A Community Goes Green – Watch Bethesda Green

March 14th, 2008

Green initiatives are popping up all around the world, as people try to do something meaningful to slow global warming, reverse pollution, and make the environment cleaner and safer for generations to come. You’ve seen it with the Eco-Moms, Portland’s Green Groups, and now, the kick-off of Bethesda Green, an ambitious project to make Bethesda, Maryland a model green community.

In what may be the first effort of this type, business, government, community, and non-profit leaders are coming together to develop programs that will reduce Bethesda’s carbon footprint, increase its recycling rate, and reduce landfill waste and pollution. And this is just the first phase of the project! In the second phase, Bethesda Green aims to encourage smart growth and green development and to green its business community.

Championed by a local business leader and a county councilman, Bethesda Green is being defined by its community members. Expectations were that 75 people would show up for the kick-off, but nearly 400 folks arrived – from retirees to students to Moms to business owners to community and civic leaders.

This is such a new concept that no one is sure exactly how things will unfold, but the goal is to make Bethesda a model green community.

Thinking about a similar green initiative in your community? Here are six tips to help you get started:

1. Don’t mandate – encourage.
2. Find like-minded leaders in your community and form a small steering committee to help set things in motion.
3. Be open-minded. Everyone has a stake in this. This means business and government and non-profits and students and private citizens.
4. Get some help from professional organizers, at least for the initial phases. Bethesda contracted with the Livability Project* and the Sustainable Business Network of Washington.
5. Make it fun. Plan interesting events to educate and entertain.
6. Put as much on the web as you can. Identify best web practices to facilitate cooperation and communication.


Bethesda Green Website (Soon to be relaunched)

Bethesda Green Blog (Soon to be relaunched)

Local media coverage – Washington Business Journal, Bethesda Gazette, more Gazette coverage

Launch Kick-off Remarks by Seth Goldman of Honest Tea, the visionary behind Bethesda Green

Have you been involved in similar initiatives? What do you think about Bethesda Green? Leave a comment and share!

— Lynn

*Update 5/30/08 – I am now working as a consultant to The Livability Project, helping them to launch new green initiatives in other towns and cities.

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

7 Responses to “A Community Goes Green – Watch Bethesda Green”

  1. marguerite manteau-rao on March 14, 2008 8:25 am

    Agree with you Lynn. This type of initiative can be very powerful, not just for the community itself, but as an example for the rest of the country.


    Yes, it is so exciting. I was at a committee meeting last night and the excitement in the room was palpable…it reminded me of my old college government days! Thanks for your comment, Marguerite! — Lynn

  2. nadine sellers on March 14, 2008 9:05 am

    1)”don’t mandate, encourage”…this is it!
    this format of positive reinforcement should work better than previous attempts to retrieve respect for nature.

    narrow laws and extravagant lawsuits have been at the core of public resentment toward environmentalists, especially on local levels in the US. the legal premise made for a bad marriage between citizenry and government.

    once bonded as an autonomous group, we may act of our own free will and develop the necessary self discipline which is essential for long term environmental effect.

    Yes, Nadine, and that “don’t mandate, encourage” mantra came from the visionary behind this…Seth Goldman of Honest Tea. It is really exciting to see what is happening here. I came back from a meeting last night all fired up and had to write that post! Thanks for your comment! — Lynn

  3. Mother Earth on March 14, 2008 10:02 am

    Lynn, I love that you shared this. While I am not seeing this in my own community, I can definitely find folks to share this information with.

    Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan

    That’s wonderful! Let’s get the word out! Thanks, Karen! — Lynn

  4. Beth aka Fake Plastic Fish on March 17, 2008 12:55 pm

    This is awesome. Thanks for letting me know about it. Did you know that I’m originally from that area? I grew up in Beltsville, which is not far from Bethesda. My sister is an elementary school teacher in Silver Spring right now. Maybe someday it will be safe for me to move back to Maryland!


    No, I had no idea you were from here! Somehow I don’t think you’ll ever leave California! Thanks for the comment, Beth! — Lynn

  5. Sue on March 17, 2008 1:01 pm

    Wow, that is so cool to hear about Bethesda and I absolutely love Seth Goldman of Honest Tea. Seems like the idea of creating a green community is catching on across our area, perhaps even across the US. One reason that I moved to this area oh so long ago, was because of Greenbelt Maryland, which was founded in 1937 by President Franklin Roosevelt as part of the New Deal. Greenbelt was the first of three ‘green communities’, the other two are Greendale, Wisconsin, and Greenhills, Ohio. It’s worth a visit to this interesting and historical small town. Although Greenbelt’s efforts in green may pale in comparison to what is going on in Bethesda right now.

    Here is a link to the greener greenbelt initiative:

    Happy (green) Day

    Wow! Interesting story! Thanks for stopping by – and for the link! — Lynn


  6. Organic and Green Mom Blog | Amazing Things Happen When a Community Pulls Together at Organic Mania on October 5, 2009 7:55 pm

    […] Together October 5th, 2009 It’s hard to believe that it was  a year and a half ago that I wrote this post about the launch of a sustainability initiative in my community.  No one could have imagined that […]

  7. Organic and Green Mom Blog | It May Be Bethesda Green, But You Can Come Even If You’re a Washingtonian at Organic Mania on October 5, 2010 7:36 pm

    […] October 5th, 2010 For two years now, I’ve been blogging about Bethesda Green. How it got started. The cool events we run. How amazing things happen when a community pulls together. And how I […]

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