by Dan Rudt

Call to Action for DC Area Bicyclists

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) has published a “call to action” directed to area bicyclists and bicycling activists. Published in a 30 page PDF document on the group’s Website, the stated purpose is to make bicycling “a viable form of transportation for a much broader segment of the population.” WABA calls for “some unity among the many planning bodies, transportation agencies, and advocacy/advisory groups” in the Washington area in order “to move beyond simply making bicycling possible” and to fully integrate it into our regional transportation network. The PDF lays out how bicycling advocates can position themselves to help the region move toward that goal.

Habitat for Humanity Offers Free Weatherization Services

Non-profit home builder, Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County (HFH-MC), now offers home weatherization services for county homeowners who cannot afford to pay someone to perform needed repairs and do not have the knowledge to do the repairs themselves. The aim is to reduce the homeowner’s electric, gas and water bills. Weatherization includes stopping air leaks from windows and doors, insulating attics and crawl spaces, replacing light bulbs with CFLs, installing low-flow shower heads, and similar services.

Eligibility for assistance depends on household income and number of family members. For a family of four, for example, annual household income must be less than $67,600. The homeowner must be willing to contribute up to 10 hours for education and sweat equity in the project, which is carried out by Habitat staff and volunteers. Individuals and families interested in applying should contact Teresa McCoy at 301-990-0014 x 19, or download the application.

Wanted: Birders with Binoculars and Winter Coats

Tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas will participate in the Audubon Society’s 112th Christmas Bird Count from December 14 through January 5. The first Audubon census involved 27 people on December 25, 1900. Audubon and other organizations use the data collected to assess the health of bird populations – and to help guide conservation action. Information about the bird count, including how to get involved, is on the Audubon Website.

Volunteer to Help Build Section of Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail

Volunteers are needed from noon to 4 p.m. on November 19 and 20 to help build a new, quarter-mile section of the Northwood Chesapeake Bay Trail that will connect Northwest Branch and Sligo Creek parks. The new trail portion will be on the Breewood Property, located at the southeast corner of Sligo Creek Parkway and University Boulevard behind the Norwood Church. The project is a partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Northwood High School, Neighbors of Northwest Branch and Montgomery County Department of Parks. Volunteers are needed each day to clean up litter, build stepping stones across a small stream, remove small roots and debris along slopes and, in difficult soil, blaze the trail and cut heavy invasive vines. Meet at the front entrance to Northwood High School, 919 University Blvd., Silver Spring. Students can earn Service Learning hours for their work. Email Jennifer Chambers, the project coordinator, at jennifer@hikingalong.com.

Upcoming Green Events

Free Screening of Documentary, Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time, Monday, Nov. 14, 7:30 pm, TC Williams High School Rotunda (second floor), 3330 King Street, Alexandria. This screening of the first full length documentary about the legendary conservationist, ecologist and author of The Sand County Almanac is presented by Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, Go Green Alexandria, TC Williams HS Environmental Club, and Equinox Investments. Read about the movie here. Registration, directions and important note about parking posted here.

Virtual Town Hall. Live Internet Discussion with County Executive Ike Leggett, Wednesday, Nov. 16, noon – 1 pm. Get your questions ready and send them in advance. More info here.

Montgomery County’s first “Know Your Farmer,” Call-In Webinar, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 8 pm. Montgomery Victory Gardens hosts “Challenges and Opportunities Facing Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century,” a discussion with Montgomery County farmers Nick and Sophia Maravell.  Nick is the operator of Nick’s Organic Farm in Potomac and one of only four farmers sitting on the prestigious National Organic Standards Board, while his daughter Sophia, who has studied organic agriculture throughout the world, is one of our nation’s new generation of aspiring farmers. Register here.

Home Energy Efficiency Workshop, Thursday, Nov. 17, 6:30 – 8:30 pm., Silver Spring Civic Center. Silver Spring Green invites you to learn more about energy audits, making retrofits to winterize your home and how energy efficiency can save you money! Driving directions and registration.

Montgomery County Green Business Crash Course Webinar, Nov. 17, 8 – 11 am. Offered in partnership by Montgomery College and Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. The course instructor will guide you through the application process to accelerate your certification. More info and registration.

Keystone XL Pipeline — Bad for the Environment and Our Health — Where Do We Go From Here?, Nov. 19, 6 – 10 pm.  Presented at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in the sanctuary, 9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda, MD 20815.  Event includes potluck dinner and a panel discussion after showing two movies about the Keystone XL pipeline by Academy Award nominee Leslie Iwerks: “Pipe Dreams,” about the environmental devastation of tar sands; and “Downstream,” about a doctor’s valiant efforts to save the health of an aboriginal community in Canada affected by tar sands. RSVP to:  Molly Hauck, mollyhauck@verizon.net or 301-949-0178.

Shred-Recycle-Donate

Saturday, Nov. 19, 10 am – 2 pm. Wootten High School, 2100 Wootton Parkway, Rockville

Sunday, Nov. 20, 10 am – 2 pm, Takoma Park Middle School, 7611 Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

Shred and recycle your confidential paper and donate reusable clothing and household goods in working condition. Partners in these events are, Office Paper Systems, A Wider Circle, Interfaith Clothing Center, and NAMI Montgomery County. Volunteers welcome. More information and guidelines.

Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership (MD-AEP), 3rd Annual Energy and Environmental Leadership Series Banquet, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 6 – 9 pm. Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (home of the world’s first sustainable aquaculture system), The Columbus Center, Baltimore. Philippines Ambassador to the United States, The Honorable Jose L. Cuisia will keynote the event. Also expected to attend are MD Secretary of the Environment Bob Summers, Secretary John Griffin of DNR, Chesapeake Bay Commission Director Ann Swanson and key Environmental Committee members of the MD General Assembly. Tickets are $90. When registering, type “BethesdaGreen” when prompted for a discount code and receive a $15 discount. More information and registration.

by Dan Rudt

Funding Threatened for Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

Tom Pelton of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation warns that if Congress slashes $23 billion from the federal Farm Bill, as it appears poised to do by next week, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative could be eliminated. The program funds farm runoff control projects in parts of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Maryland’s Eastern Shore; and the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The funds help farmers pay to construct fences to keep cattle out of streams, build manure control facilities, and plant strips of trees and grasses along waterways, among other things. Losing those funds, Pelton claims, would make it much more difficult to reach pollution control goals for the Bay.

States Agree to Form Northeast Electric Vehicle Network

Ten northeast states (including Maryland) and the District of Columbia announced the formation of the Northeast Electric Vehicle Network on October 19 to expedite the deployment of electric vehicles in the region and promote the use of alternative fuels. As part of their ongoing collaboration through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), the participating jurisdictions will promote all clean vehicles and fuels and facilitate planning for and the deployment of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and related infrastructure throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. The group will also work together to attract additional public and private investment in infrastructure for clean vehicles.

Americans Believe U.S. Headed in Wrong Direction on Energy

A poll released on October 19 by The University of Texas at Austin found fewer than 14 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction on energy. The 3,406 respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the job that 26 different organizations, corporations, institutions and government bodies were doing to address energy issues. Congress — with ratings of 8 percent satisfied, 71 percent dissatisfied — ranked dead last. “This survey shows that the public craves leadership on energy issues,” said Bill Powers, President of The University of Texas at Austin. The majority of Americans see energy prices as high and likely to increase. Four out of five are interested in learning more about how to reduce their energy use.

Energy Department to Invest $60 Million in Concentrating Solar Power Technologies

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced on Tuesday (10/25) a $60 million investment over three years for applied scientific research to advance Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies. CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight to produce heat, which can then be used to produce electricity. The funding is meant to support research into technologies that have the potential to dramatically increase efficiency, lower costs, and deliver more reliable performance than existing commercial and near-commercial CSP systems. DOE expects to fund roughly 20 – 22 projects, and encourages industry, universities, and National Laboratories to apply.

2012 Beginner Farmer Training Program Accepting Applications

Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture is accepting applications up to November 30 from new farmers interested in participating in the Beginner Farmer Training Program. Five to ten trainees, mostly college graduates with some farming experience and a commitment to a career in sustainable and/or organic agriculture, will be selected to participate in the free program that begins on January 13, 2012 with a two day conference. Participants will attend workshops one evening per week for eight weeks in February and March at the new Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture. They will undergo field training on a weekly basis at an organic farm in Baltimore Country or Harford County and participate in farm tours and workshops from May through August at various sustainable farms in the region.

Upcoming Green Events

Peter Doo LEED EB: O+M Event, Thursday, October 27, 8:00 – 11:00 am, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. Building owners, managers, developers and other building professionals are invited to attend a special presentation on LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance. Details here.

BG101, Thursday, October 27, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit, Thursday, October 27 – Saturday, October 29, Hilton Inner Harbor, Baltimore. Includes a consumer trade show and conference sessions that are FREE TO THE PUBLIC – on Saturday 10/29 9:30 – 2:30. Test drive a Chevy Volt, learn how to use your smart phone to control your home’s thermostat and lighting while you’re away, how to finance home energy improvements and much more. Click here, then scroll down to “Saturday, October 29th” for more information about the free consumer event.

Audubon Naturalist Society Annual Meeting, Friday, October 28, 6:00-9:30 pm (Program starts at 6:30 pm), Woodend Sanctuary,  MD. Featuring “Looking Back & Forward at Our Region’s Water,” a lively talk by longtime environmental reporter and renowned author Tom Horton. Silent Auction items include six original, framed J.J. Audubon stone lithographs and other rare works of art. More information here.

“The Age of Stupid” Film and Discussion, Friday, October 28, 6:30-9:30 pm, The Festival Center in Adams Morgan, 1640 Columbia Road, NW.  View the climate-change blockbuster film, followed by discussion w/ Mike Tidwell, Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network. More details here.

Rockville Bike Advisory Committee (RBAC) Invites You to Try Nancy’s Bike Route, Saturday, October 29, 2:00 pm. Ride starts at Rockville Memorial Library, heading south toward Bethesda.  Details here.

Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour, Thursday, November 03, 5:00 – 8:00, The Parva Restaurant and Lounge, 7904 Woodmont Avenue. You are invited for casual conversation and networking. Meet the Bethesda Green Incubator Companies and learn more about the Incubator. Enjoy complimentary appetizers in Parva’s beautiful second floor lounge. Donation requested at the door. RSVP at the Bethesda Green Meetup page.

by Dan Rudt

Maryland Solar Installation Applications to Double this Year

Margie Hyslop writes in the October 7 Gazette that the state Public Service Commission says it has received 1,550 applications so far this year from Marylanders seeking to certify their homes or businesses as solar renewable energy facilities. At that rate, applications are expected to double the 922 received last year. Montgomery County has more solar power installations than any other jurisdiction in the state. Hyslop says Kevin Lucas of the Maryland Energy Administration estimates 150 to 200 of Maryland’s 1,700 solar power installations are commercial; the rest are residential. The state currently generates 26 megawatts of solar power.

Maryland is not alone in solar energy growth. Public Radio International program, Living On Earth, reports that this year, “the U.S. [solar panel] industry expects to double its production.” The program mentions three reasons for this stunning growth. The first is the federal government solar installation incentive signed by President Bush three years ago. (Not mentioned in the story are the many state and local government incentives.) The second is the huge drop in the cost of solar panels from roughly four dollars and twenty cents a watt three years ago, down to roughly one dollar and twenty cents a watt today. Finally, the advent of solar leasing programs that eliminate the up-front cost of rooftop solar has created a spike in demand.

Gaithersburg Residents Create their Own “Citizens Plan” for Smart Growth

An article by Pam Lindstrom in the October 5 Greater Greater Washington begins with: “Filling a void of vision for a livable, sustainable future for Gaithersburg, my neighbors and I created our own plan for managing growth along the MD-355 corridor.” Lindstrom, with fellow Gaithersburg resident Judy Christensen, and architect Scott Knudson of Wiencek and Associates offering pro bono services, organized three charrettes in spring 2011, inviting neighbors and zoning lawyers representing some of the larger land and building owners in the 355 corridor. They presented their “Citizens’ Plan” to Gaithersburg elected officials and Planning Commission in July, and were met with a positive response. Here is a link to the article and another to a PDF of the Citizens’ Plan on the City of Gaithersburg Website.

Wind Energy: Marylanders are Ready; Are Politicians Willing?

A survey of 805 registered Maryland voters found 62 percent said they are willing to pay an additional $2 per month for electricity if more of it is generated by “clean, local offshore wind farms, instead of coming from coal, oil and gas.” Only 34 percent said they are not willing to pay more. The telephone survey was conducted throughout the state in late September for the National Wildlife Federation and the Offshore Wind Coalition. Margie Hyslop breaks down the poll numbers in the October 10 Gazette, and discusses the possible political ramifications of the survey in a follow up article on October 14.

Hyslop found that politicians who support a Maryland offshore wind farm plan to use the survey results in the next General Assembly session as one justification to move forward. In addition, she says, “advocates are more organized, have hired a lobbyist and are putting together a business coalition” to support the wind farm.

Let your Voice Be Heard; Take the Cycle Maryland Survey

The Maryland Office of Tourism, Department of Transportation, and State Highway Administration are conducting a bicycle user survey to learn more about cyclists in Maryland and what products they would find most useful to help plan bicycle trips. They hope to gain knowledge that will be used to improve cycling products and services. The survey is expected to take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. After you are finished, you may choose to enter a prize drawing. The survey is here. The Cycle Maryland Webpage is here.

County Farmers Selling Pumpkins, Hayrides and Seasonal Fun

Support your local farmer, and have fun doing so! A number of Montgomery County farms are now offering pumpkins and hay rides, pony rides, petting zoos, mazes and haunted houses. For a list of pumpkin farms and their offerings, click here and scroll down to the Montgomery County listings.

Upcoming Green Events

Montgomery County Community Service Week, October 16 – 22. The Montgomery County Volunteer Center invites you to participate.  Attend the Volunteer Engagement Expo on Saturday, October 15 from 1-6pm at White Flint Mall where representatives from 20 local nonprofits will have information about current volunteer opportunities or click here for more information.

Green Home Expo, Saturday October 22, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. This free educational event is held at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor, above Capital One Bank. Learn easy ways to green your home and save money.  Presentations will cover conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.  In addition to industry vendors, meet representatives from nonprofits and Montgomery County government. More information.

Community Forklift Fundraising Extravaganza, Saturday, October 22, 7:00 – 10:30 pm, 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston, MD.
Entertainment by the DC Lady Arm Wrestlers, Silent auction, Wonky Dog food truck, DJ One HeART Muszik, and adult beverages! Must be 21 or over. Community Forklift is a low-cost building materials warehouse open to the general public and a project of Sustainable Community Initiatives, a 501c3 nonprofit. More information on tickets, sponsorships, or to donate a silent auction item.

Community Meeting about Bus Rapid Transit, Monday, October 24, 5:30 – 8:30 pm, Parks and Planning headquarters, 8787   Georgia  Ave., Silver Spring. The Montgomery County Planning Department hosts a community meeting to discuss bus rapid transit (BRT). The proposal includes dedicated traffic lanes for buses along as many as 16 traffic corridors covering 150 miles. Come see where the service is proposed and let the planners know how you think Bus Rapid Transit service can best fit into our community.

Food Day, Monday, October 24, 7:00 pm, at the Church in Bethesda, 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814. You are invited to a local screening of the documentary film “Ingredients” co-sponsored by Church in Bethesda, Bethesda Presbyterian and Graceful Growing Together. The evening will also include short presentations by community members about healthy food, sustainable farms and related topics. Please RSVP if you plan on attending!

LEED for Existing Buildings, Operations + Maintenance Event, Thursday, October 27, 8:00 – 11:00 am, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. This presentation is designed specifically for building owners, managers, developers and other building professionals. Details here.

BG101, Thursday, October 27, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd floor. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Maryland Clean Energy Summit, Thursday, October 27 – Saturday, October 29, Hilton Inner Harbor, Baltimore. Includes a consumer trade show and conference sessions that are FREE TO THE PUBLIC – on Saturday 10/29 9:30 – 2:30. Test drive a Chevy Volt, learn how to use your smart phone to control your home’s thermostat and lighting while you’re away, how to finance home energy improvements and much more. Click here, then scroll down to “Saturday, October 29th” for more information about the free consumer event.

Bike to Work Day Rally at Freedom Plaza, 2009

Bike to Work Day Rally at Freedom Plaza, 2009

(Guest post by Rob Arner)

Did you know May is National Bike Month?  People will celebrate it with various activities around the nation, including Bike-to-Work Week from May 17-21. Bike-to-Work Day will take place Friday, May 21. (That morning, get breakfast, tune-ups and prizes at the Bethesda pit stop)

Living in Bethesda for over 40 years, I have become an avid cyclist.  There is no better way to get around.  It is quicker and cheaper, has no parking problems and I enjoy the exercise.  Also there are lots of other psychological benefits:  I get to slow down, get a feel of the community and lessen my environmental impact.  As an expert in used oil recycling, I also believe in another type of “re-cycling”; this is why biking is my thing.  Also I have documents showing the numerous water impacts cars have on the Little Falls and other area watersheds.

According to WorldWatch Institute, a short, four-mile round-trip by bicycle keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air.  Also the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey found that 25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle. Sixty percent of the pollution created by automobile emissions happens in the first few minutes of operation, before pollution control devices can work effectively. Since “cold starts” create high levels of emissions, shorter car trips are more polluting on a per-mile basis than longer trips. (Learn more about why you should ride for the environment.)

Commuting by bike reflects the tenor of the times because of its health benefits and low environmental impact. Biking to work or using a bike to run errands prevents pollution, saves you gas or transit money, and benefits us all by reducing oil and gas use.  Biking also can be less stressful than hanging out in area traffic. Riding a bike can give you fresh air outside the gym and allow you to see more of the outside world. Also you may consider taking a bike to the subway or to the bus stop.

There are many wonderful ways you can explore neighborhoods and get a sense of our beloved Bethesda community pedaling around.  Increase everyone’s quality of life here:  Bicycle as much as you can!

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Cycling Links:

Bike to Work Day, May 21

Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Local Biking Maps

Bike Safety

Dollars and Sense: Calculating Money and Environmental Benefits of Bike Commuting (Sustainablog)

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