A Bright Future for the Anacostia River

“The Forgotten River,” is what the Anacostia River used to be referred to. Many people didn’t know the Anacostia River flows from Maryland into Washington D.C. before emptying into the Potomac River. The once clean and healthy river turned for the worse when sedimentation and heavy erosion started to seep in when the area started to urbanize. “As the Washington, D.C., area grew, urbanization claimed forest and wetland habitat, altered stream flows, and fed ever-increasing amounts of sewage and polluted runoff into the river,”attributed to an article by Jeff Turrentine. Major initiatives by different organizations have given hope that a change in the future is possible. The Anacostia River Watershed Society believes by 2025 the river will be fishable and swimmable. The different organizations have different individual goals, but share the common goal, which is to clean up and fix all the problems the Anacostia River has. There is still work to be done, but this once forgotten river looks like it has a bright future ahead.

The initiative to clean the rivers all over the nation started when Congress passed the Clean Water Act of 1972. “Under the CWA, the Energy Protection Agency has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. We have also set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters,” (EPA’s website). This means that not only are rivers and large rivers protected protected by the Clean Water Act, but also smaller creeks and tributaries that flow into other bigger bodies of water. This is important for he Anacostia River because the river has many tributaries that flow into the river. These tributaries are a contributing factor the river’s poor conditions. In order, the clean the Anacostia, all the tributaries that flow into the river have to be clean too.

John Coleman, the Public Information Officer of the Maryland Department of Planning said in an interview, “It started with the Clean Water Act and focusing on the biggest body of water in the area, the Chesapeake Bay. The movement to clean up the Bay has encouraged other rivers in the region to do the same. By cleaning up the water in D.C. we are improving the economic and value of the area.” Coleman said, “Cleaning up the water is also about the community buying into it. Organizations can only do so much, but its up to the people living in the area to be more eco friendly and take responsibility for the community they live in.”

A recent decision by the Supreme Court to not review a case challenging the legality of the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprints is great news for the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, according to Doug Siglin, Executive Director of Anacostia Waterfront Trust. “This means that Congress doesn’t see the need to further investigate the Chesapeake Bay area because of the positive steps that are being taken by the different organization helping clean up the rivers,” said Siglin. It also means that the different organizations are following the Clean Water Act and not doing anything illegal. In the Anacostia’s case this is a huge momentum swing because of the shape the river was just a few years ago. This being said the Anacostia still has away to go in cleaning up the entity of the river. “In 2011, a report dubbed the Anacostia one of the most polluted waterways in the nation,” attributed to Valentine.

There are a number of organizations that are working to help clean up the Anacostia River. This is an info graph of the different organizations and their different goals in what they want to accomplish.

untitled-infographic-2

Quotes are from the mission/goal statements from each organization’s websites. (http://www.anacostiaws.org, https://www.nrdc.org, http://www.cleanwateraction.org, http://www.healthyanacostiariver.org/#about, https://www.anacostiawaterfront.org.)

Stopping the pollution that is entering the Anacostia is the main goal. There was a recent report done by the Department of Energy and Environment, which has pointed out the toxins that are still seeping into the Anacostia River. “The report unveiled earlier this month confirmed the existence of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, and PCBs, chemicals that have been banned for decades can cause cancer. Pesticides, lead, and mercury were found, too,” attributed to an article by Fragoso. This report was done to help identify the locations of these pollutants and where help is needed. The findings are surprising however because so many companies have changed how they operate to be more eco friendly. “While the report says further sampling is needed to confirm sources, it points to contaminants in various locations including the Washington Navy Yard, the former Steurart Petroleum terminal and outfalls near the former Washington Gas Light Company’s coal gasification plant,” said Fragoso.

This report will help organizations like the Clean Water Action who has been working with the Anacostia for numerous years. The organization focuses on the water quality of the Anacostia and this report identifies the chemicals in the water. This information can help Clean Water Action focus in on how get rid of the specific chemicals in the water. “Restoration efforts with Clean Water Act goals have been ongoing in the Anacostia River for more than 20 years, due to red tape and the lack of adequate funding required to eliminate toxins such as, sediment remediation,” (Clean Water Action website). Brent Bolin the Chesapeake Region Director for Clean Water said in an interview, “We are going to be doing a lot of work to make sure that clean up moves forward. We are about the people and the environment and we will always work towards making the area a better place for the community.”

These locations will help the Anacostia River Watershed Society narrow their immediate initiatives. “Watershed is an area where water collects to flow into a river, lake, or another large body of water” (Watershed website). The Anacostia has 13 major tributaries creeks that affect what flows into the river. Jorge Montero, the Anacostia River Watershed Society’s Steward Program Director of Natural Resources Montero said in an interview, “We have to manage the storm water, manage the legacy toxic sites and fix the sewage systems. Right now the springtime is our busiest time because we have to focus on the regeneration of the ecosystems. We especially have to monitor our bigger gardens to make sure they are managing the storm water successfully.”

This is an audio clip from Montero as he describes how important it is to have a clean Anacostia River for the community.

Jorge Montero

An article published by the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) promotes their recent initiative to get involved with the Anacostia’s major problem of runoff storm water. “Its called low-impact development or sometimes green infrastructure, this solution involves measures that meld technology with simple common sense: strategically placed beds of native plants; rain barrels; vegetation-covered “green roofs”; porous parking lots, sidewalks, and courtyards; and other tools that help rainfall evaporate back into the atmosphere or soak into the ground instead of sluicing downhill and into the river,” attributed to Turrentine. This effective and affordable solution will be following the plans that other organizations are taking. This the first time the NRDC has made a recognizable effort towards the Anacostia River, according to the NRDC’s website. The NRDC is protoming their low-development program this upcoming year. Montero said, “Its great to see the NRDC contributing with what looks like a plan that could be very effective.”

A contributing factor that the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative looks to turn around is the poor community that surrounds the river. “The project involves spending $10 billion over 30 years to turn the river’s beleaguered shoreline into a vibrant and dynamic asset to the several communities—most of them poor or working-class—that flank it. Its vision for the Anacostia is one in which the many abandoned and derelict stretches of waterfront are transformed into parks, recreational facilities, bike and walking paths, and commercial centers that will create jobs,” according to Turrentine. The river has to be much cleaner before this can be done. “The D.C. government has issued warning not to eat the fish that are caught out of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, but still, a study commissioned by the Anacostia Watershed Society found that 17,00 people eat the fish they catch out of the river each year, despite signage warning them not to. Most of the fishers in the study were African American or Hispanic, and many were sharing the fish with hungry people who approached them, begging for fish,” attributed to Valentine. If these fish contain toxins that could be cancerous tumors, it could be a factor of cancer in humans.

United for a Healthy Anacostia River is an organization that was founded in 2014. This organization works specifically in managing and cleaning up the pollution in the legacy toxic locations. Robert Shwartz, the Communications Consultant, said in an interview, “We know that the sewage systems and managing storm water gets a lot of attention, so we are focused in cleaning up the toxic sites. We feel that this is the biggest problem because so much pollution has accumulated throughout the years. We understand that the pollution has died down, but there is still pollution seeping into the river.”

The Anacostia River was once one of the most polluted rivers in the nation. All of the organizations are working to help make sure the image of the Anacostia River changes. Bolin said, “It’s about taking pride in the area that you live in. Everyone should have the opportunity to use the rivers that is around them.” Each organization has a specific focus in helping the river. Whether its specifically cleaning the legacy toxic sites or managing the storm water runoff, everyone knows their role. There is a bright future for the once “Forgotten River,” that many people thought would never be possible. The goal to make the Anacostia swimmable and fishable by 2025 won’t be easy. All of the organizations are willing to do what is necessary to make sure this goal is met. “We take each season as a new opportunity to make sure what can be being done is being done,” said Montero. “There are a lot more eyes on the river today. People are starting to take responsibility and I feel we can only go up from here in making the Anacostia River healthy again.”

 

By: Joseph Iraola

The Senate Hears The Navy’s Request for Their New Budget Plan

Washington- The Navy’s shipbuilding programs for the fiscal year 2017 was addressed at the Senate’s Subcommittee on Sea Power. The plan’s key issues were focused on how to lower the budget to fix old ships and to increase the number of ships in the Navy’s fleet. The two groups also addressed the superior Russian fleet and how to be more effective in the Mediterranean area.

Chairman Roger Wicker from Mississippi said, “The current fleet of 272 ships is insufficient and the Navy is not going to reach its goal of 308 ships until 2021. The Navy shipbuilding programs for 2017 and future years look to accelerate this process with the help of the committee. While we want to increase our number we also want to better equip our current ships with the latest technology.”

The three witnesses who took the task of answering questions and promoted the navy’s plan were: Secretary Sean Stackley, Vice Adm. Mulloy, and Lt. Gen. Walsh. Each witness opened with statements that focused on tough choices that have to be made because of the recent cut to the Navy’s budget. “I do believe that our 2017 budget provides the best balance between capability capacity greatness within our fiscal guidance. We made focused investments, hard priority choices, and innovated reform efforts to deliver a global sea-based force that can fight and win against our five major challenges,” Vice Adm. Mulloy said. The five major challenges he said include: dealing with China, Russia, maintaining stability in the Mediterranean and the Pacific, and increasing the naval readiness in dealing with these issues.

Lt. Gen. Walsh discussed the importance of accelerating the building of the new amphibious ships, the LPD 17. Amphibious ships help the navy and the marines employ on land with a heavy ground support. The older ships do not have this capability and do not offer the advantage that the new ship brings which is to be in two places at once. “The LPD 17 Class of ship is able to bring tremendous aviation capability, medical capability, along with most importantly command and control capability.” Said Lt. Gn. Walsh. “We can now split that ship with an aviation deck with a pretty good significant punch to go with it to be able to deploy independently.” The Navy is making a push for this in the 2017 budget because the LPD 17 ships are mostly used in the Mediterranean area. The Navy is highly involved in this area and feels it is necessary to pursue the acceleration of making these ships.

Along with the Mediterranean area the Navy has a high responsibility in the Asian-Pacific area. “As we focus on the newest platforms and technology, we position them in the Pacific and the numbers go up,” said Vice Admiral Mulloy. He also points out this is very important to have in the Asian-Pacific area because of the rise of China and the strong Russian weaponry. By matching their technology the navy is ready to deal with anything that may happen. Lt. Gen. Walsh said, “Once we secure our stand in this area it will give us more opportunities to fucse on where our fleet may lack. The important issue is to be able to be up to the technology that other fleets have. Right now this can’t be said.”

Senator Jeff Session from Alabama is part of the Republican part. Senator Sessions questioned the problem that is occurring with lowering the standard of 52 ships to 40 ships. Sec. Stackley summarized the reason for this because of the budget reduction and increase building of bigger ships that will be more useful. Sec. Stackley said,”The smaller ships are not performing well and it would not be in the best interest fiscally to continue to keep these number of ships at a large number. With the budget reduction we have to make certain tough decisions and this is one of them.

Vice Ad. Mulloy added, “It will be harder to mobilize a smaller fleet of only 40 ships. It is a necessary risk with more responsibilities else where like the Asian-Pacific. It is a bigger region with the need of more ships their compared to the Mediterranean. “I think you do well, I think you managed the situation right with not being satisfied with that aspect and you are demanding that it be fixed,” said Senator Session.

There is a worry that with a low number of ships there will be a problem with deploying the ships at a fast rate. Vice Admiral pointed out that right now without the budget to support a higher number of ships, a lower number of ships with more to offer is a necessary risk to take.

The Ohio Replacement Program is a program that the Navy has to replace three old ships a year with newer ones. Vice Ad. Mulloy said, “This is and has always been something that the Navy prides itself on. We hope to increase this standard by replacing two submarines a year. This will be hard to do if our budget continues to be reduced. I hope that you understand this and the right steps are taken towards helping us reach our goal in the upcoming years.”

The two parties will meet again in the near future to specify exactly what will be done with the navy ship building request and make decisions on what to move forward with and what might have to be cut from it.

By: Joseph Iraola

A Bright Future for the Anacostia River

“The Forgotten River,” is what the Anacostia River used to be referred to. Many people didn’t know the Anacostia River flows from Maryland into Washington D.C. before emptying into the Potomac River. The once clean and healthy river turned for the worse when sedimentation and heavy erosion started to seep in. “As the Washington, D.C., area grew, urbanization claimed forest and wetland habitat, altered stream flows, and fed ever-increasing amounts of sewage and polluted runoff into the river,”(Turrentine). This once forgotten river looks like it has a bright future ahead. Major initiatives by different organizations have given hope that a change in the future is possible. The Anacostia River Watershed Society believes by 2025 the river will be fishable and swimmable. The different organizations have different individual goals, but share the common goal, which is to clean up and fix all the problems the Anacostia River has.

The initiative to clean the rivers all over the nation started when Congress passed the Clean Water Act of 1972. “Under the CWA, the Energy Protection Agency has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. We have also set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters,” (EPA’s website). This means that not only are rivers and large rivers protected, but also smaller creeks and tributaries that flow into other bigger bodies of water. This is important for he Anacostia river because the rivers has so many tributaries that flow into the river. These tributaries are a contributing factor the river’s poor conditions. In order, the clean the Anacostia, all the tributaries that flow into the river have to be clean too.

John Coleman, the Public Information Officer of the Maryland Department of Planning said in an interview, “It started with the Clean Water Act and focusing on the biggest body of water in the area, the Chesapeake Bay. The movement to clean up the Bay has encouraged other rivers in the region to do the same. By cleaning up the water in D.C. we are improving the economic and value of the area.” Coleman said, “Cleaning up the water is also about the community buying into it. Organizations can only do so much, but its up to the people living in the area to be more eco friendly and take responsibility for the community they live in.”

A recent decision by the Supreme Court to not review a case challenging the legality of the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprints is great news for the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, (Doug Siglin, Executive Director of Anacostia Waterfront Trust). This means that Congress doesn’t see the need to further investigate the Chesapeake Bay area because of the positive steps that are being taken by the different organization helping clean up the rivers. It also means that the different organizations are following the Clean Water Act and not doing anything illegal. In the Anacostia’s case this is a huge momentum swing because of the shape the river was just a few years ago. This being said the Anacostia still has away to go in cleaning up the entity of the river. “In 2011, a report dubbed the Anacostia one of the most polluted waterways in the nation,” (Valentine).

There are a number of organizations that are working to help clean up the Anacostia River. This is an info graph of the different organizations and their different goals in what they want to accomplish.

untitled-infographic-2

Stopping the pollution that is entering the Anacostia is the main goal. There was a recent report done by the Department of Energy and Environment, which has pointed out the toxins that are still seeping into the Anacostia River. “The report unveiled earlier this month confirmed the existence of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, and PCBs, chemicals that have been banned for decades can cause cancer. Pesticides, lead, and mercury were found, too,” said Fragoso. This report was done to help identify the locations of these pollutants and where help is needed. The findings are surprising however because so many companies have changed how they operate to be more eco friendly. “While the report says further sampling is needed to confirm sources, it points to contaminants in various locations including the Washington Navy Yard, the former Steurart Petroleum terminal and outfalls near the former Washington Gas Light Company’s coal gasification plant,” said Fragoso.

This report will help organizations like the Clean Water Action who has been working with the Anacostia for numerous years. “Restoration efforts with Clean Water Act goals have been ongoing in the Anacostia River for more than 20 years, due to red tape and the lack of adequate funding required to eliminate toxins such as, sediment remediation,” (Clean Water Action website). Brent Bolin the Chesapeake Region Director for Clean Water said, “We are going to be doing a lot of work to make sure that clean up moves forward. We are about the people and the environment and we will always work towards making the area a better place for the community.”

These locations will help the Anacostia River Watershed Society narrow their immediate initiatives. “Watershed is an area where water collects to flow into a river, lake, or another large body of water” (Watershed website). The Anacostia has 13 major tributaries creeks that affect what flows into the river. Jorge Montero, the Anacostia River Watershed Society’s Steward Program Director of Natural Resources Montero said in an interview, “We have to manage the storm water, manage the legacy toxic sites and fix the sewage systems. Right now the springtime is our busiest time because we have to focus on the regeneration of the ecosystems. We especially have to monitor our bigger gardens to make sure they are managing the storm water successfully.”

This is an audio clip from Montero as he describes how important it is to have a clean Anacostia River for the community.

Phone Interview with Jorge Montero

An article published by the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) promotes their recent initiative to get involved with the Anacostia’s major problem of runoff storm water. “Its Called low-impact development or sometimes green infrastructure, this solution involves measures that meld technology with simple common sense: strategically placed beds of native plants; rain barrels; vegetation-covered “green roofs”; porous parking lots, sidewalks, and courtyards; and other tools that help rainfall evaporate back into the atmosphere or soak into the ground instead of sluicing downhill and into the river,” (Turrentine). This effective and affordable solution will be following the plans that other organizations are taking. This the first time the NRDC has made a recognizable effort towards the Anacostia River. Montero said, “Its great to see the NRDC contributing with what looks like a plan that could be very effective.”

A contributing factor that the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative looks to turn around is the poor community that surrounds the river. “The project involves spending $10 billion over 30 years to turn the river’s beleaguered shoreline into a vibrant and dynamic asset to the several communities—most of them poor or working-class—that flank it. Its vision for the Anacostia is one in which the many abandoned and derelict stretches of waterfront are transformed into parks, recreational facilities, bike and walking paths, and commercial centers that will create jobs,” (Turrentine). The river has to be much cleaner before this can be done. “The D.C. government has issued warning not to eat the fish that are caught out of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, but still, a study commissioned by the Anacostia Watershed Society found that 17,00 people eat the fish they catch out of the river each year, despite signage warning them not to. Most of the fishers in the study were African American or Hispanic, and many were sharing the fish with hungry people who approached them, begging for fish,” (Valentine). If these fish contain toxins that could be cancerous tumors, it could be a factor of cancer in humans.

United for a Healthy Anacostia River is an organization that was founded in 2014. This organization works specifically in managing and cleaning up the pollution in the legacy toxic locations. Robert Shwartz, the Communications Consultant, said in an interview, “We know that the sewage systems and managing storm water gets a lot of attention, so we are focused in cleaning up the toxic sites. We feel that this is the biggest problem because so much pollution has accumulated throughout the years. We understand that the pollution has died down, but there is still pollution seeping into the river.”

The Anacostia River was once one of the most polluted rivers in the nation. All of the organizations are working to help make sure the image of the Anacostia River changes. Bolin said, “It’s about taking pride in the area that you live in. Everyone should have the opportunity to use the rivers that is around them.” Each organization has a specific focus in helping the river. Whether its specifically cleaning the legacy toxic sites or managing the storm water runoff, everyone knows their role. There is a bright future for the once “Forgotten River,” that many people thought would never be possible. The goal to make the Anacostia swimmable and fishable by 2025 won’t be easy. All of the organizations are willing to do what is necessary to make sure this goal is met. “We take each season as a new opportunity to make sure what can be being done is being done,” said Montero. “There are a lot more eyes on the river today. People are starting to take responsibility and I feel we can only go up from here in making the Anacostia River healthy again.”

By: Joseph Iraola

Source List:

 

Jorge Montero:

Phone Number: 202-560-6107

Email Address: jmontero@anacostiaws.org

John Coleman:

Phone Number: 410-767-4614

Email Address: johng.coleman@maryland.gov

Robert Schwart:

Phone Number: 202-207-3665

Email Address: healthyanacostiariver@gmail.com

Brent Bolin:

Phone Number: 410-235-8808

Email Address: bbolin@cleanwater.org

 

The Senate Subcommittee on Sea Power Listened to the Defense Authorization Request on the Navy Shipbuilding Programs for FY 2017

Washington- The navy plays a key role in maintaining stability and peace in different places around the world. Chairman Wicker pointed out in his opening statement that the current fleet of 272 ships is insufficient and the Navy will not reach its goal of 308 ships until 2021.The Navy shipbuilding programs for 2017 and future years look to accelerate this process with the help of the subcommittee.

Chairman Wicker opened the hearing with his opening statement. “As a member of the Armed Forces Committee and the Budget Committee I know that tough decisions must be made across the government, however, I would like to remind everyone that national defense is solely a federal responsibility,” Wicker said. “I hope that our witnesses today can elaborate on the hard choices in this budget and a how to return to sequestration would impact the ship building plan.”

The three witnesses that took the task of answering questions and promoted the navy’s plan were: Secretary Sean Stackley, Vice Admiral Mulloy, and Lt. Gn. Walsh. Each witness opened with statements that focused on tough choices that still remain, but the reassurance that the naval presence in the world remains high. “ I do believe that our 2017 budget provides the best balance between capability capacity greatness within our fiscal guidance. We made focused investments, hard priority choices, and innovated reform efforts to deliver a global sea-based force that can fight and win against our five major challenges,” said Vice Admiral Mulloy. The five major challenges include: dealing with China, Russia, maintaining stability in the Mediterranean and the Pacific, and increasing the naval readiness in dealing with these issues.

The first question that Chairman Wicker asked Lt. Gn. Walsh was the importance of accelerating the building of the new amphibious ships, the LPD 17. Amphibious ships help the navy and the marines employ on land with a heavy ground support. “The LPD 17 Class of ship is able to bring tremendous aviation capability, medical capability, along with most importantly command and control capability.” Said Lt. Gn. Walsh. “We can now split that ship with an aviation deck with a pretty good significant punch to go with it to be able to deploy independently.” The older ships do not have this capability and do not offer the advantage that the new ship brings which is to be in two places at once. This is an important aspect to have in the Mediterranean where it is important to have the naval support for land forces.

Along with the Mediterranean area the navy has a high responsibility in the Asian-Pacific area. “As we focus on the newest platforms and technology, we position them in the Pacific and the numbers go up,” said Vice Admiral Mulloy. He also points out this is very important to have in the Asian-Pacific area because of the rise of China and the strong Russian weaponry. By matching their technology the navy is ready to deal with anything that may happen.

Senator Sessions, a member of the subcommittee, brought up to Sec. Stackley the problem that is occurring with lowering the standard of 52 ships to 40 ships. Sec. Stackley summarizes the reason for this because of the budget reduction and the increase building of bigger ships that will be more useful. The smaller ships are not performing well and it would not be in the best interest fiscally to continue to keep these numbers of ships at a large number. “I think you do well, I think you managed the situation right with not being satisfied with that aspect and you are demanding that it be fixed,” said Senator Sessions.

There is a worry that with a low number of ships there will be a problem with deploying the ships at a fast rate. Vice Admiral points out that right now without the budget to support a higher number of ships, a lower number of ships with more to offer is a necessary risk to take.

The witnesses and the sub committee agreed that with the stiff budget the navy building program is taking the appropriate steps moving forward. The two parties will continue to work together to better help the navy move forward to their end goal of having a 308 naval fleet by 2021. The two sides hope that within the next couple of years they can work together to possibly increase their fleet sooner than 2021.

Moving forward the two parties will meet again to specify exactly what will be done with the navy ship building request and make decisions on what to move forward with and what might have to be cut from it. The understanding is that there are several variables that could change that could impact priorities that the navy needs.

By: Joseph Iraola

Clean Water Action in the Chesapeake Region

Washington D.C.- Brent Bolin, Chesapeake Region Director for Clean Water Action, speaks about the importance of his organization and some of the important issues they are dealing with to make the world a better place.

Clean Water Action is a national organization that works to protect clean drinking water and environmental justice. “Everything comes back to clean water,” says Bolin. Along with making clean water a high priority the organization has state focus programs that do legislative and community work along with grassroots advocacy.

Bolin knew he was interested in the environment from a young age. He started working for Clean Water Action a little over a year ago, but he has had a lot of experience in the environmental field. He has worked with local advocacy groups like Fiends of Silgo Creek in Silver Spring, D.C. He has also done projects with the Anacostia River that has helped him with the job he has today. As Chesapeake Regional Director he oversees campaigns and events in Delaware, Maryland, Baltimore, and D.C.

One thing that Bolin says that distinguishes Clean Water as an organization is they run a field canvas. There is one in Baltimore and in D.C. Bolin says, “These people knock on doors 52 weeks a year talking about environmental issues with the public.” Field Canvases have greatly improved their relationship with the public and because of this they have a better understanding of where the public stands on certain issues.

Along with that Bolin added that field canvases help to educate people who might not understand what Clean Water is all about. The field canvassers report back to Bolin about how people are reacting to certain things that they might try and be pushing. The information Bolin gets straight from the community helps in his decision making about what to push to legislation.

Bolin says, “When you go and talk to a legislature who isn’t necessarily with you its great to be able to say, hey we have been out talking to the public, the voters and the voters are really behind this. That a big part of the way we do business. We build that grassroots support and then bring it to the policy makers.”

In Maryland, Clean Water Action has been working on a number of pieces of legislative with the 2016 Assembly Session, which is wrapping up in a month. One of them is The Pollinator Protection Act. Bolin says, “The goal of that is to restrict consumer use of neonicotinoid pesticides, the ones that have been linked to the death of bees and other pollinators that are really important to our food supply. That would be the first legislation of its kind in the country. We are super excited about that.” That bill has passed that Senate and is now on its way to the House of Delegates.

Another bill Clean Water Action is trying to push deals with banning mercury and lead wheel weighs, which are these after market products that are added to the wheels of heavy vehicles. Bolin says, “Basically mercury and lead are extremely potent neurotoxins. We think it is very important to get all these extra sources of those out of the environment.” This bill is on track and is moving through the House of Delegates. Bolin is very happy with the progress of these two bills and is hoping that he will have similar success with similar bills in the near future.

In D.C. a lot of the Clean Water Action’s work revolves around the Anacostia River. “The Anacostia River is one of the three most polluted Chesapeake Bay tributaries. According to United for a Healthy Anacostia River, several production facilities, both private and governmental, were located along the banks of the Anacostia River and their pollution leads to adverse health effects to both humans and wildlife,” according to Clean Water’s website. There has recently been a study by the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment about toxic sediments in the Anacostia River. Bolin says, “We are going to be doing a lot of work to make sure that clean up moves forward.”

“The important thing is even though we are Clean Water Action we do all this related work like environmental justice and help communities that have suffered with deportation pollution burdens. It is really important for us to organize and build support for people that might not have to the resources to oppose those kinds of facilities to get in and work with those kinds of people,” said Bolin. Clean Water Action is an organization that works towards environmental justice in an effort to help the people that need it.

Bolin ends with saying, “The fact that we have such a big social justice element to the world. That is what is really important to me, we care about people, we care about doing what is right, and we care about making the world a better place.”

Former AU Student-Athletes come back to AU to Network and Speak to Current AU Student-Athletes

AU career panelPhoto by: Joseph Iraola

On Feb. 1 AU career panel of former student-athletes at AU told current AU student-athletes that being an athlete in the job field could be a real advantage. Laura Miller said, “Being an AU athlete has set me up for everything I’ve done. You hit the real world and you are on the JV team again and it’s hard to go from the king or queen on campus to the bottom of the barrel. You have to earn your way back up the ladder and this time the ladder is a whole lot longer.”

The 6 members of the panel discussed how difficult this can be to grasp when a former student-athlete enters the real world. Individual experiences were shared as well as the process that each individual took from their transition from AU to their respective professional success. It takes determination to stick with it and being able to grind it out in the beginning.

“What is most difficult transition to the real world,” Tatiana Bertolo said, “Sitting down all the time and the 9-5 routine of a work day. You go from being active everyday to sitting in a cubicle for six hours a day.” Warren Flood said, “The responsibility gets a lot bigger and you have no one to fall back on but yourself.”

Bertolo and Flood are the two most recent graduates on the panel and often had similar answers to questions. Bertolo works in the marketing field and Flood works in the accounting department.

A question that the panel had some disagreement on was on whether talking about sports is a good idea in an interview. Laura Miller said, “The chances that the interviewer will be an athlete are slim. They won’t get it, you need something else to talk about besides sports.” Jina Kromia felt differently and didn’t want to rule out not talking about sports at all. Jina Kromia said, “Sports can be a useful talking point. You have to realize if it will help or hurt you.” The panel decided it would be best to leave it up to the interviewee to decide if it was good idea to bring it up.

Miller and Kromia were both very successful athletes in college. Miller was a highly ranked goalie on the AU field hockey team. Kromia was a two-sport athlete competing in women’s track and field and women’s basketball. Although the two had different opinion on some issues they were the most outspoken panelists of the group.

In response to a question regarding the importance on networking Warren Flood said, “Networking is a skill that may even come naturally. You have to research people you will be talking to and never be afraid to take a chance. Contact the person that you may think you have a once in a blue moon chance of connecting with.” Michelle Risinger said, “D.C. is the networking capital of the world. You can instantly network with people all over the city.”

Risinger has had success in her networking ability not just in D.C. but all over the world. She did a lot of traveling after college interning in countries in Europe and Asia. She now works in D.C. as a Senior Innovations Officer and she said how she owes it all to her branching out and getting to know people in different places. She highly recommends traveling when the chance is there.

“What is the one thing you want the student-athletes to know,” Tatiana BonSalle said, “Everything you deal with today in the athletics world will translate and carry your forward. You will stand out amongst your colleagues because you played division one. You should be confident.” Michelle Risinger said, “From personal experience go see the world. The stories you get the experiences you get will… shape you into such a better stronger person.”

A student-athlete said, “The panel agreed that it would be best to first get some job experience before getting your master’s. I always thought it would be best to get my masters right after college. They made the point that you really want to make sure what you get your masters in is what you want to do.” BonSalle made comments that he got his masters too early and if he could do it again he would wait 3-4 years and possibly have a company fund it for him. He said, “Work experience can be as valuable as an MBA.”

BonSalle was the oldest of the group graduating from AU in 1988. He was a basketball player and has worked at Fannie Mae’s for 23 years as the Executive Vice President of Single-Family Business. He took a chance by not going for his master’s after college and often discussed how his leap of faith is why he has been successful over the years.

By: Joseph Iraola

Former AU Student-Athletes come back to AU to Network and Speak to Current AU Student-Athletes

AU career panelPhoto by: Joseph Iraola

Far left: Tatiana Bertolo (Women’s Soccer, Class of 2009) Arjuna Solutions Department of Marketing and Sales. 2nd from left: Andy BonSalle (Men’s Basketball, Class of 1988) Fannie Mae’s Executive Vice President of Single-Family Business. 3rd from left: Warren Flood (Men’s Basketball, Class of 2013) Accounting Data Specialist at Chickasaw Nation Industries. 3rd from right: Jina Kromia (Women’s Basketball and Women’s Track and Field, Class of 2003) Technical Analyst and Consultant at SAVA Solutions. 2nd from right: Laura Miller (Field Hockey, Class of 2004) Division Director of training at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute. Far right: Michelle Risinger (Swimming, Class of 2005) Senior Innovations Officer. Location: Butler Board Room, Campus of American University. Date and Time: Feb. 1, 2016/7:00-9:00 p.m.

Six former AU student-athletes came back to AU on Monday night to talk to a group of student-athletes in similar positions they were once in. The current student-athletes asked questions and interacted with the career panel. There was a theme of togetherness between the two groups. Individual experiences were shared as well as the process that each individual took from their transition from AU to their respective professional success.

There was a theme of questions that were around the topic of how could being a student-athlete from AU be an advantage in the real world. Miller said, “Being an AU athlete has set me up for everything I’ve done. You hit the real world and you are on the JV team again and it’s hard to go from the king or queen on campus to the bottom of the barrel. You have to earn your way back up the ladder and this time the ladder is a whole lot longer.” The panel discussed how difficult this can be to grasp when a former student-athlete enters the real world. It takes determination to stick with it and being able to grind it out in the beginning.

A question was asked, “What is most difficult transition to the real world? Bertolo said, “Sitting down all the time and the 9-5 routine of a work day. You go from being active everyday to sitting in a cubicle for six hours a day.” Flood said, “The responsibility gets a lot bigger and you have no one to fall back on but yourself.”

A question that the panel had some disagreement on was on whether talking about sports is a good idea in an interview. Miller said, “The chances that the interviewer will be an athlete are slim. They won’t get it, you need something else to talk about besides sports.” Kromia felt differently and didn’t want to rule out not talking about sports at all. Kromia said, “Sports can be a useful talking point, it can work. You have to realize if it will help or hurt you.” The panel decided it would be best to leave it up to the interviewee to decide if it was good idea to bring it up.

I asked a junior soccer player at AU on what was the one thing he will walk away with after listening to the panel. The student-athlete said, “The panel agreed that it would be best to first get some job experience before getting your masters. I always thought it would be best to get my masters right after college. They made the point that you really want to make sure what you get your masters in is what you want to do.” BonSalle made comments that he got his masters too early and if he could do it again he would wait 3-4 years and possibly have a company fund it for him. He said, “Work experience can be as valuable as an MBA.” I asked a senior wrestler on what he thought about Baron’s comments. The student-athlete said, “It definitely changes my thinking process for my immediate future. I am going to keep all options open and find something that will be best for me whether it is a job or a masters program.”

A question about how important networking is was asked and Flood was the first one to speak up. He said, “Networking is a skill that may even come naturally. You have to research people you will be talking to and never be afraid to take a chance. Contact the person that you may think you have a once in a blue moon chance of connecting with.” Risinger agreed with Flood’s statement about doing your research before meeting with someone. She also added, “D.C. is the networking capital of the world. You can instantly network with people all over the city.”

The final question the panel was asked was what is the one thing you want the student-athletes to know? BonSalle said, “Everything you deal with today in the athletics world will translate and carry your forward. You will stand out amongst your colleagues because you played division one. You should be confident.” The other panelists spoke similarly except for Risinger who took a different approach. She said, “From personal experience go see the world. The stories you get the experiences you get will… shape you into such a better stronger person.”

Overall the current student-athletes were able to meet and interact with people that were once in their shoes. The student-athletes received advice that will help them in their future.

By: Joseph Iraola

 

 

Aubrey Stuber: President of Chi Omega

By: Joseph Iraola

Aubrey Stuber: President of Chi Omega Social Fraternity

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Photo credit: Joseph Iraola

Aubrey Stuber is a junior from Kenneth, Pennsylvania. She is 21 years old and double majoring in Poly Science and Latin American Studies. Aubrey enjoys cooking when she is not working at the gym at school or playing on the club lacrosse team. Along with these commitments, she is the current president of Chi Omega. Chi Omega is a social fraternity at American University and it has been around for over 20 years.

Aubrey oversees 135 women ranging from freshmen to college seniors. The women in her chapter nominated Aubrey for the position based on whom they felt would be the best for it. Aubrey was abroad in Chile last semester when she heard the news that she was selected for the president spot. She was very happy to be selected for the spot and was eager to get back to start her role.

“Leadership is something that comes naturally to me,” says Aubrey, “I have understood the importance to join two sides of the conversation and be able to help people work their issues.” She realized that her role in the fraternity would be put to better use if she were president rather than just a member. Aubrey feels that having the experience of leadership over such a large organization will help her in the future especially in her career field.

Aubrey is new to the job, but has already seen positives and negatives and foresees some challenges in the future. She is able to represent the fraternity on a national level by talking to national consultants and regional directors. She was very happy from all of the support she got from the members, but she also got some negative feedback. One member told her that she did not think Aubrey was ready to be “hated.” There is always going to be frustrations that annoy people in a large organization. Aubrey said, “There are people who are going to get mad at me, its not going to be personal, but it is just going to be their outlet of frustration. It means that you take the heat for a lot of the things that you can’t personally control.”

Aubrey also discussed the importance of Greek Life at colleges and especially at American University. Although there are false perceptions of fraternities at AU, Aubrey believes that sororities have been such a positive experience for young women. These women have helped the community become a better place by volunteering and interacting with the people that make up the community.