The 50-year celebration of Earth Day this week is dampened by the COVID-19 black cloud impacting the world. In the City of Manassas, Council Member Theresa Coates Ellis wanted the milestone to continue with a buzz.
Mrs. Ellis is a candidate for Mayor, after Mayor Hal Parrish announced he was not running for re-election on November 3rd. She is not only focusing on the bread-and-butter issues such as supporting small business and college students as they ready for a career, but she is giving light to an issue to bring hope for the future — Environmental Sustainability.
In the Fall of 2019, she initiated the resolution for the City of Manassas designation as a Bee City USA. At this time, Council meetings have limited agendas, but the members will vote on a resolution in the future.
Mrs. Ellis is happy to be a sustainability maverick. As a long-time business owner, this streak not only comes from her approach to attracting businesses to the area and holding various leadership positions around the city, but also from her background as a Master Gardener . She learned in that role what it takes to get things to flourish. But how does this relate to bees? Well, everything. The key to Environmental Sustainability is ecological balance. If you haven’t seen Bee Movie already, bees are a crucial part of this balance. Mrs. Ellis knows that without environmental sustainability, you cannot have economic stability.
Mrs. Ellis is the patron council member of the native garden and grounds committee for a historic park to encourage local plants that attract pollinators. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has worked with teachers, business owners, designers, families, and tattoo artists to paint colorful original art on bee hive boxes for local beekeepers. The bright colors attract honey bees to the hives and the community is engaged and creating beautiful art.
Retail stores, restaurants, and crafts people are on planning for bee-themed merchandise, woodwork (bee houses), photographs, artwork, and food to launch the Bee City USA Manassas designation for the future.
According to their site, Bee City USA  “fosters ongoing dialogue in urban areas to raise awareness of the role native pollinators (such as bees, butterflies and insects) play in our communities and what each of us can do to provide them with healthy habitat.”
Bee City USA sites that one in every three bites of food we eat is courtesy of insect pollination. Ninety percent of all wild plants and trees rely on pollinators for the survival of their species. Without pollination, especially in urban areas in the middle of this pandemic, food will increasingly go scarce, impacting our state and nation and world like never before.
In the emotionally dark atmosphere in Northern Virginia on Earth Day, Ellis wants to keep the City of Manassas looking forward to a brighter future, a greener spot, in her bid for mayor. When Manassas becomes a Bee City USA, it will become a beacon of sustainability. This is something the community can rally around. A better, sustainable environment, especially in an urban environment like the City of Manassas, will be better for our children, our families, our businesses and, in turn, our bees and pollinators.