The Only Day the Earth Matters

Final Presentations in Baltimore, Maryland

My final presentation for my Baltimore project happened a few weeks ago. We got up 6:00 AM and drove down in a university-owned creeper van. I slept. We all slept. Because 6 AM is very early for the average college student.

Around 10:00 AM we arrived at the Parks and People Foundation campus and set up our projects in an old, stone house that the foundation refurbished. Our boards were massive and we had to get pretty creative to fit all nine of our projects in the room. Mine wasn’t even in the room but put over some bay windows in a side area. They gave us some sticky dots to use for our posters but we were skeptical they would stay up. In the background, The Big Labowski was playing on the mini projector one of our professors was trying to set up. We finished hanging our stuff and sat around for a bit and talked about nothing. Then we left for lunch at this place called R House which is an “adult food court”. Its pretty good. I recommend it. On the drive over, we bet on how many poster would be down by the time we got back.

2018-04-20 11.20.23Lunch passed and we drove back to the stone house. Our presentations started at 2:00. At 2:30, people started trickling in and we were well on our way by 3:00. Instead of doing a live presentation, we played our recorded power points and stood up at the front awkwardly. I had recorded my power point at my apartment and my chirping birds were pretty noticeable in the background. Oh well. After our presentation ended the audience asked us questions. There were some people from Johnston Square, some Penn State alumni, and a few who work at firms in Baltimore. I am very happy to say that my design was quite well received. The community members seemed very excited about my ideas and my concept which made me very happy. 🙂

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After presentations, we went to an Oriels baseball game. We all wanted to go home, but our professor was so excited about it (and he already bought tickets for us. Don’t worry we paid him back.). Anyway, I had never been in a major league stadium and I gotta say it was pretty cool. It’s like a little town. Our seats looked over right field so it was hard to see what was happening. I don’t think any of us were invested in the game but we had a good time. At one point, I came back from the bathroom and some of my friends were watching something very intently. They said a couple a few rows down had been fighting. The girl stormed off at one point but had now returned, looking irritated and huffy. In the end they made up, and the guy’s arm returned around the girl’s shoulders. It wasn’t super warm but it got colder as the sun set. I shivered a lot because I didn’t dress warm enough. The Oriels won and we went home.

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Earth Day at the Residence

On Monday, I got to talk about my rain gardens for the Earth Day celebration at the Governor’s Residence. It was fun to see the Residence staff and my old supervisor. I got to do it because DCNR was invited to set up different stations around the grounds to talk about plants and other earth day things. There were some local area schools in attendance. Including my old elementary school, Londonderry! I got to see some of my old teachers and a few of the current students. They told me I was “like a million years old”. Thanks guys.

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Second Sunday at the Governor’s Residence

Yesterday was Second Sunday at the Residence. They open up the mansion to the public and have different stands and activities for people. This month’s theme was “Creature of the Garden”. The 4H Club brought in bunnies and goats. Zoo America brought cute owls, a skunk, a snake, and a turtle! The humane society brought a dog, and some bee keeper people talked about the bees that are kept on the grounds. I was also there with my newly-painted rain barrel and informational signs about the rain gardens. Here is the PDF of the signs in case you were curious (They are also in the previous post): Gov Rain Garden Boards

My setup

Talking to awesome and very nice First Lady Mrs. Wolf about the rain garden and rain barrel!!!

Me helping kids put their handprints on the rain barrel

I also got my boards printed out at the state print shop!

Rain Gardens at the Residence: The Installation

Wednesday, August 9th

Today we excavated the first rain garden! The soil was amended with this cool thing called BIOCHAR. Basically is charcoal. Wood is burned without the presence of oxygen (a process called pyrolysis) which burns off almost everything in the wood except the carbon. Biochar has an incredibly high amount of pore space and when mixed in to the soil, helps retain nutrients and water for plant uptake! It also stays in the soil for hundreds of years. Besides biochar, we also added sand and compost to improve drainage and add nutrients to the soil. Anyway here are some pictures of dirt:

The bobcat is breaking up the clay soil, making it easier to mix with the soil amendments

Here is a close-up picture of me holding some biochar in my hands

 

Here you can see the broken up subsoil about to be mixed with the biochar, compost, and sand

After all the amendments were dumped, they were mixed together with the Bobcat, then more thoroughly rototilled into the soil.

Friday, August 11th

Today we got to actually PLANT the rain garden!!! Very exciting! After many revisions of the plant species, I finally got a plant list that was in stock! Here is the final planting plan. We only planted the larger bed today.

Also, I designed informational boards for the Residence to display during tours! Here they are: Gov Rain Garden Boards

My mom came along with me to help out. And, of course we had the assistance of the maintenance guys!

The plants have arrived!

Me holding some marginal wood ferns

Loading the plants up

Laying out the pots

Finished the pot layout!

Little bluestem eagerly waiting to be planted!

This lucky guy is about to be planted in the ground!

Planting is finished!

We finished planting around noon and had a nice lunch with the Resident’s staff. After lunch, we needed to mulch the bed. Despite the rain on the radar and clouds hanging low in the sky, my mom and I decided to stay and keep mulching while the maintenance guys had other responsibilities to tend to. To no ones surprise, it started to rain. Then it started to downpour. But my mom seemed pretty determined to finish so I wasn’t going to say anything. By the time we were done, the rain was hammering down and visibility was minimal. Also we were soaked. But at least there was a rain garden to capture all that water!

Rain Barrel Painting

The Governor’s Residence wanted me to paint a rain barrel! So I did! Here are some pictures:

 

The Residence has an event called “Second Sunday” where the grounds opens up to the public and activities happen throughout the day. The theme for August’s is “Creatures in the Garden”. I will be bringing in my rain barrel and letting kids add their hand prints to the sky and the clouds. Yeah, I’m a little nervous that they’ll mess everything up but at least I got pictures first!

ALSO!!!! You can follow my facebook page creative wake to see more pictures and video of my rain barrel and some of my other on going projects!

The Terrifying Prospect of Being an Adult

Last time we left off, I had just told you about this fantastic opportunity I had to design a rain garden for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence.

Those luck few people who actually read my blog will get a sneak peak of the basically finished design! OOOOOOOOOhHHHhhhhhh! (I know! What privileged information!)

Here it is:

I also did a rough rendering but I don’t really like. I guess you can see it though

So yeah, it’s going well. The only problem is, I am absolutely terrified by the fact that this thing might actually be built and people will look at it and have opinions about it. And, there is a chance, whether large or small, that it will fail spectacularly. You can say all you want about the value of failing in the learning process but the real-world implications of failure are not ones that I particularly want to experience on the first go around.

Also, last Friday I picked up the rain barrel I’m painting for the Residence. I thought it was funny the one I got had Penn State football painted on it!

*Will insert photo at later date*

Anyway, enjoy the rest of your day!

My Awesome Summer Internship(s)

This is my desk at the DCNR office. I get my own cubical and TWO monitors this year!

What an unbelievealble couple of amazing opportunities I have this summer! First of all, I have an internship at DCNR (Department of Conservation of Natural Resources) working for the landscape architects in the Bureau of Facility Design and Construction. If you recall, I worked for DCNR last summer, but interned with Agroforesty. It has been super enjoyable so far! I’ve gotten to work on construction documents, been to meetings, and done a rendering or two! I am also now on the 8th floor and have decided for some reason that I should take the stairs more often, but by the time I reach my floor, I am out of breath and trying not to breath loudly while logging on to my computer is surprisingly difficult.

The other thing I got to do is something so so amazing is work at the GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE!!!! Like the GOVERNOR of PENNSYLVANIA! I’m so excited! I get to help design a rain garden, as well as helping with some various other projects on the mansion’s grounds. All of the staff are friendly and welcoming and I can’t believe I get to work with them! Also, they let me play the Steinway grand piano in the main hall! Very exciting times in the life of Zoe!

Here are some pictures of the Governor’s Residence:

The Rose Garden

 

And… BEES! They have a beekeeper on staff and built this display so kids that visit can learn about the importance of bees! They are also used to pollinate the roses and other flowers on the property!

And Here is where I’ll be designing the rain garden: