World – meet the Robinson Nature Center. I warn the staff, when writing these posts not to be too cheerlead-y. This blog is a bit more about going behind the scenes and talking about what you don’t find in our newsletters and press releases. However, this facility is just too jaw-droppingly amazing to not sound like a cheerleader. A couple of weeks ago, we were giving a tour to state environmental leaders of the mostly finished building and after a ½ hour or so of all of us (all grown-ups) running around the place like children one participant put it so aptly when she said “this place is magical”. It truly is. Words cannot possibly describe it and if any of you know me at all, you know that I am not the type to get whipped up into a frothy excitement about … well … much of anything. I’m going to take a small amount of time to explain the place but PLEASE don’t take my word for it. Come to the grand opening on Saturday (Sept 10). There will be an opening ceremony at 9 a.m., guided activities and walks from 11–1 and it will be open for looking around until 3 p.m. There’s not a ton of parking there right now, so they have set up overflow shuttle buses from Atholton H.S. starting at 8 a.m. Bring your kids if you have them but as my few experiences have told me, this is a great place for adults as well.
Let me start with the history. This parcel of land was the home of James and Anne Robinson. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting either of them, Mrs. Robinson was, in her time an amazing woman and her memory lives on with memories and even her own legends. The land sits on the Middle Patuxent near the old Grist Mill and off of Cedar Lane right next to the Rt. 32 interchange. This piece of land was of extraordinary value, especially to developers in a fast growing Howard County. As legend has it, Annie would sit on her porch through the day and into evenings listening to the sounds of nature and kept a broom with her on the porch to chase away the MANY developers coming to make offers. In the end, she sold the land to Howard County for $2 million (a fraction of its assessed value) and then donated $1 million to the creation of a Foundation whose mission is to the support a nature center on the Robinson land.
Back to the Center itself. This magical place was designed with two purposes — to demonstrate a model green building and to provide environmental education in a fun and interactive way.
Pursuing LEED-Platinum certification, Robinson Nature Center shows an abundance of available green technologies from geothermal wells, to porous asphalt parking lot, to a green roof, cork floors and compressed sunflower seed desks. Homeowners, residents, business owners, builders and developers can all learn what is possible when you want to build and live green.
The magic though, comes from the exhibits and the experience. From the opening display on the Chesapeake Bay, to the rich history of the area to the awe inspiring hand painted “life of the forest” display there is so much to learn here. We have a small demonstration backyard to show folks how easy it is to live sustainably and even provide habitat in a backyard as small as a an average townhouse backyard. We also have a planetarium that is beyond words. With today’s technology the planetarium has the ability to not only show the night sky (at any time, from any place entered into the system) but to transport you throughout space.
Like I said, words just don’t do it justice but hopefully I have managed to convey my excitement and the excitement felt by everyone who has worked on this project. Please, just check it out, I promise you that you will laugh, you will cry, and it is WAYYYYY better than Cats.