Sunday, March 24, 2013

Restorying the Anacostia River

The Environmental Film Festival brought this short film to our attention. It makes the argument that to restore the Anacostia River, we have to "restory" the Anacostia River. Because really, what's the first word that most people would associate with the Anacostia?

You hear it in the first few seconds of the film: Nasty.

This film's opening argument resonated with me, as I have had many beautiful experiences along this struggling river.

What's your Anacostia story?

Upworthy style:
At 0:44, a beautiful, wild river.
At 1:10, Dennis Chestnut talks about the terrible reason he learned to swim in the Anacostia as a child.
At 1:57, a three-foot tide! It makes the Anacostia have more trouble flushing its system than the Potomac.
At 3:45, beautiful photos by Bruce McNeil.
At 6:02, something magical happens.
At 8:30, dreaming big.
At 9:00, go on a vacation and be back for dinner.

Monday, March 11, 2013

DC Environmental Film Festival March 12-24

Honestly, I always wish that the Environmental Film Festival were in the dead of winter. Spring is the time of year it's hardest to stay inside and look at a screen! That said, there are always some amazing films in the lineup and this year is no exception. We'll just have to stick to the nighttime screenings.

This year's special theme is the vital role of rivers and watersheds, which certainly resonates here in DC. There are works from 50 countries showing at 75 venues throughout the greater Washington area, including museums, embassies, universities, libraries and local theaters. The offerings are way too numerous and diverse to list here -- check out their website. As we have for the last few years, I'm listing here the films that seem to have a particular link to the DC region. Descriptions are all from the festival website.

Specifically about DC

March 17, 1:45, National Museum of American History. Free.

  • URBAN WILDLIFE ON THE ANACOSTIA RIVER (USA, 2013, 9 min.) Daryl Wallace, Environmental Education Coordinator at the Earth Conservation Corps, shot this film entirely on iPhones on or near the Anacostia River. The wildlife activity he captures “goes on in local parks and picnic areas right under our nose, most people just don’t take the time to stop and observe what’s going on around them.”
  • RESTORYING THE ANACOSTIA RIVER (USA, 2011, 10 min.) How would you describe the Anacostia River? This film makes a compelling case that the best way to serve the continuing clean up of the Anacostia River is to change how we talk about it.
  • MAKING DO WITH WHAT YOU HAVE (USA, 2011, 4 min.)Francis Wheeler recalls growing up black and poor in southeast D.C. with all the riches of a clean river and a bounty of fish.
  • SHARIFA (USA, 2011, 5 min.) Senegal native Kalin Williams is working to build sustainable “transition” communities through her nonprofit.
  • THE DIGITAL STORY OF GABE HORCHLER (USA, 2011, 5 min.) River rat Gabe Horchler, law librarian at the Library of Congress, commutes to work each day on the Anacostia River in his boat.
  • SMALL MOMENTS (USA, 2011, 6 min.) Vaughn Perry found his passion while volunteering with Groundwork Anacostia and connecting young people with their environment.

March 18, 6:30 PM, Sidwell Friends School. Free.

World Premiere. Most of the six million people living in the Potomac River watershed do not realize that their drinking water comes from the Potomac. Since the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, the health of the river has improved. However, it is still in trouble and faces a number of serious threats: urban development, population growth and runoff from farms, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. The film follows the flow of the Potomac water from its origin, into our homes and businesses and back into the river. Followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Stephanie Flack of Nature Conservancy, with Bob Irvin, American Rivers; Hedrick Belin, The Potomac Conservancy; and filmmakers Peggy Fleming and Sean Furmage.

Animals that live here

March 23, 10:00 AM and 2:30 PM, National Wildlife Visitor Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Patuxent Research Refuge. Free.

Ducks are ancient creatures. True originals, they practice habitual lifestyles that have been essential to their evolutionary success for millions of years. They are surprisingly athletic birds; some have been clocked flying almost 100 mph, allowing them to outpace eagles and hawks. This film follows a wood duck family as a male and female create a bond, migrate together across thousands of miles, nurture and protect a brood of chicks, then come full circle as they head to their wintering grounds. Produced for the PBS “Nature” Series. Discussion after screening with retired USFWS biologist Frank McGilvrey, a leading wood duck expert at Patuxent. A live wood duck will be present. Presented in collaboration with the Annual Friends of Patuxent Art Show and Sale.

March 24, 1:00 PM, National Museum of Natural History. Free.

Hummingbirds have become the greatest aerial acrobats on earth. They can hover, fly backwards and even fly backwards and upside down simultaneously. Plants have “created” hummingbirds as their messengers, carrying pollen from flower to flower. The smallest warm-blooded creatures on the planet, hummingbirds also have the highest metabolism of any vertebrate. The film explores the evolution of the birds, as they are shaped by their role as go-betweens for plants. These glittering birds live on the edge of what is possible, even going into a kind of hibernation each night, and all because of plants.

Other picks

THE LAST MOUNTAIN (USA, 2011, 95 min.)
March 14, 7:30 PM, The Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church. Free.

The fight for the last great mountain in America’s Appalachian heartland pits the mining giant, Massey Energy, which wants to explode the mountain to extract the coal within, against the community fighting to preserve the mountain and build a wind farm on its ridges instead. Discussion with Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) will follow screening.

MOTHER NATURE’S CHILD (USA, 2011, 57 min.)
March 17, 11:30 AM, National Building Museum. Registration required. $10 for students and National Building Museum Members; $12 for Non-Members.

Nature’s powerful role in children’s health and development is explored through the experience of toddlers, children in middle childhood and adolescents, from Vermont to Washington, D.C.

NOW, FORAGER (Poland, 2012, 94 min.)
March 17, , AFI Silver Theater. $11.50 (discounts for seniors, students, children, and military).

Lucien and Regina are a husband-and-wife team of foragers who make their living gathering wild mushrooms in the woodlands of New Jersey and selling them to New York City restaurants. The foraging lifestyle is unpredictable and financially unstable, however, and puts the couple's marriage to the test.

IDLE THREAT (USA, 2012, 60 min.)
March 17, 12 noon, Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital. Free.

Self-described vigilante George Pakenham walks the streets of New York to stop what many see as a victimless crime: idling their cars. Discussion with filmmaker George Pakenham follows screening.

TRASHED (UK, 2012, 98 min.)
March 19, 7:45 PM, Atlas Performing Arts Center. Free.

Following the film’s apocalyptic opening scenes set to epic music by Vangelis, narrator and actor Jeremy Irons takes us on a journey around the world, from Indonesia to Lebanon and from the Mediterranean Sea to San Francisco to find out what happens to our garbage. It's shocking, it's informative and it's, beyond all, a call to action.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Things to Look for in March

We have emerged from the non-snowquester into a glorious weekend. I hope you get some time outside! The wood frogs are out and have already laid their eggs. Not far away: spring beauties, spring peepers, and all kinds of other cool stuff. What have you been seeing lately?

Photo credit: Carly & Art
Bloodroot is one of our favorite spring flowers. Each plant blooms only briefly, and there's a window of only a few weeks that the bloodroots bloom at all. It's one more thing that inspires us to spend as much time as possible in the woods at this time of year.
Spicebush in bloom (IMG_2598)
Photo credit: PIWO
Every year we look for the cheery flowers of the
spicebush as they emerge to light up the understory. It's common throughout our local forests.
Maple Flowers
Photo credit: jpwbee
Maple flowers aren't as showy, but they're an important source of nectar for early-season pollinators -- and an unexpected spot of springtime color if you know to look for them.
Spring Peeper
Photo credit: bbodjack
Spring peepers are another pilgrimage-inspiring phenomenon in our household. How are these tiny critters so LOUD? And why are they so hard to find? Last spring we finally figured out how to spot them.

Wood frog eggs by The Natural Capital
The frogs are noisy because they're looking to mate. Spring peepers lay their eggs in out-of-the-way places, but we often find wood frog eggs in March, easily visible in vernal ponds in many of the local parks.
Spring Beauties (IMG_2610)
Photo credit: PIWO
Spring Beauties are not a showy flower, but we find them dainty and adorable. They're one of the first spring ephemerals: perennial flowers that emerge every spring on the forest floor, and they last a little longer than most.

Photo credit: Dandelion and Burdock
Bittercress is less adorable, but more abundant than spring beauties -- and edible! Throw some in your spring salad mix for a vitamin-packed punch.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, adult male
Photo credit: bcfoto70
I love to watch yellow-bellied sapsuckers as they feed: they make a series of round holes in a tree's bark, then lap up the sap that comes out -- and the insects that are attracted to it. The yellow-bellied sapsucker is considered a "keystone" species by some ecologists because so many other birds rely on them, following along for their leftovers.
Canada Geese
Photo credit: Henry McLin
As the sapsuckers are coming to town, the Canada Geese are leaving. We've seen several flocks over the last few days.

Photo credit: Gene Han
Woodcocks are much harder to spot, but they'll put on even more of a show than the sapsuckers and the geese, if you can find them.

Want more? See also the list of things we found on a walk we took in mid-March a couple of years ago.