ENVISION ESSENTIALS Session IV Saturday (Local Government Day) and Session III Recap

Please take a few moments to read about this program. It might be just what you were looking for, even if you didn’t know it.

Join us this Saturday for Session IV: ENVISION ESSENTIALS: LOCAL GOVERNMENT DAY (Saturday, July 20th at City Hall, Winchester Hall and downtown Frederick, from 9:00am to 3:00pm).

More details below!

Envision Essentials

(click the image to open a larger version)

We are very excited about this new Envision Frederick County program, which closely aligns with our operating principle that informed public discourse and active engagement of individuals and groups in our civic life are essential to our mutual well-being and prosperity.

ENVISION ESSENTIALS is comprised of four distinct sessions, each on a Saturday, spread out over two months, in four great venues scattered across our beautiful county. Each session runs from 9:00am to 3:00 or 3:30 pm, and includes a nice lunch and a walking tour (see below).

Mike Tidwell and audience

Most of the attendees of Session III of ENVISION ESSENTIALS: SMART GROWTH: ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN FREDERICK COUNTY, held on Saturday, June 29th in the Middletown Valley.

You can email me at kai.hagen@envisionfrederickcounty.org if you want to sign up for Session IV, or to learn more about the program. But please take a look at the description below.

Our final session of our inaugural year of ENVISION ESSENTIALS is this Saturday. Here is a little information about that day. Please join us!

Session IV

Saturday, July 20th at City Hall, Winchester Hall and downtown Frederick
9:00am to 3:00pm

The last of the four sessions will be our Local Government Day. It will include time hearing from and speaking with County Executive Jan Gardner, members of the Frederick County Council, members of the City of Frederick Board of Aldermen, the Mayor of Emmitsburg, State Delegate Ken Kerr and State Senator Ron Young. And we are excited that Congressman Jamie Raskin will be joining the group for lunch and some discussion.

Among other things, we’ll learn about how they first got involved in civic life, why they ran for office, about campaigning for office and serving in office, their roles in local government, and more.

There will be opportunities to ask and discuss basics of local municipal and county government (Local Government 101), including some history, the county’s switch to charter, the basic structure of city and county government, the various divisions/departments that capture the range of facilities and services, the legislative process, etc.

We will start the day at City Hall in Frederick, with coffee and donuts from 8:45 to 9:00.

After welcoming comments and introductions we’ll have an hour or so to hear from and speak with some members of the City of Frederick Board of Aldermen.

Then, after a short break, and before it gets into the hotter part of the day, we’re really looking forward to an educational walking tour with State Senator Ron Young of the Carroll Creek corridor (including the linear park and flood control project that changed everything).

After the tour, we will move to Winchester Hall and hear from and discuss things with County Executive Jan Gardner and members of the Frederick County Council.

From there, we’ll walk less than a block to Brewer’s Alley, where we have a private space upstairs for lunch, where we will be joined by MD’s 8th District Congressman Jamie Raskin.

After lunch, we’ll spend time with a contrast of local and state government, engaging a conversation with State Delegate Ken Kerr and Mayor of Emmitsburg, Don Briggs.

We’ll wrap up the session with an open discussion about the role of local and state governments in our community and in our lives.

AGAIN: You can email me at kai.hagen@envisionfrederickcounty.org if you want to sign up for Session III and/or Session IV, or to learn more about the program.


PLEASE NOTE: We are very grateful to few sponsors, who have made it possible to offer the day for a discounted rate (50% or $40.00), if it would make a difference to you.

Learn a lot, have a great time, make some new friends, and help us make this first time around a genuine success!


Saturday, June 29th in Middletown Valley
9:00am to 3:00 or 3:30pm

Our third session was held in the Middletown Valley, and the day focused on a number of important local and regional environmental issues, with an emphasis on climate change in the morning.

The day also included a close up tour of a wonderful example of successful organic farming and regenerative agriculture in the beautiful Middletown Valley. Late June was a great time for this tour!

After some coffee and donuts, our hosts, Mike and Sherie Koob welcomed us for the morning sessions at Middletown United Methodist Church.

Middletown United Methodist Church

Then Mike Koob kicked off the session with a presentation about the Multi-faith Alliance of Climate Stewards of Frederick County. The alliance is one of a number of local, Frederick County-based organizations that have developed in recent years to work on different…but often overlapping…environmental issues in our broader community.

The Multi-faith Alliance of Climate Stewards operates on a very simple premise:

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children… our mission is to act locally on our moral duty to future generations by protecting the earth and its inhabitants from harmful impacts of climate change.”

Mike Koob

Kai HagenAfter Mike, Kai Hagen, the Director of Envision Frederick County, led an interactive discussion about the development of organized environmental and land use efforts in the county over the last couple of decades.

It is notable that, in little more than two decades, the county has gone from having almost no local organizations (formal or informal) that worked on these issues to having a remarkable array of groups that are doing great work on a wide variety of issues in Frederick County, and making a a real difference here.

Next up was Kevin G. Sellner, Ph.D. who, despite feeling a little under the weather, took us through an outstanding presentation and discussion about water issues in Frederick County, including a good look at how so many of our practices and policy choices put our surface and groundwater at risk…or can help protect them.

Kevin has a remarkable talent for discussing complex scientific issue in highly comprehensible terms for the rest of us, and making it relevant to the issues we face and the opportunities we have here in Frederick County.

Kevin Sellner

Trained as a biological oceanographer and phytoplankton ecologist, Dr. Kevin Sellner focused his initial research career on phytoplankton dynamics and fate of primary production in fresh and marine waters. His interests expanded to harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the mid-1980’s which he continues to pursue in his retirement designing and implementing cyanobacteria projects for local waters in western

Maryland, USA. Sellner joined Hood College’s Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies as a Senior Scholar in 2015 where he continues HAB research with students and colleagues.

As a Frederick County, MD resident, is a member of the Frederick County Sustainability Commission and advises county and city officials on local water quality, land use, and future conditions under our changing climate. He was also a member of the Energy and Environment Working Group during the drafting of the Livable Frederick Master Plan.

Visit the Hood College Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies on the web and on Facebook.

CCWS logo

Our last presentation in the morning was from Mike Tidwell the founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Mike TidwellHe is also an author and filmmaker who predicted in vivid detail the Katrina hurricane disaster in his 2003 book Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast. His most recent book, focusing on Katrina and global warming, is titled The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Race to Save America’s Coastal Cities. His 2004 documentary film, We Are All Smith Islanders, vividly depicts the dangers of global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.

Tidwell has been featured in numerous national media outlets including NBC’s Meet the Press, NPR, the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, Politico, and the Washington Post.

In 2003, Tidwell received the Audubon Naturalist Society’s prestigious Conservation Award. Two years later he received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. A long-time resident of Maryland, Tidwell lives in Takoma Park with his wife Beth and son Sasha.

Mike’s personal story, knowledge and experience were combined into a powerful and inspiring talk about the impacts of climate change on Maryland (and Frederick County), and what local and state governments can do to reduce our contribution to the problem and develop more resilience in the face of changes.

Visit the Chesapeake Climate Action Network on the web, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Veggie Annie logoMike also joined us for a great lunch, provided by Veggie Annie, whose fantastic lunch at Session II, at Bar-T Mountainside in Urbana had gotten rave reviews!

After lunch, we drove a short distance to the beautiful Holterholm Farm, to wrap up the session with an hour and a half presentation and tour with fifth generation owner and operator, Ron Holter.

Ron HolterThe Holterholm Farm is nestled in the fertile Middletown Valley of Frederick County. Ron farms with his son Adam, stewarding over 290 organic acres. The centerpiece enterprise is a 130 cow seasonal, no-grain, pasture-based dairy marketing its milk through Organic Valley Cooperative. Regenerative management practices have been followed since 2000. Ron graduated from Middletown High School in 1981 and continued farming with his family until 1994 when Ron and his wife Kathy bought the business from his parents. Ron began grazing their dairy cows in 1996, started farming organically in 2000 and became certified organic in 2005. Ron and Kathy’s son Adam joined the partnership in 2013.

Their farming philosophy says it best : “We believe that farming should be done within the boundaries that our Creator set when He set the world into motion. We farm knowing that we are just stewards of the land, attempting to improve the land for future generations. No pesticides or herbicides are used to cover up problems in our farming practices. We believe agriculture begins with the soil, culminates in diversity, and produces a quality product in proportion to the attention we give it.”

Here are a few photos from our visit to this wonderful farm.

Ron and audience


farm view

Visit the Holter Farm on the web or on Facebook!

Three sessions behind us now. One to go…this year!

We have worked hard to put together four outstanding, educational, highly engaging and fun sessions for you.

We intend to establish this as an invaluable and evolving annual program for people who want to be more informed, more effectively engaged in our community and/or who might even be or become interested in serving on various boards and commissions, or running for local office themselves.

Because this is the inaugural version of the program, and we really want this first time around to be very positive and productive experience for two or three dozen of you, we are pricing this inaugural program very modestly.

To SIGN UP or get more information:
Email kai.hagen@envisionfrederickcounty.org