green communications

Photo Credit:  Diane Lill

Photo Credit: Diane Lill

by Jon Akpapunam

Have you seen kids excited for a salad party? Kids who participated in GreenKids’ Salad Science program are.

Salad Science is just one of the fun programs offered by GreenKids program at Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS). Students grow their own salad greens and learn about plant parts and nutrition over a six-week period.  At the end of the program, students partake in a salad party—with toppings provided by Whole Foods Market—to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Such programming enables GreenKids to leave its mark on students and is a big reason the program received a 2012 Bethesda Magazine Green award.

GreenKids is a grant-funded educational outreach program that establishes two-year partnerships with participating schools.  It offers free resources and field experiences—with the ultimate goal of receiving Maryland Green School Certification from the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education.

ANS Deputy Director Lisa Alexander started the program as a pilot in 2005, eager to assist her child’s school, Rock Creek Forest, become a Green School.  The pilot program led to new knowledge and exciting possibilities for environmental education.

Since 2005, GreenKids has raised more than $1 million to directly support the environmental science literacy of Montgomery County and Loudon County Public School students and teachers. The program has engaged more than 28,000 students with hands-on lessons.

Photo Credit: James Kegley

Photo Credit: James Kegley

GreenKids brings nature to students and teachers

The goal of GreenKids is to connect students with the natural world and instill in them the understanding “that there is more to life than just you,” said Diane Lill, Director of the GreenKids program. Through lessons focused on composting, gardening, recycling, watershed education, energy conservation, and habitat restoration, this program allows students  to learn more about the role they play in our world.  Enthusiastic students learn about natural resources and the process of growing their own food.

The program also supports some wonderful (and sometimes under-appreciated) teachers with professional development and works with teachers to make these programs an enduring part of the curriculum.

Through fun activities and outdoor trips, GreenKids provides students and teachers with great knowledge that will last them a lifetime.  “What do you remember from elementary school?” Diane asks, “Awesome field trip, outdoor activities, or perhaps an amazing teacher?”—all of which GreenKids encapsulates.

Photo Credit: Balance Photography

Photo Credit: Balance Photography

Diane’s work for GreenKids came full circle at the 2012 Bethesda Green Gala.  During her speech, Diane thanked the teachers that took her outside as a young student.  Following her speech, two Gala attendees inquired about her outdoor experiences as a child. To her amazement, she realized that they were teachers from both her Outdoor Environmental Education and C&O Canal experiences and was encouraged that they are still involved in the green movement.  “One field trip can have an amazing experience on someone’s life,” she explained.  It is obvious her experiences as a child had a lasting impact; perhaps her current students will contribute to the green movement in years to come as well.

A recent graduate of Denison University, Jon Akpapunam is an intern at both Clean Currents and the City Parks Alliance. He is passionate about both learning and developing new perspectives and strategies to create a more sustainable future.


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

Highlights of the evening include honoring 2013 Green Award winners and recognizing businesses, organizations, communities and individuals who are providing green services or promoting and living a green lifestyle.


MLP staff: Shane Yaeger, Tiffany Jones, Mark Leisher, and Susanna Parker.

MLP staff: Shane Yaeger, Tiffany Jones, Mark Leisher, and Susanna Parker.

A lot has happened with Mark Leisher Productions (MLP) over the past two years. The most exciting development for the Bethesda Green Incubator company is the addition of three new team members — Videographer and Editor Shane Yaeger, Production Manager Tiffany Jones, and Social Media Manager Susanna Parker. Shane traveled with Mark to document The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour last summer, a working relationship that went so smoothly that Mark asked Shane to come on as a partner in the company. Tiffany and Mark met a year ago, when they worked together on the Reel Water Film Festival.  Tiffany joined the team in March, supporting client communications and expanding the MLP brand. Mark first saw Susanna’s work for the Bethesda Green blog, where she was a weekly contributor. He realized that, as a growing company, they would need someone dedicated to social media and brand management, increasing awareness of current and upcoming projects.

Mark Leisher Productions has kept busy, creating commercial and marketing videos for a variety of local companies, co-sponsoring the 2nd Annual Reel Water Film Festival, and developing two feature films: a documentary about the Underground Railroad and a psychological horror film. Additionally, MLP has begun offering brand management and social media marketing services to clients, creating engaging videos and marketing them to increase their reach and impact.

Through it all, Mark has remained dedicated to increasing awareness of sustainability and the green community. MLP continues to co-sponsor the Reel Water Film Festival, works with Active Nature to encourage river stewardship in the paddling community, and supports fellow Bethesda Green Incubator companies by helping them create and market promotional videos. MLP has also worked with Lori Hill of Sister Eden to develop her brand as “Your Guide to Living the Green Life.” The team has created videos, managed social media relations, and developed content for the Sister Eden blog.  The future is bright for Mark Leisher Productions, working to make the video process fun, engaging, and simple.

Bethesda Green Gala

Bethesda Green Gala

Here at Bethesda Green, our mission is to serve as a model for environmentally sustainable living and business practices — and to grow new green businesses in our Bethesda Green Business Incubator. We provide information to people and organizations about reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, and building cleaner, healthier communities; and we help guide the nascent green firms in our program.

Now we want to recognize the environmental efforts of the Green Champions in our community, those people, businesses, other organizations and communities that are walking the walk when it comes to green living and business practices.

Please join us for a celebration!

Bethesda Green Gala

Thursday, October 7

6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Imagination Stage in Bethesda

“An evening of inspiration, celebration and recognition of local green champions, highlighted by the presentation of the 2010 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards.”

The evening will include the presentation of the inaugural Bethesda Magazine Green Awards, heavy hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine, and a dessert reception. Plus we’ll have a silent auction of environmentally friendly gifts and services.

We received more than 120 nominations for the Bethesda Magazine Green Awards. From these, a panel of judges chose 7 winners in 5 categories:  People 18 and younger, people 19 and older, communities promoting and implementing green practices, businesses or non-profits that have created innovative green products or green services, and businesses or non-profits that have significantly incorporated green practices into their culture and operations.

Come out and celebrate green achievements! Visit the Bethesda Green Gala web page for details and registration information.

See you October 7!

Earth Day

Apollo 17 photo of Earth

Our theme for April is “Celebrating the Earth,” because Earth Day is April 22–and this year it’s the 40th anniversary of the national environmental event.

Bethesda Green’s Ann Dorough has written an excellent article about how taking any action helps–be it personal, such as installing a rain barrel or helping with a stream clean-up, or political, such as lobbying your congressperson. Environmentally-minded home improvements, service projects and political advocacy are all important. At Bethesda Green, we provide information and education to point you toward opportunities to be “green” and environmentally friendly. (Case in point: Here’s a list of Earth Day events in Montgomery County.)

Of course there’s a full range of opinions about Earth Day and a broad spectrum of activities taking place around the world. We want to know what you think: Are personal actions and political advocacy equally important? What will you do during Earth Month to help the planet? Post your comments here!

March 8, 2010 marks an important date in the growth of Bethesda Green.  Today, courtesy of Trevor Stone and a generous in-kind contribution from Jack Stone Signs, new street signs festoon the lamp posts outside our office.  The Landover, MD-based company also added a sign to the front door (see below) and another inside in the lobby area.

We’ve occupied the space above the Chevy Chase Bank branch for a little more than a year.  Then, in late summer,  Donohoe Construction Company led a team of subcontractors and suppliers that completed a major build out in October 2009 as we officially launched our Education Center and Green Business Incubator.

And, we’ve got more changes coming soon, to the interiors and the banners we display at events.  A sign may not seem like much, but we feel it’s an emblem of what we’ve accomplished, a symbol of permanence that we’re moving in the right direction with much more yet to come.  Thanks to everyone for making it happen.

Maryland Greenhawks players and Bethesda Green staff and volunteersThe Maryland Greenhawks basketball team – the nation’s first “green” professional sports team — held its inaugural press conference November 18 at the Bethesda Green offices.

Formerly known as the Maryland Nighthawks, the team plays in the Premier Basketball League (PBL). This year the team embraced environmental conservation and changed its name.

Their uniforms will be made from environmentally friendly materials, such as bamboo or recycled plastic, and the team will work with to offset the carbon footprint created by its home games, travel and corporate headquarters.

In addition, the Greenhawks will conduct a sneaker recycling program with Nike. The public may be able to participate in this; stay tuned.

Maryland Greenhawks players and officialsAt the press conference the Greenhawks introduced their first two draft picks — Byron Mouton, a former member of the University of Maryland’s national championship team in 2002, and Travis Lay from American University – as well as players Scooter Sherrill and Daniel Artest.

League president and CEO Tom Doyle described the Greenhawks as the “first sports franchise that’s green,” and said the team will be going into the schools to bring the green message. Doyle said the team’s outreach to kids will go a long way to creating a generation of conservationists.

Mouton said kids seeing the Greenhawks on the court as a green team will help the youngsters realize environmental conservation is a priority.

The Greenhawks will play their games at Wootton High School; their first home game is January 16. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

RSVP now for this Sunday’s Team Obama Earth Day House Party with Bethesda Green Executive Director Dave Feldman scheduled as a featured speaker.

Sunday, April 19, 2009 2:00 PM in downtown Bethesda

For directions and to register for the House Party, please visit:

beth_green_ad_bottle25A few weeks ago, we posted our new ad created in kind by Bethesda newcomer Rick Kourchenko with Nasuti + Hinkle Creative Thinking.  For a number of reasons, we pulled down the post until the March/April issue of Bethesda Magazine in which the ad appears hit the newsstands.  The ad features an image of a bottle topped with a light bulb socket with copy that reads: “Recycling 1 glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for 4 hours.  And a six-pack takes it around the clock.”

Some people love it . . . others, not so much.  But it does get a reaction, and that, as Nasuti co-owner Woody Hinkle would tell you, is what advertising is all about.

The ad appears on page 126, opposite the cover of Bethesda Magazine’s premier issue of Business, its third “magazine within a magazine.”  As always, thanks to publisher Steve Hull for the generous donation of space and to the folks at Nasuti who pull it all together.

For those who want to adopt a more green lifestyle, perhaps no other question gets asked more than, How do I go about doing that?  And, depending on who you ask, you’ll no doubt get a range of answers 090226-sogb-marketingfrom the misinformed to a litany of tasks untenable to all but monastic green monks.

With that in mind, a recent blog entry by Joel Makower of caught my eye.  Excerpting from The State of Green Business 2009 (which you can download for free after answering a short survey), Makower touches on consumers’ struggle to decipher among all the green claims of virtually every product and service in the market today.  Consumers understandably get confused.  As Makower states, “Given the lack of definitions, just about anything can be claimed as “green” — or “greenwash” — further muddying the waters.

My own take on all this, one I believe Makower shares, is that egregious forms of greenwashing should be called out, but any efforts to move in the right direction are welcome.

For communicators and organizations like Bethesda Green, our challenge is to first inform ourselves as best we can, then make that information available to the interested public.  We hope we’re putting in place the means to communicate the green message to our Bethesda Green audience — through this blog, the website, and numerous upcoming events — and welcome your ideas and insights that we can share with others.