Op-Ed: Political Earthquakes are Cruel and Avoidable by Rev. Dr. Thomas G. Sinnott


A truly devastating 2001 earthquake prompted our government to grant “Temporary Protected Status” to homeless families from El Salvador.

Today, some 260,000 Salvadorans work and live in our country. About 20,000 of these men. women, and children, live right here in Maryland. Republican and Democratic administrations extended the program, for humanitarian reasons.

These residents, who live peacefully among us, are law abiding, have been demonstrably productive workers, paid taxes, raised families, bought homes, bolstered economic development of their communities, and graduated from schools and universities.

For example, I have known a Salvadoran family who came here after the earthquake. Since then, their five children have grown into model Americans and are now in the work force. All have graduated from high school. One attends university and is also an office manager in an insurance firm, two work in agricultural related concerns, and two are managers in service and food businesses. All attend church. All are kind, generous, capable and caring people of whom I’m very proud. They are testimony to what makes us a great nation.

But those decent people are in danger, and very afraid. Now a political earthquake is threatening both them and the Eastern Shore itself.

Out of the blue, on Jan. 8, Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen M. Nielsen, announced she would end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador, with a delayed effective date of 18 months, to allow for an “orderly transition”, before the designation terminates totally on Sept. 9, 2019.” (www.uscis.gov retrieved January 11, 2018.)

So, ask yourself, “What is a family who has lived here for 16 years to do now? Should they leave all that they have built and achieved and move back to a country that is not ready to receive them? Should they leave their children, many of whom are in fact U.S. citizens, behind?”

Ask too: “Who will replace the workers forced to leave their jobs?

Above all, ask: “Why is this sudden change of policy necessary?” It is an affront to our fundamental values as an immigrant nation. It is mean-spirited. Don’t we value the “American Dream?”

Don’t we want to keep families together, not split them apart? Can’t we give our Salvadoran neighbors, who have given so much to this nation, a path to obtaining a Green Card and eventually become citizens? Terminating this program is not in our own self-interest.

Please join me in asking our Maryland Senators to work toward a humane and comprehensive immigration policy. Senators Van Hollen and Cardin are doing their best to protect all of the people in Maryland.

The real problem is on the Republican side of the aisle. The Republicans and the Trump administration just bequeathed to our children and grandchildren a $1.5 trillion deficit to pay off, so that the rich and corporations have even more largesse. They are dismantling programs that give working and middle class people a fair chance to improve their lives. They are fostering division between classes, races, and nationalities.

For the Eastern Shore, one of the biggest problems in Washington is Dr. Andy Harris our Congressional representative. He votes against anything that helps us — for example, to name just one matter, Federal aid to help Eastern Shore Marylanders to recover from Hurricane Sandy. He votes for legislation which helps the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class citizens, like the recent tax scam.

Join me in asking Dr. Harris, to stop hurting the Eastern Shore business community because of his punitive and mean ideology. Most of all, ask Dr. Harris to stop punishing the Eastern Shore

by raising our taxes, depleting our workforce, supporting regressive immigration policies, and undermining the democracy we all hold so dear.


Rev. Dr. Thomas G. Sinnott is affiliated with Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible

Snow Days and Spies by Nancy Mugele


Winter Break was extended for me by the bomb cyclone that left the Chester River looking like frozen Arctic tundra. I used the extra days to continue my trek through the mountain of books waiting patiently on my coffee table. Curled up in my favorite spot on the couch with a warm blanket, hot tea sweetened with Lockbriar Farms honey, and a roaring fire, is the perfect staycation for me – especially when it is unplanned.

Snow days, for those of us in the education world, are a gift. A gift of time, welcomed and celebrated, in our often busy and over-scheduled lives. Snow days that glide into weekends are an even bigger gift! And, while I know from personal experience that it is never easy for working parents to juggle unexpected school closings, it is always best to err on the side of safety especially given the large geographic area that Kent County and Queen Anne’s County cover.

Some of you may know that I secretly wanted to be Nancy Drew, but in some of my dreams I was a spy in France. My acting experience and my long neglected proficiency in French would have helped me in this endeavor. I almost majored in French in college, with a planned career at the United Nations, but that is another story.

I spent my snow days immersed in an historical novel – The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. The story brings together two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an American college student searching for her cousin in Europe in 1947—in a fictional account of courage, perseverance, revenge and personal discovery.

Louise de Bettignies (Lili in the novel) was a real French secret agent who spied on the Germans for the British during World War I using the pseudonym Alice Dubois. She was the leader of a group of spies (including many women) who provided important information to the British through occupied Belgium and the Netherlands. The “Alice” network is estimated to have saved the lives of more than a thousand British soldiers. Louise was so effective she was nicknamed “the queen of spies.” Jenna, who also enjoys historical fiction, is reading The Alice Network as we speak. I cannot wait for our mother-daughter book club discussion.

During World War II, “the most dangerous of all Allied spies” according to the Germans was American Virginia Hall. Hall is someone I feel like I know as I have written about her and given interviews about her for two books and a tv news report. Virginia Hall was a 1926 graduate of Roland Park Country School (my previous school in Baltimore). She worked with the British Special Operations Executive and later with the American Office of Strategic Services and the Special Activities Division of the Central Intelligence Agency. She was known by many aliases, each with a different persona.  I like to believe that she honed her acting skills at RPCS where she participated in theater in Upper School. I admire Virginia Hall’s gift for languages – she was fluent in five – and her intelligence. Unfortunately, her hopes of joining the Foreign Service were ended by a hunting accident that left her with an artificial leg. Resilient and very athletic from her days playing basketball at RPCS, she worked for British intelligence in France after the Nazis invaded and was also dubbed by the Germans as “the lady who limps.”

You can read about her in The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy by Judith L. Pearson. Actor Daisy Ridley (of recent Star Wars fame) will play Virginia Hall in an adaptation of Sonia Purnell’s forthcoming biography A Woman of No Importance. The book is scheduled for publication in spring 2019 but Paramount Pictures has already acquired the rights. I don’t think there is a director yet but I look forward to this film so Virginia’s story will become known to a wider audience.

I salute the amazing and daring women throughout history who have made a significant contribution to our freedom, especially  Virginia and “Alice.” They are truly role models and they continue to inspire me.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.

Op-Ed: A Bridge to Somewhere by Elizabeth Watson, Judy Gifford, and Janet Christensen-Lewis


In the fall of 2018, the Maryland Transportation Authority will announce potential corridors for a third bridge across the Chesapeake Bay to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We have less than one year to make sure such a corridor does not cross into Kent County and destroy our amazing landscape and rural character.

No matter where the location, make no mistake, it will have an impact on the entire Eastern Shore. What is at stake is the Eastern Shore’s quality of life, heritage, and highly productive farmland. Should Kent County be the selected location, our small agrarian rural county with the smallest population and landmass in Maryland would be swamped with traffic and our open space littered with fast food chains. Our unique identity would be ended.

Any emphasis on just the “Bridge” is misleading and perhaps intentional to distract us from thinking about the access corridor that must go with the crossing. This bridge will not be some little two-lane span that drops cars onto country roads. No, it will be four or six lanes with all the development that comes with such a project.

MDTA will specify where those impermeable asphalt and concrete ribbons scar the landscape after a mile-wide corridor has been identified in the study process that has just begun. At this
point, we can only guess where a highway would transect Kent County. By imposing Maryland’s eminent domain to take protected lands, the destruction of the intact historic landscapes and open farmland of Kent County would be impossible to `mitigate.’

Maryland has designated $5 million for a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, designed to narrow areas for a possible crossing from six zones, encompassing the entire Bay in Maryland, to a preferred corridor. In Tier 2, further environmental review will identify the actual route. Kent County has land within three of those zones. Every zone has its own unique set of conditions that will come under consideration. These include significant direct impacts on natural, human and cultural resources, plus secondary and cumulative impacts that transportation projects bring. The latter are often more significant and devastating to the fabric of communities. MDTA is rushing to make these evaluations impacting the entire Chesapeake Bay and the whole of Maryland to meet an artificially imposed deadline.

Reports produced by MDOT, MDTA and the information from the Task Force summary highlight numerous indicators that might be used in the assessments for another crossing.

First, Ocean City is a major economic engine for the State, second only to Baltimore as a contributor to the tourist industry. Ocean City tourism can expand when access becomes less constrained. Of course, this increased traffic will continue until once again there are more vehicles than highways to accommodate, continuing the vicious loop that building more roads perpetuates.

Second, a new bridge to the Eastern Shore would allow easy access to cheaper land and affordable housing for workers on the Western Shore without having to increase wages enough for them to afford housing closer to their work. Our efforts to protect open space have made Kent County an ideal target for sprawl from Baltimore and surrounding areas.

A third and perhaps less understood factor is freight transport moving within and through Maryland, estimated to be $1.6 trillion by 2040. The majority of this freight is moved by trucks.
The new 301 Bypass, when completed, will increase truck pressure from our north. In fact, Delaware Department of Transportation’s “purpose and need” statement for the connector identifies the 95/1/301 construction, in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, as an alternative route for trucks to bypass the congestion and tolls of the I-95 corridor. State transportation studies  give little to no consideration of improvements to rail lines as a path to lessen the load on our highways.

Once a terminus for a Bay Crossing is selected, it is unlikely to be changed in the future. NOW is the time to put an end to the Bay Crossing coming to Kent County that has been threatened since 1907. Our best defense is educated, organized and active citizens. Everyone who cares about the special attributes of our county should attend public meetings, submit comments and ask a lot of questions of our elected officials, MDOT and MDTA. Total transparency in the process, which to date has been lacking, can only happen if citizens make MDTA aware that we are informed and watching. The public must participate and know that there is urgency to participation. There will be no turning back once the Preferred Corridor is identified and the Record of Decision is published.

You are urged to stay involved and informed. This is going to be a community effort. Here are ways you can participate.

If you have not already written to the Bay Crossing Study with your comments, you can still submit them at http://www.baycrossingstudy.com/public-involvement/comment. From our conversations with MDTA, only about 400 comments have been submitted so far. Kent County must add many more comments.

Plan to attend a public information meeting that KCPA will host at Chestertown Firehouse Thursday January 25th at 6:30 PM. Information will be shared about statewide alliances, ways
or you to take part in the NEPA process, especially the “purpose and need” exercise scheduled for this spring and other important ways you can help. We will share information that KCPA
has obtained through contact and meeting with MDTA.

Contact our 36th district General Assembly representatives and the Kent County Commissioners to voice your concerns. Emphasize your expectation that the MDTA must distribute more than the bare minimum of information and provide adequate opportunities for meaningful public participation. Protest the artificial fast-track deadline.


MDTA has already added Venable, an American Lawyer 100 law firm as external legal representation. Be aware that a need and funds for legal representation will likely be necessary.

Elizabeth Watson, Judy Gifford, and Janet Christensen-Lewis are board members of the Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance. For more information please go here

I Didn’t Know about Mental Illness until I Did By Liz Freedlander


For most of my life, like many of my friends and family, I knew hardly anything about mental illness until I started a consulting relationship for a few hours a month with Channel Marker. This piece about my experience has been writing itself in my head for a while.

I have had my heart broken open by the people who Channel Marker serves. I now know about persons diagnosed with severe, persistent mental illness and their families. Please read these words again: SEVERE and PERSISTENT. You can often tell by looking that people living with mental illness do not fit our definition of normal. We want to look away. I don’t look away any more because I now know about mental illness.

The chemistry of the brain of mentally ill persons usually has been changed. In some cases, by exposure to terrible things as a child that have resulted in PTSD. All this time, I thought PTSD was relegated to war experiences. Channel Marker does serve war veterans. (One Vietnam vet still hears the screams of men and the sounds of gun-fire). It also serves children and youth diagnosed with PTSD.

Many of these ill persons suffer from schizophrenia, often occurring out of the blue while in their twenties. They hear voices or have visual hallucinations – often – sometimes constantly.

During a conversation at the Channel Marker Holiday Party, one of these young men and I were having a pleasant conversation when he apologized for wearing his sunglasses. He said, “They help me with the voices.” This was once a young boy, like any young boy, who grew up riding bikes with pals in his neighborhood and enjoying family vacations. Now, he can look a little scary.

For some reason the tattoos, including the one in the middle of his forehead, give him meaning in his difficult life. He is polite and sweet and has a sense of humor. He religiously takes his meds although the side effects make him feel debilitated. They help him cope.

I have met parents. The heartache never goes away. One mother said, “The stigma of mental illness makes me feel as if my son spends each day out in the middle of a field where he is pecked to death.” One father’s sadness was palpable as he explained that his son does not take his meds so his symptoms, out of control, make it very difficult to have a relationship.  Still this father  faithfully makes an effort. You can see the pain in this man’s eyes as he describes the vibrant young man with a blossoming career who was once his son.

Lisa is a grown woman whose children live with other families. She has pretty red hair like I once did. She has PTSD with symptoms of chronic depression and anxiety disorders. She told me her life story. I cried. Her childhood with a cruel, narcissistic mother portended poor choices of men in her life. The ultimate result was fleeing for her own survival from a marriage so abusive that she had to leave her children behind with their father. She mourns the loss of her kids. I leave it to your imagination as to what might be part of her story – when she wears a skirt, she always wears pants under it. Her anxiety causes her to be unable to work in an environment where she might be alone with a man.

But this is not the totality of my experience. I have experienced hope and help delivered in the most compassionate and professional manner by Channel Marker. While mental illness may not be curable; it is treatable. The caring staff see beyond the illness into the hearts and personhood of their clients. They provide emotional support, life-skills, goal setting, job-training and placement, triage for health problems, places to live, a peer group and just plain normal laughter. There are success stories.

Only the brave and the optimistic can do this work every day. I think they are heroes. Marty Cassell, a therapist who has worked at Channel Marker for 25 years and a married father of four boys, is tall and attractive but rarely smiles. I asked him one day if the work is heavy. He said, “I love my work because I can see positive changes in my clients. Do you know that in addition to my day job here at Channel Marker, I work evenings for Mid-shore Council on Family Violence to provide one-to-one counseling for battered women. I also have a support group for men who are batterers.” He answered my question.

There are victories to be celebrated because of Marty and his colleagues at Channel Marker. Lisa who lost her children is strong and clear about her past and her future. Her goal is to have a job in an agricultural setting and be an advocate for sustainable farming. She has poured her maternal love into her cats and has a fiancé. She is a student at Chesapeake College and was recently invited to take an honors course. She, like many others, credit their successes to Channel Marker.

Channel Marker annually serves about 400 individuals almost 50% of whom are ages 21 and younger, in Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester Counties.

Liz Freedlander has been a resident of Talbot County for 41 years. She was executive director of Talbot Hospice from 1990 to 2004 and recently retired as director of development from the Horn Point Laboratory after 10 years. She has been a fundraising consultant to a number of local nonprofits. Liz has been raising money for nonprofits since the age of 9 when she canvassed her neighborhood with a tin can and collected $5.94 for the Baltimore Symphony.


Exelon: Analysis Shows Conowingo Revenues Insufficient to Fund Additional Sediment Mitigation


Providing clean, reliable and affordable electricity has been the paramount focus for Exelon Generation and the Conowingo Dam for the last 90 years.

In December 2017, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy released a statement and accompanying report by Energy & Environmental Economics (E3) that incorrectly assessed the economic status of the Conowingo Dam. The NorthBridge Group, performed a detailed analysis of the E3 report and found that the E3 conclusions are fundamentally flawed due to a gross over-estimation of the future revenues of the Conowingo Dam.

The E3 report inaccurately inflates future revenues in two ways. First, the report greatly overestimates the dam’s capacity revenue, which Conowingo earns for being available as an electricity resource. The dam’s capacity revenue going forward is expected to be roughly 80 percent less than the E3 report estimate. Second, the report bases Conowingo’s future revenues on 2013 energy prices, which are much higher than today’s prices and expected future energy prices. Energy prices in the market available to Conowingo were 30-45 percent lower in 2016 and 2017 versus 2013, yet the E3 report ignored this fact.

When the E3 analysis is run using current information, the analysis demonstrates that Conowingo’s revenues are not even high enough to cover costs plus an adequate return, let alone sufficient to fund additional contributions for sediment. Conowingo provides significant benefits to the region, as confirmed by more than 50 studies since 2010.

As a member of the Chesapeake Bay community, Exelon Generation remains steadfast in our commitment to helping identify the most effective ways to address the health of the Bay.

Exelon Generation
Kennett Square, PA


NorthBridge Group Report

Be the Light by Nancy Mugele



Not a creature is stirring at my house after a heartwarming week of laughter and loud conversations amidst endless loads of dishes and laundry. The last bird flew out this morning and truth be told I am feeling a bit melancholy. For 30 years of married life Jim and I always hoped to raise children of character and integrity who would one day lead independent lives of purpose. Somehow we have managed to do just that – despite a few bumps and detours along the way.

Now, having our children pop in and out of our lives for precious bits of time is both awe-inspiring and bittersweet. The girls and I took our annual trip to NYC right before Christmas and enjoyed our day of sight-seeing, light-seeing and fun. Jenna, always a thoughtful gift giver, surprised me and Kelsy with tickets to see the Rockettes at Radio City. It was spectacular! James arrived this year with presents for everyone that he had made himself. Creative and thoughtful and totally surprising! I helped Kelsy by purchasing and wrapping a few of the gifts she gave to family members, but don’t tell anyone.

The chaos when they are all here with us in Chestertown is invigorating and I greatly enjoy sharing my love through cooking. (I would not mind help cleaning the kitchen once in a while though!) On Christmas Day Jim’s family arrived to help us celebrate and we had our traditional lasagna dinner.  Today, as I finish eating the leftovers and begin the holiday clean up, I do feel a little sad to be alone on the river. Fortunately, this is the season of lights so my house is brightly decorated even at mid-day. I know the lights are telling me to smile and find joy in the memories made this Christmas.

‘Tis the season for several religious celebrations where light is a central tenet. Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa all share a joyful feast with family and loved ones. Kwanzaa and Hanukkah include the lighting of candles on consecutive nights (Kwanzaa has 7 candles and Hanukkah has 9), while Christmas is the culmination of the weekly lighting of 4 Advent candles in December. Christmas also includes a decorated tree with lights. This year I received a gift of two bayberry candles from a former Kent School family and was introduced to their bayberry candle tradition. The legend is that if you burn your bayberry candle on Christmas or New Year’s Eve it will bring blessings of abundance in the coming year. I love candles and really appreciated this thoughtful and meaningful gift. We burned ours on Christmas night with all of our extended family present – hope it still works!

In The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare wrote: “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” I have been thinking about these words all morning as I have been storing the Christmas china, washing stemware and vacuuming poinsettia leaves, while my Lodestone Holiday Hearth candle fills my senses with orange, ginger, and balsam. While I am not one for resolutions, in this quiet moment in my empty house, I have decided to be the light for others in the coming year and find ways to celebrate good deeds at my school and in my community. Will you join me?

And while my own children have returned to Baltimore, Nashville and Denver, I am so blessed to have 141 children who attend Kent School to fill my heart with light and good as we welcome the New Year this weekend. All the best in 2018!

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.

Exelon’s Share for Mitigation on the Conowingo Dam by Tom Zolper


The Conowingo Dam 20 miles north of the mouth of the Susquehanna River has been the focus of scientific scrutiny and concern since the 1990s, and public worry for the past five years. The reason is simple: the pond behind the dam that trapped dirt for decades now has filled up.

More of the dirt (also called sediment) and phosphorus clinging to the dirt are reaching downstream water. In addition, storms scour sediment and associated nutrients from the pond and flush it downstream.

These additional pollutant loads are a problem because we already have too much phosphorus and nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay – from farms, sewage plants, and other sources. These chemicals are plant food, causing algae blooms that suck oxygen from the water when they die and decompose. The added sediment coming through the dam also is a concern for effects on downstream habitats.

When Bay states and the federal government agreed in 2010 to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake —the so-called Bay pollution diet—they thought we had more time to deal with the situation at the Conowingo. We don’t. What to do?

In 2015 the U.S. Army Corps said the most cost-effective solution was to reduce pollution reaching the dam from upstream in Pennsylvania and New York. Governor Hogan has also proposed a small $4 million pilot program to see if dredging at the pond could also be a part of the solution.

Whatever is determined to be the best solution or set of solutions, one thing is clear: it will cost more money. That’s why a new report commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) offers some good news: The owner of the dam can help chip in.

The report, “An Economic Analysis of the Conowingo Hydroelectric Generating Station,” concluded Exelon can afford to contribute $27 million to $44 million a year to help fix or mitigate the problem and still make a healthy profit. The study used publicly available finance numbers about Exelon’s operations at the dam, as well as standard industry information. It was prepared for Water Power Law Group and CBF and TNC but researched and written by Energy+Environmental Economics in California. Exelon to date has offered to contribute only $200,000.

The company shouldn’t be responsible for the whole solution. It didn’t cause pollution from upstream farms, sewage plants and other sources to discharge into the Susquehanna and flow downstream.

While it is important to hold Exelon accountable for the impact of the dam on downstream water quality and habitat, it’s important to keep the Conowingo issue in context. First, the impacts of the lost trapping capacity and scouring during storm events are significant but not catastrophic. In fact, as the situation at the dam has worsened for the past few years, the water quality in the Bay has steadily been improving.

Also, studies show that the slug of new pollution moving past the dam will cause effects primarily on the mainstem of the Chesapeake Bay. Most rivers that feed the Bay such as the Choptank, Nanticoke and others will not be impacted, nor will the thousands of fresh water streams in Maryland. Local counties and communities will remain responsible for cleaning up pollution in their backyards.

So, we can’t blame Conowingo for all our water woes. The dam is only one of many problems we face trying to clean up the Bay. But we can ask Exelon to do its share, just as we ask everyone else to pitch in. We know the company can afford it.

Tom Zolper is the assistant media director at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Virtue of Slow By Tom Horton


My bike has but one speed, unfashionable in a high-geared, tech-fueled world that now affords cyclists push-button shifting through a range of gears sufficient to conquer the Alps and pass Porsches.

Single-speeding is limiting — but also liberating. It makes you respect the lay of the land, seek the gentler slopes that meander alongside the hills, value the wooded corridors that block headwinds. Your pedaling becomes more efficient, your legs stronger. There is more to the joy of bicycling than more gears, more mileage, higher speeds.

The virtues of slow are especially relevant now to saving the Chesapeake Bay and the larger environment, as Congress debates major tax reforms based on a single, awful premise: We must grow the economy faster and bigger than ever.

“We face a crushing burden of debt which will take down our economy,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said. But his tax plan will add an acknowledged $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion to national indebtedness. It’s the only way “to get faster economic growth,” Ryan said. And “faster economic growth is necessary for us to get our debt under control.”

Never mind the circularity of that argument, or the fact that economists across the political spectrum think the level of growth Republicans are counting on is unachievable. The real dirty secret is that virtually no one on either side of the political aisle thinks that roaring faith-based growth would be undesirable; just unrealistic.

But environmentally, such growth would be disastrous, as will be Congress’s all-out, desperate attempts to achieve it if the tax package passes with its present, pedal-to-the-metal economic expansionism — think repeal of regulations, fast-tracking fossil fuel energy projects, suppressing troublesome climate science.

And what’s bad for the planet is bad for the Chesapeake, where a warming climate and sea level rise threaten wetlands, water quality and habitat. Plus, even under the best of circumstances we’re going to be hard-pressed to meet air and water quality goals by 2025.

And, environmental success is linked to economics as surely as my rear wheel is chained to my pedals.

The day may come when we achieve the inspiring vision articulated by green architect and designer William McDonough: “Imagine they announce a major new mall and your reaction is, ‘great’ that will mean cleaner air and water and more habitat for wildlife.”

In the meantime, despite progress in greening our economy, we still can’t grow without a negative impact on air and water, without depleting the habitats and natural resources we share with a shrinking array of other species, without adding to climate change.

And we scarcely even know how to hold a meaningful conversation about the broad implications of economic growth and environmental quality. Nor how to talk about the very real alternatives to high growth, and the benefits of steady-state economies that put no premium on growth at all.

An economy not devoted to growth is usually disparaged in grow-or-die terms, but it is more about quality over quantity. It emphasizes moderation of the rampant depletion of natural resources or filling the air and water with wastes like carbon dioxide. Education, innovation, community, time to ride a bicycle — all these can still grow. Population would not need to.

We need such conversations — not just because of growth’s environmental impacts — but because uncritically chasing after high growth as the path to greater national well-being is a dead-end strategy.

Consider the 4- to 6-percent annual economic growth projections spouted wishfully by supporters of current tax reforms — the way Congress pledges to atone for all the loss of revenue.

There were several decades where growth did come at least near the current, wild projections, writes economist Robert J. Gordon in his epic, The Rise and Fall of American Growth (2016; Princeton University Press).

But that ended by the 1970s, and was fueled by truly fundamental innovations, such as the automobile, the electrification of the United States and antibiotics, as well as the kind of world-shaking events we always capitalize: World War II and the New Deal that followed the Great Depression.

That period is not repeatable, Gordon and others argue, and the modest economic growth of recent decades bears him out. Productivity, or output per unit of labor and capital, is key to real growth, and it has been comparatively sluggish for decades.

But Congress persists in chasing high growth like an old dog that in puppyhood found something gloriously stinky to roll in, then revisits the spot daily with undiminished expectation.

An old dog may be indulged, but the crew in the U.S. Capitol would profoundly change our economy, environment be damned, addicted to growth that can’t happen.

Let them ride single-speeds.

Tom Horton has written about Chesapeake Bay for more than 40 years, including eight books. He lives in Salisbury, MD, where he is also a professor of Environmental Studies at Salisbury University.

Bake Love by Nancy Mugele


I was four years old in 1965 when political activists Penelope and Franklin Rosemont and Tor Faegre helped to make popular the anti-Vietnam war phrase Make Love, Not War by printing thousands of buttons at the Solidarity Bookshop in Chicago and distributing them at the Mother’s Day Peace March. Although I was very young when the phrase was created I remember using the phrase a lot as a teenager. I had a poster in my bedroom with the words in pop-Art lettering reminiscent of all things flower-power related.

Today, as a fifty-something I have decided to coin a new phrase while borrowing from the 1960s. Bake Love. Especially at this time of year when family bakers are busy preparing traditional Christmas or Hanukkah cookies, pies, cakes, yule logs, etc. For, after all, isn’t baking really about sharing your love.

When I was growing up my Italian Nana made every dinner a celebration. Her dishes always tasted more delicious than what I ate at home. I believed it was because she “cooked with love” and I repeated that often to my own mother’s annoyance. I thought Nana’s famous tuna fish salad was definitely mixed with love because no one else could make tuna taste as good. (Years later I discovered Nana used Miracle Whip and not mayonnaise but I am still sticking with the “made with love” story.) Her homemade chicken soup always made me feel better and it had a little kick that could not quite be replicated. The last time I watched Nana make it I caught her dumping an entire small tin of McCormick finely ground pepper right in. That was the secret!

It was the holiday baking, however, that always filled my heart. The scent of anise in her biscottis, the toasted sesame seeds on her giuggiulena, the soft Italian wedding cookies with frosting and colored sprinkles I always got for my Thanksgiving birthday, and the thin, crispy waffle-like pizzelles dusted with powdered sugar that I could eat one after the other.  I could go on but I cannot type at the moment as there are tears forming in my eyes. I miss her every year during this special season.

Jenna definitely got her baking talents, but when Kelsy was in high school she made the Italian wedding cookies for a bake-off at school. I was kicked out of the kitchen as I was trying to hurry her along by helping with the frosting. Apparently, I did not know how to do it correctly. All on her own, Kelsy won the blue ribbon. That ribbon proudly hung on our refrigerator door for years. It reminded me, after my grandmother passed, that traditional food recipes must be written down so they will never be lost. What would the family table be like without the love inherent in family dishes prepared in exactly the same way for generations.

I prefer handwritten recipe cards and have a book that contains recipes from both my side and Jim’s side of our family. I am so fortunate to have recipes written in my grandmother’s own handwriting. Treasures I will never part with. I also have recipes written by Jim’s mother. Trudy was a wonderful cook but I could never understand her recipe filing system. She filed pot roast under M for meat and a special chocolate cake recipe under M for the last name of the neighbor who gave her the recipe. But, her Christmas butter cookies were filed under C.

I love that Jenna and Kelsy and their cousin, Amanda, have established an annual Christmas cookie baking tradition with their Aunt Ann. They set the date at Thanksgiving and they all look forward to making the traditional butter cookies with red and green sugar sprinkles that my late mother-in-law always made each year. Carrying on the Mugele family tradition and baking with love.

There is no better way to celebrate the joyous holiday season than to Bake Love! Anyone want to help me print some buttons?

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.