Posts Tagged ‘DC’

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Reflections with a DC EcoWomen Leader

By Robin Garcia

DC EcoWomen’s president, Christina Sorrento, is leaving the executive board after nearly a decade of service to the organization and to women in the DC environmental field. A land use attorney in Maryland, Christina has been an integral part of DC EcoWomen’s growth, helping mold it into the wonderful and strong organization that it is today. I met with Christina recently to discuss what her involvement has meant to her.

5278910729_31a74e3ff2_oWhy did you first become involved with DC EcoWomen?

At the time, I wasn’t working in the environmental field, and I wanted to maintain a connection to the community. I went to an EcoHour event in 2006 and left feeling so inspired. I asked the board if they needed help and was immediately brought on board!

What positions have you held on the board?

First, I was the Speaker Coordinator. I then became Vice President of the EcoHour Committee, Vice President of the Events Committee (which has now separated into the Professional Development and Program Committees), Vice President of Professional Development, and finally President.

How did DC EcoWomen help with your professional and personal development?

It definitely helped me professionally. While I am an attorney, I used to get very nervous about speaking publically. All of the public speaking that I had to do with the various positions that I have held helped me overcome that fear. I also had the chance to be involved in ways that are not quite as tangible but still important.

8760784245_7e5c4e13cf_oWhat events are you most proud of?

The day-long conference in 2013. We pulled it off in a couple of months, and everyone seemed to love it! The 10 year gala was also a wonderful accomplishment.

Why would you recommend DC EcoWomen to others?

First of all, for the professional development. That was why I first became involved, but the women I met has kept me involved for all of this time. Women I have met through DC EcoWomen have become close friends; I have even been to the weddings of women I met through the organization.


I can personally attest that in the past year Christina has always made me feel welcomed and involved. We have been so lucky to have her for as long as we have, and I hope that she will stay involved with the environmental community in DC for years to come.

Thank you Christina for all that you have done!

Robin is a Communication Specialist at NOAA and a DC EcoWomen board member. A DC native, she enjoys exploring her hometown, developing her yoga skills, and getting out on the water as much as possible. She would also like the world to know that Bill Nye the Science Guy is now available on Netflix. 

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By Jessica Christy

After years of property disputes, trail destruction concerns, and a search for an endangered species, one of the DC area’s newest public transportation projects may encounter its most significant obstacles under newly elected Maryland governor, Larry Hogan.

purple line 1History of the Purple Line

The purple line was originally conceived under Maryland Governor Glendening as a connection between the New Carrollton station on the orange line and Silver Spring on the red line. Under the Ehrlich administration, the project was merged with the Georgetown Branch Light Rail Transit, which was proposed to run from the Silver Spring station to Bethesda, both on the red line.

Initially, the purple line was proposed as one of three options: heavy rail (think Metro), light rail, or bus rapid transit. Heavy rail was quickly eliminated as too expensive and light rail is highly favored over a rapid bus line. The current proposal is a 16.2 mile line with 21 stations, which will serve approximately 70,000 riders daily, at a cost of approximately $2.5 billion to build. Having cleared several regulatory hurdles already, construction is scheduled to begin in 2015, but that appears unlikely with Governor Hogan’s refusal thus far to make a decision about whether his administration will proceed with the project.

Contentious Route for the Purple Line

To build the purple line, the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) will likely have to seize part or all of nearly 350 properties, including condemnation of 12 homes and apartment buildings and between 15 and 20 businesses, according to estimates from 2012. A more recent estimate of the number of properties affected by the purple line was not readily available.

In addition to residences, MTA also had to contend with the Columbia Country Club, a private golf course located near the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and East West Highway. The purple line will bisect the course, which the club says will jeopardize its standing as a competitive course and filed suit to prevent this. Through a series of negotiations and deals, the route through the course was modified and parcels of land were swapped in order to save the competitive layout of the course through the preservation of trees. The club has promised to refrain from participating in any lawsuits to delay or prevent purple line construction.

purple line 2A Futile Search for an Endangered Species

In a bid to prevent the purple line from moving forward as a light rail line, Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail (FCCT) used a $10,000 donation from the Town of Chevy Chase in order to search for three endangered species: one small shrimp-like creature and two small crustacean species. The creatures have never been found in this area and the survey, completed by David Culver of American University, found none of the targeted species. Undeterred, the Town has given FCCT another $20,000 to sample DNA of the water and sediment to determine if any of the target species could live in the area. The results of the DNA sampling should be available this summer.

Election Consequences

Maryland’s current governor, Larry Hogan, campaigned on a promise to kill the purple line (and a related project, the red line, in Baltimore). Closer to the election, Hogan reneged on his plan to scrap the projects and is still “considering” whether to cancel them or allow them to go forward. Governor Hogan’s biggest concern is the cost of the project which, at $2.5 billion, is high. This number is mitigated by $900 million from the federal government, $220 from Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, and further contributions from the public-private partnership. After months of delays on a decision, the Governor is saying he will issue a decision in June.

A new report from Transport for American combats the governor’s arguments about the project’s costs, claiming the purple line would create over 20,000 jobs, cut travel times, increase property values, and save residents money. The line would also increase access to jobs, including nearly 100,000 local residents who will have access to transit. Hogan’s Transportation Secretary recently stated he believed $200 to $300 million could be cut from the total cost. Time will tell if these benefits and potential cost savings will be sufficient for Hogan to move forward with the projects.

The purple line will provide incredible benefits to residents in this area and contribute significantly to reduced automobile congestion in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Business leaders, local residents, and the local municipalities have been planning for these projects and have a strong desire to see them through. Governor Hogan should stop kicking this decision down the road, recognize the immense benefits the purple will provide, and allow the project to move forward.

Jessica Christy is a second year law student at the University of the District of Columbia and a mother of three. She’s originally from Colorado, but has lived in DC for almost nine years. Before attending law school, she worked in industrial hygiene, including asbestos litigation and workplace safety. In her spare time, she enjoys beating her oldest child at MarioKart and needlepoint.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Crickets…It’s What for Dinner?

By KC Stover

There has been increasing attention paid to the role of insects as a protein source for humans in the place of meat. Insects do not create the same climate and human health impacts as livestock and they can be raised on a vegetarian diet. Many cultures around the world enjoy insects as an integral part of their diet. There are over 88 countries where insects are consumed regularly and over 1900 species of edible insects worldwide.

Image: Leandra Blei

Image: Leandra Blei

The concept of eating bugs has received a lot of press lately. However, this is not a new practice. As the world struggles to keep up with burgeoning human populations, we are searching for new sources of protein. Insects require much less land to raise and are more efficient at converting feed to protein than most livestock. They also emit fewer greenhouse gases than livestock. The UN has been actively promoting the use of insects to meet our protein needs, and it is an area of major innovation in the food industry.

Currently, there is a $20 million industry around entomophagy in the US, and the concept has received widespread support. However, cultivating and consuming insects on a mass scale is not a simple solution. There are many questions about the real rates of protein conversion, best practices for husbandry and the ideal diet. Regulation has yet to become tailored to this industry and the market is still in its infancy. The Washington Post highlighted that high-density cricket farm operations are still governed by the same USDA regulations as those for livestock.

Some commonly consumed insects are crickets, mealworms, beetles, black soldier flies, butterflies and moths (mostly eaten in their larval and pupal stages), bees and wasps, ants, termites and grasshoppers. Apparently mealworms have a nutty flavor and ants and termites have a lemon flavor to them.

Image: Leandra Blei

Image: Leandra Blei

There are some very unique offerings for insect-based foods. Popular Science reported this month on several new companies, (with 30 insect-based startups since 2012 nationally) including, Critter bitters, Jungle Bar and Chirps (cricket chips) among many others. There are several manners in which insects are being brought to market and the most common is as a protein bar or powder. This powder can be used in a wide variety of recipes, including cookies. Time magazine recently released a list of recipes, including a recipe for deep fried tarantulas.

While insects provide a diverse and more sustainable form of protein than many forms of livestock, integrating them fully into our diet will mean learning to eat in new ways. A nonprofit called Little Herds in Austin, TX has taken on the challenge of changing perceptions and creating markets, and Open Bug Farm is an open forum for insect farming enthusiasts. As consumers and environmentalists, we are presented with the opportunity to help this industry grow in a sustainable way. It will be interesting to see if home production of insects grows in urban environments. An additional challenge is that of bringing production costs down to compete with conventional foods.

Some local DC restaurants, such as Oyamel, are serving insects on their menus. In addition, there is an annual event, the Pestaurant, where restaurants serve insects worldwide. Last year’s event featured a DC restaurant. We can hope to see more insect products on the shelves and I for one will be getting more used to the idea!

KC Stover works on programming for DC EcoWomen and on wildlife conservation issues. With a background in entrepreneurship and the environmental field, she believes that new businesses can create opportunities to address some of our most challenging problems.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Biking to Work: It’s Quite Doable

by Catherine Plume

Bicycle commuting continues to grow in the DC area and according to a US Census report, 4.5 percent of DC residents commuted to work by bike in 2013. Only Portland, Oregon “out bikes” us with 5.9 percent of their commuters using pedal power to commute. Commuter biking is fun, hip, and undoubtedly the quickest way to get around town, but it’s not without its challenges. If you’re considering joining the ranks of the DC bicycle commuter brigade, here are a couple of resources and suggestions to make your commute safer and more efficient.

The Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA) is a great resource for any DC cyclist, and their lobbying efforts and advocacy have contributed to the development of bike lanes across DC. While bike lanes undoubtedly add protection for cyclists, cycling in traffic – even in bike lanes – requires confidence and respect for other cyclists, pedestrians, and the ever present motorized vehicle. WABA offers adult education classes for city cycling, and they’ll teach you how to change a flat. They also have youth classes cycling education rides. As a WABA member, you’ll receive a 10 percent discount at many DC bike store. Support WABA – it is your DC Area cycling friend!


If you’re in the market for a commuter bike, there are a few things to consider. Fatter tires and wheels can cope with potholes and curbs better than skinny tires, but they will slow you down. Hybrid bikes offer a great middle of the road option. Investing in flat resistant tires and/or tubes will cost you a bit more, but are well worth the investment. A bike with a chain guard will save your pants, tights, leggings and shoes from grease spinoff while a lower or no top tube will prevent (or at least minimize) your skirt or dress from blowing up as you ride. Reflectors and lights (front and back) are a must for cycling at night and a helmet is de rigueur ALWAYS. A basket, rear rack and water bottle cage are handy accessories that will make your ride more enjoyable and practical.

Capital BikeShare bikes are great for city cycling, and meet most of the criteria outlined above. Depending on where you live or work and the time of day, finding a bike or an empty docking station can be a challenge. While Capital Bikeshare kiosks provide extra time to find an open dock and a list of where bikes and docks can be found, it can be inconvenient.

Whether you’re bikesharing or riding your own bike, plot out your route before you set out. DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) provides an online bicycle map. Opt for a route that will keep you in bike lanes as much as possible. Stay alert! Do you really need those earbuds in your ears when you’re cycling? Use hand signals to indicate turning and stopping. Everyone – cyclists, pedestrians and motorists – will appreciate this! Let fellow cyclists know that you’re passing them with a friendly “on your left” as you come up behind them. While you’re at it, acknowledge other cyclists when you’re at a stoplight. Make a new friend.

Think about where you’re going to park your bike once you get to work. Does your office provide bicycle parking? Invest in good bicycle locks. Thieves LOVE cable locks as they can cut through them in a pinch. A good U-lock or the new foldable locks are expensive, but they’ll thwart the thieves!


Looking fresh once you get to work can be a challenge, especially with DC’s hot and humid summers. See if your office has a locker room or a shower for cycling. Keep makeup, towels and work shoes at the office so you don’t have to transport them back and forth every day. Keep some grease remover, hand sanitizer, and a small first aid kit handy just in case. If you’re biking in a skirt or dress that keeps flying up, wrap a coin in the fabric at the front hem and fasten it with a rubber band. This weighted hem will fall between your legs as you cycle and minimize fly up.

Finally, be a safe and responsible cyclist. When that impromptu happy hour happens and you find yourself a bit tipsy, please don’t cycle. You can put your bike on a Metro or Circulator bus or ask your friendly bus driver to help you. (Thank him or her profusely!). Metro trains allows up to two bicycles per car during non-rush hour times. Folded bikes are allowed anytime.

Biking is a great way to get around town! Do it, and bike safely!

Catherine Plume is a long time DC bicycle commuter. She’s the blogger for the DC Recycler;; Twitter: @DC_Recycler.

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Stay Cool In The Hot Hot Heat

6 Ways To Arrive At Your Next Networking Event Cool And Comfortable

If there’s one thing that’s undeniable during DC summers, it’s this: you will walk outside and immediately be wrapped in a blanket of heat. Sticky heat, no less. “Mouth of a dog” heat, according to a poetic co-worker of mine.

But the heat won’t stop the many networking opportunities that take place year-round — and in summer, DC-ites are even more willing to stay out late to enjoy the long days and cool nights. Free from a rigid winter schedule, many creative opportunities arise to meet someone new and find a unique inspiration. The heat is no excuse to avoid finding your next life-changing career opportunity.

So how can you get to your next event — without showing up dripping in sweat? Here are some tips:

Drink Cool Water — And Lots Of It

Keeping a full water bottle with you is key: stay hydrated and the heat might not feel so unbearable. You can put a bottle of water in your fridge or freezer at work and grab it on your way out to keep hydrated and cool.

Layers,  Layers,  Layers!

I bike everywhere in the city, but it’s too easy to work up a sweat in your hot, heavy work clothes. A simple solution is to wear as little as possible when you are traversing the city and bring layer-friendly business clothes with you. When I’m biking, this means I usually just wear bike shorts and a tank top, and throw over a skirt and a button down shirt when I arrive. This outfit may be slightly less acceptable for walking, however, but the idea is the same: you can wear a lightweight business skirt with a tank top or tee, and bring your button down or sweater to throw on as soon as you get indoors.

Consider A Parasol

One issue with my previous suggestion: the god forbidding sun. It can beat down on you like the Belgians beat the States in World Cup overtime (too soon?). I’ve been looking into purchasing a parasol for awhile now, the most elegant way to keep the sun away. Of course, you can always use an umbrella, but parasols are just so adorable!

Like this one, from Amazon:

Pack A Miniature Toiletry Kit

Make sure you don’t get caught unprepared and keep the essentials with you at all times. Simply throw a miniature deodorant stick and maybe a tin of hard perfume into your makeup bag and make a quick restroom break when you arrive to freshen up.

Nab Some Toilet Seat Covers

Bear with me here: it has been scientifically proven — sort of — that toilet seat covers are a great way to absorb your sweat or oil. If you just can’t prevent the inevitable, stuff a couple of these in your bag next time you see them in a restroom, and use them to wipe the sweat off of your face. You can also grab some Starbucks napkins. Works like a charm!

Bring Back The Summer Camp Style

Back in the days of summer camp, a key item was on every campers’ list: portable, miniature electric fan, maybe with a squirt bottle. I’m thinking it’s about time to bring these bad boys back — it may look a little silly but onlookers will surely be jealous of your personalized cool breeze.

What are your tips and tricks for keeping cool in the summer? Leave them in the comments!

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How to beat the heat without turning up the AC

Dawn Bickett

Well, it’s official. As of this past Saturday, it’s summer. That means we can look forward to months of hot, muggy, energy-zapping weather outside. But don’t fret, and certainly don’t go burning up power with your AC on full blast. There are other ways to stay cool during these scorching summer months. Check out these splashy ways to beat the heat while avoiding excess electricity use.

Public Pools

Washington D.C. is full of them! Whether you are looking for ways to exercise outside without straining in the heat, or just want to relax, public pools are a great option. One of the most popular — Banneker Pool near Howard University — is open six days a week during the summer, including weekends. It is accessible by public transit, has bike racks out front, and it’s free! If you are a DC resident, that is. Don’t forget to bring proof of DC residency for free admission — either a DC driver’s license or a utility bill will do just fine.

Maryland and Virginia also have great access to public pools. Just check with your county’s parks and recreation department to learn more.

Natural Swimming Spots

Not a fan of chlorine? Perfer the shade of a tree to a pool umbrella? You may have to travel a bit outside the beltway (and drive a car), but these swimming holes will help you cool down and get back to nature!

Harpers Ferry, WV – The town Harpers Ferry sits at the junction of the Potomac River and Shenandoah River. Swimming in the Potomac and Shenandoah can be dangerous due to unseen currents, but there are several companies that will help you float down the river in an intertube instead! Harpers Ferry is also public transit friendly — it can be reached from DC via MARC train in about an hour.

Beaver Dam Swimming Club – Located just north of Baltimore, about 70 minutes from DC, this swim club is actually a huge filled-in marble quarry from the 1800s. A swimming hole since the 1930s, Beaver Dam is both a historic landmark, and a great swimming destination. For the more adventurous, it even has a rope swing!

Cunningham Falls State Park – Head to this state park in Maryland if you are looking for a little more than a swimming hole. A 75 min drive from downtown DC, Cunningham Falls has a lake open for swimming, campsites, and hiking. And it lives up to its name. Just take a short hike to see the park’s 78 foot waterfall.

The Beach!

Let’s face it. Sometimes a pool (or a lake) just doesn’t cut it. In preparation of those moments, consider two of the easiest, and least impactful ways to get to beaches near DC.

Sandy Point State Park – At just 45 minutes from DC — outside of Annapolis, MD — Sandy Point is your quickest way to the ocean. Well, technically it’s the Chesapeake Bay, but close enough on a hot day. And it’s not all swimming; it also boasts nearby hiking trails. So grab a few friends and carpool on over to the beach!

Rehoboth and Dewey Beaches – Desperate for a real ocean beach to chill out? BestBus can take you straight from DuPont Circle to the Atlantic Ocean. Tickets aren’t cheap, but it beats driving and burning all that extra gas.

With all these options, don’t hunker down in behind closed windows this summer. Go outside – and stay cool! Did I miss your favorite spot? Leave a comment to share it with other DC Ecowomen.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Calling all Bike to Work Day Pros and Protégés

Your step-by-step Guide to becoming a Bike to Work Day Pro

Written by Nelle Pierson, Outreach Programs Coordinator of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Our region’s Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 16th, and this year you have the opportunity to become a Bike to Work Day Pro!

When I started biking in DC three years ago my biggest barrier to biking was a general concern about personal safety. I’d strap on my helmet, enter a bike lane, and instantly feel like I entered a hostile concrete jungle; a confusing world devoid of a social contract, lined with dastardly dangerous pot holes, swarming with 2,000 lb. speeding steel predators. No rules. No regard. I, the prey.

It’s certainly worth mentioning the region is taking steps to make bicycling a safer more normal form of transportation. We have a regional bikeshare program, a growing network of bike lanes, trails, and protected cycletracks. And road users are beginning to expect and accept bikes just about everywhere.

To this day I still have my scares. But I’m convinced all road-users do no matter what form of transportation they’re using. In order to feel as comfortable and confident as possible I took all the possible proactive measures; like learn the local bike laws, take bike classes, join group rides, and seek out friends with good bike behaviors to model.

Even though biking around the city has infinite benefits, it can be intense. But here’s the thing, you can do a lot on your own to be safer on a bike by knowing the rules of the road and how to ride on the road.

So before you strap on your helmet for Bike to Work Day, here’s our step-by-step guide for becoming a Bike To Work Day Pro:

1. Sign up for Bike to Work Day.

If you sign up soon, you will receive a free T-shirt!

2. Get a bike,  or get your bike in working order.

If you don’t have a bike, go to your local bike shop and find a bike that works for what you need in your price range. Black Women Bike DC has a great bike-buying guide. If you already own a bike, similarly go to your local bike shop and make sure it’s all tuned up for the season.

3. Plan your route.

Find bike-friendly routes that include side streets, bike infrastructure, lovelysights and sounds and tree canopies. If you’re new to planning routes ask a friend who bikes for their input, post your question in the Women & Bicycles Facebook group, consult a bike map, or use the bike feature on google maps.

4. Pack your bag.

I keep it pretty basic. I’ll toss my rain jacket, lock, and the normal stuff (cell phone, wallet, keys) in my backpack. If I know I’m going to get sweaty or have plans after work, I’ll pack my change of clothes and shoes, bring some wet wipes for a quick cleanup, and bring my make-up bag.

5. Know how to ride safely,  comfortably,  and confidently.

You can check out a WABA bike class to become your own expert. In the meantime here are the basics: follow the rules of the road (Click here to learn about your local bike laws). Make sure other road users see you by biking in the right place on the road, and by using bike lights and reflective clothing. Make sure people know what you’re doing by riding predictably, and by communicating your turns with hand signals and eye contact.

Less than 24% of bicyclists in the D.C. region are women. So we work through the many barriers to biking like: selecting a bike and gear recommendations, safety concerns, logistics and routines, hygiene, and riding with children.

If you’ve never bike commuted before, Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s (WABA) Women & Bicycles Program offers great resources, including access to all the important tips and tricks of the bike trade. If you already bike around town, you can still join the community of women committed to skill-sharing and mentorship. They host monthly rides, workshops, and weekly meetups to build a close-knit network and inspire more women to bike.

Some other important must-knows: ride with the flow of traffic – never against it, avoid the door zone – that three foot area beside a line of parked cars, always yield to pedestrians, and most importantly HAVE FUN. Because if you aren’t having fun on your ride, you’re doing it wrong.

Happy riding!

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Making D.C. A Home For The Bees

You Can Help Save The Bees,  In Four Simple Steps

Written by EcoWomen Board Member Allyson Shaw

With the first days of spring, soon come the baskets of fresh strawberries, bundles of artichokes, brilliant flowers,  and piles of bright, leafy greens. But with the spring bounty comes a startling statistic: according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one of every three bites of food we eat is dependent on pollination from honeybees. And as every beekeeper knows, the bees are in an imminent crisis.

Heidi Wolff, a George Washington University alumna, began keeping bees when she was 17 years old. She says it was the “golden age” of beekeeping.

“You just put them in a box and let them do their thing,” Wolff said.

But just over the past decade, beekeepers have reported an annual loss of 40 to 50 percent of their hives – some have even lost 100 percent. Wolff says she now must feed her bees supplements and constantly check in on them.

While the exact cause of the population collapse is unknown, scientists believe it is a combination of pesticides, disease, poor nutrition, habitat loss, and inbreeding. In particular, more and more studies are now pointing to a certain class of insecticides, neonicotinoids, as a leading cause of bee death. Unlike other pesticides, “neonics” are absorbed into the plant and stay in the plant throughout its life.

Fewer bees means smaller harvests and higher food prices. Last June, Whole Foods partnered with The Xerces Society to show us what the grocery store would look like without honeybees. Our fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are in danger! Luckily there are ways you can help:

Plant things bees like!

It turns out, Washington, D.C. in an excellent home for bees. Wolff said urban bees are often healthier than their country counterparts because city bees can find a wider range of nutrition in a smaller radius. This spring, consider adding one of these native pollinator-friendly plants to your window box:

  • Coreopsis (Tickseed). This lovely daisy-like flower is drought resistant, hardy and easy to grow. It is a great source of protein-rich pollen for passing pollinators, since it has a long bloom time: from June to frost.
  • Passiflora (Passion Flower). This beautiful hanging plant grows like crazy in a pot or in the ground. It is the host to several pretty butterflies and is a very interesting nectar source for passing pollinators. It’s Wolff’s favorite flower!
  • Check out the Center for Food Safety’s handy list of plants for more options!

Use natural pest remedies

Homeowners can sometimes use more pesticide per square foot than farmers, Wolff said, because people “go wild with the Raid.” Neonics are used on common agriculture seeds, like corn, but can also be found in household pest-control products. Please refer to the Center for Food Safety’s list of products that include neonics and avoid those products — instead, you can utilize plants that will help control pests naturally:

  • Lavender smells lovely and also repels fleas, moths and mosquitos.
  • Basil is said to repel thrips, flies and mosquitoes.
  • Catnip can keep away flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, and weevils.
  • Tea tree oil has been known to repel mosquitoes, lice, ants, and many other insects that bite.

Support local farmers

As if you needed another reason to buy local, organic produce! Small-scale farmers are more likely to use integrated pest management strategies, Wolff said, in lieu of neonics.

Call for action

You can sign the Center for Food Safety’s petition to tell the EPA to immediately suspend all outdoor uses of neonicotinoid pesticides. You can also join their BEE Protective Campaign to make change in your community by encouraging your city, municipality or county to suspend neonics until proven safe.

What will you do to save the bees? 

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Meet The Woman Behind The Josephine Butler Parks Center

Written By Alexandra Gilliland

This April, EcoWomen and its founding chapter, the DC EcoWomen, will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary, and holding an amazing 10 Year Gala to commemorate this occasion! There can only be one place for the location: The Josephine Butler Parks Center.

The Josephine Butler Parks Center is the perfect location for the event. Not only, is it a gorgeous piece of 1927 Renaissance revival architecture, designed by George Oakley Totten Jr., but the center’s mission is to advance the revitalization of diverse community green spaces across the metropolitan area. This alone would make the location great for the event, but what really makes this location ideal is that it was named for one of Washington D.C.’s very first EcoWomen: Josephine Butler.

Here’s a little bit more about the woman behind the park…

Josephine Butler was born on January 24, 1920. The daughter of sharecroppers, and the granddaughter of slaves, Butler would grow into one of D.C.’s most respected community leaders. At a young age, Jo (as she was known) suffered from typhoid fever. To receive medical treatment, Butler moved from the sharecropper farm, where her father worked in Brandywine, Maryland to Washington, D.C. There she would flourish into one of D.C.’s greatest advocates of social initiatives.

Butler had the admirable habit of turning every instance of her life into a cause to champion. She began a career in laundry, and was able to organize her fellow workers into the first union for black women launder workers. This would be the start of her life-long commitment to labor unions and women’s rights.

Following the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling, she helped to lead the effort to peacefully integrate the white-attended John Quincy Adams Elementary School and the black-attended Thomas P. Morgan Elementary School in 1955. The neighborhood of Adams Morgan, a combination of the schools’ names, now stands as a reminder to honor racial and cultural differences.

Continuing her trend of turning life’s instances into causes to champion, after a bout with tuberculosis in the late 1950s, Butler became a volunteer for the D.C. Lung Association. There, she would become the association’s community health educator, where she would educate thousands of children on the hazards of air pollution, long before air pollution was became a prominent environmental or health concern.

Community was especially important to Jo Butler. She believed children needed a safe outdoor space to develop community. To help create this type of community, Butler campaigned for the revitalization of the Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park. This area had previously been known as one of the most violent parks in the Washington metropolitan area and as a breeding ground for vandalism and drug dealing. Butler and fellow community organizations worked tirelessly to transform this park. They organized nighttime patrols to combat crime, planted trees to beautify the property, and held community arts and educational programs in the park for residents. Gradually the park became the sort of community that Butler had envisioned. In 1994, Butler and the other members of the Friends of Meridian Hill (a community organization partnership) received the National Partnership Leadership Award from President Bill Clinton, to recognize the work that they had done to transform this once crime-ridden and dangerous park into a safe community park that is used and enjoyed by the local residents.

A holistic activist, Butler fought for a sustainable community way before it was trendy. She dedicated her life to economic, environmental and social justice, and believed in the self- determination of all. She was a true DC EcoWoman, a lover of the great outdoors, and a believer that change can happen with hard work and passion.

The festivities, including a keynote speaker, a silent auction, a DJ, unlimited beer and wine, and even a signature cocktail(!),  will take place on April 24th Josephine Butler Parks Center. Get your ticket today!

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DC EcoWomen Board’s Best Practices To Take To Your Next Happy Hour

Last year, DC EcoWomen gave you ten great networking tips to bring to our EcoWomen happy hour. Since then, members of the Board have been through countless networking happy hours and events, testing out the networking tricks for themselves. We’ve introduced ourselves to prominent ladies, tested out our elevator speeches, received endless business cards — and in the meantime, we’ve met a lot of great women and made lasting connections.

Now, one year later, we bring you the fruits of our efforts: The best networking tips, tried and true, from the DC EcoWomen Board, starting from the moment you walk in the door:

Take Initiative.

Someone has to do it! Be the first person to walk up to someone, say hello, and introduce yourself.

Confidence is key here — as EcoWomen, we already bring something to the party. More importantly, an air of confidence from the beginning can help you make the first move. Even if you are feeling a little shy, you can fake it — no one will know the difference!

In particular, don’t be afraid to walk up to a Board Member and say hello! We love getting to know our members.

Prepare Your Elevator Speech.

Once you take initiative and say hello, you might want to know what you’re going to say next! So what information do you want to get across to the women and men you meet at your networking event? Brainstorm ideas ahead of time, pick your three best talking points, and fit them into an elevator speech (a 20 to 30 second rundown of who you are and what you do). Make sure to practice your pitch so it rolls comfortably off your tongue, even when you meet your role model .

In addition to your elevator speech, it’s helpful to have a few generic conversation pieces and questions in your back pocket (figuratively — it might be awkward to pull out flash cards mid-sentence). This will prevent undue conversation lulls and awkward pauses.

Listen,  And Be Personal.

Let’s be honest: everyone loves talking about themselves — what they do, how they got there, what they’re passionate about. The best way to learn about who you’re talking to is to ask questions. What are they passionate about? How did they get to where they are? What are their goals? Do you have similar passions or goals?

One Board member advocates bringing an air of curiosity – what interesting things might you learn? All information is currency!

But conversation is a two-way street — you shouldn’t just ask an endless supply of questions without offering some information about yourself. Just make sure to be genuine; personal stories can help open others up and inspire a greater connection.

Take Notes.

The best time to take notes is immediately after the event, and the best vehicle for your notes is on the business cards of who you met. This way you can easily connect your conversation to the contact information you have at hand. Jot a note on the card if you’d like to follow up with its owner, or if they’re expecting your email. If nothing else, taking notes can help you remember someone’s name if you should run into them again — more on that later!

Follow Up.

Following up is essential for keeping your new connections. It can be as simple as shooting someone a quick email if you’re not up for crafting a hand-written thank you message, and can range from a “nice to meet you!” to setting up a burgeoning relationship with your new mentor.

And finally,  our top two tips (tied for first)…
Use Their Name.

Repeating someone’s name throughout the conversation can help them warm to you — people love to hear their own name. But more importantly, it will help you remember who they are so you can take notes or follow up later!

Make sure to glance at their name tags right away when you introduce yourself. One hint is to look at the name tag and then the face several times to try to visualize it — imagine writing it out in your head, thinking about each individual letter as you look at the person. You might even try coming up with some clever rhyme incorporating their job, or something unique they said, as well. It’s hard to train yourself to actively do this while paying attention to what is being said, but extremely helpful.

Then, when someone else joins the conversation, you can introduce the first person to the second and also include something interesting about them. Bonus points!

Practice,  Practice,  Practice!

The best piece of advice anyone can give: to practice, and practice again. There’s really no better way to improve and polish your networking skills. Eventually you will feel confident, comfortable introducing yourself to strangers, and most importantly, you’ll learn which tips work best for you.

DC EcoWomen provides you with many opportunities to do just that! On February 24, DC EcoWomen is teaming up with WIN’s Environmental Network for a conjoined happy hour. And don’t forget about our monthly EcoHours, where we always give time for networking at the beginning and the end of the event.