Chestory - The Center for the Chesapeake Story

506 Elm Ave
Takoma Park, MD 20912


CHEARS Newsletters are at

BAY BABIES by Cathy Green & illustrated by Mary Beth Harry. Hardcover.

With full pages of colorful illustrations, “Bay Babies” cleverly teaches a young reader ecological lessons while giving names and personalities to animals, fowl and amphibians that inhabit the Chesapeake Bay region.

The book is written in rhyming couplets with stanza such as; “Little Alfie spat hopes to grow up big and fat. He’ll filter water from the Bay to keep it clean for each new day.”

All proceeds from the book will go toward the Mary Beth Student Scholarship Fund administered by the Arts Council of Calvert County, Maryland.
$15 + $3 s&h

A group of Chesapeake artists, scientists, and citizen activists, educators, poets, writers and waterfolk gather around a hope: That it is possible to change the quality of the story driving us and our culture toward a deeper, more joyful and life-giving relationship with the place in which we live.

We think that art, song, and story can help us connect with the deep spiritual experience of the Chesapeake chapter in the on-going story of the Universe.

The Chesapeake Environmental Literacy (CHEL) site is here, and the Chestory Archive, is here.


Singing the Chesapeake - Children's Songs by Tom Wisner
with songs also by Teresa Whitaker & Mark Wisner

New Songbook/ CD Set releaseSinging the Chesapeake - Children's Songs by Tom Wisner

December 12, 2012
This long awaited collection of children’s songs by Tom Wisner, “Bard of the Chesapeake,” shares the living, streaming echoes of a unique, lifelong dedication and creative act of service – Wisner’s deep commitment to environmental education and awareness, which he shared through many art forms, but especially through music.

Like all great artists, Tom Wisner, who died in April 2010, was drawn to a few central themes: the natural wonder of the Chesapeake Bay, the mystery of our own unity within the life web of nature, the flowing water of generations, and our vital connections with the natural world. These themes are reflected in his songs, such as “Made of Water,” “Dribus Go the Rain,” “Talked to the Heron,” “Sunshine,” and “Dredgin’ is My Drudgery.” The book also includes songs by long time collaborator Teresa Whitaker and Tom’s son, Mark Wisner.

Back Cover - Singing the Chesapeake - Children's Songs by Tom WisnerTom wrote many songs, but the ones in this collection are those he sang often with children and groups of educators throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. The songs themselves are celebrations of imagination and wonder, and what it means to be ... Read Entire Press Release

$19.95 + $3 s&h
ISBN: 978-0-9849636-2-1
Music Songbook & CD

Gather 'Round Chesapeake: Tom Wisner's Vision

When Tom Wisner, the Chesapeake Bay 'Bard' died in April 2010, he'd already given us living treasures: dozens of recorded Chesapeake songs, stories and radio shows. Now, Sara Ebenreck Leeland, co-founder and partner with Tom in the Chestory (Center for the Chesapeake Story) project, has published a book that collects Tom's written reflections on the powerful insights that guided his work. Gather 'round Chesapeake: Tom Wisner's Vision is a collection of Wisner's writing, from short celebratory poems to analysis of how our cultural ways of thinking about 'nature' results in the destruction of our waters-and what an alternative 'Come Full Circle' way of living might be like.

A few entries, like the 'Wade-in poem' are familiar to those who knew Tom Wisner, but Tom's writing about his own creative process, his sketching of a personal Chesapeake mythology, his reflections on connecting art to the sciences in education, his 4-page imagining of riding a blue heron's back on the journey from Texas to the Nanjemoy rookery, and over a hundred other pages of writing-are all new. Leeland searched 30 years of Wisner's journals and other notes, lengthy records of e-mail correspondence and other unpublished writing. The result is both visionary and simple.

Gather 'Round Chesapeake: Tom Wisner's Vision

"Thanks to water for its grace,
For singing on the roof when it rains"

"Spiritual learning comes backwards.
You begin mostly in the dark,
choosing paths from impulse
by following your heart.
Then, much later, truths begin to emerge,
...and you learn why you did those things."


$10 + $3 s&h
ISBN 978-1461191803
140 pages, b/w
65 illustrations with color cover

Tom Wisner's drawings and photos appear here to complement the text. Photos of Tom by Pennsylvania photographer Margo Coffin Groff deepen the sense of Tom's presence in his words. Introductions are by Sara E. Leeland.

In the works are: a songbook of Tom Wisner's songs for children; a songbook of additional Tom Wisner songs; a digital-archive of Wisner's regional stories & songs.  For more information, contact:

REVIEW of "Gather 'Round Chesapeake" ...

Vision of the Chesapeake Region
by Carol Harvat, Staff Writer for

The BayNet
September 4, 2012

Dominion Awards Grant For New Environmental Curriculum

Dominion Awards Grant for New Environmental Curriculum
Pictured left to right: Mark Reaser, Director of LNG Operations, Concetta Laskey,
Joan Clement, CHEARS - Board of Directors and Doug Alves, CMM Director

Dominion has awarded a $10,000 K-12 Education grant for the development of an environmental education curriculum inspired by Tom Wisner’s Center for the Chesapeake Story Collection (Chestory). The Calvert Marine Museum (CMM), in partnership with the Chesapeake Education, Arts, and Research Society (CHEARS), and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) will work with selected teachers in Calvert and St. Mary’s counties to create hands-on classroom-based lesson plans that focus on local environmental science.

Tom Wisner (1930-2010), co-founder of Chestory, was a poet, folklorist, artist, singer, and Maryland’s first environmental educator. He spent most of his career helping students and audiences make connections with the Chesapeake Bay. Wisner left behind a lifetime of work including interdisciplinary educational activities, lessons, programs, artwork and music. Through a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program, CMM and CHEARS partnered to hire Concetta Laskey, who organized, catalogued and archived Wisner’s collection. In April 2012, the Chestory Virtual Archive became a reality at the Calvert Marine Museum and is available at

Dominion’s support will provide not only for the creation of environmental education lesson plans, but for the piloting of this curriculum in the classroom. Eventually this will be shared with other teachers and available online.

Continuing Tom Wisner's Legacy

Since Tom's passing in early April, 2010, a group of people close to Tom have been working to carry on his legacy and make his work available to others. There have been a number of performances by the people who performed with Tom: Frank Schwarz, Teresa Whitaker, John Cronin and Mac Walter, and other concerts are being planned. Tom wasn't done creating music when it was his time, and another CD of his recordings and those of others is being considered.

Folks are also working on cataloging Tom's creative work; charting and publishing his music; and displaying his children's collages and his own art work. An art show called "The Art of Healing the Chesapeake - A Tribute to Tom Wisner" was shown in May and June at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland as part of the Greenbelt Green Man Festival. The show will move to other venues around the region. If you would like more information about this show or know of other venues, contact

Jeff Place from the Smithsonian Folk Life Collection has developed a wonderful webpage and video about Tom's life and work at: Other films and multimedia products about Tom's life, his connection to place and his approach to providing environmental education with children are in the discussion phase as well as plans to create information sites about Tom on My Space, Wikipedia, etc.

Tom's central vision was to create a "virtual archive of Chesapeake story and song" -- including not just Tom's work, but the work of many other area artists, musicians and story tellers. A small group met with Tom in January of this year to discuss a way to move forward with this vision. After his work has been catalogued, the next step will be to bring this vision to reality.

Tom Wisner CD Sales

Tom's last two CD's -"Follow on the Water" (a two CD set completed by Tom in January 2010) and "Made of Water" - are available at local venues (Annapolis Maritime Museum, Calvert Marine Museum and Bay Books in California, MD) and on the Chestory website If you know of other local retailers who would like to sell Tom's CD's, please contact Tom's first two CD's, "Chesapeake Born" and "Come Full Circle" (songs for children) can be ordered through Smithsonian Folkways Recordings at:  Eventually, Tom's last two CD's will also be transferred to the Smithsonian.

Tom Wisner was an award winning song writer, folk singer, story teller and educator, who spend his life looking for ways to help people connect with the Chesapeake Bay. He passed away on April 5, 2010 in Prince Frederick, MD. In 2000, Tom created Chestory, the Center for the Chesapeake Story, to "bring the artist in each of us into the story of our Chesapeake community of life." Chestory recently became a project of Chears, the Chesapeake Education, Arts and Research Society, and its mission will continue on their sponsorship.

Chestory - The Center for the Chesapeake Story
(a project of Chears - the Chesapeake Education, Arts and Research Society - )
Joan Clement, Coordinator
506 Elm Ave
Takoma Park, MD 20912

Chestory is bringing the artist in each of us into the story of our Chesapeake community of life.


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