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.