Eleven congregations and 72 Montgomery County residents came together on Sunday, February 10, to discuss how the faith-based community can play a role in improving local watersheds. The forum, “Greening Our Sacred Grounds”, was an opportunity for the congregations to share their successes, and roadblocks, in developing environmental projects.
Opening the event was Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin of the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. Rabbi Cardin discussed the significance of the faith-based community as stewards and environmental advocates, who can be at the center of conversations about world environmental issues.
Many congregations lead clean-up projects as part of their commitment to community service. The first guest speaker, Alena Rosen of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, explained how her organization is using technology to make it easier for groups, such as the faith-based community, to track their data from volunteer cleanup events. Event leaders can track their volunteers and progress over time.
Ann English of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and Dyan Backe of the City of Gaithersburg hosted a presentation on stormwater pollution and the County RainScapes and the City of Gaithersburg RainScapes programs. RainScapes is an incentive program offered by the County and by the City of Gaithersburg to include the public in stormwater reduction through projects on private residential, institutional and commercial properties. Several congregations have already built RainScapes projects including rain gardens, rain barrels and conservation landscaping.
Representatives from the different congregations present spoke about their stream or environmental projects, including:
This unique forum was hosted by the Muddy Branch Alliance, an all-volunteer community group committed to improving the Muddy Branch stream and nearby natural resources.