Hi All, this weekend, Mai and I visited the Montgomery County Green Fest with our coordinator Maia Davis. There, we were treated to a host of activities and booths showcasing the environmental efforts of Takoma Park community and othe communities such as Bethesda and Silver Spring. The main highlight for us however, was a keynote speech from the 13th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ms Gina McCarthy. More about that later!
Vũ Mai Hương
So bright and early on Saturday morning on 29 April, Maia picked us up from NoMa and we headed off to Takoma Park. Due to some initial confusion over whether there would be a shuttle picking us up from the metro/bus station, we decided to walk the 1-mile distance to the Takoma Park Community Center where the Green Fest was taking place. And my, what a walk it was! The Takoma Park community is home to such beautiful lined streets and houses. I even saw a Little Free Library along the way, where the members of the community can “take a book, and leave a book” – an initiative close to my heart. When we arrived at the Community Center, we entered through the carpark where there was an electric vehicles showcase. Maia later told us about the work that the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) was doing or planning to do on electric vehicles.
We proceeded straight to the Auditorium where the opening ceremony was about to take place. We learnt from the City of Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart, State Senator Jamie Raskin (District 20), Council President Nancy Floreen, County Executive Isiah Leggett, and Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Tom Hucker, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer about the amazing things that Montgomery County is doing to reduce its environmental footprint. Among these are:
- Clean wind and solar powering 100% of energy to County facilities;
- Banning the use of city funds to buy small plastic bottles of water for government offices and city events;
- 75% of buses running on compressed natural gas;
- Reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by taking 870 cars off the roads/planting 100,000 trees and by installing solar panels on buildings.
Shortly after these introductions, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was introduced by County Department of Environmental Protection Director Lisa Feldt.
Ms Gina McCarthy, 13th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Ms McCarthy spoke about the many ways that Montgomery County was leading the way in environmental sustainability and shared about her recent trip to California, where she visited solar companies Solaria and NEXTracker. She noted that she was to visit Flint, Michigan next week with President Obama to look into the ongoing water crisis and highlighted the importance of good environmental governance. Ms McCarthy spoke briefly about the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015. She said that nearly 190 countries have pledged to reduce GHG emissions but that the work starts at local communities. She underscored the importance of community engagement in countries’ bid to meet their goals.
It was truly an inspiring speech.
After the opening ceremony and keynote, we proceeded outdoors to visit some of the booths set up by local NGOs and businesses. One interesting thing for me was the community coming together to help each other in their green efforts. For example, we met with Dave Feldman, former implementation director of Bethesda Green. We learnt that residents and businesses in Bethesda, through Bethesda Green, can expand and implement their green ideas such as specially designed beverage recycling bins. In fact, Bethesda Green is nationally recognized for its 'best practice' model for how to create sustainable communities so it was an amazing opportunity to get to meet Dave at the Green Fest.
Dave Feldman (far left), us and Maia Davis (our host, far right)
In all, we had an amazing time at the Montgomery Green Fest. We learnt about how small communities can and have come together to make their towns cleaner and greener. It was also heartening to see how closely-knit the community was. We appreciate Maia taking the time off her Saturday to take us to the Green Fest, for introducing us to a bunch of folks who organized the event, including Ms Gina Mathias. We also got to meet Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer, which was pretty cool. It’ll be nice to see them again at upcoming meetings organized by MWCOG later this month.
What a great start to the YSEALI PFP! Looking forward to what’s in store for us next week :)