Friday, July 04, 2008

Circle Woods Rake Brigade marches

The Circle Woods Rake Brigade marched in the Takoma Park Independence Day parade on July 4.

Who were those intrepid marchers? Allow me to introduce them: Amelia and Greer Turner, Isabella and Catrina Calingaert. Gwyn Davies (my daughter), and Walter Miles and his two daughters, Zahra and Hanan.

I want to thank the kids who marched and sang, even though the spectators probably didn't hear a word. It was a little noisy.

Parents (Li and Mary Turner, Susanna and Daniel Calingaert, and my wife Lira and son Henry towards the end, walked near us to provide water and support. Special thanks to Susanna for coming up with the design for the T-shirts. And another special thanks to Special-Tees of Derwood, Md., at 15910 Indianola Dr. The folks there made some shirts at the last minute. I highly recommend them for tee shirts and embroidery and whatever else.

I would be remiss if I didn't thank Strosnider's, which gave us a discount on the materiel used in the parade. Thank you, Jeff, of the Wayne Avenue store.

Steve Davies was the leaf blower/rake guy in the tricorner hat who organized the brigade.

So if you didn't hear the words and want to sing at home, here are the lyrics to what I call "Yankee Doodle Stinky":

Yankee Doodle went to town
riding on a mower
Then he went to Home Depot
and bought himself a blower

(second verse, same rhythm as the first)

Yankee Doodle worked and worked
to make his lawn pristine
There was just one little hitch
He made the air unclean

Yankee Doodle, don't pollute!
Do it for our sakes
Instead of all those big machines
Why don't you use a rake?

Here's the handout we gave to folks along the parade route:

Hey, kids and grown-ups! Do you feel the need to breathe -- like, every day?

Then you might be interested in perusing some of the "fun facts" assembled below. Read, share with your friends, and then check out for more information. And darn it, recycle this piece of paper if you don't tack it on your bulletin board! -- Sincerely, Circle Woods Rake Brigade


"Ground-level ozone and particulate matter are pollution problems created by individuals, as well as industry. The cars we drive account for 30 to 40 percent of the pollutants that cause ozone in the Baltimore/Washington area. Every summer day, gas-powered lawn and garden equipment release more than 100 times the Volatile Organic Compounds of a typical large industrial plant. For every person who postpones lawn mowing on Air Quality Action Days, potential VOC reductions equal the amount generated by a car driving from Baltimore to Raleigh, N.C. "

-- Montgomery County news release, July 2

"Maryland's suburban Washington region suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the nation -- and the failure to address this situation is impacting public health and our economy."

-- County Executive Ike Leggett, May 15 news release

"Residents can reduce their impact on air quality if they avoid using gasoline-powered lawn equipment, including mowers." -- May 15 news release (and, we might add, blowers!)


"Ozone can irritate the respiratory system, causing coughing, throat irritation, and/or uncomfortable sensation in the chest. Ozone can reduce lung function and make it more difficult to breathe deeply, and breathing may become more rapid and shallow than normal, thereby limiting a person's activity."

"Ozone damage to plants includes visible injury to leaves and a reduction in food production through impaired photosynthesis."

-- Environmental Protection Agency proposed rule, May 18, 2007


"The potential health impacts of leaf blowers on workers from noise center on noise-induced hearing loss. Two factors contribute to an increased risk of hearing loss in typical career gardeners: the high sound pressure levels emitted by leaf blowers at the level of the operator's ear, and the infrequent use of hearing protection."

"For the average 1999 homeowner-type leaf blower and car data, we calculate that hydrocarbon emissions from one-half hour of leaf blower operation equal about 2,200 miles of driving, at 30 miles per our average speed. The carbon monoxide emission benchmark is significantly different. For carbon monoxide, one-half hour of a homeowner-type leaf blower usage would be equivalent to about 110 miles of automobile travel at 30 miles per hour average speed."

-- California Air Resources Board report (2000)

"Perhaps 99 percent [of leaf blower operators] are untrained."

-- Larry Will, former Vice President of Engineering, Echo Inc.,
personal communication with Steve Davies, Circle Woods Rake Brigade

Gas-powered lawn and garden equipment emitted 81.6 tons per day of volatile organic compounds (second-most of 10 sources) and 12.6 tons/day of nitrogen oxides (fourth place) in the Washington area in 2002. Both VOCs and NOx are ozone precursors.

-- Data from Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments report (2007)