A `GreenFest' gathering

April 09, 2008|By Emily Groves | Emily Groves,special to the sun

It's easy to appreciate the environment when the sun is shining and the air is warm.

But around 1,500 Howard County residents demonstrated their appreciation for more than nice weather Saturday at GreenFest, a county-sponsored fair promoting `green,' or environmentally friendly, lifestyles.

The event, held the Glenwood Community Center, the county's first green building, featured displays from 60 vendors, clubs and organizations.

"Any level of what you want to do to get involved is in this building," said Joshua Feldmark, director of the Commission on Environment and Sustainability, standing in a hallway with several exhibits. "whether it's greening your house or getting active or checking out birds."

Many residents wanted information on specific topics, like lowering energy use, while others attended to support the green movement.

"I'm into anything green," said Chris McComas of Lisbon. "I think we need to be taking better care of the Earth."

County Executive Ken Ulman has been vocal about his desire to make Howard County a "model green community." Last month, Ulman announced a campaign to combat global warming and made the Office of Environmental Sustainability a permanent part of the county government.

Ulman was impressed by Saturday's high turnout.

"Days like today raise awareness," he said, adding that he hoped the event would make it easier for people to "live a greener lifestyle."

Said Sue Muller, a natural resources technician with the Department of Parks and Recreation and one of the event's coordinators: "I hope [people] will be motivated to step up and take part and be part of the solution. That would make me a happy woman."

The theme of the event, which was co-sponsored by the departments of Recreation, Public Works and Planning and Zoning, was "Green Buildings - Inside & Out."

Vendors displayed products for inside the home that varied from the traditional green cleaning supplies and paper products to the atypical environmentally sustainable pet treats, cups made from corn and plates made from sugar cane.

Products for outside the home included green building supplies, green roofs and solar panels.

Special events included a bird walk, a frog watch and dragonfly walk, presentations on reducing carbon footprints and using rain barrels, and a fly-tying demonstration for fly fishing.

The event was popular with families and children, featuring several children's events, including a binocular building and bluebird walk.

The most popular event among children was the demonstration by Reptiles Alive!, an educational group giving live presentations.

Crowds of children clamored to catch a glimpse of a snapping turtle named T-Rex, and to pet Darth Vader, a snake named for his ability to mimic a rattlesnake, making a hissing sound similar to that of the famous Star Wars character.

Officials hope to make the GreenFest an annual event, and conducted exit interviews to find ways to improve.

"I see this getting bigger and better next year," Muller said. "We hope to take over the gymnasium."

emily.groves@baltsun.com

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