By guest blogger Beverly Firme

Dave Feldman, center, with Israeli environmentalists

Renee Halpert (L) of Forum Shemesh Yehuda, Dave Feldman (Middle) and another Forum Shemesh Yehuda guest.

Bethesda Green’s First Thursday Happy Hour is a great time to connect, meet friends, and hear about what’s going on in Montgomery County when it comes to Green.  This past Thursday, June 3, the Doubletree Hotel’s Wine Bar was packed with people, new information, and great connections–along with drinks and hot appetizers.  Sponsored by Clean Currents, the evening started with mingling and a chance to relax and talk before hearing from the special guests invited for the evening.

Dave Feldman, Executive Director of Bethesda Green, began his remarks by welcoming those special guests:  Doug Weisberger of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, and a group of Israeli environmentalists representing Forum Shemesh Yehuda for the Environment and Sustainability.  Feldman also noted happily that Tom Hucker of the Maryland House of Delegates was in the crowd of about 80 people gathered in The Wine Bar for the event.

Tom Hucker, left

State Delegate Tom Hucker (L) talks with folks at the First Thursday Happy Hour, including Renee Halpert of Forum Shemesh Yehuda

Weisberger spoke about Montgomery County’s relationship with Bethesda Green and applauded  efforts to bring business, community and residents together.  Renee Halpert, Manager of Forum Shemesh Yehuda, a non-profit grassroots environmental organization in the Beit Shemesh and Mateh Yehuda region near Tel Aviv, spoke on behalf of their group.  Formed as a volunteer-based, apolitical organization, Shemesh Yehuda’s efforts include creating awareness of sustainable practices, promoting land preservation, and opposing plans to extract shale oil in the region.  The group was excited about their visit earlier in the day to Bethesda Green and had learned a great deal to apply to their work in Israel.  We can look forward to continuing contact with Shemesh Yehuda, as Halpert mentioned their region will become a Sister City to Montgomery County.  Exciting news and we look forward to hearing more!

Gary Skulnik of Clean Currents

Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents, discusses his company's offerings.

Feldman mentioned Bethesda Green’s upcoming free Solar Expo, Solar Bethesda on June 12, and Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents, the evening’s sponsor, mentioned the launch of Clean Currents Solar.

Feldman also asked everyone to mark their calendars for October 7, the date reserved for Bethesda Green’s first gala, a Green Awards event co-sponsored by Bethesda Magazine.  “We will recognize Green Champions in Montgomery County,” he said.

To cap the event, Dave Heffernan, Director of Communications, drew winning raffle tickets for dinner for two at the Doubletree Restaurant. The crowd had a chance to talk with the invited guests and enjoy more wine, appetizers and conversation.  Walking through the crowd you could hear snippets of conversation as attendees spoke with the Israeli environmentalists, had the chance to meet our county and state officials, and talked with each other about Montgomery County’s recent passage of the carbon tax, the first county in our nation to do so.

First Thursdays is held the first Thursday of the month in the evening  at a new location in Bethesda each month.  Sign up for e-mail alerts, join the Bethesda Green MeetUp group,  or check Bethesda Green’s web site for the next location!

(View more photos from the June 3 First Thursday Happy Hour)