Bethesda Events


by Sophia Knoll

The Montgomery County Planning Department is considering EcoDistrict concepts — based on three core principles of sustainability: environmental, social and economic — as part of  a 20-year plan for downtown Bethesda.

At a June 18 public meeting, Tina Schneider with the planning team and Otto Condon of ZGF Architects discussed how the Bethesda community can go about changing Bethesda for the better.

First off, they said that we must look at buildings, streets, and communities as a network that can seamlessly work together. According to Condon, everything within an EcoDistrict must be used for either retail, housing, office space, or culture and more importantly must focus on water and energy efficiency to “revitalize cities from neighborhoods up.”

Condon also mentioned that districts are the building blocks of sustainable cities, which has led the Montgomery County Planning team to divide Bethesda into four main districts in designing our own EcoDistrict.

In the second part of the meeting, people worked in groups of eight looking over maps of Bethesda and brainstormed over various goals, deciding which of the eight “Performance Areas” (Community Identity, Health and Well Being, Equitable Development, Habitats and Ecosystems, Materials, Water, Energy, and Access and Mobility) they would like to see associated within each district.

People offered their suggestions and ideas for the planning committee, which will move forward in creating a plan for the Bethesda EcoDistrict and submit it later this year to the County Council for approval.

For anyone who cares about Bethesda, it is important to get involved and become part of the process. Offer your ideas (send an email to bethesdadowntownplan@montgomeryplanning.org) and help ensure Bethesda’s future as an efficient, vibrant, and  environmentally friendly community.

Sophia Knoll is a Bethesda Green intern and a rising high school senior at Georgetown Visitation.

BG interns at the Imagination Bethesda children's street festival.

Interns Natalia Salazer and Nicki Mukherjee at the Imagination Bethesda children’s street festival.

by Nicki Mukherjee

Before even turning onto Auburn Street I had developed the mindset that I’d be lounging around, watching parents stroll around with their children in tow, just curiously looking around for something to do during Imagination Bethesda on a beautiful Saturday in June.

I did not expect to be on my feet, rushing back and forth between making origami, helping children spin a roulette wheel for an environmental game, and being so engaged that a few hours passed without notice.

Just two minutes into the event, which started at 10 am, and for the whole time thereafter, there was a small group of children  surrounding the table, intrigued by the candy that was piled next to the black plastic wheel. I stood behind the table, a bit nervous at first that I would ask one of the kid-friendly environmental questions we devised for the event incorrectly and frantically referenced our guide sheet for the first twenty minutes.

However, I soon got hang of dealing with each group of kids, how to adjust the questions to work better for each child, how to avoid the cries and whines of the children whose mothers shook their head to the candy, and how to deal with the frenetic kids who were grappling their parents to snatch candy before they even played the game.

Three hours in, I was probably having more fun than the kids while moving from making paper boats to watching their eyes light up uncontrollably after I confirmed that their answer of “moo” and “piggy” was indeed correct for the question of “Which animals live on a farm?”

Children were prancing around with glitter tattoos on their wrists, animal paintings on their cheeks, clutching onto their newest addition of paper necklaces and drawings. Watching children have such fun planting flowers in miniature pots as their firetruck red balloons slipped away into the sky left me thinking that I would like to do this again next year.

As a newcomer to Bethesda and an even newer addition to Bethesda Green, there could not have been a better event than Imagination Bethesda to kick off my internship. I would definitely come back again next year with the addition of my two little cousins.

Nicki Mukherjee is an intern with Bethesda Green and a rising senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

by Dave Feldman

Consider the following water-related facts:
  • 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water but less than 1% is drinkable.
  • The Chesapeake Bay watershed consists of more than 100,000 streams, creeks and rivers; 18 trillion gallons of water; 11,600 miles of shoreline. It  goes through 6 states and Washington, DC, and is home to 17 million people.
  • A typical individual in the United States uses 80 -100 gallons of water (reports vary) each day.  Over 1 billion people use less than 1.5 gallons a day.
  • On average, women in Africa and Asia walk 3.7 miles to collect water

The numbers tell compelling stories. Water is vital to all life on our planet.

On Saturday, June 14, Bethesda Green and partners Mark Leisher Productions and Journey’s Crossing will hold our third annual Reel Water Film Festival at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.

This inspiring event will share beautifully produced films about water and explore what is taking place around the world and within our communities. Plus, you’ll hear personal stories directly from many of the filmmakers. Our highlight of the evening is the award-winning feature film DamNation that explores the changes in our national attitudes about dams and healthy rivers. Click here to see schedule details.

RWFF est 2012 logoOur work doesn’t end when the festival is over. We use the funds raised to support international water projects and local education about water sustainability. This year, we are partnering with Rukundo International to work in a village in southern Uganda called Kabale. We’ll be installing water-harvesting tanks to support a primary school and the surrounding community. Locally, Bethesda Green will work with partners to protect the Chesapeake Bay and support various storm-water management projects.

The documentary movement is growing everywhere and film stands at the crossroads of culture, somewhere between journalism, narrative and television entertainment. Water is our story. Film is our medium.

Tickets are now available to purchase online. See you at the festival Saturday, June 14.

Dave Feldman is Executive Director of Bethesda Green.

BGnews_logo

World’s Largest Urban Greenhouse

Giant Food Stores signed a deal with BrightFarms to build the world’s largest urban greenhouse, expected to open this fall.  At 100,000 square feet, the greenhouse aims to deliver 1 million pounds of fresh produce throughout the year to about 30 Giant supermarkets in the Washington, DC,  metro area. Plans also include making the greenhouse available to schools as an educational tool on urban agriculture and sustainability.

In addition to building greenhouses attached to supermarkets, BrightFarms designs rooftop farms and is working on projects in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and St. Paul.

To read more, check out this article.

New Bike Lanes

As Bethesda proceeds through a new sector plan for future development, interested parties may want to take note of Alexandria’s plan to add new bike lanes. The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously recently to create bike lanes on a span of King Street from Janneys Lane to West Cedar Street, one of Alexandria’s busiest streets.  Many Alexandria residents objected to this plan, however, because it will cause the removal of more than two dozen parking spots and add to congestion. Those in favor of the bike lanes argue that more and more people are using bikes for commuting so creating a safe way for them is key to cities like Alexandria.

Ultimately, the bike lanes proposal was approved with the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. Bicyclists will share the traffic lanes with motorized vehicles in the areas where parking is still allowed. New crosswalks and electronic speed indicators will also be installed for the safety pedestrians and bicyclists.

To find out more information, check out the Washington Post.

Events

  • Maryland Day, a weekend celebration of all things Maryland, March 21-23, explores historic sites, cultural activities, and natural resources around Annapolis. See the Annapolis Green Growing a Little Greener webpage for more details.
  • H2O SummitMarch 22, 9:30 am – 4 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD. Topics covered include: What is Stormwater and How Can You Help Prevent Pollution? and Volunteerism & Community Efforts to Improve the Environment. The morning session (9:30 to 1:00 pm) will have speakers and workshops. Attendance is limited, so register in advance. The afternoon session will be a Family H2O Fair hosted by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and will include kid’s crafts and environmental demos for families. An assortment of water related exhibitors will also be on hand located in the Great Hall. Registration is not required for the afternoon session.

by Julie Clendenin

DC Water lifted its two-day Boil Water Advisory March 7, which was a relief for many DC residents. Their short “water crisis” ended without much drama. It did, however, remind me of our good fortune when it comes to drinking water. It’s good that the remarkable days are those when our water supply is NOT absolutely safe.

And it made me wonder about the flip side of that luck that escapes my consciousness most of the time. I started really thinking about what it would be like to live without a reliable, convenient source of drinking water.

I wanted some perspective from the flip side, so I went looking for some data. Here’s what I found:

  • 768 million people in the world do not have access to safe, clean drinking water (UNICEF, 2014).
  • “Access to drinking water,” in international development language, means that the water source is less than 1 kilometer from its place of use.  That means that someone has to travel, collect water, and carry it home for use. EVERY DAY. The World Health Organization estimates that, globally, 200 million hours are spent EACH DAY collecting water for domestic use.
  • An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day (UN Development Program, 2006).

Our city’s briefly threatened water supply was an inconvenience for many of our neighbors – in fact, it was a very real health hazard that needed to be taken seriously. I am grateful that this kind of thing is a rare occurrence for us, and that we can remain confident about the safety of our drinking water.

RWFFLogo_FullColor_EST2012The thing is, in the developing world, the lack of clean drinking water is daunting crisis. In some African nations, less than half the population has access to clean drinking water. Every day, 1,400 children die from diseases directly linked to unsafe water or lack of basic sanitation.

The Reel Water Film Festival, Saturday, June 14 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, is a great place to start exploring the global water crisis. It’s also an opportunity to explore our own, local water supply challenges. Roughly 6 million people live in the DC area – and most of us get our drinking water from the Potomac River, which is threatened by stormwater runoff from our paved surfaces, sewage overflows caused by massive rainstorms (and snowmelt!), chemical & nutrient pollution from our lawns as well as larger industrial and agricultural sources.

There are things we can each do to help, on both fronts. Let’s not take clean water for granted. It’s not really just a matter of good fortune. We need to get real about protecting it.

Julie Clendenin grew up in Bethesda, met her husband during high school at Walter Johnson, currently lives with her family in Kensington, and works for a consulting firm in Bethesda.

BGnews_logoBethesda Downtown 20-Year Plan Launched

A large, overflowing crowd gathered Monday evening, Nov. 4, at the County Regional Services Center, providing opinions to the Montgomery County Planning Board about what works and doesn’t work in downtown Bethesda.

With a focus on listening to residents, the event was the first step in launching a new Sector Plan for Bethesda that will culminate in about a year with a proposal for the approval of the County Council, providing a fresh look at how Bethesda might evolve over the next 20 years.

The new plan will revisit the 1994 Sector Plan’s recommendations, including issues related to walking, biking and environmental quality.  There will be plenty of opportunities for residents to weigh in, including this evening, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7 -9 pm at Imagination Stage.

Click here for more information.

Advocates Aim to Stop Fracked Natural Gas Shipments in Maryland

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is sounding the alarm about a proposal to build a liquified natural gas export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay, fed from a web of pipelines throughout the state that would deliver fracked natural gas to the facility.

crossroads-tour-logo-emailCCAN Executive Director Mike Tidwell wrote in a recent Washington Post Op-Ed column that if allowed to go forward, the “Cove Point facility would become the biggest cause of global-warming pollution in Maryland.”

CCAN and other organizations are planning a series of town hall meetings across the state for people to learn more about the issue.  Locally, a meeting is scheduled Thursday, Nov. 7, 7:30 – 9 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center.  Click here for more information.

BG Incubator Companies in the News

Energy Dynamics, one of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator companies, is competing along with a number of other start-ups across the nation to have an opportunity to pitch its product before Silicon Valley and Energy Sector investors.

The company designs and manufactures devices that capture and store wasted energy in the electrical system and then recycles it on demand.  The devices maximize the efficiency of electrical system utilization at commercial, industrial and residential facilities, yielding savings of between 6-12% on energy bills.

Energy Dynamics is asking for a vote of support to pitch its product.  Go here to vote.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

Pictured left to right: Robert Dixon, Head of Industry Affairs, Siemens Industry, Inc.; Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner; John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs; Howard County Executive Ken Ulman; and Eric Coffman, Senior Energy Planner, Montgomery County.

John Jabara, Founder of Savenia Labs, a startup company in the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, received the Maryland Clean Energy Center Entrepreneur of the Year award at the annual MCEC summit this October.

Since 2009, a team of scientists and researchers working with Savenia Labs perfected its 10-step process of independently testing popular appliances to determine each model’s energy usage. Today, Savenia Labs Energy Rating labels can be found in local stores to aide consumers.

Events

  • First Thursday Happy Hour — Celebrate Autumn, Sustainability and Trees with Bethesda Green and Trees for the Future.  Enjoy casual conversation and social networking, Thursday, Nov. 7, 5-8 pm @ Jaleo, 7271 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.  RSVP via Meetup.

Gala13_ArtDeco_logo v2Bethesda Green celebrates 5 years of promoting sustainable living with a fabulous Gala Thursday, October 3, at the historic Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. This event gathers people from the DC metro area who share the vision of a more green and sustainable community.

Highlights of the evening include honoring 2013 Bethesda Magazine Green Award winners and recognizing businesses, organizations, communities and individuals who are providing green services or promoting and living a green lifestyle.  Click here for more details about the Gala.

Early Bird tickets (20% discount) available through Friday, Sept. 13.

Buy Your Tickets Now!

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