Rachel Carson Landmark Alliance (RCLA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) founded December 20, 2013 and headquartered at the Rachel Carson House: 11701 Berwick Road, Silver Spring, Maryland 20904.
OFF TO A RUNNING START
The first 7 months of 2014 were spent establishing the organization, obtaining IRS registration, creating the RCLA web site and conducting business. We organized outreach events, responded to requests from the public with presentations and/or reports, and developed plans for oncoming months. The populations we interacted with included teachers, students, garden club members, environmentalists, business owners, and legislators.
Reports prepared during the first half of 2014
- “Perspectives on GMO Food Crops” (per a citizen’s request)
- “Spring of Awareness and Action 2014” (following the Open House)
- “Monarchs in Maryland and Beyond” (in support of a nationwide action to restore declining populations)
- “Neonicotinoids, Pollinators and Alternatives” (to educate consumers)
- “Sense of Wonder/Sense of the Wild” (to introduce a new concept for the Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder Contest)
- Residents of a Maryland retirement community sought RCLA input concerning chemical pesticide products used on their grounds and alternative non-chemical landscaping strategies. Retirement community residents’ dogs had become ill after chemical pesticides had been applied near a dog walking area. A veterinarian treating these dogs attributed their illnesses to pesticides. An older adult resident also reported becoming ill after pesticides were sprayed. In response to a request, RCLA documented the dangers of the pesticide products used and arranged for a professional to share information about alternative pest management strategies at the community. The information presented by RCLA and by the expert raised serious questions about the advisability of continuing with widespread regular chemical pesticide applications. Use of chemical pesticides (in part or all of the community) remains under review and a small pilot project using non-chemical landscaping management methods has been started. We continue to interact with residents of the community. (Note: Older adults are known to be sensitive to chemical pesticides in general. Dogs are known to be sensitive to certain herbicides and insecticides.)
- RCLA partnered with the 6th grade class of a Maryland private school informing the students about Rachel Carson and helping them develop a project related to Rachel Carson. The class decided to create a mural including the wildlife that Carson observed at the house where she wrote Silent Spring. Activities included: a visit by class to the Rachel Carson House, students’ participation in the April 14, 2014 Rachel Carson Remembrance Event, and a presentation by Dr. Diana Post to the class at their school. Work on the mural has continued into the fall semester.
- Sponsorship of Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder Contest: On learning that this popular event had been discontinued in 2013, RCLA assumed its sponsorship.
Events by Month (January to July)
- January: Dr. Diana Post, spoke on “Gardening in the Footsteps of Rachel Carson/Rachel’s House Rules” at the Garden Club of Waynewood in Virginia.
- February: RCLA arranged a presentation on alternative non-chemical landscaping methods by a nationally recognized professional at Leisure World Maryland.
- April: On the 14th, RCLA Board Members hosted an Interfaith/Intergenerational Rachel Carson Remembrance Event at Rachel Carson’s gravesite in Rockville, MD. This very moving gathering took place on the 50th anniversary of her death. It featured: the reading of Rachel Carson’s letter on Monarch butterflies by RCLA Board Member, Kate Campbell Stevenson (who portrays Rachel Carson professionally); remarks by Jeannette Feldner an officer of National Organization for Women (NOW); inspiring messages from Rabbi Fred Dobb and Reverend Jack Shepherd and readings of original poems about Rachel Carson by 6th graders from a local school. RCLA distributed milkweed seeds to be planted under conditions favorable for Monarch butterflies. The event concluded with the placing of a wren house in a tree near Carson’s grave.
- May: On the 3rd RCLA Board Members, Cliff Hall and Diana Post hosted a four hour Open House event at the Rachel Carson House cosponsored by RCLA and 5 other organizations (Rachel Carson Council, Green Wheaton, Silver Spring Green, Bethesda Green, and JustUs). Restaurant Nora and The Cricket Book Shop donated to the event. Over 90 visitors attended the event.
The Open House featured three compelling presentations, a book signing, and a musical tribute to the late renowned Pete Seeger:
“Organic Lawn Care,” by Chip Osborne
“Care for Whooping Cranes,” by Ken Lavish
“Living with Chemical Sensitivity,” by Susan B. Peterson;
Dr. Robert Musil, author of Rachel and Her Sisters conducted a book signing.
In memory of Seeger, (who was inspired by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to build the sloop Clearwater and clean up the Hudson River), Spook Handy, a talented musician sang and played his favorite Seeger songs.
Organic refreshments were served. Milkweed seeds and information about planting them for Monarch butterflies were distributed.
- June: A Maryland women’s book club visited the Rachel Carson House. The club’s field trip to the Carson House followed their reading of William Souder’s On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson. In a thank you letter the club president wrote that members ranked their visit to Rachel Carson House as “the club’s most meaningful field trip.”
- July: Dr. Diana Post made two presentations concerning pesticides. At the request of a Montgomery County resident she discussed pesticide problems for bees and other pollinators. At the Maryland Pesticide Advisory Committee she spoke on pesticide issues (see “Neonicotinoids, Pollinators and Alternatives”)