Empowering and Energizing: The 2013 Environmental Legislative Summit

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the 2013 Environmental Legislative Summit in Annapolis, hosted by the Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment. Halle, our executive director,had asked me to represent Blue Water Baltimore at the Summit, and I happily agreed.

To be honest, though, I always feel hesitant about going to Annapolis. And it’s not just because parking is impossible! Although that does have something to do with it, what I’m really referring to is the feeling of being out of my element.

During tree-planting season, I’m away from my computer far more often than I’m sitting in front of it, and you’ll never catch me without work gloves, dirt-plastered boots, and a few shovels or loppers in the back of my car.

In contrast, as I headed to the Environmental Summit last week I was sporting a suit and heels, such an unusual event that my ever-supportive supervisor chased me out the door with a camera trying to catch it on film. Even worse, when I finally arrived at the Miller Senate Building and sent my messenger bag through the x-ray machine, I realized I had forgotten to take out my soil knife from the side pocket. Gulp. Luckily, the very kind security staff let me through once we cleared up the confusion, so I jogged over to the conference room, set up our Blue Water Baltimore table, and settled in to listen to the speakers.

Click here to watch a video of Maggie McIntosh's speech.
Click here to watch a video of Maggie McIntosh’s speech.

We heard Baltimore’s own Delegate Maggie McIntosh talk about this year’s reintroduction of the bag and bottle bills, citing the statistic that 95% of the material that ends up in our landfills can be recycled or converted to energy.

Governor Martin O’Malley reminded us that “the fundamentals of democracy today are the same as they were in Lincoln’s time. The leaders can only go as far as an educated citizenry will support and allow them to go,” and emphasized the need to continue to spread awareness about the plight of our lands and waters.

But my personal favorite was Vernice Miller-Travis, Vice Chair of the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities.

I can’t reproduce her passion, humor, and warmth in text, but it was clear that her speech galvanized the entire audience, reminding us of the urgency of our mission and the power of the progressive voice in Maryland. If you have a few minutes, I highly recommend watching the video of Vernice’s speech; prepare to be awed by a modern champion of the environmental movement.

And if you, like me, feel that Annapolis is not quite a place where you feel comfortable making your voice heard, I challenge you to banish your doubts and give at least one of your legislators a call this session. And keep checking back on our blog for more ways you can support an environmental legislative agenda in 2013!

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