April 2013


by Susanna Parker

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake Seeks Partners for the Maryland Stream Restoration ChallengeBGnews_logo

Are you a member of a Maryland based congregation? Do you want to plant more trees on your congregation’s property? The Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake is looking to partner with local congregations for the Maryland Stream Restoration Challenge – a challenge to establish 1,000 acres of stream-side forests by 2015. Not only will this challenge help beautify Maryland and local congregation’s properties, but forested streams have better water quality, suffer less from erosion, and help protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Selected congregations will receive teaching on the spiritual foundation of earth stewardship, a workshop on trees, planting, and maintenance, trees for planting, and follow-up maintenance for 1-3 years. If the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake’s challenge application is accepted, tree plantings will occur in fall 2013 and spring/fall 2014. If you’re interested in learning more, you can contact the organization here.

DC Area Homes Submit for LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Program is 13 years old, and bestows its LEED certification on 1.5 million square feet of building space every day. A building can be certified at the silver, gold, or platinum level; higher levels are achieved by earning more points in the program’s rating system that covers more than 100 environmentally significant parameters, including energy usage and water conservation. Last year, the District of Columbia led the nation in new LEED residential & commercial space per capita, with Virginia and Maryland being top contenders as well. However, LEED certification has been slower to catch on among individual homeowners. There are no grants or tax breaks for individual homeowners that achieve LEED certification, and the documentation required (as well as the price tag) can sway otherwise green homeowners away from the process.

Even without gaining the certification, the LEED checklist can come in handy for homeowners that want to green their homes. The checklist can serve more as a blueprint for renovators, pointing out what they should be considering as they begin their projects. Todd Ray of Studio Twenty Seven Architecture points out that LEED certification isn’t necessary; with the checklist, homeowners can “do green” without being tested.

Some homeowners in the DC area have gone all out, and gotten their homes LEED certified. The Washington Post article in Home & Design discusses LEED certification, and presents images and specs on the LEED-certified homes. For more information on LEED certification, you can visit the U.S. Green Building Council.

Live & Learn Bethesda Introduces Container Gardening Classes! 

Whether you have a big balcony or just a sunny windowsill, container gardening is a great way to make the most of the space you have. Live & Learn Bethesda, a new non-profit community center, has recently introduced a series of classes on container gardening. No back-breaking work, just fun classes to put smiles on people’s faces. The instructor is Mira Jovanovic, a plant consultant at American Plant in Bethesda. To register for classes, visit Live & Learn Bethesda.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events 

  • Greening Your Home: Bethesda Green’s First Thursday Happy Hour, Thursday, May 2, 5 – 8 pm, Caddies on Cordell, 4922 Cordell Avenue

Join us for casual conversation and social networking at Caddies on Cordell. This month, the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection will discuss ways to make your home more energy efficient, and you can learn more at our upcoming Solar & Green Home Expo on May 11. Caddies will be providing complimentary appetizers, and there will be a raffle for a Caddies’ Gift Card. $5 at the door. For more details and to RSVP, please visit the Bethesda Green Meetup.

  • Bethesda Green’s Fourth Annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday May 11, 10 am – 3 pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200

Join us for our fourth annual Solar & Green Home Expo, an information-packed showcase event featuring many green home expert services and solar providers. The goal of this event is to provide homeowners and other interested parties an opportunity to get the latest information about area services and incentives to green their homes. Local area green home businesses will display their services throughout the Bethesda Green office space while individual workshops related to greening your home will be conducted throughout the day. To learn more about this free community event, visit the event page here.

Upcoming Partner Events 

  • GreenWheaton Paper Shredding at Westfield Wheaton Mall, Saturday May 4, 9 am – 12 noon, Target/Costco parking lot

Bring all of your unwanted paper and documents to be securely shredded at Westfield Wheaton Mall! This event, part of GreenWheaton’s efforts to continue its green programming and projects in Montgomery County, is sponsored by Signal Financial Credit Union; shredding services will be provided by Office Paper Systems. To learn more about the event, visit GreenWheaton.org.

  • Green Drinks Annapolis, Tuesday May 14, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm, Brian Boru Restaurant & Pub, 489 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.

Join Annapolis Green for drinks, networking, and an educational program on lighting & energy efficiency, sponsored by Maryland Clean Energy Center. For more details, visit the Annapolis Green Calendar.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

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by Richard M. Goodman

A recent blog post on GreenBiz.com cites two major areas of concern related to household chemicals: the flammability of textiles and toxicity to infants.  We don’t want our furniture coverings and clothes to feed the flames in a house fire.  Of course, we don’t want infants to ingest or come into contact with materials toxic to their delicate systems.

When regulators recognized that fire retardant chemicals could greatly mitigate the flammability of textiles, many jurisdictions passed laws mandating their use. The two most common flame retardants are PBDE (poly brominated diphenyl ethers) and TRIS (tris [1,3-dichloro-2-propyl] phosphate). In lab tests and in actual house fires, they both offer retardant effects on fire spreading, but not necessarily on fire ignition. However, in toxicity testing, both materials came under scrutiny. For example, PDBE decreased thyroid hormone levels with dramatic effects such as lowered fertility and altered fetal neurodevelopment. TRIS may cause harm for both fetuses in utero and infants.

Do we look for new retardant compounds, direct pregnant women and new mothers to restrict contact with flame retardant textiles for themselves and their infants or simply increase the risk of fire spreading by doing away with the whole concept of flame retardants? My take is to evaluate the health risks (one in a million chance of harm or one in ten risk of harm) and the relative probability of a house fire.  It may be both risks are fairly unlikely, in which case the decision is a difficult one and there may be no right answer.

In another vein, we have to weigh the importance of new materials to make our lives dramatically more convenient: container liners that preserve our foods, for example, or exotic materials that provide for the spectacular performance of smart phones and other mobile devices. The main example I want to focus on is BPA (Bisphenol A).  It is the most common material used to manufacture hard plastic containers and to line aluminum cans to prevent contact between foods and the metal surface, insuring long shelf life and minimizing metal contamination.

In recent testing, the FDA reported a minimal concern for the effects of PBA on the mammary gland, possibly leading to early age puberty for young females and negligible concern for all others.  However, they expressed some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at high levels of exposure. These contradictory findings led to the recommendation to conduct additional research.

What should we do? Prudence would dictate that contacts expressly for infants, such as in baby food containers, should avoid BPA containing cans or bottles. However, overreacting to their continued use in other circumstances would be unwise.  My view is that minimal safety risks should not lead to extreme solutions, such as the elimination of BPA use until proven safe and effective substitutes are available.

Richard M. Goodman, PhD, is a chemical scientist and consultant focusing on how surface science concepts can solve real world problems.  The periodic column considers aspects of sustainability from a scientific perspective. See Goodman’s profile with Association of Consulting Chemists and Chemical Engineers (ACC&CE) at www.chemconsult.org

by Susanna ParkerBGnews_logo.

Rock Creek’s Deer Population Causes Dissent

Rock Creek Park has a deer problem. The deer population, which is approximately 73 deer per square mile, is wreaking havoc on the native flora, resulting in a loss of biodiversity. When deer populations become too big for their territory, the resulting competition for food causes the deer to go after tree seedlings, along with their preferred diet of native, low-lying vegetation and underbrush. The loss of tree seedlings and native vegetation allow invasive vegetation to take hold, and the forest begins to degrade. When deer populations are at a more reasonable ratio, such as 25 per square mile, enough seedlings survive that they can replace old trees as they die, and the forest is preserved. The problem Rock Creek Park and the National Park Service face is the method they should use to achieve that optimal population.

Many, including the National Park Service, believe that controlled hunting is the best way to control the deer population. With a closely followed program, sharpshooters could reduce the deer population to manageable and sustainable levels within 2 years. The Humane Society of the United States strongly opposes the plan, calling it a “wasteful killing program.” They advocate for, and have offered to pay half the cost of, a program of administered birth control. Unfortunately the suggested vaccine does not meet the Park Service’s requirements for birth-control agents, and may in fact increase the deer’s breeding season, resulting in late-season births and increased fawn mortality. While similar birth-control programs have been successful in other parks, such as Assateague Island, the Park Service plans to go ahead with the controlled hunting. Nick Bartolomeo, the park’s chief of resource management, points out that while large predators roamed the park many years ago, “[they] wouldn’t be tolerated if they were here, so we have to take action.”

For the full article and infographics on deer population, visit The Washington Post.

Apply for a Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award!

Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award winners are recognized for their strong commitment to sustainable practices, measurable results, and continual improvement. Gain recognition within your community, your organization and among peer institutions by applying for an award today. Leadership Winners are presented with a certificate, receive recognition through press and social media, notification to elected officials, and will be featured in a video. Just share five environmental practices and one measurable result that you employ in your office space and in your organization’s activities and events. Click on the link below to download the application. Applications are due April 30, 2013.

Maryland Green Registry Application

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events

  • Developing an Investor Package, Bethesda Green Finance Workshop Series for Green Businesses. April 25, 8 am – 10 am, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200.

In the fifth installment of the Bethesda Green Finance Workshop series, our panel will discuss approaching investors with a solid plan for success. Investors often require documentation of concrete business plans, including documents geared toward each stage of engagement, “teasers,” and detailed descriptions of business and financial models. The panel, featuring Joseph Chirico of Capital One, Barry Michael of Focus Investment Banking, and Cheryl Heusser of Snyder Cohn, will address both how to develop these documents, and how to use them effectively. Admission is $15; please RSVP to rsynder@bethesdagreen.org.

  • Greening the National Capital Region: The Commercial Real Estate Commitment to Building Green, Tuesday, April 30, 5:30 pm – 8 pm, 7550 Wisconsin Avenue.

Bethesda Green is currently launching a Green Building and Sustainable Development seminar series to help participants understand green trends impacting the commercial building sector. To kick off the series, Bethesda Green has partnered with NAIOP MD/DC to highlight Bethesda’s newest commercial office building: Akridge’s 7550 Wisconsin Avenue. Come tour the building, see the green infrastructure, and network with those passionate about sustainable development in Bethesda. Admission is $30, and includes light fare, beer & wine. Please RSVP to Sharon D’Emidio at sharon@bethesdagreen.org by Thursday, April 25.

  • Bethesda Green’s Fourth Annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday May 11, 10am – 3pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200.

Join us for our fourth annual Solar & Green Home Expo, an information-packed showcase event featuring many green home expert services and solar providers. The goal of this event is to provide homeowners and other interested parties an opportunity to get the latest information about area services and incentives to green their homes. Local area green home businesses will display their services throughout the Bethesda Green office space while individual workshops related to greening your home will be conducted throughout the day. To learn more about this free community event, visit the event page here.

Upcoming Partner Events

  • GreenWheaton’s Green Drinks Networking Happy Hour, Thursday April 25, 5 pm – 8 pm, Limerick Pub, 11301 Elkin Street, Wheaton

Join GreenWheaton and local environmentalists for an evening of networking and casual conversation. This month’s special guest is Reuven Walder of Ecobeco, who will be discussing energy efficiency initiatives and incentives for home and business.

  • The Green Network of Montgomery County’s Damascus Wastewater Treatment Tour, Saturday April 27, 10 am – 2 pm, 23730 Log House Road, Damascus

For the first time, the Damascus Wastewater Treatment Plant will be open for public tours! Join members of the Green Network of Montgomery County to explore the plant. Winner of numerous awards, the tour will provide you with the opportunity to see how Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission treats your water. For more details, visit their Meetup page here.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

by Susanna Parker

Puerto Rico’s Northeast Ecological Corridor Declared Protected Land BGnews_logo

On Saturday, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed a law to protect a 2,900 acre site that is the top nesting site for the endangered leatherback turtle. The land, known as the Northeast Ecological Corridor is an ecologically diverse area, containing the leatherback nesting site, bioluminescent bays, and more than 861 types of flora and fauna. The variety is due to the unique diversity of the land itself, which features all ecosystems found in Puerto Rico, which range from a subtropical dry forest to the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. Forest system. The area is also host to at least 50 rare or threatened species, included a recently spotted limpkin – a bird that hadn’t been seen since the 1950s.

The law marks the end of a 15-year battle between environmentalists and developers. Several years ago then-governor Anibal Acevedo Vila attempted to create legal protection from the area, but faced opposition from senators. His successor Luis Fortuno went the opposite direction and issued an order allowing for the large-scale development of the land. However, none of the submitted projects gained permits, and the land remains undeveloped. While the law has declared the land protected, the government still needs to complete the purchase of privately held land in the corridor – approximately 35% of the protected area is private. Puerto Rico eventually hopes to protect 16% of its land, up from the 8% that is currently designated for conservation.

To learn more about the Northeast Ecological Corridor, please read the full Huffington Post article here.

EPA Delays Climate Rule for New Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency has delayed their implementation of the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on new power plants. The rule, which was to go into effect April 13, is still undergoing revision and review. EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson said that the agency is still reviewing over 2 million comments on the proposal. The proposed rule would require any new power plant to emit less than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of energy produced. The limit would not be a hardship on natural gas power plants, which average emissions of 850 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. Coal-powered plants, however, emit an average of 1,786 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour; opposition to the rule is likely to come from the coal industry. Insiders say that the delay is partially to make sure that the rule could withstand a legal challenge, as well as to allow the EPA to bolster their legal case for imposing new carbon restrictions.

To learn more, please read the full Washington Post article here.

13 Oil Spills in the Last 30 Days

While the spills in Mayflower, Arkansas and Houston, Texas have been getting all the attention, The Huffington Post points out that there have been 13 total oil spills, on three continents, within the last 30 days. Heather Libby, Managing Editor of Tcktcktck.org, created an infographic on the spills, delineating their location, spill type, and volume. Crude oil and tar sands oil make up over 90% of the oil spilled, with the rest being made up of tailing pond waste fluid, hydraulic fluid, and condensate. In total, oil companies in North and South America released over 1 million barrels of oil and toxic waste over the last 30 days. To learn more about the spills and see the infographic, please visit The Huffington Post.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events

  • Developing an Investor Package, Bethesda Green Finance Workshop Series for Green Businesses. April 25, 8 am – 10 am, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200.

In the fifth installment of the Bethesda Green Finance Workshop series, our panel will discuss approaching investors with a solid plan for success. Investors often require documentation of concrete business plans, including documents geared toward each stage of engagement, “teasers”, and detailed descriptions of business and financial models. The panel, featuring Joseph Chirico of Capital One, Barry Michael of Focus Investment Banking, and Cheryl Heusser of Snyder Cohn, will address both how to develop these documents, and how to use them effectively. Admission is $15; please RSVP to rsynder@bethesdagreen.org.

  • Greening the National Capital Region: The Commercial Real Estate Commitment to Building Green, Wednesday April 30, 5:30 pm – 8 pm, 7550 Wisconsin Avenue.

Bethesda Green is currently launching a Green Building and Sustainable Development seminar series to help participants understand green trends impacting the commercial building sector. To kick off the series, Bethesda Green has partnered with NAIOP MD/DC to highlight Bethesda’s newest commercial office building: Akridge’s 7550 Wisconsin Avenue. Come tour the building, see the green infrastructure, and network with those passionate about sustainable development in Bethesda. Admission is $30, and includes light fare, beer & wine. Please RSVP to Sharon D’Emidio at sharon@bethesdagreen.org by Thursday, April 25th.

  • Bethesda Green’s Fourth Annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday May 11, 10am – 3pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200.

Join us for our fourth annual Solar & Green Home Expo, an information-packed showcase event featuring many green home expert services and solar providers. The goal of this event is to provide homeowners and other interested parties an opportunity to get the latest information about area services and incentives to green their homes. Local area green home businesses will display their services throughout the Bethesda Green office space while individual workshops related to greening your home will be conducted throughout the day. To learn more about this free community event, visit the event page here.

Upcoming Partner Events

  • Electronic Recycling Event! Sunday April 21, noon – 4pm, Wheaton High School, 12601 Dalewood Drive

Join GreenWheaton and the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection to celebrate Earth Day and recycle your unwanted electronics. You can do some Spring Cleaning, and not worry that your old cell phones or laptops will end up in a landfill! Acceptable items include: computers, printers, CDs, TVs, all plug-in appliances, and more. For the the full list, please visit Montgomery County’s website. If you’re recycling your old Apple or Mac, visit the Mac Recycle Clinic across from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.

  • Free Screening of BIDDER 70, Monday April 22, 7pm, Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, 10309 New Hampshire Avenue.

Did you miss Bidder 70 during the Environmental Film Festival? Well here’s your second chance to watch! Presented by Sister Eden, and co-sponsored by Mark Leisher Productions, Bethesda Green, Silver Spring Green, GreenWheaton, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, this event will celebrate Earth Day, honor Tim DeChristopher’s actions, and raise awareness of the environmental activism movement. Tickets are not required, but donations are accepted at the door. For more on the event and the film, visit http://sistereden.com/bidder70/

  • Arbor Day Tree Planting at Bethesda Library, Friday April 26, 11 am

Join Conservation Montgomery and MC Department of General Services in celebrating Arbor Day at the Bethesda Library. In the continued work to preserve urban green spaces, Conservation Montgomery will be planting two native trees on library grounds; a yellowwood and a dogwood, both trees native to this region. Come support local efforts to green and beautify the library, and peruse the special book displays that will be set up for the occasion.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

by Susanna Parker

Committing to Sustainability BGnews_logo

Zack Kline, whose company A.I.R. Lawn Care is a member of the Bethesda Green Incubator, has decided to make sustainability his full-time job. Two weeks ago, Zack quit his former job at a payroll company in order to focus on getting A.I.R. Lawn Care on the map. The landscaping company is different from most others due to Zack’s eco-friendly methods. A solar panel mounted on the company truck charges the electric blowers, mowers, and trimmers that he uses to transform neighborhood lawns. Unlike conventional equipment, Zack’s don’t emit either noise pollution or gas fumes, which is especially appreciated during the hot Washington summers. Zack plans to focus on growing his business and cornering the market on eco-friendly lawn care. To learn more about Zack and his company, read Aaron Kraut’s full story on Bethesda Now.

Multiple Oil Disasters Throw a Shadow on the Keystone XL Pipeline

The Exxon Pegasus pipeline incident is not the only spill that has occurred in recent weeks. The same day of the Pegasus spill, the West Columbia Pipeline, operated by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, was reported to have a potential release of 700 barrels of crude oil. The release, which equals nearly 30,000 gallons, was detected by the U.S. National Response Center. Last Thursday, Coast Guard representatives confirmed that at least 50 barrels of oil had entered into Vince Bayou, a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

The spill is only the most recent in a series of oil disasters. The Arkansas incident is ongoing, with residents still evacuated from their homes as clean-up workers attempt to clear oil from the small town. Additionally, two rail car derailments in Minnesota and Canada released a combined spill of almost 50,000 gallons. These multiple disasters are giving backing to those who protest the potential Keystone XL pipeline. Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, said “Transporting toxic crude oil – and tar sands in particular – is inherently dangerous… This is why Keystone XL… must never be built.”

To learn more about the Texas spill, read Carol Linnitt’s article on DeSmog Canada.

Beekeeper Draws Attention to Colony Collapse

Darren Cox, the national beekeeper of the year, is attempting to use his status to raise awareness of the plight of the honey bee. In a Huffington Post article, Cox explains that colony collapse disorder affects honey bee hives, causing the bees to suddenly disappear and die. The disease is spreading nationwide, and regularly destroys colonies at a rate of 30% a year. However, 2012 saw an extreme rise in bee death, and Cox reported 70% die-off in his hives. Before colony collapse disorder became so widespread, bee death generally held steady at 15%, usually caused by pests and diseases. No one has discovered the cause of colony collapse disorder, but scientists point to a combination of pesticide contamination, poor nutrition, and bee diseases.

Colony collapse disorder has the potential to wreak havoc on the nation’s food supply. Honey bees are the main pollinators of our agricultural crops, and a dramatic population decline could have a major, negative effect on crop output. The cost of having humans do the work that bees do naturally, for free, would be staggering, and the effects would be felt worldwide.

There are ways to mitigate the disorder. Cox urges farmers to spray pesticides at night, when bees are less active, while homeowners and gardeners are encouraged to grow a variety of pollinator-friendly plants, which will provide food and habitat for honey bees.

Upcoming Green Events

  • Learn About SCRAP DC, Tuesday, April 9, 7:30 – 9 pm, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200

SCRAP DC is a small “creative reuse” nonprofit that diverts useable stuff from local waste streams, affordably offering it for arts, crafts, and education. Join its co-directors for an information session at Bethesda Green. Come hear what SCRAP’s been up to, discuss activities you might do together, and envision bringing a SCRAP location to Maryland.

  • Cleantech Open Briefing, Wednesday, April 10, noon – 1:30 pm, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue

Join us for a business and informational lunch briefing in support of the Cleantech Open with special remarks from Joshua C. Greene, Southeast Regional Director. Lunch and refreshments to be served. To RSVP, email Robert Snyder, robertgsnyder@msn.com, or call 240-396-2440 x-103.

  • Take a Bite Out of ALS with Gator Ron’s, Sunday, April 14, 11:45 am – 2:30 pm, BlackFinn, 4901 Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda

Support Gator Ron’s, a Bethesda Green incubator company, as it launches a partnership with BlackFinn. Enjoy Gator Ron’s zesty sauces and Bloody Mary mixes. Proceeds help support ALS research.

  • Home Energy Workshop in Bethesda, Sunday April 14, 1 – 2:30 pm, Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, 9601 Cedar Lane

This Saturday, Interfaith Power and Light will be teaming up with Groundswell and Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church to teach neighborhood homeowners how to save energy at home. Did you know that proper weatherization could save you 15-35% of your heating costs? Learn about this an other ways to save energy, create green jobs, and shrink your carbon footprint! Food and refreshments will be provided by members of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church. Please RSVP to program@gwipl.org.

  • Green Volunteering: Earth Day, Every Day, Monday April 15, Silver Spring
  1. Tour of Shepherd’s Table, 4 – 4:45 pm, 8210 Dixon Avenue
  2. Green Volunteering Fair, 5 – 6:30 pm, Eggspectation, 923 Ellsworth Drive

Join the Corporate Volunteer Council for our Earth Day, Every Day event in Silver Spring! The afternoon will start with a tour of Shepherd’s Table, which has provided food and services to Montgomery County’s homeless population since 1983. Following the tour, we’ll head over to Eggspectation in Downtown Silver Spring. Learn about green nonprofits in Montgomery County that are focused on environmental stewardship, reuse, recycling, and the protection of natural resources. To learn more about the event, and to register, visit the Corporate Volunteer Council of Montgomery County.

  • Bethesda Big Train Fanfest and Celebrity Softball Classic, Saturday, April 20, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Shirley Povich Field, 10600 Westlake Drive, Bethesda, MD 20817
Bethesda Green supporters take note: For every ticket that is purchased online using the promotional code [GREEN], the buyer will receive 20% off each ticket and Big Train baseball will donate $2 back to Bethesda Green for every ticket purchased! All you have to do is enter the promotional code [GREEN] at the checkout page.
Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

Food Council logoby Jennifer Roe

Montgomery County is home to one of the nation’s most renowned agricultural reserves – 93,000 acres of land, making up nearly one-third of the county.  But is this local, regional, and national treasure being maximized to address the increasing demand for healthy, fresh, affordable local food, the potential for new, profitable farm enterprises, and more?  Is Montgomery County doing as much as it can to support the creation of new food enterprises, promote healthy eating, and end hunger in our community?

According to the Montgomery County Food Council, the answer is not yet.

These were just a few of the concerns 86 Maryland stakeholders had when they initially met in December 2010.  This group of community activists, county government officials, entrepreneurs, farmers, nonprofits, and more, resolved to set up a food council that would develop collaborative and interdisciplinary policy and programming solutions to identified problems.  Through the work of an interim Advisory Board, the Montgomery County Food Council officially launched in February 2012 with the primary mission to create a “robust, local, sustainable food system.”

The Food Council is a volunteer-based organization with one paid staff member, part-time Food Council Coordinator Lindsay Smith and several Working Groups that help to drive much of the Food Council’s work.  Active Working Groups include: Food Access, Healthy Eating, School & Youth Gardens, Value Chain Analysis and Land Use, Zoning & Planning.

The Working Groups generally meet every other month and report back at general council meetings that also meet alternating months.  Each group has its own set of goals and objectives.  For example, according to Lindsay, the School & Youth Gardens group is currently mapping the number and location of school, community gardens, and other farm-based educational opportunities to determine base-line conditions.  The long-term goal of this group, and its nonprofit and other partners, is to increase the number of school and youth gardens in the County.

Through meetings, participation in community events, and more, the Food Council is connecting local producers, consumers, educators, emergency food service providers, entrepreneurs, and more.  The Food Council is working to become the information hub on the County’s food system, studying and sharing information on existing conditions, monitoring changes, and serving as the forum for diverse players to identify new opportunities for services, social enterprises, and businesses that increase local production and consumption of healthy, fresh food.   At the same time, the Food Council has plans to launch some of its own programming to increase public awareness of the importance of building a healthy local food economy where it sees unique opportunities to do so.

A member of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, the Montgomery County Food Council has big plans on the horizon as they work to build more partnerships and become the main hub for information on the county’s food system.  According to Lindsay, “We are excited that we will be bringing on some new members and leveraging their experience, as well as Bethesda Green’s, to make some decisions about how to grow the Food Council’s capacity to become the primary, independent resource for information on the food system for Montgomery County residents. Further development and evolution is imminent!”

“We are excited . . . to become the primary, independent resource on the food system for Montgomery County residents.”

The Montgomery County Food Council is one of the first in Maryland and will continue to collaborate with partners in the County and across the region to achieve its mission. All community members are invited to get involved in the work of the Montgomery County Food Council. To learn more, visit their website,  sign up for their bimonthly newsletter by emailing info@mocofoodcouncil.org, or connect with them via social media — Twitter: @mocofoodcouncil; facebook.com/mocofoodcouncil.

Jennifer Roe is a recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh where she received her Master’s in Environment and Development.  She is passionate about building a just and sustainable food system where every individual has the opportunity to lead a successful, healthy life.

By Susanna Parker

Alice Ferguson Foundation Presents the Litter Prevention Video Contest BGnews_logo

In conjunction with the 25th Annual Potomac Cleanup in April, the Alice Ferguson Foundation is launching a video contest to engage residents from across the region in litter prevention. The contest is open to all ages. Create a video that demonstrates your support for clean land, safe water, and healthy lives in your community. Contest participants have a chance of winning a $1000 prize, and having their video used as a PSA for the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign.  Video submissions will be open from April 6 through May 15. For more information and entry rules, please visit the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

Green Spaces May Reduce Urban Crime

A recent Temple University study has found that city planning which emphasizes urban greening can lower the rates of certain types of crime. Researchers found that the presence of grass, trees, and shrubs in a city setting can lower incidences of aggravated assault, robbery, and burglary. This information goes against the long-standing principle that high vegetation abets crime by shielding activities or allowing the criminal to escape. The authors argue that well-maintained greenery encourages social interaction and community supervision of public spaces, which act as a deterrent to criminal activity.

Increasing urban vegetation has other benefits as well. More greenery helps to regulate temperatures, remove pollutants from the air, reduce stormwater runoff, and prevent pollutants from affecting the local watershed. Urban greenery also has aesthetic and societal benefits; well-maintained gardens, window boxes, and parks give the impression of a stable, healthy community. For more information on the study, please read the full article on the Environmental News Network.

ExxonMobil Pipeline Releases Major Spill in Arkansas

Emergency crews worked all weekend to contain several thousand barrels of crude oil, the result of a rupture in the Pegasus oil pipeline. Fifteen vacuum trucks and thirty three storage tanks have been deployed to the site of the spill to clean up and temporarily store the oil. As of Sunday, 12,000 barrels of oil and water had been recovered, and several thousand feet of boom have been set up on a nearby lake to prevent oil from entering the water supply. Though residents were permitted to return to their homes temporarily in order to pick up personal items, the city of Mayflower recommended the continued evacuation of 22 homes close to the spill. The Environmental Protection Agency has qualified this incident as a major spill; meanwhile, the cause of the rupture is under investigation. For more information, read the full City of Mayflower report here.

Ecuador to Auction Amazonian Property to Oil Companies

In a news article released last week, The Guardian reports that Ecuador’s government plans to auction off more than three million hectares of Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies. The auction is believed to be spurred on by national debt; as of summer 2012, Ecuador owed China more than $7 billion, which is more than a tenth of their Gross Domestic Product. Adam Zuckerman of the NGO Amazon Watch believes that, because Ecuador has depended upon China to finance much of their recent development, they’re willing to compromise on other issues like environmental regulations.

Another point of contention comes from the indigenous tribes who inhabit the land. A recent ruling by an inter-American court has stated that governments must obtain free, prior, and informed consent from indigenous peoples before approving oil activities on their land. Seven groups have come forward to protest the auction, claiming that they have not consented to oil projects that would harm the rainforest environment and threaten their way of life.

No auctions have yet occurred. To learn more about the situation, please read the full Guardian article here.

Upcoming Green Events

  • Celebrate Earth & Water First Thursday Happy Hour, Thursday April 4, 5 – 8pm, Brickside, 4866 Cordell Avenue.

This month we’re kicking off the April Earth Day celebration and learning about local and global water issues. Tiffany Jones will discuss the upcoming Reel Water Film Festival, hosted by Journey’s Crossing, Bethesda Green, and Mark Leisher Productions. The event will be held June 15th at the Bethesda Jazz and Supper Club, and will showcase water-related film projects and expert presentations. Come and enjoy complimentary appetizers, discount drinks, and a gift card raffle courtesy of Brickside. Admission is $10 at the door. For more information and to RSVP, visit the Bethesda Green Meetup.

  • Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup, Saturday April 6, 9 am – 12 noon

Join the Rock Creek Conservancy and local residents for the 5th Annual Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup. Each year, Rock Creek Conservancy organizes and promotes this event with cleanups at over 50 locations along the 33-mile length of Rock Creek. The goal is a total stream cleanup of Rock Creek and its tributaries, the parks connected to Rock Creek, and the neighborhoods near Rock Creek where trash originates. Working with the National Park Service and Montgomery County Parks, the Conservancy coordinates cleanups in the District of Columbia as well as Montgomery County, MD. Come help clean up Rock Creek, and help keep trash out of the Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay, and our oceans. To find a cleanup site near you, visit the 2013 Extreme Cleanup Map.

  • Take a Bite Out of ALS, Sunday April 14, 11:45 am – 2:30 pm, BlackFinn Bethesda, 4901 Fairmont Avenue

Join Gator Ron’s and BlackFinn as they launch their partnership – Gator Ron’s Bloody Marys are now available at BlackFinn! Come enjoy special prices on appetizers created especially for this event using Gator Ron’s Zesty Angel Wing and Heavenly Barbecue Sauces, and $5.00 Gator Ron’s Bloody Marys. Come out, celebrate the partnership, remember Ron Griffith, and show support to BlackFinn’s joining the fight against ALS!

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.