current info

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Sunday, January 20, 2013

from the Cultivator Jan 1, 1844: Dearness of Labor - Effects Of Plaster Paris or Gypsum - Irrigation

That land in Europe produces more, acre for acre, than in this country, whether under the plow or down to grass, is not to be attributed to the principles productiveness being there better understood than here, but chiefly to the want of capital and the dearness of agricultural labor in America. Is there any country proprietors possess so little means of improving land proportion to the land they own as in ours? Many the southern states,  owners of hundreds of acres, have not money enough to buy a new saddle; resembling in their condition, that of a man who may be supposed to with cold in the midst of a forest, for want of a spark of fire, or a steel and flint to strike one. Hence the great value of labor saving machinery in our country; and necessity has been aptly called the mother of invention, no country has displayed so much ingenuity as ours in invention of contrivances to economize labor.

                Far from being behind hand in the art of agricultural improvement, no people on the globe excel us agricultural knowledge; nor has any made greater improvement in comparison with the labor at the command of the farmer. Every one understands for example, the  paramount importance of increasing his pile of manure; but in no one thing is the dearness of labor so much as in the quantity of it which is required to collect materials for manure,  and to haul out and distribute it after it is made. Herein consists the great value of gypsum on lands to which it is congenial; for on some, as for instance on the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland, owing perhaps to their alluvion soil or saline atmosphere, or to both, it is said to have but little effect; while in other parts of both these states, its effect is absolutely magical. The very small quantity required - a bushel to the acre - and the quickness with which it applied, has arrested the progress of exhaustion in some of the counties, which, before it was introduced, were on the high road to ruin. In some other respects its results have been remarkable. It has been the cause in Prince George's county for example, of increasing the possessions and fortune of land holders, and diminishing aggregate population. The rapidity with which large bodies of the poorest could be converted into tobacco land, yielding 1,000 weight to the acre, the high price of that article, and the improvements in the implements and modes of culture, by which planters have come to make four or five hogsheads "to the hand" enabled the enterprising land proprietor and slave owner, to make land purchased on time pay for itself. Thus small proprietors of land, owning few or no slaves were bought out, and moved away to the west. [l]arge estates have been accumulated by individuals, while the actual population of that county, perhaps the most productive in the state, and within striking of Baltimore, with its population of 100,000 inhabitants, and bordering on the cities of the District of Columbia,  has diminished from 20,216 in 1820, to 19,539 in 1840.

               The following are among many similar cases to show the operation of the influences to which I have referred; the facts are stated on indubitable authority. The Governor Robert Bowie, a man of singular energy of character and of the highest moral worth, at the time under the state of things already referred to, purchased two hundred acres of poor "broom sedge" land for $1400. He put half of it in corn, and probably gathered not more than 10 or 15 bushels to the acre, sowed it down to oats he next spring, and on them sowed clover and plaster of Paris or gypsum. Plastered the clover the succeeding spring, and the spring following planted in tobacco, and sold from it 100,000 weight at $10 per hundred; making $10,000 for half of the land, which three years before he had purchased probably "on time," for $1400! Many similar instances might be given of effects of plaster of Paris in producing all the results I have stated, but I am wandering from my subject.

                Much and effectively as our ingenuity has been in the invention of every expedient to save labor, it seems to me that there is one means of augmenting our crops grass in a manner as wonderful or at least as great as the effect of plaster of Paris on cultivated crops - which is much practiced in some parts of Europe, but neglected in a country where of all others, circumstances invite the use of it - I mean Irrigation.

                You, Mr. Editor, would render an essential service to American Husbandry, if you would yourself give, or prevail upon some one to give an essay on that subject; especially if you have at your command, so far, the offices of some correspondent who has seen the manner in which irrigation is conducted in Europe. I know a great man who could do it, but the game would hardly be worthy of the falcon. If I had time, I would collect the materials and digest such an essay, were it only for the benefit of a few friends who have all the resources for irrigation at command.
                                                                                      I. S. S.  

Washington Jan 1 1844

transcribed by John Peter Thompson from:
Luther Tucker, ed. The Cultivator, A Monthly Journal to Agriculture, Horticulture, Floriculture and to Domestsic and Rural Economy. Vol. 1. New York. Luther Tucker, Publisher. p. 60. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pittman House Burns: Prince George's County loses touch with its important past

Wm S & Portia M. Pittman House, Fairmount Heights, Maryland in better days
PG-MNCPP Historic Survey Database

               We have lost another historic structure to neglect and perhaps a vandal's fire (Gazette.,net story). On December 15, 2012 a fire destroyed a house designed by African-American professional luminary, William Sydney Pittman. And you say Pittman, Pittman who, because we do not teach the history that surrounds us nor do we make it easy to learn the stories of the extraordinary men and women who once walked and lived right here in Prince George's County. In fact there are a few who would have you believe that the county is an empty, blank slate just waiting to be paved over.

William Sydney Pittman
image form the Dallas Texas Observer
"Demolition by Neglect"

Mrs. Portia Marshall Washington Pittman
image URL
               William Sydney Pittman, whose "trailblazing professional deeds" are a part of little-known black history moments and almost lost to history, was born in Alabama on April 21, 1875.[1] He attended Tuskegee Institute. There he studied woodworking and architectural-mechanical drawing completing his studies in 1897. He then enrolled in the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia and received a degree in Architectural and Mechanical drawing in 1900.[2] From late 1900 to 1905, William S. Pittman was employed at Tuskegee Institute as department head of architectural drawing. 

               In 1905 Mr. Pittman came to Maryland and Fairmount Heights in Prince George's County. He went to work for John Anderson Lankford at the offices at 1448 Q Street, NW, in Washington. D.C., and within a short time opened his own practice. He designed the house, now lost to us by vandals, in to which his bride, the daughter of Booker T. Washington, Portia Marshall Washington moved after their marriage in 1907. There they entertained national dignitaries such as the editor of Boston's Alexander Magazine. A newspaper account in April of 1908 described the guest list which included an employee of the War Department, a judge and the Recorder of Deeds as well as other guests.[3] The Pittman House was located at 505 Eastern Avenue, Fairmount Heights, Maryland (PG#72-9-18).

               Mr. Pittman was very much involved in the growth of Fairmont Heights taking an active interest in the establishment of the town. He founded the Fairmont Heights Mutual Improvement Company, designed the town hall and the first elementary school. In his professional life he became the first African-American to win a federal commission for the Negro building at the national Tercentennial Exposition at Jamestown, Virginia.[4] He also designed Garfield Elementary School (1909) and the 12th Street YMCA building (1912) the cornerstone of which was placed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.[5]

12th Street YMCA, Washington DC
image from
               The town of Fairmount Heights, finally incorporated in 1935, is one of the oldest African American municipalities in Maryland contending for the prize of "first" with North Brentwood also in Prince George's County [Meet the 27 Historic Municipalities of Prince George's County, Maryland - Ready for Adaptive Re-use]. The Pittmans would leave Fairmount Heights in 1913 and the house began its long slow descent into obscurity recognized by the community and a few preservationists but forgotten by the county generally. How easy it is to lose our history and our connection with those who cleared the way for us today.

               For a detailed account of Mr. Pittman's life and achievements, see:
Susan G. Pearl, "WILLIAM SIDNEY PITTMAN (1875-1958)," in Drexel University Archives Digital Collections, Item #84, (accessed January 14, 2013).  4 (accessed January 14, 2013).

Kentland volunteer fire Department Facebook page photo


[1] Norma Adams-Wade, Pioneer black architect’s life to unfold at symposium. Dallas Morning News. March 15 2010.
[2] Everett L. Fly, "PITTMAN, WILLIAM SIDNEY," Handbook of Texas Online(, accessed January 14, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
[3] Washington Bee, published as The Washington Bee; Date: 04-18-1908; Volume: 27; Issue: 47; Page: [5]; Location: Washington (DC), District of Columbia
[5] Dreck Spurlock Wilson. African-American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, 1865-1945. Taylor & Francis. 2004. 550 pp. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

MC/PG 108-13 is a very bad bill

                     MC/PG 108-13 is a very bad bill coming soon to a committee near you. WSSC the people and organization who bring some of you water and take sewage away is seeking to an exemption from legislation that protects all of us from the negative impacts and harmful effects of exactly that sewage WSSC is charged with disposing of. This is so wrong on so many levels as to boggle the imagination. WSSC wants to externalize its costs onto the environment and the ecosystem because being responsible for and cleaning up the resulting long term mess would not be their problem. In essence WSSC is trimming short term costs to better serve you, by charging long term pollution clean-up costs to future generations who can't quite vote yet.

                The regulations that WSSC thinks it should not have to follow are designed to achieve consistency in the way all sources of nutrients (such as solid organic wastes, manures, sludge) are managed and help Maryland meet nitrogen and phosphorus reduction goals spelled out in its Watershed Implementation Plan to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. Nutrients, organic material, sediment and other pollutants are introduced to the Chesapeake Bay from a variety of sources. These are generally separated into two broad classes, point and nonpoint sources. Point sources, as the name implies, are inputs with a specific point of entry into the system. Municipal sewage and industrial discharges are examples of the major point sources of pollutants to the Bay. Nonpoint sources do not have a readily identifiable point of entry to the system or they may have many, diffuse points of entry to the system. Rain water runoff and ground water discharges are examples of the major nonpoint sources of pollutants to the Bay. [Maryland Department of Natural Resources Bay Monitoring]

               According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, "Nutrient Management regulations are necessary to achieve consistency in the way all sources of nutrients are managed and to ensure that Maryland meets its nutrient reduction goals. These goals are an essential part of the comprehensive Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), a multi-state planning process to achieve nutrient and sediment reductions to protect and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by 2025."

               And why do care? Because having a unified planning approach and not a series of individual disconnected data plans is the way to go as far as clean water is concerned. The Maryland Department of Agriculture implemented an approach to the revised regulations that will allow thousands of farmers and hundreds of wastewater treatment operations time to secure the financial and technical resources necessary to comply with the most immediate nutrient management provisions. To exempt one of these sources, such as the WSSC, compromises the objective of the regulations. The winter ban provision of the regulations will help reduce the risk of nutrient runoff into the bay during winter when there is not a growing crop to utilize the nutrients.

               It falls on us, the citizens of Maryland, to once again reign in a quasi-governmental organization which thinks it is too big to actually follow the rules that the little people have to abide by - the same people who pay today and tomorrow.  

Garner/Brandywine Tire Stockpile Cleanup - YouTube

Garner/Brandywine Tire Stockpile Cleanup - YouTube