Children answer environmental questions at the Bethesda Green tent.

Children gathered at the Bethesda Green tent to answer environmental questions.

by Alison Wentzell

On the first Saturday of June every year, Bethesda Urban Partnership sponsors a festival for the children of Bethesda and surrounding area.

The 19th annual Imagination Bethesda proved to be extremely successful, despite the scorching heat, drawing about 15,000 children and parents to watch performances, listen to foreign language storytelling, make crafts, and enjoy a variety of other activities.  Children were beaming with delight as they participated in activities involving a wide array of skills and experiences.  At the Bethesda Green tent, kids created environmentally friendly crafts and tested their knowledge for the chance to win a small prize.  We provided the kids with recycled scrap paper and markers so that they could make armbands or add links to our eco-friendly paper chain.

The purpose of these small crafts were to show them that they don’t have to throw away something after using it only once; instead, they can reuse items multiple times to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfills and recycling centers.  On the other side of the tent both parents and children were equally stumped by our environmental trivia questions.  These questions forced families to think about our environmental impacts, both as a nation and individually.

Children potted flowers at the American Plant tent.

Children potted flowers at the American Plant tent.

Bethesda Green dedicated Saturday to creating awareness about environmental issues in the fun and vibrant atmosphere that is the Imagination Bethesda festival, with other organizations promoting sustainable values as well.  At American Plant, children were given the opportunity to plant their own potted flowers.  Joy of Motion Dance Center had visitors make paper chains and lanterns from recycled paper.  Other organizations promoted language development, multicultural awareness, and creative development.  Whether or not an organization promoted green values, they all worked to equip children with the skills necessary for a better future.

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.

by Susanna Parker BGnews_logo

Re-Inventing the Wheel for Studying Snakeheads 

Snakeheads, the invasive species that’s been the bane of the Potomac since 2004, have been granted a mild reprieve by local governmental agencies. While the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service still recommends that fisherman kill and report any snakeheads they capture, the Virginia Department of Game and Fisheries, along with its DC and Maryland counterparts, has begun a new monitoring program geared toward understanding the snakeheads’ impact on local ecology. The program, which covers four tributaries of the Potomac, sends out workers to capture, measure, tag, and release snakehead fish. John Odenkirk, biologist with the VA Dept. of Game & Fisheries, says that its been hard to determine whether the snakeheads actually have a negative impact on the Potomac watershed. He points out that the area is practically a fish factory, and has more than enough resources to feed the increasing number of new mouths. So while he does not advocate for the snakeheads, he finds it hard to strongly advocate against them without more conclusive data.

That’s where the monitoring program comes in. Because the snakeheads are native to Africa and Asia, many of the scholarly papers discussing their behaviors and life cycle are not written in English. Those few that have been translated are not peer-reviewed. Thus, there is little to no substantiated information about their impact on local water systems and ecological niches. The monitoring program relies on electrofishing to capture the snakeheads. This form of fishing involves electrified anodes whose currents shock, but do not kill, nearby fish, causing them to float to the surface and be easily netted. Typical of the snakeheads’ difficult nature, these fish do not succumb easily to the shock. Rather than float to the surface, snakeheads expel all the oxygen from their air bladders. While this gives off a tell-tale series of bubbles, the expulsion causes them to lose their buoyancy and sink to the bottom of the stream bed. Odenkirk says that this behavior means that he and members of the program have one shot to catch the fish before they’re no longer within reach.

Once the fish are captured, they are measured, tagged, and released. If the team catches a fish that has been previously captured, they record its growth. Odenkirk says that the team is gathering as much data as they can on the life cycle of the fish, including spawning cycles, spawns per year, average growth per year, and habitat differentiation between adolescent and adult snakeheads. The more information that Odenkirk and his team can gather, the better we will be able to understand the impact of this invasive species.

For more information on the snakehead monitoring program, please watch the video at The Washington Post.

Hurricane Sandy’s Impact Continues to be Felt

Though its been six months since the superstorm touched ground and devastated New Jersey and New York, Hurricane Sandy’s impacts are still being felt up and down the East Coast. A report released last week revealed that one of the major effects was the spillage of 11 billion gallons of sewage from East Coast treatment plants into streams, canals, and roadways. 90 percent of the spills occurred in New Jersey and New York, the states that were arguably hit hardest by the hurricane. Of the sewage, approximately 3.5 billion gallons was raw, untreated, and unfiltered. The remaining 7.5 billion gallons were partially treated.

Alysosn Kenward, researcher at Climate Central and author of the recently released report, states that the report has revealed “just how vulnerable the system is to floods, storms, and climate change,” and points out that, “our system isn’t designed to handle these kinds of storm surges and the sea-level rise associated with climate change.” According to Climate Central, the state of New York will need to spend about $2 billion to repair damages to the sewage treatment plants, while New Jersey plans to allocate $1 billion for repairs.

For more information, please read the full article on The Huffington Post.

Upcoming Bethesda Green Events 

  • Bethesda Green Education, Outreach, and Marketing Group Meeting, Wednesday May 8, 4 pm – 5:30 pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue

A team of volunteers, EOM supports all of Bethesda Green’s communication efforts. From recycling to energy efficiency, sustainability to green building/design, EOM expresses the organization’s various areas of expertise in a clear and concise manner via various media. New members are welcome to join; for information contact Bethesda Green’s Director of Communications Dave Heffernan at

  • Bethesda Green’s Fourth Annual Solar & Green Home Expo, Saturday May 11, 10 am – 3 pm, 4825 Cordell Avenue

Join us for our 4th annual Solar & Green Home Expo, an information-packed showcase event featuring many green home expert services and solar providers. The goal of this event is to provide homeowners and other interested parties an opportunity to get the latest information about area services and incentives to green their homes. Local area green home businesses will display their services throughout the Bethesda Green office space while individual workshops related to greening your home will be conducted throughout the day. To learn more about his free community event, please visit the event page here.

Upcoming Partner Events 

  • Bike to Work Day 2013, Friday May 17 6:30 am – 8:30 am, Reed Street (Corner of Woodmont Ave & Bethesda Ave)

Get your wheels turning at the 2013 Bike to Work Day! Presented by Bethesda Commuter Solutions, the Bethesda pit stop will feature DJ entertainment, state and local dignitaries, tons of raffle prizes and giveaways, bike maintenance checks, and plenty of food and drink to fuel your commute. The grand prize in the raffle will be a brand new bike from Griffin Cycle! To learn more about the event and to register, please visit Bethesda Transportation Solutions.

  • Run for the Animals! Saturday May 19, 8:30 am, Wheaton Regional Park

Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary is holding its 10th Annual Run for the Animals! The 5k run and 1 mile fun walk is a fundraiser dedicated to supporting the lifesaving work Poplar Spring does everyday. From the warm up, running and walking on the scenic trails, the dog and people raffles, the prizes, and the abundance of food, a good time will be had by all. Register online at

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.

Bike to Work logo Just in time for Bike to Work Day, downtown Bethesda is moving to increase its bike parking spots by 50 percent. With the support of Honest Tea, Federal Realty Investment Trust and The Coca-Cola Company, Bethesda Green and Bethesda Urban Partnership are planning to unveil the first two of 10  new bike racks to be installed in the commercial district.

Hundreds of bike commuters will converge Friday morning, May 18, for Bike to Work Day at the Bethesda Pit Stop located at the corner of Woodmont & Bethesda Avenues between 6:30-8:30 am. The unveiling of the new bike racks is scheduled for 7 am.

Constructed of plastic lumber made from recycled beverage containers, including Honest Kids drink pouches, the new racks will add 100 bike parking spots in Bethesda.

Bike to Work Day encourages commuters to do their part to support increased bicycle commuting in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Managed throughout the area by Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, you can join over 10,000 area commuters for a celebration of bicycling as a clean, fun and healthy way to get to work. By promoting biking as a commute option, traffic and parking congestion can be eased, thereby improving the quality of life enjoyed by the people of the region.

Highlights of the Bike to Work Day in Bethesda, managed by Bethesda Transportation Solutions, a division of Bethesda Urban Partnership, include breakfast, entertainment, dynamic speakers, and chances to win a bicycle and other prizes.

Register here for Bike to Work Day.

Congratulations to Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) Director of Operations Jeff Burton and the entire BUP team on dialing up a fabulous day to enjoy the 21st annual Taste of Bethesda Saturday, October 2.

Bethesda’s famous food and music festival, brings over 55 restaurants and four stages of entertainment to Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle.  Each year, more than 40,000 attendees sample the delicious restaurants, enjoy the live entertainment and visit the kid’s corner for face painting and arts & crafts.

We’ll have to wait to get the official metrics from Jeff, but I’m betting this year was a record-setter.  From the time booths opened at 11 am until closing at 4 pm, a throng of people filled the streets.

Bethesda Green (and the Maryland Energy & Sustainability Cooperative, a BG Incubator company) shared tent space with Bethesda Cares (a community outreach program for the homeless), the BCC Regional Services Center, and other Montgomery County government agencies — all of us providing information to the public about our respective organizations.

We passed out more than 40 composting bins, cleaning out the supply we had on hand.  The free bins, provided by the county and used for leaves and garden debris, may be picked up at Bethesda Green.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Bethesda Green Executive Director Dave Feldman share a moment at the Taste of Bethesda.

It being the height of the political season, the Taste of Bethesda also attracted major candidates for numerous local, state and federal offices, including Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who has represented Maryland’s 8th District in Congress since 2002.

Bell ringers open the Bethesda FreshFarm Market, June 19.

Bell ringers--including BG's Dave Feldman (white shirt) and County Councilmember Roger Berliner (center, with jacket and green cap)--open the Bethesda FreshFarm Market, June 19.

One week ago today, Bethesda Green’s Executive Director, Dave Feldman, was part of a group of people who rang the opening bell(s) for the new Bethesda FreshFarm Market,  June 19.

The bell ringers walked the length of the one-block farmer’s market on Norfolk Ave. FreshFarm employees, Bethesda Urban Partnership representatives, County Councilmember Roger Berliner and Feldman were among the group.

The Bethesda FreshFarm Market is open Saturday mornings on Norfolk Ave.

The Bethesda FreshFarm Market is open Saturday mornings on Norfolk Ave.

The Bethesda FreshFarm Market is open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. through October 30, on Norfolk Street, which is blocked off at that time between Fairmont Ave. and St. Elmo Ave. It features farmers and producers selling local fruits and vegetables, baked goods, cheese and dairy, meat and eggs, and flowers and plants. There’s even one stand that sells nothing but pies.

Some vendors were not present at the opening, but there were placeholder signs noting that they would be joining the market soon.

Ilaya Hopkins, left, speaks with shoppers at the market. Hopkins is a Democratic candidate for county council in District 1.

Ilaya Hopkins, left, speaks with shoppers at the market. Hopkins is a Democratic candidate for county council in District 1.

A decent crowd showed up the first day. One of those perusing the produce was Ilaya Hopkins, Democratic candidate for county council in District 1. Hopkins sits on the Bethesda Green Board of Directors, as does incumbent District 1 Councilmember Berliner.

The new FreshFarm market gives Bethesdans another opportunity to conveniently buy local foods, along with the Bethesda Central Farm Market that is open Thursdays and Sundays on the Bethesda Row side of town.