Profiles in Spirituality: Unitarian Universalism with the Mid-Shore’s Reverend Sue Browning

According to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s own data, the U.U. Church currently has just under 200,000 members in the entire United States, and about two hundred of them attend church in Kent County or Talbot County on any given Sunday.

In comparison, the Episcopal Church, another relatively small denomination, has about 3,500 active members in the same region, while the Catholic faith comes close to having 7,000 adherents.

These numbers may suggest that the Unitarians represent a tiny part of the religious fabric on the Delmarva, but those statistics do not account for the extremely high level of activism these small congregations — one in Kent and the other Talbot County — participate in during the year in their communities. In fact, when one factors in contributions that the U.U. Church make locally in such critical areas of concern for social justice, immigration, and the environment, one then can one see the full impact of the Unitarian Universalists on the Mid-Shore.

And one person who sees that impact on an almost daily basis is the Reverend Sue Browning, who is in the unique role of being the minister of both the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton as well as the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River in Kent County.

The Spy sat down with Rev. Browning to talk a bit about Unitarian Universalism as a faith, which is liberal by nature and characterized by a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” In other words, Unitarian Universalist members do not accept a creed per se but are unified by a shared search for spiritual growth.

We also talked to Sue about the important role that faith, unconventional as it may be in the U.U. Church, plays in the life of its members, the spiritual dimensions of aging, and the need to exercise one’s compassion and gratitude like a muscle which will only gets stronger with time.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Mid-Shore Unitarian Universalist Churches, please go here for Chestertown and here for Easton




Making it Work on the Shore: Ace Moritz and Eastern Shore Brewing

The craft beer business was in its infancy when Adrian (Ace) Moritz started to work in the industry during the early 1990s in one of Vermont’s earliest local breweries, the Long Trail Brewing Company. It was hard to tell then that the local brew industry would become the booming business it has become, but it started a lifetime passion for Ace.

After leaving Long Trail, and deciding to leave a lucrative private sector career in New York, Ace and his wife decided to risk everything when they started Eastern Shore Brewing Company in St. Michaels in 2009 to follow his passion.

And over the course of the last nine years, Ace has learned a great deal about moving from the love of a home brewery to the complications and challenges that come with a full retail and wholesale operation. Those lessons have continuously change the business model as he continues to find the sweet spot between maintaining a sustainable business and remain competitive as craft beer takes over some of the smallest towns on the Eastern Shore.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Eastern Shore Brewing please go here.

Maryland 3.0: St. Michaels Very Own ‘Click and Clack’ Mike Kealy

For those who still mourn the departure of “Car Talk” on National Public Radio and its beloved hosts, the”Click and Clack” brothers (Tom and Ray Magliozzi), Spy readers might find it comforting to know that perhaps one of their long lost brothers can be found in St. Michaels at Bay Hundred Automotive.

While it’s not a total match, Mike Kealy, the owner of the repair shop, comes pretty darn close despite being younger and possessing a Long Island accent rather than a Boston one.

And like the Magliozzi brothers, Mike entered into the world of car repair with a college degree in engineering. In fact, Mike was drawn into the auto mechanics world in the early 1980s when manufacturing just started to use such things as fuel injection and other technologies that made it enjoyable for him. He also shares with the ‘Click and Clack’ boys an uncanny curiosity about cars, motors, and the incredibly sophisticated software that is now baked in our cars these days.

With family members moving to the Eastern Shore over the past few decades, Mike eventually decided to leave Long Island for St. Michaels without knowing a soul in town, but with a potent combination of entrepreneurship and a passion for working in a small town. With the help of such people like Buck Duncan, the president of the St. Michaels Bank at the time, and the devotion of a growing number of satisfied customers, Kealy was not only able to grow his business, including a new venture with his brother serving boats, but also built commercial rental properties alongside his shop on St. Michaels Road.

The Spy sat down with Mike to talk about the challenges that come with being a small repair shop in a world of well-financed car dealerships, including the need to have full access to critical software from car manufacturers. He also makes a compelling case to service your vehicle locally, regardless of age, as he unveils the hidden truth about car parts and dealer service departments.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Bay Hundred Automotive please go here

Ecosystem: Midshore Riverkeepers in Talbot County Classrooms as well as Rivers

No doubt, the most visible and every present sign of the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy’s work is when one spots their clearly-identified patrol boats on the Choptank, Miles or Wye Rivers. For almost ten years, the MRC has made it their mission to advocate and protect those rivers through careful monitoring and partnerships with farmers and watermen in the region.

But that is only half of the story of what the MRC does in Talbot County. As an organization committed as much to education as to conservation, the Riverkeeper Conservancy has been working for the last four years with Talbot County Public Schools to bring a unique awareness and appreciation to its students.

The Spy wanted to see firsthand what kind of educational programming this looked like and quickly jumped at an invitation to observe MRC education coordinators Elle O’Brien and Suzanne Sullivan at St. Michaels Middle High School last week on oyster harvesting. Hosted by science teacher Lauren Greer’s 9th-grade environmental education class, the two MRC staffers work with students in the classroom, as well as outside, to learn the importance of sustainability over the semester.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information on the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy please go here.


Profiles in Philanthropy: Trustee Dick Bodorff on the Academy, CBMM, and the YMCA

Periodically, the country’s new president has referred to some his cabinet appointments as coming from “central casting.” Using his unique phrasing, President Trump is clearly referring to a person who is a perfect fit to a particularly difficult position to fill.

That definition could very easily apply to Talbot County’s Richard Bodorff and the extraordinary roles he has played on local Talbot County nonprofit boards.

A Washington DC lawyer during the week, with an exceptional background in the world of the federal communications law and regulations, Dick and his wife have made Talbot County their second home the last seventeen years. But rather than simply pursue his love of boating and other recreation activities while in residence, Dick made it a point to truly invest in his adopted community by joining several important governing boards of local nonprofit organizations and bringing with him his special skills and Midwestern common sense.

The Spy sat down with Dick a few weeks ago at Bullitt House to talk about his background in communications starting as a kid growing up in Illinois, followed by a early career at the Federal Communications Commission, including work on the famous George Carlin “seven words” controversy, and eventually his role as partner at the law firm of Wiley, Rein, advising clients on the FCC’s incentive spectrum auction and regulatory advice. He currently serves on the boards Academy Art Museum, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, YMCA of the Chesapeake and shares his thoughts on those organization and what it meant to be successful nonprofit organization.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length

Hiking the AT for Talbot Homeless: A Long Walk Home with Robert Messick

There are a good number of ways to help raise funds for an organization you feel passionate about but rarely does that translate into taking six months to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Easton attorney Robert Messick recently made a decision to do just that which caught the Spy’s attention a few weeks ago when we first found out his fundraising project to support the Talbot Interfaith Shelter, a voluntary service organization dedicated to providing safe, temporary shelter to men, women, and children who lack adequate housing.

Robert is no stranger to long distance hiking. While raised in Talbot County, where he found his love of sailing log canoes, Robert started to get the hiking bug when he first attended law school in Northern California. And while he returned to the East Coast many years ago, he has kept up his passion for this solitary exercise for a good part of his adult life.

In his Spy interview, Robert talks about his love of hiking, his unique strategies to avoid the crowds along the 2,190 miles of trail, and his primary focus of helping his community’s homeless population.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information on Talbot Interfaith Shelter and the Long Walk Home project, please go here.


Mid-Shore Culture: For the Love of Cars in St. Michaels with Tad duPont

For more than fifty years the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels has been a standard in the world of nautical history and education, but it is safe to say that that makes the CBMM so special is that satisfies people’s special passion for boats. Families flock to the CBMM to look at and ride on boats, while individuals, from teens to senior adults, use the museum’s programs to learn how to build and repair them.

If Tad duPont, president of the Classic Motor Museum in St. Michaels, has his way, that same kind of passion will eventually be found for those who love of cars and motors at the soon to be open campus on East Marengo Street.

With the significant benefits of a historically restored house functioning as office and learning space, and the recent addition of a custom built barn, designed by Amish craftsman and capable of parking twenty-one rare automobiles, du Pont might very well get his wish.

Taking advantage of a community that has long been known for its love of old cars (there are more than 400 antique cars registered in Talbot County alone), the Classic Motor Museum’s leaders have a strong conviction that over time the CMM will be the Mid-Atlantic’s premier car destination.

The Spy talked to Tad last week about the origins of the Museum, the Museum’s launch plans, and his board’s effort to quickly reduce the $400,000 plus loans associated with the barn and campus improvement. He also talks about the extraordinary economic impact the Museum could potentially bring to the region.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Classic Motor Museum, please go here

In the Footsteps of Martin: Walter Black Jr. Looks Back on Civil Rights on the Eastern Shore

As Martin Luther King Day approaches at the same time the country’s first African-American president is preparing to leaves office, It’s a natural time to reflect on the significant arc of history for civil rights in the United States. And there are very few people in Talbot County that was in a better place to watch that history locally than Walter Black, Jr.

From the age of six, Walter started to realize that there was a racially-divided community when he noticed that white children were being picked up by different school buses than he and his friends. By the time he attended Morgan State in 1960, he had already been active in the NAACP on the Eastern Shore, and from that point forward has dedicated his life to fighting first segregation and later discrimination in Talbot County and the entire state of Maryland as a long-standing president of NAACP’s local chapter and a leadership role in coordinating the civil rights organization in Maryland.

In his Spy interview, Walter, who recently turned 80, remembers what it was like to live in a segregated world and also recalls the tensions that existed in Cambridge during the 1967 demonstrations. Walter also talks about the future of race relations as well as the need to keep Martin Luther King’s words always in mind that, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

This video is approximately eight minutes in length 

Catching Up with the St. Michaels Community Center

It seems like every year around this time the St. Michaels Community Center has to go through the rather difficult exercise of reminding the community they serve what they do when seeking annual support. This is not because they do so little but because every year this unique nonprofit helps so many in so many different ways that it is hard to keep it all straight.

For twelve months a year, the Community Center does dozens of programs for kids, for families, for seniors and those seeking food. They also run the community garden, a music program, and sponsor town public concerts. Add free dinners at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, and you get a better picture of the depth and range of this charity.

The Spy caught up with the St. Michaels Community Center director Trish Payne, and youth program director Pam Phillips to talk about these programs, hear about the organization’s building plans, and the need for a few angels in town to make that happen.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the St. Michaels Community Center go here

The Tidewater’s John Wilson on the Business of Hospitality in Talbot, Queen Anne’s and Kent Counties

There is no getting around the fact that John Wilson, along with his Coastal South investment partners, has become one of the Mid-Shore’s unsung commercial development heroes over the last ten years. Starting with the Chesapeake Bay Club on Kent Island, followed by the remarkable turnaround of the Tidewater Inn in downtown Easton over the last seven years, and the more recently, the addition of fifty-four luxury rooms at The Inn at Chesapeake Bay Club earlier this year, Wilson has not only been given credit for bringing all these properties to new heights of sophistication and elegance to the region but has provided a significant economic engine for the communities they reside in as well.

In his Spy interview, John talks about the changes at Tidewater Inn, the significant footprint he has created on the shores of Kent Island, and some miscellaneous thoughts on what it would take for Chestertown to join the club of Mid-Shore communities who offer high-end accommodations and fine dining.

This video is approximately fifteen minutes in length. For more information on the Tidewater, please go here, and here for the Chesapeake Bay Club and Inn.