by Alison Wentzell

Montgomery County Interest in School Gardens GrowsBGnews_logo

Montgomery County fosters 202 different schools, 35 of which have gardens where students can observe, ask questions, and take control of their health as part of a local food and advocacy project, according to an article in the Washington Post.  But, interest in gardens is growing throughout the entire school district.

The Montgomery County school district mandates that students pass three different sciences in order to graduate.  Historically, horticulture has been an easy class to pass and draws in students that don’t have much interest in other science fields.  Elizabeth Levien, who teaches at Blair High School in Silver Spring, is excited to see that the students taking horticulture are now excited by the gardens and their class.

Students’ interest in horticulture classes is also growing in Clarksburg, Damascus, and Springbrook high schools.  Teachers from these schools are working together to make gardens a part of the horticulture curriculum throughout the district.  They have already structured a three-year program allowing students to become certified horticulturists.  But students enrolled in the program aren’t the only ones showing interest in the gardens.  Teacher Jill Couts from Sherwood High School has approximately 30 students who go to the green house each week that aren’t even in the program.

Montgomery Victory Gardens’ project director Gordon Clark is ecstatic about the impact gardens are having on schools.  He’s now working with other PTAs and schools in the district to give them the knowledge and resources to help them get started on their own gardens.

For more information, read the Washington Post article here.

North Dakota Flare Ups, Crude Oil Transportation, and the Rise of Solar Energy

Between an 18,000 square mile flare up, the increase in shipping crude oil by rail, and a third growing phase for solar energy; saying there’s a lot going on in the energy sector is a bit of an understatement.  One third of the natural gas produced in the Bakken shale in North Dakota is being burned off in the air.  The effects of the burning are so big they can be seen from space and produces the carbon equivalent of an extra 1 million cars.  Even though oil drillers are burning $1 billion worth every year, low prices, the remote location, and cost of developing pipelines prevent the gas from being utilized.

In fact, leaders in the oil industry are becoming wary of pipeline projects all together, and more shipments are being made by railroad.  However, the Obama administration’s efforts to boost safety standards are making it a bit more difficult to ship crude oil.  To fight this, the oil industry and U.S. railroads are fighting these efforts by pointing out the technical challenges and economic costs.

While the United States is still focusing on natural gas and crude oil, other countries are investing more in solar energy.  In a recent study the Deutsche Bank found that solar energy is entering a third growing phase.  Even oil producing countries are increasing their investment in solar energy, finally allowing it to become a competitive source of energy rather than just an alternative.  The solar energy industry can now start the process of weaning itself off of subsidies and become a self-sustaining industry.

For more information, read the Wall Street Journal article 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.

Entrepreneurs looking for financing?GrowingBusiness_logo

Bethesda Green is presenting the second of its five finance workshops — What Investors Are Looking for and How to Pitch — on Thursday, January 31, 8-10 am. The panel includes two angel investors and an entrepreneur actively fund raising, who will share their first-hand experience about what it takes to impress investors.


  • Anthony Millin, Lerch, Early and Brewer, moderator
  • Casey Berman, Berman Ventures, Dingman Angel
  • Jason Shrensky, Dingman Angel in Residence
  • Greg Merril, CEO, Brain Sentry

LOCATION: Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814

FEE: $15, no charge for incubator companies. Click here for more info.

DATE/TIME: Thursday, January 31. General networking and light refreshments at 8 am; program runs 8:30 – 10 am.

CONTACT US: Email Robert Snyder at or call at 240-396-2440 x103 if you have any questions.

Register here

The Finance Workshop Series is sponsored by the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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

Bethesda Green has launched a Finance Workshop Series & Investor Forum to help grow the green business economy in the region.  The series focuses on educating entrepreneurs about financing opportunities and preparing them to present to investors.

Next workshop:
“What Investors Are Looking For and How To Pitch”
Thursday, Jan. 31
8 – 10 am
Bethesda Green
4825 Cordell Ave, Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814

This workshop will address what investors are looking for in an early stage company and how to make an effective presentation to them.  The program panel will include both qualified investors and entrepreneurs who have extensive experience in what it takes to raise funding.  The discussion will go beyond the typical business plan outline to address the key points and approaches that will make your business attractive to potential investors.

Fee: $15 per workshop

General networking and light refreshments available at 8 am; program begins at 8:30.

Tickets available here.

Bethesda Green invites homeowners to Solar Bethesda, June 25

Become more energy independent, save on your utility bills and contribute to a healthier environment

Solar power has never been more affordable, thanks to technological advances and generous government rebates and tax credits. If you are a homeowner or commercial energy consumer, Solar Bethesda is a free, one-day event where you can have your questions answered by solar experts. Learn about solar costs, benefits, rebates and tax credits; hear from neighbors about their experience with solar power or solar hot water; check your home’s solar readiness with satellite mapping; and meet with local solar contractors.

Peggy Dennis, President of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, attended the inaugural Solar Bethesda in 2010 and, as a homeowner with recently installed solar panels, is participating in a residential roundtable discussion at this year’s event.

“Coming to Solar Bethesda last summer gave me the inspiration and information I needed to go forward with the process of having solar panels installed,” said Dennis. “The companies I worked with were great at making everything from paperwork to installation go very smoothly, and now we’re enjoying the benefit of having electric bills that are almost non-existent.”

Sponsors and exhibitors include leading solar solution providers, as well as other energy and financing experts from the public and private sectors, including lead sponsors Standard Solar, Kenergy Solar, Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union, and Solar Energy World.

Solar Bethesda takes place Saturday, June 25, 10 am – 4 pm at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200, above the Capital One Bank at the corner of Cordell and Woodmont in Bethesda. Attendance is free and we will have activities for the kids. Please RSVP at

Blog post by Jeanette Perthel

On a warm Thursday night, the sun sets on the patio at The Courtyard by Marriott Chevy Chase in Friendship Heights. This LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified hotel was the venue June 2 for Bethesda Green’s “Step Up to Summer” happy hour where much of the environmental community gathered to eat, drink, and socialize in the summer air.

Everyone looked excited as they stepped onto the patio and saw the delightful set up. Savory appetizers and a bar serving wine, beer, and cocktails were calling everyone’s name as they settled into the welcoming and fun atmosphere. Each visitor donated $10 and in return they were entered in a raffle contest to win either the Green Guide: The Complete Reference for Consuming Wisely or two-night weekend stay at The Courtyard by Marriott, both prizes compliments of the hotel.

Many organizations and community leaders were present at Bethesda Green’s Happy Hour including: A Wider Circle; Clean Currents; Green Market Solutions; County Councilmember George Leventhal; and Jim Young, senior director, corporate facilities, Marriott International and an integral member of Marriott’s Green Council.

A Wider Circle Founder Mark Bergel

Mark Bergel, the Founder and Executive Director of A Wider Circle, presented an uplifting and inspiring speech that  encouraged all of us to come together to eradicate poverty in region. A Wider Circle is an incredible organization that provides basic needs such as furniture, home essentials financial planning, and stress management for those in poverty.

Picking the raffle winners followed the presentations. From a green bucket a small blue ticket was pulled and numbers were read aloud. Wendy Howard was the first winner! She won the Green Guide. As the next blue ticket was pulled and read aloud everyone was giddy and listening intently, hoping they would win the two-night stay at the hotel. Ironically, Marriott VP Jim Young’s number was pulled. Chuckling, he said, “pick another one.” Again the same silence fell as the numbers were read, this time Mike Kennedy won! Congratulations to both the winners!

The hum of conversation continued with many laughs, smiles, and pictures. Friendships bloomed and so did the summer season at the happy hour. One could tell it truly was the happiest of hours.

A Bethesda Green intern, Jeanette Perthel graduated from Churchill High School and is attending Towson University this fall.

Don’t forget this evening’s Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour, 5 to 8 p.m. at Lebanese Taverna, 7141 Arlington Road, Bethesda, 20814.

There will be casual conversation and networking. Highlights will include:

Focus on Watershed Issues

  • Meeting some of the folks leading the way to protect the local watershed — Cabin John, Little Falls and Rock Creek.
  • Learning about a number of volunteer opportunities Saturday April 9 — for example, It’s Time to Take Out the Trash and Clean Creek, Clean Potomac — to help watershed clean-up efforts throughout the area. And on April 17, the Cabin John Creek Cleanup.
  • Enjoying complimentary appetizers from Lebanese Taverna, as well as discount beer, wine and mixed drink prices.

RSVP at the Bethesda Green Meetup page!