Grow Berlin Green (GBG) is a multi-year campaign to establish Berlin, Maryland and the surrounding area as a model community for participatory environmental protection, conservation, and smart growth policy and practice. The campaign is managed by a coalition of Assateague Coastal Trust, Lower Shore Land Trust, and Maryland Coastal Bays Program, but it is driven by community education, empowerment and action.
- Educate and engage citizens and public officials in Berlin and the surrounding area on environmental protection. conservation, and smart growth issues, activities and policies.
- Promote and facilitate community action to achieve measurable impact on a range of environmental and conservation priorities, including water resources management and conservation (e.g., stormwater management), energy conservation, waste reduction/recycling, and smart growth development; and
- Build broad-based community capacity for a sustainable movement to protect, promote and enhance the environmental quality of the Berlin area.
- Outreach events and activities to solicit community input on priority needs and interests, and to build a foundation for citizen and policymaker participation in campaign activities;
- Educational events and materials to inform the community about environmental challenges and empower citizens and policymakers to engage in practical and policy solutions;
- Conservation projects (e.g., rain barrels, rain gardens, buffers) with Berlin schools;
- Neighborhood “Green Teams” to promote and facilitate practical household, neighborhood and business district conservation projects; and
- Land conservation and smart growth initiatives, including the possible development of an open space “greenbelt” around Berlin.
- Increased understanding, engagement, and activism among citizens and policymakers in the community’s environmental challenges and solutions;
- Increased conservation and quality of natural resources;
- Improved natural resources management infrastructure (e.g., stormwater, wastewater);
- Reduced waste stream and increased recycling; and
- Smart Growth principles manifested on the ground (e.g., no sprawl, preserved open space, greenway, etc.).
Activities to date have included (but are not limited to):
- Developed identity and marketing/outreach materials (e.g., logo, letterhead, brochure/rack card, presentation display elements, Facebook page, website);
- Conducted extensive education and outreach to community through meetings, media and community events (town meeting, Chamber of Commerce, schools, HOAs, etc.);
- Developing contact database, currently with 500+ contacts;
- Produced and distributing branded re-usable shopping bags (partnerships with Town Main Street Program and Berlin Farmers Market);
- Placed initial set of rain barrels in business district to facilitate water conservation and reduce stormwater runoff;
- Engaged Planning & Zoning Commission and Town Council in development and approval of Comprehensive Plan, including recommendations for infill development and protected open space “greenbelt” around the Town;
- Partnered with local schools for environmental education and campus-based conservation projects;
- Planned and implemented several community cleanup projects;
- Partnering with Town for construction and distribution of rain barrels for households (180+ distributed to date)
- Built four demonstration rain gardens on Town and private property with significant stormwater drainage issues;
- Established new recycling program for downtown merchants in partnering with Town and Main Street program;
- Partnered with Town Public Works department and Parks Commission in tree/native plant planting projects in Historic District and parks;
- Distributed home energy conservation kits for low and moderate income residents.
- Hosted educational workshops on a variety of topics, including: energy conservation, water conservation, recycling, food preservation, “green” cleaning products, etc.)
- Launched “Terracycling” program in community and schools through which people can deposit materials not accepted by municipal recycling service for “upcycling” into consumer products;
- Participating with Town in two major stream restoration/stormwater management demonstration projects;
- Leading community outreach and education component of University of MD Environmental Finance Center stormwater management financing study;
- Participating as core member of Sustainable Maryland Certified “Green Team;” and
- Launched “Walkable/Bikeable Berlin” master planning process (developing trail network connecting town neighborhoods and amenities, and connecting Berlin with nearby parks and attractions).
GBG was the recipient in 2011 of an award from Main Street Maryland “in recognition of developing and implementing strategies for increased community safety, improved streetscapes; and improved community parks and playgrounds that support a positive image of the commercial and residential areas of the Main Street district.”
GBG was instrumental to Berlin being named earlier this year as the first Maryland municipality to qualify for “Sustainable Maryland Certified” status by University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center.