It’s Time to Spring into Action – Carefully

By Linda Mauel

Ah Spring!  The days are longer, the trees and flowers are blooming, and the weather is calling us to come out and do something physical.  Yes, it is time to begin our spring projects!  Whether building a new deck in Long Island, planting a community vegetable garden in Brooklyn, or participating in a river clean-up in Buffalo, now is the time to put the TV remote control down and get started.  Really?  This sounds good in theory, but in reality I would rather grab an iced tea, a good book, and lounge in the sun.

Since I did just that last year, as the saying goes, it’s time to get the show on the road.  What projects do you have on your wish list?  Mine includes repairing the back deck and replacing parts of my fence that came down during Super Storm Sandy.  I could find a contractor to do this for me, but in this economy I think not.  Instead, I think I’ll ask a few people to come over and help me rebuild in exchange for pizza or subs and cold drinks.  I could use the exercise anyway and will enjoy spending the time with my friends.  Hmm – this may not be so bad after all!  Ok, first things first.  I can’t have the gang come over and expect them to start without knowing exactly what I want.  Been there – done that!

It was like the story about a team of fellows who won a contract to build a train track.  The supplies were delivered; they knew where the track was to begin, where it was to end; and they had a picture of the path it was to follow.  Time was money, so the contractors decided that since they were all experts and the project was straight forward, they did not need to waste time going over the details.  Instead, half of the contractors took supplies to the beginning of the proposed track, the rest took the remaining supplies to the end of the proposed track, so as to work from both sides and meet in the middle.  Funny thing was, once they met in the middle, the tracks did not line up.  Why one might ask, since they all knew what to do and how to do it?  Well, one group used metric measurements, while the other used English standard.  They learned the hard way, as did I, that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

I did not want this to occur in my back yard!  I could probably live with the fence not lining up exactly as it should, but the deck was another story.  So, before we meet to spruce up my backyard, I’ll have a plan drafted – with details – to share with my friends over coffee.  I figure we’ll modify it based on our discussions, then be ready to begin on our agreed upon dates.

My wish to you is that while the weather is warm and the days are long, you spring into action, but do so carefully.  Make a plan, then collaborate and communicate to make sure the project comes together as expected.  Once done, sit back with a cold drink and enjoy a job well done.  I plan to!

About the Author: Linda Mauel serves as the region’s Quality Assurance Manager.  She works in the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment out of EPA’s Edison Environmental Center.  Linda holds a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in Chemistry from Rutgers University. She worked in the private sector for 11 years then began her 20+ year career with EPA in the quality assurance program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Song of the Coquí

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Lea la versión en español a continuación de esta entrada en inglés.

As we celebrate the 38th anniversary of Earth Day, I remember when I studied at the Academia San José in Puerto Rico and the events that inspired me to strive for greater environmental protection.

In the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, a beautiful Caribbean island, one enjoys good weather all year round. Beautiful beaches, a colorful scenery, the melodious nocturnal songs of the coquí* Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer, the Yunque Rainforest Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer, the Camuy Caverns Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer– these are some of the images and sounds that live in my memories of my island. In spite of these beautiful surroundings, Puerto Rico faces great environmental challenges-excess of solid waste, lack of landfills, trash along its beaches, problems with the quality of drinking water-these are only some of the factors that undermine its natural beauty.

Academia San JoséWhen I was the president of the ASJ Science Club more than three decades ago, we were decorating an enormous bulletin board for Earth Day. We also planted a tree, I think it was an oak, in the front garden of the school. Today, 34 years later, the tree still stands-a testimony of what some students interested in sciences did one beautiful spring afternoon.

That brings me back to today’s subject – my interest in environmental awareness. That is the seedling that I seek to plant for children and adults so that they may understand that our actions, be it at home, in school, in the community or our workplace, have an impact in our surroundings and above all in our environment. From putting aluminum cans in a recycling bin, buying green products or conserving energy, all these actions enable us to leave the world better for future generations.

Let’s celebrate Earth Day every day anywhere in the world!

*The coquí is a small frog that lives in the tropical trees and shrubs in Puerto Rico. It has been the inspiration for many songs and poetry on the Island.

Cantar del Coquí

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Mientras celebramos el 38vo aniversario del Día del Planeta Tierra, recuerdo cuando estudiaba en la Academia San José en Puerto Rico y los eventos que me inspiraron a dedicarme a la educación sobre la protección ambiental.

En el territorio estadounidense de Puerto Rico, una bella isla caribeña, se disfruta una temperatura cálida todo el año. Hermosas playas, bellos paisajes de vivos coloridos, el melodioso cantar nocturno del coquí* Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer el Bosque Nacional Pluvial del Yunque Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer y las Cuevas de Camuy Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer–son algunas de las imágenes y sonidos que viven en mis recuerdos de mi Isla. A pesar de esos bellos alrededores, Puerto Rico enfrenta grandes retos ambientales-exceso de desechos sólidos, escasez de vertederos, la basura en las playas, problemas de calidad del agua potable–son tan solo algunos de factores que minan esa belleza natural.

Academia San JoséCuando era la presidenta del Club de Ciencia en la Academia San José más de tres décadas atrás, estábamos preparando un enorme tablón de anuncios con carteles alusivos a la protección del Planeta Tierra. También sembramos un árbol, creo que era un roble, en el jardín al frente del colegio. Hoy, 34 años más tarde, el árbol sigue allí-un testimonio de lo que hicieron unas estudiantes interesadas en las ciencias una bella tarde de primavera.

Eso me lleva otra vez al tema de hoy-mi interés en crear consciencia a favor de la protección ambiental. Esa es la semilla que quisiera sembrar para que tanto niños como adultos puedan comprender que las acciones que nosotros tomamos, sea en el hogar, en la escuela, en la comunidad o nuestro lugar de trabajo, tienen un impacto en nuestros alrededores y sobre todo en nuestro ambiente. Desde echar las latas de aluminio en la cesta de reciclaje, comprar productos “verdes” o conservar energía, todas estas acciones nos permitirán dejar un mundo mejor para futuras generaciones.

¡Celebremos el Día del Planeta Tierra todos los días en cualquier parte del mundo!

*El coquí es una pequeña rana que vive en la arboleda y flora tropicales de Puerto Rico. El coquí ha sido inspiración para muchas canciones y poesía en la Isla.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.