Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Celebrate Earth Day

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Celebrate Earth Day

Forty-two years ago, 20 million Americans, mostly from thousands of colleges and universities, united for the observation of the first Earth Day. Citizens turned their passion and energy from the anti-war protests of the sixties to a mounting national concern about the environment.

On April 22, 1970 the grassroots event marked the start of what is the modern environmental movement. Citizens were way ahead of the government officials, and the Democrats and the Republicans became united in their support of taking care of our natural resources.

Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, recognizing the rising concern, had been laying the ground work for several years for a day of observation about environmental issues. Rachel Carson’s publication of the best seller Silent Spring in 1962 brought attention to the use of pesticides and their effect on birds and other wildlife.

Earth Day quickly became an annual event, and in 1990 it became a global movement in 141 countries and mobilized 200 million people. Across the world demonstrators railed against toxic dumps, oil spills, power plants, raw sewage, freeways, and the loss of wilderness areas and the extinction of wildlife.

The movement led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Each decade has brought additional challenges, but the commitment remains strong.

More than one-third of all energy is used by people in their homes. Families throw away about 88 pounds of plastic every year. Aluminum cans and plastics take 500 years to break down. Cotton rags, and paper, and organic materials take six months to decompose.

“Knowledge is power,” wrote Sir Francis Bacon. If you’d like to pump-up your power for dealing with the environment, plan to attend the Port Discover Earth Day Festival on April 21.

Featuring demonstrations and information about all aspects of creating and living an environmentally friendly life, it will take place at Mariners’ Wharf from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm.

Hands-on science activities for all ages will focus on such topics as water quality and energy efficiency. Groups from the community will participate bringing information about organic gardening, composting, rain barrels, recycled crafts, energy conservation, recycling, nature crafts, just to name a few topics.

Gwen Bell, independent Shaklee distributor, Culligan Water, and Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation are supporting the event. Music will begin at 11:00 am with the Battle of the Bands, a local competition sponsored by the Youth Tobacco Prevention program of the Albemarle Health Services.

Taking care of planet Earth is a responsibility of every good citizen. As the population increases, the mandate becomes even more important to our survival. Knowledge of scientific principles regarding environmental issues will give us each the key to making a difference in our children’s world. See you at the festival!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Walking with a Purpose

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Walking with a Purpose

Walking is my preferred type of exercise. In fact, jumping around and sweating is not my style at all. I definitely need motivation, and Port Discover is providing that for all of us.

“Worth the Walk” is the latest community program designed by Port Discover and supported by the Albemarle Hospital Foundation in collaboration with Vidant Health through their Community Benefit Grants Program.

The objective is for individuals, or community group teams, to get out and get walking! To register, go to the “Worth the Walk” link at Port Discover, through an on-line program, will record steps taken by members, with an overall to see how far across the country, or even the world, citizens will walk. A map posted in the Port Discover window will be regularly updated to show the community’s progress.

Walking maps of the Elizabeth City historic districts, provided in part by the Elizabeth City Historic Neighborhood Association, can be found on the Worth the Walk page at The maps include supplemental activities and exercises that can be done along the way.

We all know that walking is good for us, but how, specifically? In searching for the answer, I found, the site for Rodale News, “where health meets green.” The organization is the publisher of Prevention Magazine and many other science and health publications. An early pioneer in promoting organic farming, J. I. Rodale’s family has carried on the traditions and promotes all things healthy.

Leah Zerbe in her article, “8 Astonishing Benefits of Walking” says that the activity often helps insulin resistant people from developing type 2 diabetes. Besides helping to bring desire and satisfaction to your love life, it can help to reduce your need for some medications.

Another way walking might save you money. Exploring the great outdoors and discovering the rich history of downtown Elizabeth City are free, and your outlook on life might also improve from the exposure to the beauty of nature and the stories of our community’s past.

Much focus has been placed on the need to walk 10,000 steps per day. Studies have shown that fibromyalgia pain can be reduced by walking and stretching. Mental capacity, energy, and depression can also be increased by exercise.

Women who walked the year before being diagnosed with breast cancer have been found to be 30% more likely to survive the disease. Those who walked after being diagnosed had a 45% greater chance of surviving according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Walking when done 30 minutes per day for 5 days per week has been found to lower the risk of stroke. Vigorous walking and the increased flow of blood to the brain have been found to produce a 27% lower risk of dementia.

All of those benefits are impressive, extremely motivating, and definitely worth the walk. Come join us! Bring your family!

Check out these links:
Elizabeth City's Self-guided Historic Walking Tour : National Historical Districts
Pasquotank County's Neighborhood Walking Mileage
Dismal Swamp State Park
Dismal Swamp Trails
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