Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘washington’

Photo: Noah Robertson/Christian Science Monitor.
Master falconer Rodney Stotts, founder of Rodney’s Raptors, holds a Harris hawk at the Earth Conservation Corps campus in Laurel, Maryland. At ECC, Stotts works with young people who may be at risk, just as he was once.

There’s more than one way to connect with troubled teens, but sharing an interest can be key. In today’s story, we learn how getting involved with birds of prey transformed the life of a young Rodney Stotts and how he later commmitted himself to helping other kids.

Noah Robertson writes at the Christian Science Monitor, “Before young Jamaal Hyatt met falconer Rodney Stotts, the youth had never seen a bird fly from a person’s finger, disappear out of sight, and return at the sound of a whistle. He’d never fed a bird of prey, or understood the trust it takes for one to calmly perch on a person’s arm. He’d never even seen a raptor up close.

“Mr. Hyatt grew up in downtown Washington, D.C., where birds rest on traffic lights as often as trees. Two years ago, when his family felt he wasn’t focused on school, they decided to send him to Capital Guardian Youth Challenge Academy, a military school for at-risk students in Washington high schools. It was in the woods here that he met Mr. Stotts – a master falconer, mentor, conservationist, and Dr. Dolittle of sorts. 

“Mr. Stotts, too, grew up in Washington, and, like Mr. Hyatt, once barely knew a pigeon from a peregrine falcon. But more than 30 years ago, working with animals transformed him from a man of the streets to a man of the woods. He’s since become a mentor for young people facing similar challenges. 

“That mission brought him to Laurel, where his office is sandwiched between Capital Guardian and New Beginnings Youth Development Center, a youth detention and rehabilitation facility. He works with young people in each facility, giving them an outlet, a role model, and a chance to learn to trust others by learning to trust animals. …

“In three decades Mr. Stotts has worked with thousands of people on the streets and in schools, parks, jails, barns, and Zoom calls. Along the way, he founded his own nonprofit, Rodney’s Raptors, and earned his falconry license. The work is low in pay and often poignant, forcing him to confront violence, substance misuse, and loss. 

“But for Mr. Stotts, whose life is profiled in a new documentary, ‘The Falconer,’ it’s highest in personal reward. If he could change, he tells the young people he works with, so can they. …

“With a mother who struggled with heavy substance use (before later quitting cold turkey), Mr. Stotts grew up in southeast Washington during the crack epidemic. In early adulthood, he reflected his circumstances; he dealt drugs and was likely to cross up with law enforcement, he says. Then, by accident, he found animals. 

“In the early 1990s, he needed a pay stub to sign on an apartment and took a position at Earth Conservation Corps (ECC), a nonprofit then focused on cleaning the notoriously polluted Anacostia River. Bob Nixon, the program’s de facto founder and a falconer himself, helped introduce Mr. Stotts to animals and eventually birds of prey. 

‘The first time I held a bird, period, it took me somewhere else, says Mr. Stotts. …

“After a year, he stayed with ECC and eventually took charge of its raptor program, based in Laurel. … ‘He’s been engaged since the get-go – that’s the impressive thing,’ says Mr. Nixon, of ECC. ‘He really feels the nature in his bones and gets a real reward in sharing that with people.’ … 

“ ‘There’s a lot of kids out here that don’t really have anything or don’t even believe in [themselves],’ says Mr. Hyatt. ‘Seeing somebody like that … can uplift them and give them a little bit more hope.’ ”

More here.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Swimonish Tribal Community
An ancient Washington State tribe that relies on a healthy stock of salmon has a climate plan.

The more the media covers indigenous activities, the more we learn what we’ve been missing. There is so much wisdom embedded in tribal memory, especially wisdom about taking care of the natural world. First step: having the right attitude.

Jim Morrison writes at the Washington Post about a tribe in the Pacific Northwest that has a climate plan.

“For 10,000 years, the Swinomish tribe has fished the waters of northwestern Washington, relying on the bounty of salmon and shellfish not only as a staple of its diet but as a centerpiece of its culture. At the beginning of the fishing season, the tribe gathers on the beach for a First Salmon ceremony, a feast honoring the return of the migratory fish that binds the generations of a tribe that calls itself the People of the Salmon.

“At the ceremony’s conclusion, single salmon are ferried by boat in four directions — north to Padilla Bay, east to the Skagit River, south to Skagit Bay and west to Deception Pass — and eased into the water with a prayer that they will tell other salmon how well they were treated.

Photo: Greater Seattle
Spawning salmon.

“In recent years, though, the tribe’s harvest, diminished by vanishing habitat and warming waters fueled by climate change, hasn’t been sufficient to feed the hundreds of people who come to pay homage to their ancestors and to the fish that sustained them.

“ ‘We don’t have that abundance anymore,’ said Lorraine Loomis, an elder who has managed the tribal fishery for 40 years. ‘To get ceremonial fish, we buy it and freeze it.’

“For the Swinomish, perched on a vulnerable, low-lying reservation on Fidalgo Island, the effects of a warming world have been a gut punch. The tribe has responded with an ambitious, multipronged strategy to battle climate change and improve the health of the land and the water and the plants, animals and people who thrived in harmony for generations.

“In 2010, the Swinomish became one of the first communities to assess the problems posed by a warming planet and enact a climate action plan. An additional 50 Native American tribes have followed, creating climate strategies to protect their lands and cultures, ahead of most U.S. communities.

“The Swinomish see the tasks beyond addressing shoreline risk and restoring habitats. They look at climate adaptation and resilience with the eyes of countless generations. They recognize that the endangered ‘first foods’ — clams, oysters, elk, traditional plants and salmon — are not mere resources to be consumed. They are central to their values, beliefs and practices and, therefore, to their spiritual, cultural and community well-being.

“Loomis is 80. Every member of her family, from her grandfather to her nine great-grandchildren, has fished the tribe’s ancestral waters. She has watched over the decades as the salmon disappeared and her family turned to crab, geoduck and sea cucumbers. She’s seen the salmon season drop to only a few days per species from the eight months — May through December — of decades past in order to protect populations. The Skagit River is the last waterway in the continental United States that’s home to all five species of Pacific salmon.

“Progress has been slow; some researchers say it could be 90 years before the salmon recover. Loomis is taking the long view. ‘If I didn’t believe we would recover [the fishery], I guess I wouldn’t still be working on this,’ she said.

“In recent years, the tribe has fostered salmon recovery through a variety of projects. It has restored tidelands and channels, planted trees along streambeds to cool warming waters, and collaborated with farmers to increase stream setbacks to improve water quality.

Restoring salmon populations is just part of an ambitious climate action plan to blunt the effects of increased flooding, ocean acidification, rising river temperatures, more-destructive storms and habitat loss.

“They’re planning the first modern clam garden in the United States on the reservation’s tidelands, reviving an ancient practice. They’re monitoring deer and elk populations through camera traps to understand the climate change pressures and to inform hunting limits. And they have ongoing wetland restoration projects to explore preserving native plants and to help naturally manage coastal flooding.

“ ‘They’re doing really innovative climate adaptation,’ said Meade Krosby, a senior scientist with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington. ‘They were way ahead of the curve. And that really shouldn’t be surprising, because the tribes have shown tremendous leadership in climate adaptation and mitigation.’ “

More at the Washington Post, here.

Read Full Post »


The Swinomish community in Washington State has seen the future in rising waters. Much of the tribe’s 15-square-mile reservation is at or near sea level.

Today I have a story about how recognizing climate change can put a community one step ahead of the game. Indigenous people around the country are taking steps to deal with the inevitable before it’s too late.

Terri Hansen writes at Yes! magazine, “Chief Albert Naquin was astounded when emergency officials warned him in September 2005 that a second hurricane would soon hammer the southern Louisiana bayous where Hurricane Katrina had struck less than a month earlier. The leader of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe, Naquin took to the Isle de Jean Charles’ lone road to urge residents who had returned home after Katrina to leave their listing, moldy homes once again. …

“Hurricane Rita flooded the island for weeks, adding insult to injury that had already reduced the tribe’s homeland to a sliver of what it once was. Rising sea levels, hurricanes, erosion from oil production, and subsidence have since shriveled the Isle de Jean Charles peninsula from 15,000 acres to a tiny strip a quarter-mile wide by a half-mile long. There were once 63 houses flanking the town’s single street. Now only 25 homes and a couple fishing camps remain. …

“In January, Louisiana received a $48 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to move the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw and Houma Nation tribal members to more solid ground and reestablish their communities, making tribal members the first climate change refugees in the United States. …

“Across the country, 24 tribes have responded to climate change with plans for adaptation and mitigation, and more are in development. …

“As rising temperatures cause heatwaves, droughts, floods, wildfires, and increase the severity of weather events, tribes are on the forefront in respect to both degree of impact and in initial efforts to respond to adaptation, said Ed Knight, director of planning and community development for the Swinomish tribe in Washington state. …

“Using a unique model based on an indigenous worldview, the tribe updated its adaptation strategy in 2014 with environmental, cultural, and human health impact data. It now views health on a familial and community scale, and includes the natural environment and the spiritual realm, said Jamie Donatuto, Swinomish community and environmental health analyst.”

Will government support for tribes’ efforts continue? Read more here.

Read Full Post »

There is always so much to discover, sometimes right under our feet. That’s why I suspect that archaeology, despite the drudgery, is a happy career.

Washington Post reporter Patricia Sullivan found some happy archaeologists who discovered an ancient ship where a hotel is being built. (Of course, the hotel people are probably tearing their hair out right about now.)

Sullivan writes, “A large, heavy ship, scuttled between 1775 and 1798, is being dug out of its damp grave at the site of a new hotel construction project in Old Town Alexandria.

“Archaeologists found the partial hull of a ship at 220 S. Union Street, part of the city’s major redevelopment of the Potomac River waterfront. It’s on the same one-block site where workers two months ago discovered a 1755 foundation from a warehouse that is believed to have been the city’s first public building.

“ ‘It’s very rare. This almost never happens,’ said Dan Baicy, the hard-hatted field director for Thunderbird Archaeology, the firm watching for historic evidence during construction. ‘In 15 years that I’ve done this work, I’ve never run into this kind of preservation in an urban environment where there’s so much disturbance.’ …

“Digging by hand, archaeology crews uncovered a nearly 50-foot-long remnant of the keel, frame, stern and flooring, estimated to be about one-third of the original hull. The wood did not decay, Baicy said, because once it was buried, oxygen could not reach it. …

“The find has archaeologists surprised and ecstatic. Unlike the warehouse, which was noted in old city records, there was no known documentation of the buried ship’s existence.”

More at the Washington Post.

Photo: Kate Patterson/The Washington Post
Remnants of a late-18th-century vessel were discovered during excavations for a new hotel on the Old Town Alexandria waterfront.

Read Full Post »

Someone posted a chair by Jeffro Uitto on Facebook, and I had to know more.

Uitto’s About page says, “On the Washington coast there’s a place where nature’s leftovers get a second chance at stardom. The place is Knock on Wood, and Jeffro Uitto is the artist making the magic happen.

“Since high school Jeffro has been creating with wood, his favorite medium. This stuff isn’t from a lumber mill either. Each piece is found and rescued from the shores of Tokeland, the banks of Smith Creek, or the valleys between the Willapa Hills. In due time the varied sticks, slabs, and roots are cured and then found a fitting home. …

“Not everything is built right in the shop though. Clients have brought Jeffro on site to build one-off creations in places like Alaska and Hawaii.

“Jeffro’s shop is located near the historic Tokeland Hotel, a stone’s throw from Willapa Bay. … Visitors are surprised to see that many of Jeffro’s tools are hand made by the artist himself. After you get to know him, this isn’t surprising at all.”

Be sure to check out the amazing sculptures at Jeffro Uitto’s website, here.

Photos: Jeffro Uitto

Read Full Post »

Photo: Ashley Foughty, via Associated Press. Foughty spotted the renegade Rusty in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, and twitter did the rest.

Ashley Foughty uses social media.  And a good thing, too. If she hadn’t responded to the zoo’s call for help finding an escaped red panda, who knows what might have happened.

Trip Gabriel writes at the NY Times, “Rusty the red panda, who disappeared from the National Zoo, hijacked the news cycle on Monday.

“To help find Rusty, a raccoon-size mammal with a striped tail and moon-shaped face, the zoo turned to social media, and suddenly half of official Washington broke from Serious Events to tune in to the saga of the runaway panda.

“On Twitter and Facebook, the hunt for 11-month-old Rusty … exploded in a mix of concern, humor. …

“ ‘Rusty the Red Panda eats shoots and leaves,’ Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, filed to Twitter. …

“The zoo announced Rusty’s disappearance to its thousands of Twitter followers in a message at 11:51 a.m, which was retweeted nearly 3,000 times in an hour. …

“At midday, mentions of ‘Rusty’ on Twitter nearly equaled those of ‘Obama.’ ….

“ ‘Edward Snowden and Rusty the red panda relaxing on a Havana beach,’ wrote J. D. Ross, a communications director at Syracuse University, referring to the American security contractor wanted on spying charges. …

“Once again, social media proved to be a powerful dragnet. Around 1:15 p.m., a Washingtonian posted a picture on Twitter of Rusty in a patch of weeds in the Adams Morgan district, not far from the 163-acre zoo.”

Read what happened next. Note to all escaped zoo animals: Twitter will find you.

Read Full Post »

This weekend, having spent special time with both grandsons and a brand-new granddaughter, I have been pretty aware of how much promise children hold.

Not just my grandchildren. All children.

But sometimes children who live in poverty need a boost from the rest of us. Kind of like at christenings when everyone in the congregation says they will help the baby learn and grow even though they don’t know the baby’s family and may not see them again. It’s a symbol that people take all children seriously.

At the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Suzanne Perry writes about the Washington, DC, version of the federal Promise Neighborhoods initiative that takes the nation’s responsibility toward children very seriously.

“The D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative, one of the country’s premier efforts to lift children out of poverty by offering a comprehensive array of educational and social services, has won a five-year, $25-million federal grant to step up its work.

“The grant, one of just seven of its kind that the Education Department awarded last month, was an especially sweet victory for the Washington project, which is working to turn around the city’s Parkside-Kenilworth neighborhood. Last year, it failed to win a similar award because it missed the application deadline due to technical problems it faced when e-mailing its proposal.

“This time, the group’s leaders left no stone unturned to ensure the application met all of the federal agency’s specifications, says Ayris Scales, the executive director—who now calls the project ‘the comeback kid’ and says she feels like ‘Cinderella at the ball.’

“The Washington effort is among dozens across the country that are following an approach pioneered by Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children’s Zone, which involves marshaling schools, nonprofits, and other community organizations to help children in troubled neighborhoods from ‘cradle to college.’ ” More.

By the way, I blogged about Geoffrey Canada and the movie on Harlem Children’s Zone, Waiting for Superman, a couple years ago, here.

Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP/File
A three-year-old pre-kindergarten student practices drawing spirals during a class at Powell Elementary School in Washington, DC. The DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative offers ‘cradle to college’ help to children in the nation’s capital.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: