On Tuesday, March 22 The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo hosted the Friends of Big Creek/Brooklyn Centre Naturalists “Putting the “U” in Urban Watershed Stewardship” Mini-Symposium. This year’s theme in the series was “Low Maintenance, Low Impact Landscaping Trends for Homeowners”.
Victoria Mills, Director of the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership kicked off the evening with a compelling presentation of the perils of not pursuing sustainable landscaping. Her facts and figures were to the point. Her use of local, real-life practitioners of sustainable practices to explain how individuals can positively impact their environment was enlightened and gave added incentive to our attendees to implement her suggestions. Ms. Mills condensed a wide range of concepts into a brief time slot and did a bang up job. She gave a perfect introduction to the rest of the program.
The dynamic pair of Kevin and Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells followed with a presentation chronicling their real-life experience of incorporating an alternative landscape in the design of their home. Kevin, the Director of Sustainable Design at CityArchitecture and Kyle, the Manager of Watershed Programs with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District created a unique environment and home by incorporating the principles and values of their respective professions. Kyle stressed the importance of connecting our relationship with our waterways to the daily impact our choices and actions have on the quality of our streams, rivers, and lakes. Kevin then walked us through the planning, implementation, and finished product that tied storm-water management to their use of alternative landscaping in their design. We were fortunate that this couple was comfortable with having their private residence on display. It was particularly stirring and effective to have a real-life example and demonstration of best practices—local folks that walk the walk.
Although all of the presentations had the added value of power point enhancement, the most beautiful to watch unfold was “The How and Why of Native Plants”. Garrett Ormiston, Stewardship Specialist in the Natural Areas Division of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History explained the difference between invasive, exotic, and native plants, and then, went on to exemplify how native plants can enhance and/or replace a landscape of exotic plants. Mr. Ormiston’s skill as a speaker and his extensive knowledge of native plants added a rich dimension to his segment of the program.
Ordinarily, it would be a disadvantage to end a program with the most abstract and conceptual topic, but Jonathan Hull, co-founder of The Green Triangle was more than equal to the task. The content of his presentation and his method of delivery kept the audience engaged to the very end. His ability to explain an abstract concept backing up the idea with examples of application was ingenious. When the slide exemplifying an herb spiral appeared on the screen exemplifying form and function, an audible gasp escaped from the audience.
All of the speakers did a great job with the brief time slot each had and left us hungering for more. The presenters were gracious enough to allow us to post their presentations to www.friendsofbigcreek.org. Although you will get a taste of what the speakers presented, I suggest that when you see any one of our presenters listed as a speaker in NEO attend the event. You will be energized to take action and embrace the future.