The Community Ecology Institute needs $28,000 by May 15 to save this Columbia farm

My April 11 blogpost about this farm and CEI’s vision is below. They’ve come so far that failure is not an option. Chiara D’Amore, Executive Director, wrote to me, “Every donation matters because it all adds up and large grantors are interested knowing how many people are invested in seeing this farm be protected and turned into a model for how people can lead happier, healthier, more connected, and sustainable lives.

It’s a six-acre organic farm smack dab in the middle of Columbia’s Hickory Ridge Village that the Shaw family has worked for almost 40 years. The nonprofit Community Ecology Institute (CEI) wants to save the farm from development but needs to raise $300,000 by the middle of May to make it happen. There are a multitude of reasons why we need to support them.

Chief among them is CEI understands the impact that climate change may have on our community. They are committed to being a model for sustainable practices and teaching the skills of Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience. Learn about their vision and help support it if you can. It’s a worthy cause and important for the future of Columbia and Howard County, Md.

Harry Schwarz – April 11, 2019

Community Ecology Institute: Growing a farm into a living classroom in Howard County [EXCERPTS]

Janene Holzberg (Baltimore Sun), March 22, 2019

Chiara D’Amore wants to transform a small organic farm in Columbia into a living classroom for the nonprofit she founded in 2016 with a mission to reconnect people to the natural world.

Community Ecology Center Site plan (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR ENLARGED VERSION

D’Amore said CEI [Community Ecology Institute] is working to raise $300,000 to purchase Shaw Farm, a 6.4-acre property in a residential neighborhood near Atholton High School.

Having a facility at 8000 Harriet Tubman Lane would boost the nonprofit’s profile in the community and permit expanded programming, D’Amore said, while saving a 38-year-old family farm from development at the same time.

Aerial view, Shaw Farm (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute)

“There is a fire in me to protect this land,” said D’Amore, who has a master’s degree in environmental science and engineering and a doctorate in sustainability education.

If the farm purchase moves forward, a 4,000-square-foot barn on the property that is 75 percent finished would become classroom and office space.

The Shaw family sold organic produce for years at county farmers markets and donated thousands of pounds of vegetables and fruit to people in need, he said. They also sold produce in a community-supported agriculture program and later worked with food banks.

Shaw Farm (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute)

“Having been involved intimately with this land for almost 38 years, it is very important to me to find new stewards for the farm,” he stated.

“Working with Chiara and the other members of the Community Ecology Institute will ensure that my family’s values of clean air, water, soil and food — and putting people ahead of profits — will continue,” he wrote.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/bs-md-ho-community-ecology-institute-0324-story.html

The Community Ecology Institute

The Community Ecology Institute (CEI) is a Howard County based non-profit organization with a vision for a world in which human and natural communities thrive together. Our mission is to foster socially and ecologically healthy communities by enhancing the connections between all people and the natural world.

We are protecting this unique property from being developed and will be creating a Community Ecology Center where people can come to learn through hands on experiences about how they can have healthier, more sustainable lifestyles through:

  • Farm preservation & agricultural knowledge — There is little agricultural land left in eastern Howard County, especially in Columbia. Preserving this six-acre organic farm is a worthwhile endeavor in its own right!
  • Environmental sustainability & climate action — We will demonstrate and offer educational programming related to: conservation landscapes such as rain gardens, pollinator gardens, and food forests; . . . reducing waste through “refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle” approaches; . . . energy and water efficiency; . . . and sequestering carbon in the soil.
  • Experiential education programming — CEI’s mission focuses on helping people develop strong connections with the natural environment because research shows how important such experiences are for people’s well-being, the generation of knowledge that makes a difference, and the cultivation of an active environmental ethic.
4,000 sq.ft. barn at Shaw Farm (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute)
  • Health & nutrition programming — farm to table programs that help the community connect with the benefits of eating local produce and space for community health practitioners to run programming
  • African American heritage programming — Local historians believe this area was an important point in the county’s Underground Railroad connections because 17 freed slaves were each given land in the community, hence the original name of Freetown.
Unfinished second floor of barn at Shaw Farm (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute)

https://www.communityecologyinstitute.org/community-ecology-center.html

Community Ecology Institute provides education on ways to mitigate climate change

As a coastal state and home to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland is among the states most vulnerable to the effects of climate change through increases in sea levels, precipitation events, summer heat waves, and the frequency and intensity of storms. CEI is a signatory of the We Are Still In Agreement, and through the Community Ecology Center we seek to educate and support individuals, families, organizations, and communities on the local effects of climate change and empower them to harness local opportunities for action through Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience.

The Community Ecology Center will provide opportunities for people and organizations to calculate their “Carbon Footprint” (the amount of GHG they emit) and provide corresponding actions that can strategically reduce those footprints. Workshops and information sessions will be the platform for discussing the methods of calculations, recommendations for reductions such as carbon sequestration gardens, energy efficiency options and habits that can reduce carbon output.

The Community Ecology Center will assist residents and their communities in building resiliency in conjunction with mitigation and adaptation efforts through a series of educational workshops with topics such as emergency preparedness, urban forestry, water conservation, sustainability, supporting local farms, gardening, and how to engage with local and state political initiatives and planning.

https://www.communityecologyinstitute.org/climate-action.html

And speaking of climate change —

County Executive Ball Announces Major Commitments to Climate Action [EXCERPTS]

COLUMBIA, February 26, 2019

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today made a series of environmental commitments that will make the County a leader in environmental sustainability, reduce emissions and stem the causes of climate change. The news conference was held at the County’s Robinson Nature Center, a LEED Platinum facility operated by Howard County Recreation and Parks.

(by Howard County Government)

“It will be on all of us to continue to lead by example in the fight against climate change,” said Ball. “As your County Executive, I pledge bold leadership to make Howard County a safe and healthy place for generations to come.

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC) reports that our state is already seeing the effects of a rapidly changing climate, posing a threat to the health, security, and prosperity of our communities. From these threats, there is also opportunity – opportunity to support a green economy in Howard County where our residents receive training and gain critical skills that enable them to be successful in the green jobs of the future.”

Howard County has signed on to [The Paris Agreement] and will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of County government operations 45 percent below 2010 levels by the year 2030 and reach zero emissions by 2050. This will be accomplished by reducing County energy use, lowering its fuel consumption, and increasing renewable energy generation on County property. To learn more, visit https://www.wearestillin.com/organization/howard-county-md

Additionally, Ball committed to reduce land waste by announcing the expansion of the curbside food scraps collections area that will include almost 10,000 additional homes to the program. These residents will receive a postcard with signup information about the service which is set to begin on April 1st. The expanded area being served will include parts of the Villages of Owen Brown and Oakland Mills.

https://www.howardcountymd.gov/News/ArticleID/1419/News022619b#prettyPhoto

Help the Community Ecology Institute save this Columbia farm

It’s a six-acre organic farm smack dab in the middle of Columbia’s Hickory Ridge Village that the Shaw family has worked for almost 40 years. The nonprofit Community Ecology Institute (CEI) wants to save the farm from development but needs to raise $300,000 by the middle of May to make it happen. There are a multitude of reasons why we need to support them.

Chief among them is CEI understands the impact that climate change may have on our community. They are committed to being a model for sustainable practices and teaching the skills of Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience. Learn about their vision and help support it if you can. It’s a worthy cause and important for the future of Columbia and Howard County, Md.

Harry Schwarz – April 11, 2019

Community Ecology Institute: Growing a farm into a living classroom in Howard County [EXCERPTS]

Janene Holzberg (Baltimore Sun), March 22, 2019

Chiara D’Amore wants to transform a small organic farm in Columbia into a living classroom for the nonprofit she founded in 2016 with a mission to reconnect people to the natural world.

Community Ecology Center Site plan (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR ENLARGED VERSION

D’Amore said CEI [Community Ecology Institute] is working to raise $300,000 to purchase Shaw Farm, a 6.4-acre property in a residential neighborhood near Atholton High School.

Having a facility at 8000 Harriet Tubman Lane would boost the nonprofit’s profile in the community and permit expanded programming, D’Amore said, while saving a 38-year-old family farm from development at the same time.

Aerial view, Shaw Farm (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute)

“There is a fire in me to protect this land,” said D’Amore, who has a master’s degree in environmental science and engineering and a doctorate in sustainability education.

If the farm purchase moves forward, a 4,000-square-foot barn on the property that is 75 percent finished would become classroom and office space.

The Shaw family sold organic produce for years at county farmers markets and donated thousands of pounds of vegetables and fruit to people in need, he said. They also sold produce in a community-supported agriculture program and later worked with food banks.

Shaw Farm (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute)

“Having been involved intimately with this land for almost 38 years, it is very important to me to find new stewards for the farm,” he stated.

“Working with Chiara and the other members of the Community Ecology Institute will ensure that my family’s values of clean air, water, soil and food — and putting people ahead of profits — will continue,” he wrote.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/bs-md-ho-community-ecology-institute-0324-story.html

The Community Ecology Institute

The Community Ecology Institute (CEI) is a Howard County based non-profit organization with a vision for a world in which human and natural communities thrive together. Our mission is to foster socially and ecologically healthy communities by enhancing the connections between all people and the natural world.

We are protecting this unique property from being developed and will be creating a Community Ecology Center where people can come to learn through hands on experiences about how they can have healthier, more sustainable lifestyles through:

  • Farm preservation & agricultural knowledge — There is little agricultural land left in eastern Howard County, especially in Columbia. Preserving this six-acre organic farm is a worthwhile endeavor in its own right!
  • Environmental sustainability & climate action — We will demonstrate and offer educational programming related to: conservation landscapes such as rain gardens, pollinator gardens, and food forests; . . . reducing waste through “refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle” approaches; . . . energy and water efficiency; . . . and sequestering carbon in the soil.
  • Experiential education programming — CEI’s mission focuses on helping people develop strong connections with the natural environment because research shows how important such experiences are for people’s well-being, the generation of knowledge that makes a difference, and the cultivation of an active environmental ethic.
4,000 sq.ft. barn at Shaw Farm (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute)
  • Health & nutrition programming — farm to table programs that help the community connect with the benefits of eating local produce and space for community health practitioners to run programming
  • African American heritage programming — Local historians believe this area was an important point in the county’s Underground Railroad connections because 17 freed slaves were each given land in the community, hence the original name of Freetown.
Unfinished second floor of barn at Shaw Farm (courtesy of Community Ecology Institute)

https://www.communityecologyinstitute.org/community-ecology-center.html

Community Ecology Institute provides education on ways to mitigate climate change

As a coastal state and home to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland is among the states most vulnerable to the effects of climate change through increases in sea levels, precipitation events, summer heat waves, and the frequency and intensity of storms. CEI is a signatory of the We Are Still In Agreement, and through the Community Ecology Center we seek to educate and support individuals, families, organizations, and communities on the local effects of climate change and empower them to harness local opportunities for action through Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience.

The Community Ecology Center will provide opportunities for people and organizations to calculate their “Carbon Footprint” (the amount of GHG they emit) and provide corresponding actions that can strategically reduce those footprints. Workshops and information sessions will be the platform for discussing the methods of calculations, recommendations for reductions such as carbon sequestration gardens, energy efficiency options and habits that can reduce carbon output.

The Community Ecology Center will assist residents and their communities in building resiliency in conjunction with mitigation and adaptation efforts through a series of educational workshops with topics such as emergency preparedness, urban forestry, water conservation, sustainability, supporting local farms, gardening, and how to engage with local and state political initiatives and planning.

https://www.communityecologyinstitute.org/climate-action.html

And speaking of climate change —

County Executive Ball Announces Major Commitments to Climate Action [EXCERPTS]

COLUMBIA, February 26, 2019

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today made a series of environmental commitments that will make the County a leader in environmental sustainability, reduce emissions and stem the causes of climate change. The news conference was held at the County’s Robinson Nature Center, a LEED Platinum facility operated by Howard County Recreation and Parks.

(by Howard County Government)

“It will be on all of us to continue to lead by example in the fight against climate change,” said Ball. “As your County Executive, I pledge bold leadership to make Howard County a safe and healthy place for generations to come.

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC) reports that our state is already seeing the effects of a rapidly changing climate, posing a threat to the health, security, and prosperity of our communities. From these threats, there is also opportunity – opportunity to support a green economy in Howard County where our residents receive training and gain critical skills that enable them to be successful in the green jobs of the future.”

Howard County has signed on to [The Paris Agreement] and will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of County government operations 45 percent below 2010 levels by the year 2030 and reach zero emissions by 2050. This will be accomplished by reducing County energy use, lowering its fuel consumption, and increasing renewable energy generation on County property. To learn more, visit https://www.wearestillin.com/organization/howard-county-md

Additionally, Ball committed to reduce land waste by announcing the expansion of the curbside food scraps collections area that will include almost 10,000 additional homes to the program. These residents will receive a postcard with signup information about the service which is set to begin on April 1st. The expanded area being served will include parts of the Villages of Owen Brown and Oakland Mills.

https://www.howardcountymd.gov/News/ArticleID/1419/News022619b#prettyPhoto

We need to revitalize the Hickory Ridge Village Center, now

Kimco presented their plans for the revitalization of the Hickory Ridge Village Center to the Howard County Planning Board on January 4, 2018.  Many Hickory Ridge residents, including long-time denizens, support Kimco’s proposal.  The Village Board and most citizens that testified at the hearing oppose it. But the issues raised by the proponents are central to the future of Hickory Ridge, Columbia, and Howard County. To further the conversation, following are excerpts from the testimony of  several supporters who testified at Thursday’s hearing.

Eric Stein, Hickory Ridge

Owner, Decanter Fine Wines, Hickory Ridge Village Center

I am in favor of the plan, because I believe the Hickory Ridge Village Center is failing.  When the Giant opened in 1992, it was advertised as a gourmet Giant. It isn’t. Not today, and hasn’t been for many years.  Today, we have 4 empty bays in the center representing 65% of 1 building, and likely more to come.  Contrary to belief, Kimco, the landlord, hasn’t forced these businesses to leave.  They have left for many reasons, but they will not be replaced until a decision is made on our future, and we’re suffering. Once this plan is approved, we will still have several years of an under-performing center.

Do we remain an outdated design where the merchants face inward and can’t be seen, or do we accept one that gives us a chance to compete with contemporary concepts.  The apartments are not an option, but a necessity.  You can’t do anything without people, and those that have left the center aren’t coming back.  At least not until we offer them an array of businesses that appeal to a newer audience as Columbia’s growth continues. Continue reading We need to revitalize the Hickory Ridge Village Center, now

Which version of the Hickory Ridge Village Center is likely to survive?

The Howard County Design Advisory Committee (DAP) is reviewing Kimco’s revised plan for the Hickory Ridge Village Center on Wednesday, February 8th.  Their decision may very well determine whether the Village Center survives. Moreover, it’s a decision that will affect all of Columbia and whether our city will take the steps to become truly sustainable.

There is considerable community opposition to adding apartments to the Village Center.  Many residents of Hickory Ridge feel just as strongly that the higher density is essential to the Center’s future viability.  It is a struggle that has occurred in Columbia before and is likely to continue. I support the following perspective, and it applies to other Village Centers as well.

Dear members of the Design Advisory Panel,

I represent a citizens’ action group of Hickory Ridge residents recently formed to help ensure a viable Hickory Ridge village center, one that would be designed for the 21st century.  Our group, Citizens in favor of a Vibrant Village Center (CIVVC), believes that Kimco’s revised plan for the village center offers the best hope of creating a flourishing village center 10 years from now.

We also think Kimco’s revised plan responds appropriately to the DAP’s suggestions at its last meeting. Here’s why:

Continue reading Which version of the Hickory Ridge Village Center is likely to survive?

Commentary: Approve the Plan for Hickory Ridge Village Center

Kimco’s proposal for redevelopment of the Hickory Ridge Village Center is to be considered by the Howard County Design Advisory Panel next Wednesday December 7. Like the rest of Columbia, the issue of increased urbanization at this central community hub is at the heart of controversy.

I support the plan. In the face of continued population growth, suburban sprawl and development of more and more of our natural lands are not sustainable. Higher densities in appropriate locations throughout Columbia is smart growth, will promote public transit, and will serve to improve pedestrian and bicycle amenities.  Two of my previous posts about this subject are here and here.

Some residents of Hickory Ridge formed a group to support Kimco’s revised plan for redeveloping the Hickory Ridge Village Center. Their argument below is one that could easily apply to all of Columbia.

Citizens In favor of a Vibrant Village Center (CIVVC)

Many of us have attended the public meetings Kimco has held and been disturbed by both the tone and substance of the comments made by many in opposition to the plan. The level of uncertainty, fear, and worst-case scenarios has been high in these meetings.

The purpose of CIVVC, then, is to foster a rational dialogue about the merits and Continue reading Commentary: Approve the Plan for Hickory Ridge Village Center