Keen on living green

Baltimore Green Week is rooted in 14 free events focused on the environment

April 24, 2008|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Baltimore Green Week has branched out over five years to include an array of issues under its environmental umbrella.

According to program director Carol Silldorff, the organization began with a group of people interested in environmentally friendly building methods in the city. "Over the years," she said, "it has grown immensely. ... No longer is it at all connected to one issue."

That much is clear from the schedule of events, which kicks off with a reception tomorrow at the Walters Art Museum and gets rolling Saturday with the fifth annual EcoFestival, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Druid Hill Park.

Among the 14 free events running through May 1 are:

A discussion of pollution's impact on the Inner Harbor and its watersheds, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday onboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Taney in the Inner Harbor.

Mayor Sheila Dixon talking about her plan for a greener Baltimore, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.

A City Council hearing at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and Museum, which will allow people to comment on environmental legislation from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday.

A green building tour and reception at the Catholic Relief Services' Stewart's Building, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday.

A state legislative overview from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., followed by a conversation about the role of religion in environmental stewardship from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Grace Fellowship Church on Wednesday.

A talk by Green For All founder and president Van Jones about helping create environmental jobs for low-income and city communities, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 1 at Morgan State University.

A broad scope of environmental issues will be on display at the EcoFestival, which is scheduled to include more than 100 exhibitors and vendors, tours of houses that use green technology, tours of some of the worst pollution in Baltimore, guided hikes and bicycle tours.

Silldorff said other elements of the festival are intended to attract a diverse group of visitors beyond those who already care about green causes.

There will be live music throughout the day, with headliner Caleb Stine and the Brakemen at 4 p.m., and local restaurants and natural food vendors will be selling refreshments.

A new children's activity area will include opportunities to build a hut, play with water, see live animals and learn about local nature resources. Another area will focus on health and wellness, with presentations by yoga studios, acupuncturists and massage therapists.

Artists will show and sell works with a theme of sustainability, including art made from found and recycled materials. The Maryland Institute College of Art will also exhibit pieces from its Carbon Footprint project.

The many facets of the event are "a way to attract people," Silldorff said. "They get there and then see hundreds of exhibitors who can show them there are inexpensive things they can do" to help the environment.

Darin Crew, watershed manager for the Herring Run Watershed Association, is running a workshop to turn people on to rain barrels. Participants can make a 55-gallon barrel to collect rainwater from their gutters to reduce runoff into rivers. They can use the water for their gardens or lawns.

"The power of the rain barrel is if you get lots of people to do it," said Crew, who is hoping to get about 35 people to take part in the workshop.

He said the EcoFestival is one place to start. "Each year, more and more people become engaged," he said. "There is good turnout, and it helps to get our message out."

Realtor Amanda Lopez of City Life Realty in Hampden said that with energy prices rising, this is a great time for her to give two tours to introduce people to green building options for their homes.

"I think people are starting to look at energy conservation all around," Lopez said. "It doesn't take a massive amount of money; it's just education and knowing what your options are."

Naturalist Glenda Weber hopes to get people to appreciate some of the trees and plants that are already in the city on her guided walking tours at the festival.

"I'm just trying to get people to notice where they live and the things around them," she said.

She has taken part in the EcoFestival before, and she said that while it does tend to attract the people who already care about nature, "it does provide a lot of educational opportunities to learn about things they don't know are going on. It's a great place to expand their knowledge."

Parking is limited at the festival, so organizers are providing shuttles and marked trails for hiking or biking to the site from the Woodberry light rail station.

A full schedule of Baltimore Green Week events is available at baltimoregreenweek.org.

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