Living Classrooms Wins the Washingtonian Green Giant Award

May 14, 2013

(from Washingtonian’s May issue) Waterways have long shaped the structure and industries of Washington, but many people who live here can’t navigate them and don’t contribute to keeping them clean and intact. James Piper Bond’s Living Classrooms Foundation is working to change that. Living Classrooms, which expanded to Washington from Baltimore in 2001, teaches kids about the impact of their lives on the natural space they occupy. The group runs summer camps, after-school outings, even a program that marries job training with environmental education for those leaving juvenile detention. The children and teens who participate leave eager to spread their investment in conservation around. Where is the most noticeable impact? The work we’re doing at Kingman Island is really important, Bond says. We bring children and youth there to do plantings and cleanup, help with the trails, and learn about the environment and bird life. To show off Kingman Island, which sits in the Anacostia River near RFK Stadium, the group hosts a free bluegrass festival each spring; this year it’s April 27 attracting thousands of people. The island is lush now, but it wasn’t so inviting before Living Classrooms took over its care in 2009. It’s an oasis that’s finally being brought back to the city, Bond says. He stresses that the most lasting impact will come from making young people care about their relationship to the area’s rivers and to nature in general: Teaching these kids that the rivers are theirs as much as anyone else’s makes them environmentally conscious change agents for the future. This article appears in the May 2013 issue of The Washingtonian. Photos from the Awards Event can be found here: