Archives for January 2015

SpyCam Moment: For the Love of Opera with Janet Pheffer

Perhaps like bird-watching, or any other passion that may come later in life for some, for Janet Pfeffer, the head volunteer usher for the Avalon’s “Live at the Met” opera simulcast broadcast, her love of opera can late in life. In fact, it only arrived last year.

While she has made her living in education, and plays numerous volunteer leader roles with some of the Mid-Shore’s leading music and singing performing groups, Janet’s discovery of opera was a total surprise to her. In her interview with the Spy, she talks about how it happened that this age-old musical tradition finally started to have special meaning for her.

The next performance will be a love performance of Offenbach’s famed Les Contes d’Hoffman on January 31st at 1pm. Tickets can be purchased online here

We also wanted to share with our readers Janet’s lovely essay on her experience at the Avalon:

A Day at the Opera

Saturday, November 1, 2014 is dank and rainy, a good day to stay indoors and watch a murder. I put on a colorful jacket and scarf, pack an apple and some Halloween leftovers, and show up at the Avalon Theatre at 12:15 pm to usher at The Met: Live in HD performance of the opera Carmen.

We are expecting a good crowd, to see what the Met describes as a “mesmerizing production of Bizet’s steamy melodrama … [with an] irresistible score.”
http://www.metopera.org/metopera/liveinhd/LiveinHD.aspx?nav=top

Suzy Moore, Theater Manager, assigns me the orchestra entrance and I get right to work, preventing bloodshed between two pairs of patrons eager to be first in line when the doors open at 12:30 pm.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 12.09.04 PMMy job as usher is to welcome people, rip ticket stubs, hand out the synopsis of the opera, and check that general admission folks know to avoid sitting in the sections reserved for members of the Avalon Producers’ Club or the Metropolitan Opera Guild. As the audience settles in, I close one of the entrance doors to conserve heat. The Avalon is an historic structure with an old heating and cooling system; not unlike the majority of the audience members. Just after 1:00 pm I settle into my special seat right next to the doors. The locking mechanism on the doors is taped to eliminate clicks, but I remain poised to open the door for entering or exiting patrons and then ease it gently back into its closed position.

I know that I’ll be writing a blog about my Carmen experience, and I decide to NOT take notes on the narrative – I will use the synopsis to give some plot highlights – instead, I will look for half-a-dozen aspects of Carmen that excite me. Here we go.

The overture. Carmen begins with a rousing overture. The Met cameras have been showing us the New York audience settling in; they now provide panoramas, group shots, and close-ups of the conductor and orchestra members. A female oboist has several peak moments. Toward the end, the jagged crack in the Met’s huge curtain opens just enough to show a sinuous couple framed in blood-red light doing an acrobatic and erotic dance. Already things are getting steamy.

The appearance of Carmen. When the curtain rises we see soldiers in Seville in drab green uniforms hanging around a gray tobacco factory. The women who climb up out of the factory wear pale tan smocks over white dresses – all except the gypsy Carmen with her waist-long black hair and lacy black dress. Throughout the opera Carmen wears bold colors and uses her layers of clothing to flaunt and seduce. Though she wears long skirts, we see a lot of leg, a lot of thigh. (Plot highlights, Act 1: Carmen throws a red flower at Don José, one of the soldiers, who initially pays no attention. Later, he is supposed to guard Carmen after she’s arrested for fighting with another girl in the factory, and she entices him with suggestions of a rendezvous. Don José lets her escape.)

Spanish dancing. The second act takes place at a tavern where a good amount of spirited flamenco-style dancing takes place. The Met uses professional dancers, and the opera singers are coached to look good in the ensemble. (Plot highlights, Act 2: Carmen rejects the overtures of a bullfighter and continues to tease Don José, who’s spent two months in prison for letting her escape and has now come looking for her. José is jealous and enraged, ends up fighting with his superior officer, and has no choice but to join Carmen and her smuggler friends.)

Intermission and behind-the-scenes. Intermissions last more than 30 minutes; there’s time to stretch, eat, visit with friends, even stroll downtown Easton. Beginning and closing each intermission are special features. A different glamorous opera diva hosts each performance. She conducts interviews with some of the principals – one or two of the major performers, maybe the conductor or the Met manager, sometimes someone with a special role: a stagehand, the animal trainer, the chorus director. Joyce DiDonato, mezzo soprano from Kansas, is our Carmen guide. She is fresh from singing the National Anthem at the last game of the World Series. I admire her short blonde curls, short red dress, and super-wide smile. While I fetch my beverage from the concession on the second floor, she chats with Carmen, played by Anita Rachvelishvili, and then the stage manager.

Joyce DiDonato singing the National Anthem at the last game of the World Series

Fight scenes. The fighting between Carmen and the cigarette girl in Act 1, José and his superior in Act 2, José and the bullfighter in Act 3, and the fight to the death between José and Carmen in Act 4 are choreographed to perfection; at times I close my eyes to not feel their pain. (Plot, Act 3: Set in the smugglers’ mountain hideaway, it’s clear that Carmen’s love for José is fading; she is attracted to the bullfighter. José leaves to be with his dying mother, after being sought out by a peasant girl from his village, whom we met in the first act when she came to deliver to José a letter from Mom. Such a sweet girl, José planned to marry her before his seduction by Carmen.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 12.10.49 PM

The choristers. The Metropolitan Opera is renowned for the quality of its choruses. In the October 2014 production of Macbeth the three witches were represented by a chorus of women and girls, each a distinct character with her own costume and set of mannerisms – each singing, acting, and moving in concert with the others. My favorite choruses in Carmen are the Act 1 women’s chorus play-smoking cigarettes and cooling off from factory work, and the children’s chorus running excitedly back and forth waiting for the bullfight in Act 4. (Plot highlights, Act 4: Outside the bullfight arena, Carmen is with her new man and is not afraid to confront José, who begs her to start a new life with him. She calmly tells him that she was born free and will die free. José is a sore loser; she finally loses her temper, throws his ring at his feet, and he stabs her to death.)

Bravo! Brava! We cheer as the singers take their bows.

Live performances are great; but so much is special about watching Metropolitan Opera performances on the big screen at the Avalon, which I have been doing since October, 2010.

The flow of close-ups, group shots, panoramas throughout the performance helps focus on the story; on the stellar acting and singing; on the elegant or evocative sets and costumes; on the skill of the dancers, swordfighters, acrobats, lovers or seducers; on the engrossing diversity of the chorus members, each adult and child with his or her own characteristics. The behind-the-scenes stagecraft, interviews and commentary before and between acts provide insights and that sense of being an insider.

The Avalon is such a comfortable place to watch The Met: Live in HD. It’s beautiful, not too small, not too big. The sound quality is great, the large screen is visible. Watching at the Avalon, It’s exciting to be part of a huge global audience, and at the same time to be a part of a family of several hundred. Many of us subscribe for half or all of the performances; we have our favorite sections of the theater, often our favorite seats, hence the importance of entering the theater early.

The Avalon is a friendly venue: we are allowed to picnic in the theater. We can purchase soft, hot, or alcoholic drinks and snacks in the Stoltz Listening Room on the second floor. Some of us bring brown bag lunches or snacks; some of us place an order in the lobby with the chef from Bannings, and pick up a sandwich or salad at the first intermission.

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Talbot Historical Society Project Rewind: Snow Day

Dover Street looking west from Harrison Street. 1939. This beautiful H. Robins Hollyday Collection photo shows lots of interesting detail. Hill’s Drug Store is visible where Bannings is now. There is a Ford sign up on what is now Hill’s. Look at Lee’s Pharmacy, wonder when that disappeared??Just googled the Avalon’s movie “The Great Victor Herbert “and learned it was a 1939 Romance/ biography about the legendary composer Victor Herbert starring Mary Martin, Allan Jones, Walter Connolly. The Music Hall which is now part of the Court House completes the beauty.

Thanks to one of our followers who loved the framed enlargement of this photo that is hanging in the Avalon Lobby and requested the photo! Contact: Cathy Hill cvhill@atlanticbb.net to share your old photos. Comment, Like our page and join THS!

 

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Food Friday: Winter Salads

It is practically February and I feel as if I have reached the bottom of my bag of winter kitchen tricks. I’ve roasted chickens. I’ve stocked the crockpot. If we have chili again no one’s insides will ever be the same. (I apologize for that extra spicy chili last week. Maybe fresh sliced jalapeños AND a heaping helping of cayenne were a bit much. Mea culpa!) But please, do not show me one more idea for making baked potatoes “fun”! And yes, inevitably, spaghetti sauce leads to lasagna, which leads to more cubic feet of leftovers than the original meal. I feel like I am leading a veritable Sorcerer’s Apprentice kind of life. More and more of the same, the difference is that I am drowning in red sauce!

And there is Project Waistline to consider; I have been trying reclaim mine. Since December Luke (the Wonder Dog) and I have been going out for a couple of walks a day, and I am adding more steps by hopping on that pesky, omnipresent treadmill. It lurks behind me all day in the studio, darkly insinuating that I could just hop on board any time, if I only wanted to get serious about my goals. I am following the David Sedaris route to weight loss, 10,000 steps a day. He is noble and picks up litter, I am lazy and listen to Slate Magazine podcasts.

On the rare days when I actually reach my 10,000 steps, I hate to back slide and inhale garlic bread and copious amounts of pasta, or slather up another spud with even more sour cream. Perhaps winter salads would be a healthier route; better for us and not so predictable and boring as our usual, overly-familiar, yawn-making winter fare.

The Silver Spoon, a best-selling Italian cookbook has an interesting description of fennel: “Fennel bulbs are attractive, tasty, and aid digestion. They are also the leanest vegetable…they are rich in minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. Their delicate aroma is reminiscent of aniseed. When buying fennel, bear in mind that the division into male (round) and female (elongated) bulbs has no scientific basis, but it is worth knowing that the former are better for eating raw – on their own or with other types of salad – while the latter are better cooked.” So now you know. Cook on!

Mark Bittmann, one of my household gods, has a lovely recipe for a Fennel and Celery Salad:

Fennel and Celery Salad

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, some fronds reserved
3 celery ribs, trimmed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

1. Cut fennel bulbs in quarters lengthwise, discarding outer layer if it is exceedingly tough. Use a mandoline to slice quarters thinly; slice celery equally thin.
2. Put sliced fennel and celery into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine. Top with lots of freshly shaved Parmesan and chopped fennel fronds if you like.

Jamie Oliver, another advocate for healthy eating, has a couple of winter root salads that might help you in your quest for variety without a kabillion comfort calories:

The Best Winter Veg Coleslaw
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/the-best-winter-veg-coleslaw/

Jamie Oliver
Root Vegetable Salad
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/root-vegetable-salad/

The Bitten Word has many great winter salad ideas, but the Pickled Radish Vinaigrette was our favorite. I love radishes, which are both practical and available, and reminiscent of summer sunshine. Plus, I enjoyed the little frisson of guilt that I felt when the brioche bits gave me a little taste of forbidden carbs! http://www.thebittenword.com/thebittenword/2012/12/mixed-herb-salad-with-pickled-radish-vinaigrette.html

How about a winter panzanella? The Smitten Kitchen has a very deelish recipe – I’ll just eat around the bread: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/12/holding-the-gray-salt/ The roasted vegetable are wintery and savory: onions, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts with a smackeral of garlic. Yumsters.

And a bright sparkly valentine bejeweled fennel, orange and pomegranate salad might be your most excellent bet for beating the gray winter: http://honestcooking.com/fennel-salad-with-orange-pomegranate-and-walnuts/
It is simple, yet so sophisticated. Just like we hope to be some day!

“The fennel is beyond every other vegetable, delicious. It greatly resembles in appearance the largest size celery, perfectly white, and there is no vegetable equals it is flavour. It is eaten at dessert, crude, and with, or without dry salt, indeed I preferred it to every other vegetable, or to any fruit.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers Announces New Executive Director

The Board of Directors of Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers (CACC) recently announced the appointment of native Eastonian Kristine George as the organization’s new Executive Director. George, brings a diverse set of skills to the position, including more than 15 years as a communications and marketing professional. A previous communications director at the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, George recently worked for the front office of Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.

“We are excited to have someone with Kris’s background, enthusiasm and commitment to youth as part o fthe Critchlow Adkins family,” says Kristina Henry, President, Critchlow Adkins Board of Directors.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, George is active in several community initiatives in Talbot County, including the Mid-Shore Character Counts! program.  She holds board positions with Easton Elementary School’s parent-teacher organization and the Easton Little League. George earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Salisbury University and is working toward a Master of Science degree from the University of Maryland. She lives in Easton with her husband, Kevin, and their two elementary school-aged sons, Noah and Nathan.

“As a working mother, I understand how important the services provided by Critchlow Adkins Children’sCenters are to our families,” says George. “Working with and for our children — our future leaders and decision makers — is such important work.  I am thrilled to join this team of amazing professionals to continue Critchlow Adkin’s legacy and commitment to building brighter futures.”

Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers has five locations in Talbot County and serves approximately 450 children annually ages 2-12. Programs include preschool, pre-K, pre-K wrap, before- and after -school, and ten weeks of summer camp. CACC offers a sliding fee scale based on household income and number of family members. For more information about CACC, visit cacckids.org or call 410-822-8061.

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Skywatch for Feb. 2015: Jupiter At Its Best

Three planets that go around the Sun in orbits larger than ours, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, are easily visible to us even without any optical aid. These three planets are called Superior Planets, because they have these bigger orbits. At various times, due to the combined motions of these planets and the motion of Earth itself, each of the three planets come into positions where they appear at their brightest to us on Earth. This month, on February 6th, it is Jupiter’s turn.

We call this position OPPOSITION, because the planet is seen “opposite” the Sun in the sky. In other words, if we would be able to look down on our solar system from above, we could draw a line from the Sun to the Earth and continue it on the Jupiter, on February 6th, and Jupiter would appear to rise above the eastern horizon as the Sun would be seen setting in the west. Jupiter, which takes 12 years to orbit the Sun, reaches opposition in every calendar year, some 39 days later than the previous year, and appears to spend one year in each zodiac constellation.

This year Jupiter’s opposition will appear among the very faint stars of Cancer the Crab, while last year when Jupiter reached opposition in very early January, it was “in” Gemini. Jupiter will be well up above the eastern horizon by 8 pm, and will dominate the night sky all night throughout winter and even into the spring at magnitude –2.6. Three days before opposition, Jupiter will be seen about 5 degrees above February’s Full Moon (the night of February 3/4).

With only a modest backyard telescope, you can easily see Jupiter’s four largest moons. Here they are through a 10″ (25 cm) Meade LX200 telescope. Image credit: Jan Sandberg

Jupiter’s four largest moons can be seen through a modest backyard telescope. Image credit: Jan Sandberg

Jupiter’s only rival in brightness, other than the Moon, this month will be Venus, which at magnitude –3.9 is six times brighter. Venus is visible as soon as twilight starts low in the southwestern sky where it remains visible until it sets around 8 pm. A neat conjunction of sky objects occurs on the night of February 20th. Looking toward Venus in the southwest, one hour after sunset, look for Mars just 0.7 degrees above and right of Mars, with the very thin crescent Moon just to the right of the planet pair!

Though we pass the exact mid-point of winter on February 2nd, there is still lots of cold weather to come before spring and summer arrive. The main winter constellations of Orion, Canis Major and Canis Minor, Gemini, Auriga, and Taurus are all in full glory due south as we reach full darkness each February night. However skywatchers can get a glimpse of summer by looking south-southeast from 4 am to dawn and finding Scorpius the scorpion rising there. Saturn, the famous ringed planet, appears to cross the northern(upper) portion of Scorpius, only about 9 degrees above and slightly left of Antares, the brightest star of Scorpius. A nice color contrast can be seen between the red-orange glow of Antares, and the creamy white of Saturn. Saturn is the brighter, at +0.5; while Antares is +1.0.

Moon phases this month: Full (Feb. 3); Last Qrtr. (Feb. 11); New (Feb. 18); and 1st Qrtr. (Feb. 25).

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Spying on Talbot: New Report on County Teens Show Serious Alcohol & Drug Problems Remain

The most significant highlight of the last Talbot County Council meeting on Tuesday evening was a serious and a discouraging report on local teen use of alcohol & drug use. Presented by Beth Williams and Sharon Huseman, Executive Director of Talbot Partnership, for the Blue Ribbon Commission Oversight Committee on teen risk. In short, alcohol and drugs are still very serious problems for high school students in Talbot County.

While there was some good news on cigarette use, most of the data indicates that Talbot County teens are still showing relatively high levels of drug and alcohol use as compared to other Maryland Counties.

This video has been heavily edited to seven minutes. For those interested in seeing the entire presentation and the rest of the Council meeting, please visit TV-98 here.

Education: State Laws Keep Control With Local School Boards

Maryland’s public charter schools feel stifled under current state laws that keep them under the authorization and governance of local school boards, but the creation of separate charter school boards could cost taxpayers and students much more.

Charter schools were poised to be a hot topic during this legislative session from the beginning. A week before his inauguration, Gov. Larry Hogan appointed former Delegate Keiffer Mitchell, a noted Baltimore Democrat, as a special adviser to oversee some of his legislative initiatives, including the expansion of charter schools. 
 
“It’s like McDonald’s seeking to get approval from Burger King to open a new restaurant,” said Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform, a national organization that supports freedom of choice in education, specifically with charter schools. 
 
But Brad Young, president of the Board of Education of Frederick County, home to three public charter schools, said he thinks all public schools, charter or otherwise, should be governed by one body.
 
“It’s counterproductive to set up a second system that would be run totally separate from the current school system,” Young said. “What charter schools prove is that students learn in different ways, and it’s important to provide different options to students. But the duplication of services would force admin costs up and have implications that would cost taxpayers more or take money out of the classroom.”
 
At a ground-breaking event on Wednesday, the co-founders of Green Street Academy, a public charter school in Baltimore, touted a “21st century approach to learning.” 
 
With gardens, chicken coops and fish farms as learning spaces in an urban environment, the Academy equips students with the skills to be successful in modern ways, said David Warnock, co-founder of the Green Street Academy and co-chair of the board of trustees. They also have a new partnership with the U.S. Forest Service’s Baltimore Field Station.
 
“This generation does not respond to institution-led education,” Warnock said, noting the heavy dependence of today’s students on technology and social media. “We need to hook ‘em, capture their imagination and develop their love of learning.”
 
Green Street Academy received a $14 million loan from Bank of America, part of the $23 million in total funds raised so far to move into a larger, “green” building to open in September, Warnock said. The renovated building will allow 425 more students to attend the academy next school year, nearly a 100 percent increase. The 2.5-mile move will also allow 60 percent of students to walk to school, instead of the 5 percent that are able to work in the current location. 
 
A study released on Tuesday by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Maryland’s charter school laws the lowest in the nation for the second year in a row. Eight states do not have charter school laws and were not ranked.
 
“We find that more often than not local school boards aren’t supportive of charters, and sometimes they’re downright hostile,” said Todd Ziebarth, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools senior vice president for state advocacy and support. “They think they’re losing the money that’s attached to those students. But at the end of the day, if public schools and charter schools are cooperating, it’s better for a community. The intent is long term. It’s an economic boost to the community, not a drain.”
 
Kerwin agreed.
 
“There’s so much emphasis and energy put on the inputs that overshadow the ways charter schools create great outcomes,” she said.
 
But a panel presentation by the Maryland State Department of Education to the Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Jan. 22 raised some questions on the success of charter schools in Maryland. 
 
Numbers in the department of education’s report reflecting success rates for charter schools excluded statistics from 11 Maryland charter schools that had been shut down.
 
The first and only bill the legislature has seen thus far on the topic this year calls for the establishment of a public charter school program in Frederick County governed by an independent charter school board, with members elected by the county council. Charter school teachers in Frederick County would also be exempt from performance evaluation criteria determined by the state.
 
It was proposed and presented by Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Kelly Schulz, before she resigned her seat as a Republican delegate from Frederick and Carroll. 
The bill has had little traction since it was first presented to the House Ways and Means Committee, said Vice Chairman Frank S. Turner, D-Howard, but with so many new members, it’s hard to know which way the committee will lean. 
 
Turner, however, has his mind made up.
 
“Any time we use money for charter schools — whether direct or indirect — that’s less money that goes to public schools,” he said. “My feeling is that what we need to do is strengthen the public school system.”
By Deidre McPhillips

Working Artists Forum Donates to Local Schools

The Working Artists Forum (WAF), a nonprofit organization of professional working artists based in Easton, is delighted to announce its continued participation in fostering visual art in our local schools through annual cash donations.  Each year, a portion of the proceeds from “Local Color” is set aside to supplement art supplies in various elementary schools on the Eastern Shore.  Based on the success of this year’s “Local Color”, WAF was able to increase their support by 25% and add two more schools as recipients.  Donations each year are made on a rotating basis in an effort to help maintain a strong arts presence in our schools and “keep the creative spark alive.”

Members of WAF visited each of the schools and hand delivered gift cards over the past few months.  This year’s award recipients were very appreciative for the extra boost these donations supply.  One member reported that after a brief presentation, the students were so happy to receive this gift that they burst into spontaneous applause.  Members of WAF truly believe that our teachers and students are an important part of the vibrant art community of the Eastern Shore, and are grateful for the opportunity to assist in their growth and development.

Evie Baskin, PR, WAF (right) with Aimee Boumiea, Art Teacher at Garnett Elementary in Chestertown

Evie Baskin, PR, WAF (right) with Aimee Boumiea, Art Teacher at Garnett Elementary in Chestertown

 

Nancy Thomas, Secretary WAF ( right) with Linda Wilson, Principal, Hurlock Elementary

Nancy Thomas, Secretary WAF ( right) with Linda Wilson, Principal, Hurlock Elementary

 

Georgette Toews, Vice President, WAF (right) at Grasonville Elementary with Megan Spence, Art Teacher

Georgette Toews, Vice President, WAF (right) at Grasonville Elementary with Megan Spence, Art Teacher

 

Nancy Thomas, Secretary, WAF (right) at Federalsburg Elementary with Jonathan Benson, Art Teacher

Nancy Thomas, Secretary, WAF (right) at Federalsburg Elementary with Jonathan Benson, Art Teacher

 

Georgette Toews, Vice President, WAF (left) at Kennard Elementary in Centreville with Jackie Wheeler, Art Teacher

Georgette Toews, Vice President, WAF (left) at Kennard Elementary in Centreville with Jackie Wheeler, Art Teacher

 

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The Future is Now: Dealing with Rising Seas on Maryland’s Shores

The water level along Maryland’s 3,100 miles of coastal and bay shoreline is rising at a slow but accelerating rate . By 2050, scientists say, the water level will likely increase by a foot or two, perhaps up to six feet by 2100. It’s already threatening or swallowing up much of what’s in its way. And it’s certain to get worse.

Dr. Donald Boesch, president of University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.

Dr. Donald Boesch, president of University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.

“The Future is Now: Dealing with Rising Seas on Maryland’s Shores” is the name of the upcoming educational forum designed to inform Marylanders of the challenge and the adaptation that is proceeding, particularly near eroding rural shorelines and other low-lying areas, including Ocean City and the Baltimore and Annapolis waterfronts.

The day-long event will be held on February 21 from 9:30 to 3 at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Maryland and Chesapeake College’s Center for Leadership in Environmental Education, the forum will feature a lineup of knowledgeable speakers anxious to help spread the word about what has, can and should be done.

Keynoter speaker is Dr. Donald Boesch, president of University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.

“I want people to get their mind around the fact that the sea level is going to rise a lot faster than it has in the past and it is going to present some significant challenges to us,” he said.

“I want to give people a hard-nose sense of reality, but also let folks know that they have lots of choices,”

Other speakers include: Zoe Johnson, Program Manager for Climate Policy and Planning at Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources; former U.S. Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, now director of the Sassafras Environmental Education Center in Kennedyville, Maryland; Drew Koslow, recent Midshore Riverkeeper and founder of the South River Federation, and Mark Konapelsky, Critical Area Commissioner for Somerset County.

The sea level is rising around the globe. But the problem is particularly acute in Maryland where scientists have found that it has been rising three times faster than the worldwide average. They attribute this to natural forces in the Mid-Atlantic, including a change in the Gulf Stream.

A number of the Chesapeake Bay’s tiny islands have vanished. Others are washing away. Low-lying farms and forests are turning into marshes. The state of Maryland and many of its coastal counties have adjusted its zoning and building codes to guard against flooding.

Countless more decisions must be made, such as: What to do with buildings and roads already in low-lying areas; where to erect seawalls; what additional areas may have to be put off limits to commercial and residential developments, and what adjustments are needed in transportation systems.

The rising seas have been blamed by scientists worldwide on global warming, triggering a fiery debate among deniers, skeptics, environmentalists and politicians. The forum will focus not on why the seas are rising, but instead what to do about it.

“It some ways it doesn’t matter why. We have to deal with it now,” said Greg Farley, who as the center’s director will co-chair the forum with Patricia Comella, a member of the League of Women Voters of Maryland.

“Risings seas are not a bugaboo of the future, but a fact right now,” said Susan Cochran, president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland. “It is time to plan for the foreseeable future.”

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Spy Profile: John Evans and Graul’s of St. Michaels

At last count, not including the proposed Harris Teeter going up in Easton later this year, there are seven national food store chains that compete with Graul’s Market in St. Michaels for food shoppers. And those are just a few of the challenges for the last remaining family-owned food store in Talbot County.

But as John Evans, owner of Graul’s and the grandson of the original grocer, Harold Graul, notes in his interview with the Spy, every store does something great. And in the case of Graul’s, what they do better than anyone in the region is knowing what their customers wants.

Along with discussing the history of the St. Michaels store, and his and his wife Paige’s decision to take it over eleven years ago, John talks candidly about competition and his efforts to preserve not only a family business but a retail buying experience that increasingly is growing more rare every day.

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