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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

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Green Tip

Hi, I’m Howard and I’m here to provide you with green tips. Look for me throughout the site and check out my cool interactive games at the Kids Zone.