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Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home”

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.

JD Feld­mark

Sep­tem­ber 2011

Green Tip

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