Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages,
Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Becka Miller, your new narrator here at the Green Dragon Bytes blog. For the last four years I have been a subscriber to this very blog and all along the way I have delighted in the Green initiatives at the Waldorf School of Baltimore. Under the tutelage of Mr. Compost, A.K.A. Michel Anderson, the Waldorf School of Baltimore has accomplished so much in such a short time. Looking back over the blog and all the community here at WSB accomplished, I cannot help but be elated to begin the school year as the new Ecoliteracy and Sustainability Teacher.
Darwin, Richard, and Gumball are in for a surprise. They spent their first summer breaking ground on my budding urban farm right here in Baltimore. I can’t wait to see the look in their eyes when I scoop them up and welcome them back for the school year. Until their triumphant return, I am spending my time getting to know the incredible space that surrounds WSB. Of special importance, of course, is developing a deep relationship with the woods. As Forest Aftercare Coordinator, I will spend many an hour in those very woods in all types of weather. I am looking especially forward to seeing the forest through the student’s eyes: in my experience each will have their own individual orientation to the woods. A rich relationship with a forest unfolds over many seasons, a gift unique to the Forest Aftercare and Nature Studies programs at WSB. The Nature Studies curriculum is ahead of its time, and it seems to me that WSB is poised to pave the way for Ecoliteracy in schools across the country. It is with this deep sense of purpose and excitement that I am beginning my time here at WSB.
There are so many exciting projects to begin and good work to be done in maintaining all that has come before me. A few fun things I’m working on: starting to lay the foundation to bring in more bees this year, checking in the with the garden and learning the lay of the land on the playground, and readying the grounds for next year’s Fortlandia. Most of all, I’m dreaming up initiatives for what I am sure will be an incredibly exciting Green year.
Looking forward to seeing you on the grounds!
The Forest Aftercare program at the Waldorf School of Baltimore is an important facet to our school community. At Waldorf, we recognize that today’s children are not spending as much time in natural environments as former generations. Our Forest Aftercare program is designed to provide a safe space for children to cultivate a deep bond with the more-than-human world.
Students enrolled in the Forest Aftercare program spend most of their time in the forest surrounding our school. Free play, gardening, animal husbandry, and exploration of the forest are key aspects of our program. We are outside everyday – rain, snow, or shine!
Forest Aftercare Staff prepare students to become empowered, responsible environmental stewards. Our playground is a certified Wildlife Habitat, with food, shelter, and water sources for indigenous species. We have been awarded a Baltimore City Master Gardener’s Outstanding School Garden Award.
Stay connected to what’s happening in our Ecoliteracy & Sustainability programs here, at sustainablewaldorf.com.
Dear Readers and Friends,
It is with mixed emotions that I post my final entry on Green Dragon Bytes. I have decided the time has come to make a life change. Starting next week I will embark on a new adventure with Blue Water Baltimore as their Education & Outreach Coordinator. In this position I will be developing and delivering nature-based education programing to under-served communities throughout Baltimore City. And I’m happy to report that I will still be able to engage WSB students with various nature related projects such as storm drain muraling, tree planting, and service learning.
So much as happened since I started this blog four years ago, and I am so happy to have shared this time with you and to have taken a lead role in developing Waldorf’s green ambitions. That said, none of the things we’ve done together would have been possible without the support of WSB’s wonderful teachers, staff, students, board members, and parents (past and present). And worry not! …the chickens, Nature Study class, Forest Aftercare, this blog, Fortville, and all the other cool green things we’ve done together, aren’t going anywhere. This summer I will aid the school in finding and training my predecessor. There’s still plenty of room to grow, and I feel we have only brought to maturity a few of the many seeds that will root nature and sustainability even deeper into the Waldorf program.
I believe that with a deep love and respect for nature sowed into their beings, the children of this school (and of the world) will make our planet beautiful and healthy for generations to come. Please enjoy the slideshow below of the many green memories we’ve shared over the last four years. I look forward to seeing you around!
All the best!
Michel Anderson (aka. Greenman, King Compost, Doctor Compost, Mr. Compost)
Ticks are tiny blood monsters that can really spoil a good day in the forest. Having said that, it’s important to keep in mind that they are also a vital food source for a multitude of reptiles, birds, and amphibians. Like mosquitoes they serve a purpose in our ecosystem (however annoying/harmful they are to us bipeds). And I’m sure they serve a greater purpose beyond being food, though I’m not privy to that information. Armed with that dose of compassion, let’s look at some measures we can take to stay away from them….
After playing in the woods, you should always check yourself and your child for ticks. Ticks don’t fall from trees, if you found one in your head it crawled up there. Ticks live in shrubs and tall grasses (hence why they like hair). They prefer to feel secure, so after hitching a ride on you they will seek out a tight spot to attach and feed. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers — squeeze the head close to your skin, not the body (which will push germs into you). If one’s been feeding on you, it’s good to sandwich the tick up in tape and bring it to the doctor for testing. Most sources say that a tick needs to be feeding on its host for 24 hours to transmit any diseases (but don’t quote me on that). Checking yourself or your child within 2 hours of being in the forest is recommend. Permethrin-based repellents are good to use on clothing, but not on skin — DEET (though gross) works on both. Tossing cloths in the dryer for 10 minutes will kill any ticks hanging around for a later meal. Light colored clothing is helpful for spotting them. If you find a loose tick the best way to dispose of it is via fire or a hasty burial.
Ok, with that knowledge, go out into the woods and have a good time. Remember…it’s your home too!
Oh…and here’s a cute picture to counterbalance that other one:
The woods are worth it.
Big thank you to all the Children’s Garden dads (and their children) that showed up for our volunteer afternoon last Friday. In a mere 90-minutes we transformed the school garden! We went from four awkwardly-positioned, falling apart garden beds to two new large ones; and we got a 3″ layer of wood chips around them to prevent weeds. The students were thrilled when they saw their new garden this morning. Thanks again…you’re the best!
Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, bipeds and quadrupeds… Step right up… But don’t get too close. No one other than 4th graders are allowed beyond Fallen-Tree-Wall. (The only exceptions are made for their Chiefy-Weefy, Mr. Anderson, and their classroom teacher, Ms. Smith.) Fortville is the project by WSB’s 4th grade Nature Study class. It all started around October 2015. The class found a secluded space in the forest adjacent to the school and started building small forts (and picking up garbage and removing invasive species). Over the last few months we have instituted our own system of government (let’s call it an “inclusive participatory oligarchy with limited gerontocratic guidance”), have established a local currency out of found bits of coal (although bartering and timebanking are still prevalent and encouraged), and have created and signed various legal documents that include deeds, easements, and permits (to stabilize a balance between common and private property and keep our thriving wildcraft restaurants up to health code). This week we came across two box turtles, named Boxie and Boxet, which have now become the official animals of Fortville (species diversity protection legislation is underway). Their Chiefy-Weefy, Mr. Anderson, was hardly prepared for the complexity that has unfolded when he suggested the fort village to the class. He stores all of Fortville’s top secret documents in a vault deep inside Middle Earth. Please savor these rare photographs that document the fusion of freedom, intelligence, and imagination, the way nature intended it:
The world will be what they make it.
This Earth Day the students and teachers of the Waldorf School of Baltimore took action and engaged in Project Clean Stream. The 5th through 8th grades departed school grounds at 11:45 to a trash-laden site on the Jones Falls Trail. The site was identified by one of our 7th grade students a few weeks prior while on a family walk. We picnicked, explored, and then began our intensive cleanup. We ended up leaving the site with 15 bags full of garbage and 7 bags of recycling. Coach Harrington came down and picked up the bags afterwards (which filled his entire truck bed). The pictures below do not do justice to the difference we made, but rest assured, the difference is a clear as night and day.
Here are before photos of our site:
Photo Courtesy of Roberto Herrera
And here are after photos:
And here are our process photos:
The clean up crew: