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Going Green on Whidbey Island

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Turning toward the Light

January 25th, 2013 at Fri, 25th, 2013 at 5:03 pm by maribeth crandell

Unseasonably warm weather and a little more sun can do a lot for a Northwesterner in January.  Traditionally this time of year is spent either holed up in our cozy cabins or gathering in community halls to swap stories and share food.  Two up-coming conferences will give us an opportunity to do just that.

Thursday, January 31 the Storming the Sound Conference will take place in Maple Hall in La Connor.  It’s hosted by the staff at Padilla Bay Reserve and several partnering organizations.  Environmental educators, classroom teachers and scout leaders from the North Puget Sound region will gather for workshops, displays, song and stories.  A catered lunch is offered that features local vegetarian and vegan fare contributed by generous local organizations.

I’m looking forward to the keynote speaker, Saul Weisburg, founder of the North Cascades Institute who is a leader in Environmental Education in Western Washington.  The programs offered at NCI are a model for anyone in the field and his is definitely the voice of experience.

His address will be followed by numerous workshops on water quality education, working with students, and how to make positive changes in classrooms and communities.  Scholarships are offered to classroom teachers that help them cover the cost of a substitute teacher while they attend.  Contact  Glen Alexander at Padilla Bay for details.

I’ll be offering a workshop on the Pet Poop Patrol I conducted last year with the OHHS Ecology Club.  They made it to local TV and the front page of the local paper.  Their efforts resulted in a 94% decrease in piles of pet poop on Oak Harbor’s  Waterfront Trail and a successful awareness campaign which can be a model for other parks and areas frequented by dogs and their friends.

Just a couple of days later, on Saturday, February 2nd, Sound Waters will take over the Oak Harbor High School for the day.  Island County WSU Extension Beach Watchers have been holding this conference for almost 20 years in Coupeville or Langley.  This is the first year it will be in Oak Harbor.  Sound Waters attracts over 500 people from on and off the Island.  With months of preparation by dozens of volunteers, it runs smoothly, without a hitch.  Register online ahead of time to assure that you’ll get your choice of over 50 workshops.  The keynote speaker will be Cliff Mass, from the University of Washington, known for his work on Climate Change.  Come early to stroll through the aisles of displays and vendors, get free information and give-aways that will help you live more sustainably.  Lunch and snacks will be served on biodegradeable plates that can be composted along with the apple cores and banana peels.  In past years, with guidance for the WSU Waste Wise Coordinator, Janet Hall, the “garbage” from this full day event with over 500 people is trimmed to bags of recyclables, compostables and only about 20 pounds of actual trash.  Sound Waters is the first to qualify for the Whidbey Green Seal certification for events.  Come find out how it’s done or “Google” Whidbey Green Seal events.

Start the New Year off right with the first of many spring events that bring us out of our cabins and into the community halls.  I’ll look for you there!


Maribeth Crandell has a green thumb. Most of the rest of her is "green", as well. She's worked in city, state and national parks as a naturalist, educator and guide, on ships and on shore from the Columbia River to Southeast Alaska. She offers presentations for 6 year olds to seniors. She publishes articles, sings songs, plays the banjo and hikes trails. In fact, in 2006 she hiked the 2,000 mile long Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. She's been an educator for many organizations on Whidbey Island and for 5 years worked as the Environmental Educator for the City of Oak Harbor. She's been a consistent voice on Whidbey Island leading the way toward sustainability. Because Maribeth has a green thumb, along with the rest of her.

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