Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Good Riddance Garbage

April 1st, 2015

good-riddance-garbageBy guest writer David Thompson, a high school junior in Prince George’s County.

On March 21, along with eight others, I cleaned up a few streets in a Maryland residential area. I heard about this cleanup initiative through my cousin, who resides in the neighborhood. Despite our different ages, races, and backgrounds we all had one common goal in mind: ridding the area of litter.

We immediately grabbed our equipment (a neon green vest, a trash pickup tool, and latex gloves) and wasted no time bagging up the trash. While doing so, we found many noteworthy items: a woman’s purse, a diaper, a shopping cart, at least four tires, a tennis shoe, and two televisions! By the time we were finished cleaning the site, I honestly felt like a full-fledged detective! I pondered why some of our findings would be in the trash, i.e. the two TVs. A group member and I joked around that someone was infuriated and threw out the TVs in a vicious rampage! The cleanup crew chatted as we worked, but that definitely didn’t make us lose sight of our goal. The team’s aura was consistently energetic and passionate about making such a difference in the community. Now I don’t consider myself a tree-hugger, but I was quite disappointed to witness the enormous amount of pollution, which I felt detracted from the beauty of the surrounding nature. It served as an eye-opening juxtaposition to the natural beauty of the Earth. Trees, plants, and shrubs, being depreciated by liquor bottles, beer cans, and all sorts of snack wrappers.

As a result, we pulled out all of our stops. One of the ladies on the team walked to her nearby home to bring back a shovel, rake, and trashcan to make our hard work more effective. Once we pulled the rubbish from underneath the shrubbery, we were able to dispose of and recycle the trash even quicker than before. I stayed out there cleaning up for four hours and I even was hurt by several thorny vines while trying to get a grip on far away items. But ironically, as time progressed I didn’t get tired. My drive increased. After this experience, I felt a rhapsody of accomplishment and a sense of fulfillment.

All in all, I learned and acknowledged that there is strength in numbers, and that no matter how major or simple that difference may be, you’re never too old or young to make a difference in the community.

Regional Litter Prevention Campaign Seeks New Images to Target Millennials

March 6th, 2015

Recognizing the importance of public education and awareness in creating behavior change, AFF’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative created the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign to target active litterers in the Potomac Watershed (example of poster to right). This public education and social marketing campaign is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the issue of litter, change attitudes and perceptions, and persuade people to stop littering.

Additional images and examples can be found at TrashFreePotomac.org.After several years of social research to create messaging and images, the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign was piloted in 2011 with grassroots outreach strategies in the community of Deanwood, DC, and through a broader jurisdictional approach in Montgomery County, Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince George’s County, and the District of Columbia. Grassroots efforts have now expanded to eight different communities in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. To gauge the effectiveness of the Litter Campaign, AFF piloted a new evaluation technique in 2013 using direct observations of pedestrians.

The evaluation showed a positive correlation between posted Litter Campaign materials and a reduction in littering behaviors. There was a 45% reduction in the number of people littering after Litter Campaign materials were posted, declining from 1.32% to 0.75% of the pedestrians observed, excluding those littering tobacco products and pieces of food (figure 1).* Positive behavior also rose dramatically after the Litter Campaign was in place: the number of people who put their trash in a litter can rose from 0.48% to 2.12% of pedestrians observed, a 77% increase, excluding those who disposed of food scraps and tobacco products. These items were excluded to be consistent with the results reported above and because a cigarette receptacle was put in place at one of the locations.

The Litter Campaign affected a range of age groups, but had the largest impact on those within the 31-40 age range. Youth and young adults were both the least affected by the Campaign and the most likely to litter. AFF seeks to better target young adults, ages 14-30, in Prince George’s County inner beltway between Forest Heights and Capitol Heights by revising the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. One element that will change is the main photo used in the poster and other outreach material.

Target communities for this effort are all in Prince George’s County and include:

  • Glassmanor-Oxon Hill
  • Hillcrest Heights- Marlow Heights
  • Suitland-Coral Hills
  • Forest Heights
  • Capitol Heights

AFF requests two sets of photos for use in the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. These photos will better target the audience of millennials, specifically ages 15-30. They will be done in two parts: 1) Prince George’s County Playground and 2) Marine Debris Connection. AFF has hosted two focus groups with litterers between the ages of 15 and 30 in the target communities in the spring of 2014, to better understand their motivations to litter and to test the current campaign as well as some new concepts. These concepts with also tested with community partners, along with a second round of photo concepts that were also tested with community partners. Based on the research done and the needs of the Litter Campaign, AFF is looking for the following:

1. Images for use in advertising in print, PR, marketing, outdoor and web placement in the Mid-Atlantic region. They will be used on:

  • Posters ranging in size from 8×11” to 2×3’ (or 3×2’), outdoor banners (typically 5×2’), pamphlets and flyers, web banners, social media, print media, and other miscellaneous visual media that may appear in transit systems, county trucks and cars, reusable bags, stickers, etc.

2. Large image sizes (resolution for crisp images that are roughly 3 by 4 feet) and a variety of layouts (vertical and horizontal options of the same concept).

3. All licensing costs paid for upfront. AFF plans on using these images for years to come and works with partners who restrict AFF from entering agreements with yearly licensing fees. For this reason AFF requires an agreement that pays for all rights to use the images outright. This means that AFF will own the image files once completed.

4. Part 1. Prince George’s County Playground: The image should be similar to photo of the urban playground (displayed above), but with the other key elements listed below included:

  • Children playing in an outdoor playground in Prince George’s County in one of the target communities. AFF has already visited several playgrounds and has some suggestions for shooting locations.
  • The playground should have a high level of litter
  • Racially diverse children, reflective of the audience that is being reached and including at least one African American
  • Children ages 2-4 years old, younger than in the current photos
  • At least one of the children directly interacting with litter
  • Realistic photos, especially when it comes to litter levels
  • A Photoshopped concept is pasted below.

RFQ01_3-6-15

5. Part 2. Marine Debris Connection: This part of the project is still under development and will be informed by research that is currently underway. These photos will target youth between the ages of 10 and 19, and ideally will connect litter with trash pollution in water and our oceans. A preliminary concept is pasted below.

RF02_3-6-15
The contractor will work with senior professional staff at the AFF to develop the image concept and will manage the project to stay within budget and schedule. The contractor will report to the Program Manager Trash Free Potomace Watershed Initiative. The contractor will manage the shoot, including all logistics from securing location and talent as needed. The contractor will deliver high resolution, large format color digital files. All creative content, files, and content become the property of the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

In addition to AFF project staff, the contractor may also interact with other stakeholders and collaborators including representatives of the community groups, funders, and reviewers.

The budget for this project is $5,000 – $6,000. Respondents to this request for proposals are encouraged to review the AFF web site. Proposals must be submitted by March 27, 2015, and the project is expected to be awarded at the beginning of April 2015. Work will start immediately.

The proposal should present samples of the photographer’s work, references, a description of the scope of work, timeline, and cost, as well as a list of members of the photo team and their qualifications. Specific items which should be addressed in the proposal include:

  • Management of logistics of photo shoot, including site, talent, assistants, etc.
  • Supply of all necessary high quality equipment
  • Digital post production including retouching and color conversion
  • High resolution digital file capture and color correction
  • Creation and delivery of files for presentation in high resolution digital format to client

Please submit full proposals to Clara Elias, Program Manager for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative [email protected]

Potomac River Watershed Cleanup: Saturday April 5th Family Fun

March 25th, 2014

Guest post by Jessica McFadden, Blogger

Your family can get a jump on environmental activism (and fun!) before Earth Day by participating Saturday April 5th in the largest effort to clean both the Anacostia and Potomac watersheds, the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

This area-wide Cleanup offers many local sites where families can help clean litter from along streams and river banks. From Sligo Creek to Rock Creek Park to Northwest Branch, you can find a local clean-up site that is close to your home and close to your heart. Check out the map for locations throughout the DC Metro area in DC, Maryland and Virginia where you and your kids can serve and learn.

Cleanup in VALocal cleanup events mobilize volunteers young and old to pick up the trash littering our watersheds, and litter removal has a huge impact on animals in multiple ecosystems. Additionally, the Alice Ferguson foundation website states, “The Cleanup provides a transforming experience that engages citizens and community leaders and generates momentum for change.”

My favorite local environmental educator and activist, Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along, says, “Kids like to feel impassioned that they are making a difference, and removing litter is an easy and productive way to feel positive about doing that.”

Jennifer Chambers is also the author of the great book for kids which bring environmentalism to their level, Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle. It is the story of a water bottle’s journey in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Atlantic Ocean. Upon reaching a storm drain, the personified water bottle travels the streams and rivers of Washington, D.C., meeting animals along its ride. Each animal—from the water strider to the loggerhead turtle—teaches the water bottle about itself, its origins, its journey, and those of other pollutants in the watershed. Alima is the five-year old water bottle’s heroine; making us all believe we can be one too. 100% of the profit from the sale of the book is being equally divided between the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program.

This book is a great read to share with your kids before or after participating in the April 5th clean up closest to your home! I will be reading with Charlie, Eve and Alice before we head to one of the 12 Silver Spring clean up locations we have to choose from. Please join us.

See original post here.

Litter Takes No Holidays

January 22nd, 2014

By Albert Arevalo, Community Outreach Liaison

Litter In StreetBefore we rang in the New Year, I made my last 2013 visit to one of the communities I will be working in, Hechinger Mall. As the Community Outreach Liaison for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, my mission is to learn how the level of litter is impacting the residents, and how our Litter Prevention Campaign can help restore the quality of life in the communities in the District of Colombia.

As I drove through the Hechinger Mall community, I noticed that the holiday season had an effect on trash collection. litterinstreet2Trash services had been altered, so bins, streets, and parks were over flowing with litter. Surprisingly it wasn’t the litter that caught my eye, but the random trash bags nailed on trees that peaked my interest. After some investigating I realized to my surprise that these bags were in several streets in NE DC.

These bags were hung by Ms. Dawson, a resident of the Carver Langston community who is taking the initiative to help combat the prevalent litter plaguing her community. I was fortunate enough to meet Ms. Dawson as I investigated the source of the hanging bags, and she explained how she arms herself with a small grocery bag and bright yellow dishwashing gloves weekly and takes to the streets to pick up as much trash as she can fit in her bag. As I admired her perseverance, we discussed the work AFF is wishing to accomplish in her community and she was ecstatic to hear about our Litter Prevention Campaign.

To further her efforts in cleaning up the community, I gave Ms. Dawson the Holiday Trash Kit, which included: litter prevention posters, stickers, a reusable tote bag, recycling and trash bags, and a new pair of gloves. Along with the kit, we have both gained a new partner in each other because right then and there we decided to combine forces, and change littering behavior in her community.

I have high hopes for 2014, and I look forward to meeting other community members who, like Ms. Dawson, are fighting the good fight and are ready to eliminate trash in their community.

Truly Treemendous Tales from the Field

August 5th, 2013

By Elizabeth Rives, Bridging the Watershed Program Coordinator

Admiring a Majestic American Sycamore at C&O Canal Historical Park

Admiring a Majestic American Sycamore at C&O Canal Historical Park

“Look at that – that tree is tight!” exclaimed a bubbly six-grader from Accokeek Academy while walking to the site for a Bridging the Watershed field study. Fortunately, I’ve hung around enough tweeners and teenagers to know that tight, in teen-speak, means “stylish, cool, having everything together,” according to the web-based Urban Dictionary. The student was admiring the striking white silhouette of an American sycamore tree on the banks of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park at Great Falls Tavern.

At BTW we thrive on those “aha” moments when learning becomes relevant, or “tight,” to a student’s life. We’ve become accustomed to hearing such exclamations over a crayfish, or an especially large and menacing hellgrammite the students have netted in the creek. Sometimes the awe is even over chemistry when a water sample magically turns from dark blue to clear. But it’s not often about a tree. So for me, a devoted tree enthusiast and tree identification teacher, I couldn’t believe my ears when it was a tree that inspired that level of enthusiasm.

Prince William Forest Park Features 15,000 Acres of Trees

Prince William Forest Park Features 15,000 Acres of Trees

And then, to my delight, it happened again the next week at Prince William Forest Park — a park whose main claim to fame is 15,000 acres of trees. All those tree roots soak up pollutants from runoff before the water drains into Quantico Creek, making it one of the most pristine streams in the greater Washington, DC metropolitan region. For BTW students, that means a boundless diversity of insects to study. For one North Stafford High School AP Environmental Science student, however, it sparked an unsolicited and lengthy private discussion with me about non-native trees and their impact on the surrounding ecology! Now that was perhaps as thrilling an “aha” moment for me, the educator, as it was for the student.

Greenbelt Watershed Watchdogs; Faye Austin March 23, 2011 057

Central High School Teacher Faye Austin at Greenbelt Park

Four days later at BTW’s advanced teacher workshop on benthic macroinvertebrates I got my third tree “aha” in three weeks. This time it came from a teacher who, at the end of the workshop, suddenly remembered she knew me from a workshop on tree identification I led the previous summer at, where else?, Prince William Forest Park. To my surprise, amusement, and embarrassment, her face lit up as she shouted, “Oh, you’re the tree lady,” toward the end of my talk on field logistics. Okay, so maybe this one wasn’t so much about trees, but at least she had associated me with trees and remembered that she had taken a workshop to learn how to identify them.

If you’re wondering what my take away was from that flurry of tree “aha” moments, that’s easy: all good things come in trees, er threes.

The Strudel Queen

September 28th, 2012
Please join the Alice Ferguson Foundation for its 32nd annual Oktoberfest on October 6th from 1-6pm at Hard Bargain Farm.  For the past 25 years our Cultural Heritage Coordinator, Doris Sharp, has been an integral part in shepherding this beloved festival. We recently sat down with Doris to learn more about the history of Oktoberfest at Hard Bargain Farm and how she makes this event so special every year. Read our interview with the “Strudel Queen” below.

Tell us about yourself and what you do at the Foundation.

I started to work part time at the Foundation in 1987.  The first assignment was cataloguing the books in the Ferguson collection, then I was working as a naturalist, publications specialist, head gardener of the formal gardens, coordinating Theater in the Woods and Concert in the Woods and many other tasks—in essence I was wearing many hats (sometimes the hat rack was too short!).

What do you know about the history of Oktoberfest at the Foundation?

Our Oktoberfestmeister, Stafford Allison, a Moyaone community member, presented the idea of Oktoberfest as a fundraiser to then Executive Director Kay Powell. That was thirty-two years ago. In the same community some neighbors were members of the Alt Washingtonia Schuhplattlers and that group performed at the first Oktoberfest and ever since. I’ve been involved with the event for 25 of those years.

How has the annual Oktoberfest grown over the years you’ve been involved?

When I started it was a relatively small community event.  With more and better advertising and reaching out to the DC metro area, the audience grew over the years. The record number was close to 1500 visitors.

What kinds of things will guests find at Oktoberfest and what makes it so special?

Oktoberfest means beer, bratwurst, potato salad and sauerkraut. And that is what we offer at Hard Bargain Farm.  All homemade! And not to forget the ‘real’ strudel now! (For the last few years we have been offering vegetarian chili as an alternative food.) We have a “Country Store” where people can buy all kinds of goodies—homemade jams, cookies, brownies and breads etc.

Oktoberfest is a lot of fun. Besides wonderful food and imported beer (Spaten from Munich), the Alt Washintonia Schuhplattlers are sporting original Bavarian costumes and perform Bavarian and Austrian dances and music (accordion, guitars, dulcimer, tuba, alphorns, even a saw!).

One of the favorite features of Oktoberfest is your homemade strudel.  How did you become the Strudel Queen?

At the 35th anniversary of the Alice Ferguson Foundation Stafford Allison approached me and said, “You know, we serve all that excellent and delicious food and then there is that stuff they call apple strudel…”  (It was a kind of apple cake).  He didn’t say any more and just looked at me.  I simply said, “Okay.” Well, I have been baking apple strudels for the Oktoberfest ever since! Stafford generously provides his space and professional ovens to do that and I have an outstanding crew of helpers. Each year we bake about 75 strudels using four bushels of apples that need to be peeled and cut into pieces.  The strudel filling is made totally from scratch. From year to year our visitors are looking forward to it.

What do you enjoy most about Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest brings people and cultures together and it gives a glimpse of the original Oktoberfest in Munich on a very small scale. (six  million people descend on Munich over the course of two weeks.)

At the end of the day, the Schuhplattlers invite the guests onto the stage to dance with them, which is very popular with everyone, especially with the children.

What is your favorite memory of an Oktoberfest?

My favorite memory is when my kids went on stage to dance with the Schuhplatters.  They were too shy so I had to coax them.  But then they had lots of fun.

What do you look forward to this year? 

First, of course, I hope the weather will be on our side.  Then everything will fall into place and a good time will be had by all—Hard Bargain style.

Pirates in the Garden

September 19th, 2012

by Ann Bodling, Children’s Garden Associate

Though at first glance, the Hard Bargain Farm Children’s Garden appears to be a peaceful and harmonious place – nothing could be further from the truth. First glances can be deceiving and first impressions often reflect what we hope to find, do they not? While it is true that our garden is filled with the beauty of colorful vegetables, flowers and fruit, it is also filled with menacing killers, robbers and marauders, all bent on self-serving destruction. Some of these villains have six legs, some have four and some have two, and of those who have two, some are even human. 

Cicada killers, intimidating but thankfully non-aggressive wasps burrow long, deep tunnels into the soft soil of our garden beds, filling them with stunned cicadas upon which the females lay their eggs. Robber flies, fuzzy predators with large protruding eyes, perch on the garden fence waiting for unsuspecting insect prey, and dragon flies do the same on stakes placed throughout the garden. Groundhogs breach the electric fencing from time to time, pillaging among the sweet potato vines and bush beans, and squirrels commonly survey the garden from nearby trees, assessing their chances of successful retreat, should they find a way in. Sometimes, whole families are involved in garden assaults as adults teach valuable foraging skills to their offspring. When they rightly assume that the gardener is not watching, mockingbird and crow families swoop in to maim and carry off defenseless ripe tomatoes, leaving partially-eaten ones behind to rot on the ground or become food for the ants. Small flocks of goldfinches, tufted titmice and chickadees stealthily work among the sunflowers, snatching away any seeds mature enough to provide ample nourishment.

As students return to the garden this fall, they will have opportunity to witness these “pirates of the garden” and even engage in a bit of plundering themselves. For, when you think about it, what we term “harvesting” is in fact nothing more than appropriating for our own purposes parts of the plant that would allow it to reproduce during the current season, in the case of tomatoes, peppers and beans or during the following season, in the case of carrots, beets, and potatoes. As this school year begins, we look forward to introducing students to the wonders of the natural world in our garden setting, to the food webs found there, to the many and varied pollinators that work among our plants, to the flavors and fragrances of abundant vegetables and herbs, and to the satisfaction of digging the soil and exploring its life. And we look forward to helping students realize that to garden is to be involved in a grand adventure of piracy, provision, and plenty and that doing so is within their grasp, no matter where they live.