidu, Research and Content Fellow at Environic Foundation International

With warmer the weather here, many people are yearning for a much-needed vacation. While expenses are usually top of mind when planning a trip, environmental costs should also be a factor. Mass tourism is responsible for about five percent of global carbon pollution (UNWTO) and strains the supply of natural resource in areas dealing with resource scarcity issues.

The International Ecotourism Society’s sustainable solution to the mass tourism problem is ecotourism. They define ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.”

Some of the key principles include:

  • Minimize environmental, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
  • Bolster environmental and cultural respect.
  • Financially benefit conservation efforts.
  • Financially benefit the local economy.
  • Raise cultural and environmental awareness about communities.

Putting these principles in practice, however, can have some good and bad effects.

The Good

Ecotourism benefits the local ecology through education. Visitors learn about conservation efforts in fragile natural areas and encounter wildlife preservation efforts. They are also encouraged to use less and reuse their goods such as showering less to conserve water, turning off lights to reduce energy consumption, or eating plant-based meals.

Additionally, ecotourism benefits impoverished countries with historically low travel rates left relatively untouched by humans, sparing further destruction of more popular tourist destinations. Tourists are encouraged to immerse themselves in the local culture and tradition, attending cultural events and purchasing local goods, which creates jobs for the community.

The Bad

Without proper planning, ecotourism can have a negative impact. Ecotourism can lead to commercial developments, including the dark practices of turning naturally pristine areas into natural parks (additional info here) and displacing local communities to make room for more tourist attractions. Most importantly, additional travel and activity can further harm sensitive areas.

Meanwhile, as local economies become increasingly dependent on tourism, cultural expression can be strained, when people feel pressured to showcase the part of their culture that brings in profits.

And Better

Whether ecotourism does more good than bad depends on you. By taking some of these steps to travel more responsibly, you can be a better ecotourist:

  • Pick an ecotourist destination – listed here
  • Pack light – less laundry means less water and less weight on the plane
  • Leave your pet at home – carbon paw prints also stain our enviornment
  • Fly nonstop – a direct flight emits less carbon
  • Purchase carbon offsets – some airlines offer programs
  • Ride public transportation – better yet, walk or ride a bike
  • Buy local – reducing the carbon costs along the supply chain and avoid sweat shop labor
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle – take shorter showers, use less hotel goods, bottles, and bags
  • Use a “do not disturb” sign so that your room is not cleaned everyday
  • Turn off lights when leaving a room
  • Return paper programs such as maps and brochures

Artisha Naidu is a Master of Public Administration at the George Washington University. She is currently a Research and Content Fellow at Environic Foundation International and Summer Associate at Deloitte Consulting. Previously, Artisha worked for a number of urban planning agencies in California, including the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. She has a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Development from the University of California, Davis. Her hobbies include yoga, working with children, traveling, and hiking.   

Photo Credits: Joyce Hong CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, F Delventhal CC BY 2.0, pmonaghan CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Artisha Naidu

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Cyclist, Pedestrian Safety: D.C. Can Learn from Other Cities

By Delger Erdenesanaa, DC EcoWomen member

Once a week in April and May, rather than taking the Metro to work, I rode my bike from Takoma to Union Station. My office was promoting a “Zero-Carbon Commute Challenge,” and two women in my neighborhood showed me the route. I was grateful.

The seven-mile trek over roads with cars, unprotected bike lanes, sidewalks and one short segment of bike trail was a lot for me. Hence, only once a week.

But distance wasn’t the real issue. The problem was safety.

Shortly into this routine, during a single weekend, cars hit and killed two people in D.C. Dave Salovesh was hit while riding his bike on Florida Avenue NE. Abdul Seck was hit while walking on the sidewalk on 16th Street SE. And a couple of weeks later, another pedestrian, Josh Williams, was killed on Southern Avenue SE.

Like many others, I wondered what it would take to change. The D.C. government has a road safety strategy. So do other cities, many of them part of the international “Vision Zero” movement, started in Sweden in 1995. I wondered if these cities were tackling the same problems, and if D.C. could learn from its peers.

Is It Possible to Reach Zero Road Deaths?

Mayor Bowser has committed to reaching zero road fatalities by 2024. Her Vision Zero is broad, calling for measures like:

  • A comprehensive “complete streets” law, which led to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Amendment Act of 2016
  • Starting this year, banning right turns on red lights at 100 priority intersections
  • Doubling the city’s mileage of protected bike lanes from 10 to 20
  • Filling gaps between sidewalks (the city filled more than 100 blocks of missing sidewalk since 2015)

D.C. is making progress, but it still has a way to go. In 2018, drivers killed 14 pedestrians, three cyclists and one person on an electric scooter. Advocates are pushing for urgent action.

Road Safety Lessons from Around the World

To find out more about other cities’ efforts, I reached out to my colleague Anna Bray Sharpin at World Resources Institute, which has a research program on urban mobility.

Sharpin mentioned that Auckland, New Zealand faced similar challenges to D.C. In Auckland, a city of 1.66 million with a fairly robust collection of local bike paths, getting from one path to another was tricky. That’s why, four years ago, the city began a massive effort to connect residential areas to downtown Auckland—all with “cycleways” that are protected from cars by physical barriers.

The recent Bicycle Architecture Biennale highlighted one section of the cycleway. Auckland converted a highway ramp into an eye-popping pink bike trail, which allows cyclists and pedestrians to cross busy roads safely. Sign me up for a brightly colored bicycle skyway across North Capitol Street!

While Auckland isn’t officially part of the Vision Zero network, New Zealand as a country is set to adopt a Vision Zero strategy in 2020.

Anna also pointed to London. In ten years, London reduced traffic deaths by 45 percent. How? Stricter speed limits played a huge role. Research shows that every 1 percent reduction in road speed reduces fatal crashes by 4 percent.

London is also one of a few cities that charge drivers to enter the city center. Taking cars off the streets might be the most effective strategy of all. In the first year of congestion charging, 30 percent fewer private cars entered the affected zone. At the same time, the city ran more public buses, and invested in bicycle infrastructure. This integrated approach has increased bicycle trips in London 135 percent since 2000.

What about the U.S.? Cambridge, MA recently passed a law to install bike lanes—protected ones at that—much more systematically. Cambridge already had a Bicycle Plan proposing a 20-mile network of protected bike lanes. The new law requires any reconstruction on roads identified in this plan to include installing those bike lanes, permanently.

A Path Forward for D.C.

Residents criticize the D.C. government for studying changes to dangerous roads for years without acting. Councilmember Mary Cheh’s recently introduced bike lane bill, mirroring the one in Cambridge, could help.

Charles Allen introduced a comprehensive bill that would give our Vision Zero more legal teeth, and make safer designs the default. For example, developers would face stricter requirements for crosswalks, bike lanes and stopping areas for rideshares and deliveries. Four-way stops would be the starting point for intersections of two-way streets in residential neighborhoods.

The Council is reviewing both bills. As members deliberate, they should look to cities like London and Auckland for the benefits of an inclusive transportation policy.

Delger Erdenesanaa is a DC EcoWomen member and communications specialist at World Resources Institute. She studied earth & ocean science in school, and can now be found thinking about how the global issues she works on 9-5 also impact DC and her personal life 24/7! 

Photo Credits: Geoff Alexander CC BY 2.0, Daniel Lobo CC BY 2.0, Schwede66 CC BY-SA 4.0, La Citta Vita CC BY-SA 2.0, Ted Eytan CC BY-SA 2.0