The week before, I had received an email from Daniel Parr in the DC SCA office informing me of this event, and expressed that he hoped I could attend. Quite fortuitously, Kathy also received an invitation and wanted to come – so thus the transportation quandary was solved.
This “listening session,” among several others that will be occurring across the U.S., was designed by President Obama to bring together people of all backgrounds with a common goal in mind: conservation. With these sessions, Obama hopes to relieve an ever-expanding pandemic, creeping into each home, school, and work place: Obsessive technology user disorder; or, in other words, nature-deficit disorder, coined by the insightful Richard Louv (author of Last Child in the Woods – I highly recommend). Although I’m obviously embellishing, Obama hopes to bring together farmers, forest landowners, sportsmen and women, conservationists, youth leaders, business representatives, etc. to consider this problem that is currently plaguing our children and the rest of the population. He hopes to “listen and learn” from these sessions, devising creative and innovative ways to conserve outdoor spaces and get kids outside.
At this particular session, saving the Chesapeake Bay was the presiding theme. Several heads and CEOs of NGO and federal agencies were present, including representatives from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation, and Bob Stanton (sp?), who was the most recent Director of the National Park Service. He gave several inspiring talks throughout. I found it very exciting that Congressman Sarbanks has written a new piece of legislation that will (hopefully) pass in Congress: the No Child Left Inside Act (a play on Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” Act). This Act will hopefully address these issues, as well as provide funding to public schools in initiating more environment-centered curriculum and activities.
Overall, the session went well and it was interesting to listen to proposed solutions and ideas to engaging youth and instilling citizen stewardship.
After the session, Kathy and I went to Sandy Point State Park to stick our feet in the Chesapeake. I had been talking about seeing the Chesapeake since I first arrived here, and was so excited to have finally seen it. For years I’ve seen “Save the Bay” stickers on people’s cars – but knew I couldn’t be revved about saving the bay without having appreciated it first.
Driving on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge!
The Chesapeake Bay, with the bridge in the background. This was at Sandy Point State Park, where you can swim until your heart's content. Unfortunately, we didn't bring our swimsuits, so we have to look forward to next time.
The Bay water was considerably warm - even warm enough for a Florida girl used to 80-degree water.
More people lounging about at the Bay.
This is our vehicle of doom: aka "Buffy." Usually she never disappoints, but to our own stroke of luck, we found that her AC did not work yesterday - miserable. We had to drive in 92-degree weather (and with heat index, felt like it was 104) with the windows down - having wonderful hot air blow in our face all morning and afternoon.
Kathy, being a badass. This is the typical outfit we wear when we're doing marsh work. Official bug suit, festooned with a bug net over the face and rubber boots for the feet.