After you make the first few steps towards a “greener” lifestyle, you may start to ask yourself, “Am I making a difference?” As an individual, you may feel that your positive impact on the environment is small, a minute part of the bigger picture. The most important thing to remember when you question your personal impact is that you are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans taking the same steps you are in an effort to keep planet Earth clean and healthy. There is a large community right here in Baltimore too! Some of your like-minded “greenies” decided that they would have a larger impact if they worked together, so they started forming groups. Individuals just like you run these community-based organizations. You can volunteer or join them, or start your own. Here are just a few people leading the green movement in Baltimore.
Jennifer Morgan, President
Baltimore Green Works
Baltimore Green Works, or BGW, started out as Baltimore Green Week, an event that began in 2004, put together by five volunteers. It attracted approximately 400 attendees and participants during the week. It originally focused on highlighting green living and things that everyone could do to participate. As the “green” movement grew, so did BGW. In 2008, BGW became Baltimore Green Works and moved to a year-round format. It now offers a speaker series, workshop series, a park service component and Green Week. In 2011, BGW hosted 31 community-based events focused on awareness and best practices in and around Baltimore City. The Sustainable Speaker Series has grown and now attracts nationally known activists like authors Michael Pollan, Novella Carpenter and Dr. Sandra Steingraber. Today, BGW is run by President Jennifer Morgan and a small group of board members and volunteers. As BGW continues to grow and help the Baltimore community, be sure to check out its website. It has a calendar of events and information on ways you can get involved.
Bob Gray, Executive Director
Blue Water Baltimore
Blue Water Baltimore was formed in January 2011 after five “green” groups merged to form the new non-profit organization. The focus of the organization is to keep Baltimore’s waterways clean and healthy. There are many rivers and streams in the area that all lead out to the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay is a vital source of food for people all over the country and is in constant threat of damaging pollution. Having so many people and so much industry just miles away can wreak havoc on this important ecological system. Bob Gray shows his passion when he explains the organization: “Blue Water Baltimore has extensive experience in working with Baltimore communities and government partners to improve the area’s waterways. Through our merger, we are stronger than ever to do what it takes to protect these vital environmental resources.” The organization focuses a lot of its time on government regulations, but it also takes on special projects. One project is called “Blue Alleys & Neighborhoods” and will feature repaving alleys and street corners in East Baltimore with permeable materials. These materials will significantly reduce the amount of storm water run-off that pollutes local waterways.
William Baker, President
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, or CBF, spends a lot of time educating the people of Baltimore about ways to keep the Bay clean. For over 30 years, this organization has been taking students out on field experience trips, educating teachers through the “Chesapeake Classrooms” program and encouraging students to take initiative with the “Student Wave” program that trains high school kids to be leaders and teach their fellow students. With the strength of over 200,000 members, the CBF works at the local, state and federal level to push for effective laws and regulations to protect Baltimore’s waterways. CBF has a litigation department that argues cases in state and federal courts. You don’t need a law degree or be willing to lobby in Washington D.C. to be a part of CBF. There are dozens of ways you can help. Check out the website to find out how.
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Tom Clocker is a freelance writer covering all things Baltimore. His work can be found on Examiner.com.