Friday, May 27, 2011

Silver Spring Green is here!

THE FOLLOWING IS A 'GUEST BLOG' BY DOUG WEISBURGER, THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY STAFF THAT HAS CHAMPIONED THE IDEA OF SILVER SPRING GREEN.

Silver Spring Green (SSG) is a new grassroots environmental organization that was just incorporated in the State of Maryland and intends to become a full-fledged 501(c)(3) by the end of the year.

So what’s the buzz?

In a nutshell, SSG is bringing together businesses, civic organizations, residents and government to identify those win-win-win opportunities that simultaneously enhance our environment, economy and shared sense of community.

We had a kick off event in December after which a group of about 30 individuals volunteered to serve on a steering committee which has been meeting regularly ever since. We were inspired by the Bethesda Green and Poolesville Green models although SSG will have its own unique Silver Spring flavor.

For its first major event, SSG is collaborating with the County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on an electronic recycling collection Sunday, June 5th at Blair High School, Noon to 4:00 PM. See details, including flyers in English, Spanish, French and Amharic HERE.

SSG is discussing its next programs and events, but we’re likely to pursue “low hanging fruit” opportunities to gain some traction. For example, there are currently no recycling bins in the downtown area, so getting bins there through a sponsorship program seems like a reasonable next project. (This has worked marvelously well in Bethesda, thanks to Bethesda Green, as these bins serve as a valuable marketing vehicle for corporate sponsors.)

One of the things most significant about SSG’s overall effort will be its emphasis on the community engagement process. We are very interested in finding out what our neighbors are thinking, hoping and worrying about and making sure that our sustainability efforts provide benefits to people and businesses in all circumstances.

Hence, we’re seeking to identify those “sweet spots” where community assets can be matched with community needs.

So, for example:

- Some community members might want to learn about sustainable lawn and garden care. Well, there are clearly a bunch of experts in this community who could provide pro bono training on this important subject.

- Others might be unemployed and looking for a niche green job. I’m sure there are some economists and business experts among us that could help identify market opportunities, develop business plans, and help mentor budding eco-entrepreneurs. Can’t you envision a myriad of environmentally beneficial businesses popping up? I like to dream about rickshaws in downtown …and why not?

- And what about businesses that might be looking to promote their environmental product or service? Maybe we organize an “eco-scavenger hunt” in which contestants have to identify local businesses that sell organic t-shirts, or source organic food locally, or are certified through the County’s Green Business Certification Program.

These are just a few ideas which, of course, would have to be analyzed and discussed. The point is amazing things can happen through collaboration, trust and a shared mission. There are loads of great ideas out there and we need to hear from all corners of Silver Spring to bring those to the fore. Thanks to the expertise of Impact Silver Spring, one of the many SSG partners, we will be pursuing a community engagement process to elicit that input and engender a mutual accountability and support network.

We’re also soliciting feedback through traditional surveys for both businesses/organizations and residents. These will be housed in our initial website www.silverspringgreen.org which will be ready on or around June 4th. (Thanks to Discovery Communications for developing this beautiful site!) In short, we want YOU ALL to help shape and spearhead this initiative, so please take a few minutes to learn more about SSG, take the survey, and get involved!

Many thanks,

Doug Weisburger
Senior Planning Specialist, Sustainability Programs
Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection
E-mail: douglas.weisburger@montgomerycountymd.gov
Phone: (240) 777-7775

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1 comment:

Conservation Montgomery said...

Folks, find photos from today's e-cycling event on Conservation Montgomery's Facebook page.

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