BGnews_logoCut your own Christmas tree from the several tree farms around the D.C area

As you decorate your homes for Christmas consider visiting your local farm stand to pick up a fresh, Christmas tree. You can take your family to pick up a pre-cut Christmas tree or cut down your own! Not only will you be supporting your local farms, but you’ll be helping the environment, as well. Real Christmas trees are 100 percent environmentally friendly unlike artificial trees, which may contain harmful lead toxins and plastics and last centuries in a landfill after thrown away. Real trees naturally decompose over time and provide wildlife habitats for your little critters.

Check out the Washington Post to find out where the tree farms are!

Take care of your home during the winter season

Make sure to pay attention to your home during the busy holidays. If you tackle these tasks now, you may prevent problems later. Here are some quick and easy household tips:

  • Clean your kitchen vents whether they have an over the range microwave or a hood that is vented to the outdoors. Before the holiday cooking starts, clean or replace the grease filter in a dish washer or in a sink.
  • For better freeze-protection of outdoor faucets, replace standard frost-protected faucets with ones that have a built-in pressure relief valve.
  • Periodically watch the snow to  pinpoint maintenance issues you might otherwise never notice.

To see more details and more tips check out this article!


  • Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour, today, Dec. 5, 5 – 8 pm at Parva in Bethesda.  Hear from Interfaith Power & Light  about what local congregations are doing to save energy and go green. For more details and to RSVP, go to the Bethesda Green Meetup website.



by Alison Wentzell

Free Lending Libraries Help Create Neighborhood BondsBGnews_logo

The burgeoning global literary movement has spread to the District with the help of Philip Vahab, who created a small library on his front lawn.  The library is just a small wooden model of a house that he put on a post and filled with his wife’s old books.  Then he noticed that his mini-library became remarkably popular, so much so, that he started seeing visitors from other communities throughout the DC Metro area.

You’re probably wondering about the environmental aspect of these literary boxes.  Simply put, they could kick start a movement toward creating more sustainable communities.  Whether or not Vahab realizes it, he’s doing more than promoting community interaction and literacy.  The libraries allow people to get books that they might have otherwise bought from a bookstore and donate books that they might have just thrown out or left cluttering their shelves.  Also, since the lending libraries cater to neighborhoods, people can easily walk to the box in their area to pick out a new book rather than driving to a library or bookstore.

In addition, the libraries forge a community bond, which can promote overall sustainability.  People who have libraries on their lawns have noticed the formation of greater bonding with their community.  For example, neighbors are more inclined to share household items or form carpools.

For more information, check out the Washington Post article here.

Chevy Chase’s Western Grove Urban Park to be Urban Oasis

In 2001 Montgomery County purchased the newly named Western Grove Urban Park near the Friendship Heights Metro.  The project is expected to cost around $1 million to develop, with an annual operating budget of $55,000.  The lot is set to become a 1.9 acre “urban oasis” that will feature lighted brick paths, gardens, a natural play area, moveable furniture, and Wi-Fi access.  Designed to keep an open garden quality, it is the first of this kind of urban park in Montgomery County.

For more information check out the article on


  • BG 101, Sept. 25, 4-5:30 PM, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Join Bethesda Green for their regular orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events, and volunteer opportunities.

  • Bethesda Green Luncheon Speaker Series,  Sept. 26, 12-1:30 PM Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Learn about Montgomery County’s new Green Investor Incentive Program from presenter Peter Bang, Montgomery County Department of Economic Development.  This FREE seminar discussion will address who is a qualified company or investor, amount of investment, and the application process.  Register here.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

BG_FCF_farmtour_logo.finalby Jennifer Roe

Bethesda Green’s 3rd annual Farm Tour is almost here! This is a great opportunity to learn about the importance of connecting with local farms and building a local, healthy, sustainable food system in our region.

So, what is a food system? It is defined by all the steps necessary to produce and feed a population — from agricultural rearing, growing, and harvesting; to processing, packaging, transporting, distributing, marketing, preparing, consuming and disposing of food.

Over recent decades, food systems have become dominated by large corporations and monocropping. They have become increasingly resource intensive and global as food products travel further distances to meet consumer demand. As a result, the environment feels more pressure in terms of habitat loss/change, climate change, resource depletion, water pollution and toxic emissions.  Our current food production system is extremely inefficient, wasting a high percentage of natural resources and polluting our ecosystems.

According to a recent report authored by Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Dana Gunders, “Waste: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill,” food production from farm to table uses 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, 50% of our land, and 80% of the freshwater we consume.  From these statistics, it is clear that agricultural production has a huge impact on our planet.

So let’s learn about one part of our food system and understand why we need to preserve local farms that are implementing sustainable agricultural practices.  Reserve your spot here.  By the end of the day, we hope you will better understand our current food system and be inspire to support local, sustainable agriculture whenever possible.

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

County Legislation and The Forest for the TreesBGnews_logo

Two bills are under review by the Montgomery County Council, and both have to do with government management of trees in our region. The first bill, Bill 35-12, would require developers to pay a “tree tax” – when a Sediment Control Permit is required by the county, the developers would pay a fee to compensate for the amount of tree canopy being removed. The fee would then be used by the County to replace the canopy within the same watershed as where it was removed. While detractors claim that it would prevent homeowners from performing tree maintenance on their own property, proponents in the Council say that simply isn’t the case. Councilman Reimer explained that the bill is basically a tree care and maintenance plan, and “the purpose of the bill… is to empower us to participate in how street trees are managed.” The bill is sponsored by County Executive Isiah Leggett and will require 5 full votes in the Council in order to pass.

The second bill being discussed is Bill 41-12, which would allow Montgomery County to assume a more active role in managing its right of way trees. Currently, the County has to request assistance from the State of Maryland, and submit to its jurisdiction when it comes to the trees in question. The bill builds on existing authority to make sure that any work done where County trees will be affected will be done in a way that protects those trees. Additionally, the County is seeking to require a 3:1 replacement ratio for downed trees, which is much stricter than the state law.

Developers are fighting both bills, claiming they are unnecessary. You can read counter-arguments to their claims here

Poll Shows Small Business Support for Obama’s Environmental Policies

According to a poll released last Thursday, the majority of small business owners support at least some of the Obama administration’s climate control and clean energy plans. Of those polled, 79% support a government-set national goal to increase energy efficiency by half over the next decade, while even more believe that government incentives for innovative clean energy technology should be a high priority. While the small business owners polled vary widely in their political leanings, the majority believe that energy efficiency makes sense for the environment and business, recognizing that clean energy policies are better for their bottom lines. To learn more about the poll and its results, please read the full Washington Post article here.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events

  • Shop Whole Foods Today, Support Bethesda Green! Tuesday, July 2, all day, Whole Foods Bethesda, River Road.

Trying to get some grocery shopping done before the 4th of July? Buy your barbecue supplies from Whole Foods Bethesda on River Road. Whole Foods has sponsored Bethesda Green for this quarter’s 5% day! Throughout the day, 5% of proceeds made at Whole Foods Bethesda will go to Bethesda Green and help support our continued work in the community. We have a team of volunteers at the store all day today, discussing our work, meeting with community members, and bagging groceries! Come by, get your errands done, and support Bethesda Green!

Upcoming Partner Events

  • Join Governor Martin O’Malley at the Maryland Climate Change Summit, Thursday July 25, 9:30 am, The Conference Center at the Maritime Institute, 692 Maritime Boulevard, Linthicum Heights MD.

Governor Martin O’Malley, along with leading scientists, renewable energy business leaders, and climate change experts, will join together to discuss the progress that Maryland has made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, further actions to be taken, and the implementation of Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan. Maryland’s fight against climate change is especially important in the light of the recently released report that warns Maryland could see a sea level rise of over 2 feet by 2050.  To take part in the conversation, and work for Maryland’s future, be sure to register for the Maryland Climate Change Summit today!

Susanna Parker is the social media manager at Mark Leisher Productions and a volunteer with Bethesda Green. 

RWFF logoEvent: Reel Water Film Festival

When: Saturday, June 15

Time: Doors Open: 1 PM

Afternoon Splash: 2 PM

Dinner & Movie: 6 PM  (dinner 6 PM, movie 7:15 PM)

Location: Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814



Enjoy live music and great food, meet local organizations making a difference, and check out short films from all over the world on Saturday, June 15 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, MD.  Among the more than 50 short films submitted to the festival, we have selected the best storytelling and cinematography covering a wide range of water-related topics such as wild weather, storm water management, lack of access to clean water, innovation around clean water, and more!

Scene for Chasing Ice, the evening feature at the June 15 Reel Water Film Festival in Bethesda.

Scene from Chasing Ice, the evening feature at the June 15 Reel Water Film Festival in Bethesda.

You can stop by for an “Afternoon Splash” featuring short films, come for the “Dinner & A Movie” highlighted by the award-winning documentary CHASING ICE, or stay for the entire festival and find out how you can make a difference!

Click here for ticket options and more information.

The Reel Water Film Festival is a non-profit event, with at least 50% of the proceeds donated to water projects in developing countries and right here at home.  Additional funds help support the continuation of the festival for many years to come.


sunflower-birthday-cakeFive years ago today, a passionate group of people came together at the Bethesda Theatre to kick-off a new initiative.  On January 23, 2008, Bethesda Green was officially born.

Many of you may recall that we had close to 400 people join us from all different sectors, many who still talk about being part of that special day.  We started as a group open to the community and today still see inclusiveness as one of our core strengths.  The seven core principles (from our initial proposal) were:

  1. Community engagement
  2. Scale up what works
  3. Identify opportunities
  4. Educate and market
  5. Leverage existing networks
  6. Sustain the initiative
  7. Phased approach

Thanks to all the board members who helped make Bethesda Green possible.

  • To Seth Goldman and George Leventhal, whose leadership and guidance gave the organization its birth.
  • To Ilaya Hopkins, Jeff Burton and Greg Rooney, whose leadership as board chairs propelled Bethesda Green forward.
  • To the Bethesda Green staff, whose commitment to excellence and efforts are gifts to the community.
  • And to Mike Mielke, my initial founding partner, whose purposefulness and enthusiasm for sustainability inspired me to build green, livable communities.

Our goals, when we launched were to focus, organize and accelerate the local sustainability movement.  In 2012, we instituted a three-year strategy around themes of incubate, initiate, and educate.  This year, we will begin the process of redefining our strategy post 2013.

We have made a huge difference to this community and the many people who have been part of Bethesda Green.  It may sound cliché, but our work is just beginning.  I hope you stay involved and recognize the impact this organization is having on our community and others following our lead.

Happy Birthday, Bethesda Green

GrowingBusiness_logoPlans are under way for an exciting calendar of Bethesda Green programs and events for 2013. Here’s a sneak peak of what lies ahead:

Finance Workshop Series & Venture Forum
Bethesda Green has launched a series of workshops and a venture forum to help grow the green business economy in the region.  The  next workshop on the schedule, Thursday, Jan. 31: What Investors Are Looking for and How To Pitch.

Fields of Green Internship Fair
We will host our 4th annual Fields of Green Internship Fair on Saturday, Feb. 9. This is a great opportunity for young people to line-up internships with companies and non-profits offering job experience in the green business sector.

“Changing the Way We Eat”
Saturday, Feb. 16, we will once again host a TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” official viewing party — a day-long series of live-webcast presentations broadcast from New York.  A special feature of the event includes a presentation by Cheryl Kollin about Farm to Freezer by Full Plate Ventures and Bethesda Cares, a program Bethesda Green helped launch in 2012.

Solar & Green Home Expo
Saturday, May 11, be on the lookout for our 4th annual show connecting residents with vendors in the green service sector.

Reel Water Film Festival
A new addition of the Bethesda Green portfolio, the 2013 film festival will be presented in the heart of downtown Bethesda early summer.

Farm Tours
Later in the summer, around July and August, Bethesda Green will focus on local and sustainable food in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve.

Bethesda Green Gala
As we round the corner into autumn 2013, we will celebrate our 5th anniversary with the annual Bethesda Green Gala in early October.

We hope to see all of our Bethesda Green friends at one or many of our upcoming events.

For more information about Bethesda Green plans for 2013, please contact Program Manager Sharon D’Emidio,