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Saving the Environment One Yard at a Time: GreenFest 2012

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Last year, with the theme of “Don’t Waste Our Future: Reduce, Reuse, Recy­cle”, you over­whelmed us at Green­Fest with your gen­eros­ity and brought your old bikes to donate to Bikes for the World; cell phones and eye glasses for the needy; binoc­u­lars for kids’ nature explo­ration; clothes, toys, games, fur­ni­ture and more for Good­will Indus­tries; work gloves and energy to help us plant trees; and even your long hair for a Cut-A-Thon for a cause with the Aveda Salon rais­ing money for Amer­i­can Rivers. In exchange we offered you a day of free fun to learn about veg­etable and con­tainer gar­den­ing, bee­keep­ing, recy­cling, bike safety, your car­bon foot­print, rep­tiles, birds, mov­ing solar pan­els, fly fish­ing, and we gave out free rain bar­rels and com­post bins to boot. Where else can you get all of that in one day?

Together, we planted 35 trees to reduce runoff.

This year our Green­Fest theme is “Sav­ing the Envi­ron­ment One Yard at a Time” and we’d like to show­case what you can do in your yard to make a dif­fer­ence. We selected this theme because we con­stantly see so much neg­a­tive news regard­ing the Bay, species, and air qual­ity that we wanted to empower res­i­dents and prop­erty own­ers with new ways to approach their yard and make a dif­fer­ence. With this theme, our goal for Green­Fest 2012 is to help res­i­dents under­stand what they can do right out­side their door to help the Bay, improve regional air qual­ity, pro­vide habi­tat to native species, and enjoy some time out­doors exploring.

Come explore with us!

Of course, we wel­come all other green ven­dors, as well, from solar power to children’s books to organic farm­ers because dif­fer­ent things hit home with dif­fer­ent peo­ple and we need to find ways to get every­one in Howard County to Live Green. We also wel­come your ideas of what you’d like to expe­ri­ence at this year’s Green­Fest — whether it’s spend­ing more time out­side learn­ing great new ways to explore in nature, or finally learn­ing how to prop­erly read that bag of lawn fer­til­izer, or maybe find­ing out how much it costs to install a rain gar­den. Tell us your ideas for this upcom­ing Green­Fest by email­ing greenfest@howardcountymd.gov .

Don’t be shy, tell us what you’d like at Green­Fest 2012.

Help us spread the word and bring in ven­dors you’d like to see share their knowl­edge with the com­mu­nity – is there a favorite local food mar­ket, arti­san recy­cler, or land­scap­ing com­pany that you would love to have at Green­Fest 2012 demon­strat­ing their sus­tain­abil­ity work? Stop in and tell the man­ager you hope to see them at Green­Fest and you’d hate for them to miss this once a year chance for cheap community-wide expo­sure. If you own or work with an orga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes our phi­los­o­phy of Live Green Howard County with sus­tain­abil­ity prin­ci­ples and meth­ods, grab an appli­ca­tion today.

I’ll see you April 14, 2012!

Ven­dor appli­ca­tions are now avail­able at: www.hcgreenfest.org

~Lind­say

OES Staff and Green­Fest Co-Chair

Novem­ber 2011

GreenFest: Tales from beneath the leaf

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Green­Fest began long, long ago in a far off land as an idea cooked up in someone’s cubi­cle on a rainy day in March 2007 (before I arrived in Howard County). With only a month to plan an Earth Day event, Laura Miller (then of DPW) and Sue Muller (DRP staff) some­how pulled together an event in the park­ing lot of the Howard County Dorsey build­ing on a spring Sat­ur­day in April. The event included free shred­ding and had a dozen or so ven­dors with dis­plays, some free trees and drew an amaz­ing crowd of over a thou­sand peo­ple. Green­Fest was born.

The moment I stepped through the door at Howard County I was named to the team of Green­Fest co-chairs and intro­duced to Laura Miller and Sue Muller. I had no idea what Green­Fest was, what it should be, or what it would become.

Plan­ning for Green­Fest 2008 began slowly while I ori­ented to my new job, but quickly gained steam as ven­dors started rolling in. We were filled with ideas and enthu­si­asm which only grew as the event got closer. April 5th arrived and while I was some­what dis­tracted by the thrill of get­ting to carry a walkie-talkie all day, we were ner­vous and had no idea what to expect. Our biggest fear: No one shows up. Not even our friends whom we begged to attend. Our sec­ond biggest fear: It rains and the out­door ven­dors get soaked. We lucked out – peo­ple showed and so did the sun. Lots of peo­ple, in fact. More than we expected. Approx­i­mately 1,500 cit­i­zens of all ages crammed through the halls of the Glen­wood Com­mu­nity Cen­ter excited to see all 65 dis­plays and live ani­mals. Green­Fest was now solid­i­fied as an annual event. We did learn that year that even though it was sunny, wind is not a vendor’s friend so we made a note to self: Keep every­one inside next year or pro­vide a lot of rocks for paper weights.

Lit­tle did we know that the staff and direc­tors of Howard Com­mu­nity Col­lege were at Green­Fest 2008 and were so impressed that the next week we received a phone call ask­ing to part­ner with them to hold Green­Fest 2009. Con­sid­er­ing Green­Fest 2008 had a wait­ing list of ven­dors and we had no idea how we would fit more peo­ple into Glen­wood, this seemed like a per­fect solution.

Green­Fest plan­ning became a year-round activ­ity in 2008. It never slept that sum­mer as we geared up for an even big­ger event at HCC. There were so many new things to plan and fig­ure out – spon­sor­ships, work­shops, speak­ers, how to get peo­ple actu­ally doing some­thing that day and get their hands dirty.

Green­Fest 2009 and 2010 grew to over 100 ven­dors and maxed out our space in the Gal­le­ria of HCC. We reached 2,000 atten­dees who planted trees, built a rain gar­den with mas­ter gar­den­ers out­side the Gal­le­ria, took home free trees to plant in their yard, learned how to grow veg­eta­bles in a con­tainer gar­den, built rain bar­rels, bought jew­elry made of dis­carded items, learned what to put in their blue recy­cling bins, signed up for home energy audits and alter­na­tive power sources, joined water­shed walks and watched chil­dren pet snakes, hold owls, and make binoc­u­lars to search for bluebirds.

This year we’ve added even more. We’re col­lect­ing new and used bicy­cles, bike parts and acces­sories for Bikes For The World. This orga­ni­za­tion fixes them up and sends them to needy com­mu­ni­ties through­out the world. Please search your garage and your neigh­bors’ garages for old bikes, tires, hel­mets, bells for the han­dle­bars, etc. There’s noth­ing greener than reusing a form of already green trans­porta­tion. And while you’re clean­ing out your garage (and your neigh­bors’ garages, too, if you’re really nice) make a pile to bring to our Good­will Indus­tries, Inc. truck that will also be at Green­Fest. If you haven’t used it or worn it in over a year, chances are slim you’ll use it or wear it next year, but guar­an­teed some­one else will love it.

Also this year Salon Marielle, Elli­cott City’s Aveda Con­cepts Salon, will be host­ing a Cut-A-Thon to raise money for Amer­i­can Rivers. Get a styl­ish cut for $25 know­ing that 100% of your pay­ment is being donated to help America’s waterways.

Green­Fest has become a part of my daily life and I hope some­how that results in your daily life being a bit greener too. I’ll see you April 2, 2011 at the HCC Gal­le­ria. www.hcgreenfest.org
~Lind­say
OES Staff

Green Tip

Pay bills online.It’s usually free, and you can sign up for email reminders so you won’t be late.