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New Release – Coming of Age and Finding Your Place


Dunlop book-coming-of-age-smallGuest Post by Author Julie Dunlap

Growing up has always been tough. But the millennial generation, my young adult children’s cohort, faced especially daunting challenges. The 9/11 terror attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and SuperStorm Sandy, along with melting ice caps and bleaching coral reefs, have been formative events in their youths and childhoods, shaping their understanding of people and planet along with their maturing characters. As an environmentalist and a parent of four, I wondered and worried how early experiences of a shifting and troubled Earth may alter young adults’ attachments to place and the natural world.

To explore these questions, I joined with Anne Arundel Community College professor Susan A. Cohen (also a mom of two millennials) to collect essays by young writers grappling with growing up in an era replete with environmental and social crises. The result is a new anthology, published this month by Trinity University Press—Coming of Age at the End of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on a Changed Planet. The collection’s title alludes to Bill McKibben’s book, The End of Nature, published in 1989 before many of our contributors were born. In the 1990s, McKibben’s best-seller introduced me and millions of other then-young parents to the looming threats of climate change and humanity’s ubiquitous alterations of our basic natural systems.

Perhaps anger was the emotion I most expected at the project’s outset, and some Coming of Age contributors do rail against their earthly inheritance, against the losses imposed as forests shrink and oceans sully. Yet others question older generations’ ideas, rejecting the view that a tourist-thronged canyon is inherently compromised, and insisting that pristine wilderness need not be the ultimate definition of natural beauty. Many find ways to celebrate remaining pockets of tenacious nature, the return of raptors to urban parks, or the rejuvenation of community through sharing food foraged in the wild. And most heartening of all, woven through essay after essay, are feelings of love, of home, and of commitment to a thriving future. Far from the entitled laggards of media myth, these young people are seizing and creating opportunities to protest, study, plant, explore, build, teach, and of course write about the challenges they face and the solutions they foresee. McKibben, in his generous foreword to Coming of Age at the End of Nature, praises the essays as “mature, reflective, deep, and lovely,” but also and most of all “hopeful.”

Of course, I still wonder and worry about what lies ahead for my children and yours, as places and processes we knew to be timeless transform at an accelerating pace. But thanks to the youthful voices in this collection, I know the rising millennial generation has roots in their Earth, deep and wide, and the resilience to face whatever comes next.


Julie Dunlap is a writer, editor, and educator living in Columbia, Maryland. For more information about Coming of Age at the End of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on a Changed Planet, please visit: .

Road Salt as a Water Quality Issue

This summary was written by Mark Southerland for the Howard County Environmental Sustainability Board.

road saltWe are all familiar with the use of road salt to melt ice and snow from paved roadways in the winter. There are a variety of deicer products, but the vast majority of what is used is common table salt—sodium chloride (Na-Cl). Road salt improves tire adherence to the pavement, greatly increasing vehicle safety, but has adverse effects on property and the environment beyond the road surface.

The types and extent of these adverse effects are becoming clearer through recent (more…)

Ranger Max Considers Trail Etiquette – Guest Post

Ranger Max - EtiquetteMax has been a Volunteer Ranger at Maryland’s Patapsco Valley State Park (PVSP) since he retired back in 2010. He made a personal goal of hiking each major trail in the park for the fun of it and so he could advise park visitors which trail best meets their needs-Easy? Scenic? Bikeable? Peaceful? Accessible?

One of the more frequently asked questions is about trail etiquette, especially when it comes to the encounters between equestrians, mountain bikers, dog walkers? The Rangers’ usual reply involves an understanding of right of way and park rules. We will discuss these one at a time. (more…)

Plant Meadows, Save Bees – Post by Mark Southerland


Everyone knows about the colony collapse disorder affecting honeybees imported from Europe, but few know that Maryland has at least 425 species of native bees ready to pollinate our plants, if we can reverse the loss of native meadows. The United States is home to about 4,000 native bee species, none of which live in hives nor do most sting. As Sam Droege of USGS says, “honeybees are from Mars,” and constitute only 1% of our local bees. Native bees deserve our attention for both ethical and utilitarian reasons. In essence, this native bee fauna is responsible for the wonderful diversity of flowering plants that we enjoy. In essence, the amazing architecture of flowers evolved to attract bees and other pollinators. In addition, many native bees are important pollinators of crops such as (more…)

Green, Green, Green – a guest post by Max Buffington

brown western landscapeIn the fall of 2014, my wife and I were drawing near the end of an extended  vacation to the southwestern USA. We had driven over 5,000 miles through desert, mountains and prairie. We had viewed many beautiful landscapes, sunsets. Hiked to many natural and historical artifacts. Visited family and old friends.

Though I loved seeing American cultural treasures, I had grown consciously (more…)

Threats To Our Trees

Adelges_tsugae_3225077They provide shade, purify the air, and support millions of delicate ecosystems – there’s no denying that trees are a vital part of the world we live in. When a problem strikes the forests that blanket North America, or even threatens a single tree, it’s important to identify it and mitigate it as quickly as possible to save nearby trees. If trees around your home or in a local forest aren’t as fresh and green as they should be, or you notice something looks a little off with tree growth, don’t wait to act or you could lose your trees. Here are some telltale signs you can keep an eye out for, which will help you narrow down the problem and solution: (more…)

Berenty Preserve – A Gift to the Land of Lemurs

One Family’s Gift to the Land of Lemurs: Guest Post by Mary Klett and Mark  Southerland

Colonialism is often justifiably decried for its pillaging of natural and cultural resources; yet there are times when those who came to conquer, learn to appreciate and value these resources. Such was the case of Alain and Henry de Heaulme, who came to Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, in the early 1920s to build a sisal plantation for fiber production. They settled in the arid region of the Tandroy (people of the thorns) obtaining a French government “Concession” to exploit almost 15,000 acres of land beside the Mandrare River. Recognizing the uniqueness of the land, the de Heaulmes set aside 2,500 acres (more…)

Empowering People to Save Their Places – A guest post by Tracey Manning

nature walk­When I was growing up in Albany, NY, the undeveloped “lot” down the street was a magical place to neighborhood children. Its trees and bushes, paths and rocks provided the backdrop for endless games of knights and ladies, cowboys and Indians, hide and seek, and much more. (Revisiting it as an adult, I was amazed to discover that our playground occupied less than half an acre, or two house lots.)

Many, if not most, adults have such memories of special places and want (more…)

Lessons from a City Park – a guest post by Julie Dunlap

800px-East_Rock_from_SSS_Hall,_October_17,_2008Most people ascend East Rock for the views. Atop the 366-foot basalt cliff, they can admire office towers, steeples, neighborhoods, and harbor views of New Haven, Connecticut, and, on a clear day, glimpse Long Island Sound. But for me, climbing the stony Giant Steps Trail recalls my first heady night in graduate school, when new friends suggested a moonlit hike in a city park. That dark scramble, more than the starry summit vista, filled me with wonder and freedom as only an outdoor adventure can do.

The 427-acre East Rock Park originated as a naturalistic landscape in 1884, designed by Donald Grant Mitchell as a respite from (more…)

Saving Olmsted’s Vision for Baltimore – Guest post by Joe Stewart

Portrait_of_Frederick_Law_OlmstedBelow is a statement sent to the Baltimore City Commission for Historical & Architectural Protection in support of a bill to add Olmsted Parkways to the Baltimore City Landmark List. Please consider sending your own support letter to: Baltimore City Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation Department of Planning Attention CHAP Director Eric Holcomb, 417 East Fayette Street, 8th floor, Baltimore, MD 21202,

The Friends of Maryland Olmsted Parks & Landscapes offers the following brief description of the historic role the Olmsted family played in Baltimore and around the country:

“America’s first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) believed that parks and landscapes were an essential part of democratic society. His designs created some of the most (more…)

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