Learn about the bay and see me in action!

I’m participating in an exciting event this weekend.

OK, it might be a little more wonky than exciting, but bear with me.

My newspaper, The Capital, is hosting a free public forum to discuss the ongoing efforts to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.

We’re calling the forum “The Bay at a Crossroads” and it’s going to be from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday, March 27, at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St. in Annapolis.

The idea came from the top boss at The Capital, Tom Marquardt. He saw the need to have more free public discussions of hot topics. He decided to start with the Chesapeake Bay and got me and others at the paper involved in planning it. I’m honored he sought my input and that he and the rest of management trust that I can be a good moderator.

We’ve lined up an impressive list of speakers:

  • Chuck Fox, the top person on the Chesapeake Bay for the U.S. EPA.
  • Shari T. Wilson, secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment.
  • Frank Dawson, assistant secretary, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
  • Howard Ernst, author of two books on the bay and assistant professor at the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • Kim Coble, Maryland executive director of the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
  • Diana Muller, South Riverkeeper for the South River Federation.

The plan is for me to give a brief presentation on the bay’s woes. Then we’ll do some guided questioning of the panelists to get discussion going, and then open it up to a question-and-answer period with the audience. As of now, the moderators are yours truly and Dan Nataf, a professor from Anne Arundel Community College.

It’s also neat to see the promotion efforts for this event. We’ve been running “house ads” online and in print. I’ve been e-mailing, Tweeting and Facebooking like crazy. My e-mail inbox just lit up with an advertising message bout the forum from the newspaper.

Check out the "house ad" for the forum in this screenshot of my newspaper's website.

And I had a big package about bay restoration in The Sunday Capital, including a video.

I really hope we get good turnout. If there’s a good crowd, I think we can get some really thought-provoking discussions going during the Q&A period.

Perhaps this could pave the way for the newspaper to tackle other hot topics. I think it’s a natural extension of our goal to inform our community and promote healthy public debate.

UPDATE, MARCH 23: Jennifer Hlad, a student reporter with the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service, will be joining me in moderating this program. CNS is a great program in which journalism students work basically full-time for a semester at a regional wire service run by the college. They’re making a big push on bay coverage, which you can read here.

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