One of the Providential Gardener's services is arranging environmental exhibits for organizations at public events. Usually I have information smorgasbords with handouts and brochures about all kinds of RI environmental issues, plus What Grows On in Rhode Island, an online calendar of RI environmental events that has the Farmers' Markets, EcoDepots, all the Audubon Society of RI activities, lots of hikes and walks, classes and cleanups -- in short, EVERYTHING happening that concerns Rhode Island's environment in one website that is easily searched by location, category, event type and intended audience.
The Cabot Community Tour, a long bike trip up the East Coast Greenway from Florida to Maine, stopped in Providence Sunday, July 1, 2012, and they invited lots of cooperatives and collaboratives to celebrate with them. But they wanted participants to have fun activities that involved people and interested children. Information displays are sort of boring as such, although they are very useful if the information is useful (my info always is!) so I had to come up with activities to add to my usual dog and pony show. And I didn't have a lot of time to pull it together. And as I started to organize it, I found that lots of people were away that weekend.
But this is Rhode Island, and I've built up a lot of connections in the last few years. Several key people came through big time! I want to recognize these Rhode Island agencies and water resources experts for their assistance in making an informative and fun display.
What to do for fun at the Cabot Tour, which was set up at the Temple to Music near Roger Williams Park's Cunliff Pond? There are more than 30 subject categories in What Grows On in Rhode Island, and it made sense to feature one category. No exhibitor was coming to do anything about the park's pond restoration project, so I chose to feature water, and specifically, watersheds. I sent out an email to several people I know who specialize in water issues in Rhode Island and the ideas poured in. Several people suggested an Enviroscape table so kids (and parents) could understand how watersheds work. Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, the EPA, and the RI Department of Health (DOH) offered the use of their Enviroscapes, and DOH offered an intern as well so I went with DOH. Many thanks to Nicholas Kozlowski for spending a hot day explaining watersheds!
The Pond Restoration Project is a joint effort of the City of Providence and the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, and I was glad that Meg Kerr, Watershed Program Manager at NBEP (and also editor of the excellent Bay Journal), lent me the 5 big 2012 posters from Watershed Counts that illustrate the relationship of open spaces, the economy, aquatic invasives, marine water quality and freshwater quality with watersheds. Water is Rhode Island is a BIG DEAL. All Rhode Islanders need to understand these complex relationships.
No one from RI Department of Environmental Management could come, but Katie DeGoosh, who coordinates the Surface Water Monitoring Program for RI DEM and presents information on aquatic invasives for the Office of Water Resources at DEM, lent me a poster on aquatic invasive plants and a matching game that helps people identify plants that are beginning to spread rampantly and are taking over some of our lakes and ponds. These plants, spread in part by boaters and kayakers who do not properly clean their crafts, can make it difficult to go boating or swimming and consequently reducing property values along the shores. Controlling their spread sooner rather than later is important and less costly in the long run.
I was lucky to have two representatives from Save the Lakes bring information and talk with people at the booth. Save the Lakes has its own event soon: LakeFest: Celebrate Fresh Water - Sunday, July 22, 2012 at Temple of Music, Roger Williams Park, Providence, RI, Noon - 4 PM.
And I was also lucky to have very knowledgeable people to answer questions and engage visitors: Greg Gerritt, who wears many hats but is the organizer of the Friends of the Moshassuck, Bruce Campbell, who is expert in environmental visualization and specializes in watersheds, and Margherita Pryor of the EPA's New England office.
One more agency to thank is the RI Department of Administration and RIGIS (geographic information systems) for sending me files of a cool map that show Rhode Island's watersheds with the municipal boundaries overlaid. I blew it up and asked people to locate where they live -- so they knew the name of their watershed.
I've given a lot of information in this post, but there is so much more information on Rhode Island's waters! You can explore all the links in this article at your leisure, and they will take you to many more websites. Providential Gardener wants to index all this stuff to cut down the time researchers have to spend locating and organizing their resources and so Rhode Islanders can quicklyy grasp who does what to take care of our waters. Our lives depend on water, and we need water to be clean!