Now this may surprise long-time readers, if they remember my taking the National Wildlife Federation to task for its anti-gardening rhetoric. And then there was the time I posted about the NWF focus-grouping the notion of partnering with Scotts Miracle-Gro.
But today I'm cheerleading for their Wildlife Habitat Community program, and cheering especially for my town of Takoma Park, the first wildlife-habitat-certified community in all of Maryland (okay, it's a small state, but still). We join just 52 other towns in the U.S. who've achieved this certification (happily, before two other Maryland towns that were competing with us to be the first). Here's a list of the certified communities in the U.S., plus another 42 that are registered, meaning they're working on it.
So what does it mean and what does it take to get certified? Towns need a certain number of wildlife-certified backyards, public spaces and schools, depending on population, plus a public education campaign of some kind. With our population of 17,000+, my town needed 100 homes, 4 common areas and 3 schools. Here's how you earn points toward registration, then certification. For example, points are awarded for creating a website to tell the community about the campaign, and we tweaked that by having a blog instead. The blog and the campaign were called Wild, Wild Takoma – thus the inscription on the cake.
The NWF's community campaign goes a long way toward not just creating pockets of habitat in our overdeveloped world, but educating homeowners about wildlife-friendly ways to treat their property. It's well designed and run, with great help given to each community – like detailed, step by step organizing help.
Our effort began in 2005, led by Bruce Sidwell (in floral shirt) on behalf of the terrific environmental group Friends of Sligo Creek, and I was part of the little committee of conspirators, contributing articles about the campaign in the local paper and serving as the official blogger.
In this photo the team has just received books from a reprepresentative of the NWF (Roxanne Paul in brown shirt), at our very fun little celebration, which also included saxophone music, a reading by the city’s poet laureate, the symbolic planting of three Viburnum nudums, presentation of an award to the mayor, and a choral rendition of “O, Takoma” to the tune of “Oklahoma!” Some select lyrics include:
O, Takoma, home of hippies aging gracefully,
And of trees preserved, energy conserved,
And a true quest for equality.
Yep, that sounds like the place!
Refreshments included the lovely cake in the top photo and a surprisingly delicious mustard garlic spread – like pesto but zestier, and a great use of one of the worst invasive plants in our area. Ingenious!
Lower photo by Julie Wyatt for the Takoma Voice.