BERLIN – A $125,000 grant from the Town Creek Foundation will fuel the first year of a three-year effort to green Berlin through the Grow Berlin Green (GBG) initiative.
“Our overall goal is to establish Berlin as a model community for participating in conservation and smart growth,” said GBG Project Director Steve Farr, who is also development director for Assateague Coastal Trust, a partner in GBG.
Town Creek Foundation Director Stuart Clark said he hopes “that Grow Berlin Green will be embraced by the community and can become a model for participatory environmental action that others can follow.”
The campaign will use the major grant to persuade citizens, commercial interests and the town government to adopt conservation practices, increase recycling and reduce waste and improve natural resources management.
Before taking specific action, GBG will look into the conservation needs seen by the community. A community meeting will be held on Feb. 10 at Berlin Town Hall, from 7-9 p.m.
An alliance of three local environmental organizations came together to create the campaign, the Assateague Coastal Trust, Maryland Coastal Bays Program and the Lower Shore Land Trust. The work will be based on community education and empowerment, starting with schools. Farr said that he hopes to bring hands-on outreach and education programs to local schools by the end of the school year.
In year two of the GBG initiative, look for neighborhood green teams, which will take on practical steps to green individual neighborhoods, from clean ups to energy conservation.
“We want the whole community to be excited and engaged,” Farr said.
Berlin was chosen as a pilot location, but the effort could eventually extend to other communities in the county.
“We’re really at a critical moment in Berlin in particular,” Farr said.
Utility costs, stormwater problems, development and wastewater management are all currently in the forefront in Berlin and they are topics often broached at government meetings.
Berlin’s elected officials are also on board, according to Farr.
“We think it’s a new beginning for the public policy to turn the corner and address these issues,” Farr said. “I think on the part of citizens there’s an increased interest and desire to take actions on these issues.”