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Baltimore's Green Masterminds

Nate Evans, Bike & Pedestrian Planner, Baltimore City Department of Transportation - Arianne Teeple
Nate Evans, Bike & Pedestrian Planner, Baltimore City Department of Transportation - Arianne Teeple
Look around Baltimore and you might notice that some city residents have a slightly different aura. They stand out for their demonstrated ability to shine above the rest for their grassroots, community work promoting sustainability with everyone they meet. They want us to walk and bike more and drive less, eat local and even plant our own gardens. They think companies should lead the way to a more environmentally-friendly future. Though you may not know their names, they are business owners, activists, government officials and urban farmers all working to make Baltimore green.

Nate Evans, Baltimore City, Department of Transportation, Bike and Pedestrian Planner

Most people think city streets belong to cars. Not Nate Evans. His dream is a landscape in which pedestrians and bikers sharing the city's byways and highways with motorists.  His quest is to plan and rejuvenate sustainable bike transportation in the City of Baltimore.
As he works to map out a way for cyclist and motorists to share the road, Evans also hosts the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee along with Greg Hinchliffe, Chairman. The group holds monthly meetings during which bike advocates gather to discuss city plans and initiatives that will affect the quality of life for everyone in Baltimore.

Evans and the committee are also behind two fun annual events focused on getting Baltimoreans on their bikes. The committee plans and organizes "Bike to Work Day" and the Tour Dem Parks, Hon! bike ride that was held on June 13th that gives city residents the opportunity to show their support for safe, healthy and sustainable biking in Baltimore. And the Baltimore's new bike map has just rolled off the presses.

Encouraging citizen advocacy for a sustainable Baltimore by engendering community support is what Evans strives for. "Biking has a near zero carbon footprint. The more we make Baltimore bikeable, the more people will choose to ride. The more people ride, the less they drive which improves our air quality, reduces traffic congestion and our dependence on fossil fuels," he states.

And with, the US Department of Transportation's, Secretary Ray La Hood on the record now supporting the nation's cyclists and pedestrians, Evans has gained an ally in a high place. The timing of La Hood's announcement is just right because Baltimore's funding for the projects like bike lanes, bike parking, bike mapping and bike events runs out at the end of 2010. Another key ally is City Councilwoman Mary-Pat Clarke, who supports important new bicycle legislation for Baltimore. 

As funding for alternative transportation and other green initiatives dwindles, public support becomes even more imperative for those battling on the front lines. Without it their hard work, community organizing and continued promotion of quality of life initiatives could die from a lack of funding. Evans is hopeful that that will not happen. Community support for his work will make a difference. Baltimore's new Bike Map and city bike events are available on Facebook at Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee

Ida Cheinman, Principal, Substance151

Creating a business that would promote other environmentally-friendly businesses was a natural fit for Ida Cheinman when she launched Substance 151 in 2005 -- an environmentally-friendly company that would promote other . She started her design and branding company to bring her vision of a greener design to Baltimore. Ida's clients are recruited as supporters of sustainability right from the start. Being green, she says is a necessary ingredient in every successful branding effort. Good design and sustainability work together and help build awareness of environmental responsibility.

Cheinman's work on the Board of the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance is another part of her green networking, giving her the opportunity to join with other small business owners who understand the importance of the Buy Local Baltimore campaign to reduce Baltimore's carbon footprint and dependence on non-renewable foreign oil.

"Conservation is key, as well," she says, and quickly recommends great Baltimore restaurants like Woodberry Kitchen at Clipper Mill.

" LOVE Woodberry Kitchen, she says. While there are a lot of great green restaurants in the area that do an excellent job, Spike Gjerde's long-term commitment to sourcing local, green operations, passion and innovation both when it comes to food and running a sustainable business, and amazing (his) culinary skills place Woodberry Kitchen a head above the rest. 

Peter Van Buren, President, TerraLogos Energy Group

Armed with a large fan that fits into the opening of a front door the that tracks the volume of air infiltrating a home, Peter Van Buren is able to measure the fuel efficiency of a house. The outside air that pushes through the cracks allows costly energy to escape. Once he knows how much energy is escaping, Van Buren and his associate are able to help homeowners reduce their dependence on unsustainable fuels, like gas, oil and coal (that produces much of our electricity). It's a tough battle that he fights everyday throughout the Baltimore area with his company, TerraLogos Energy Group.

"Now is the time," Van Buren says, "the economy has made it difficult, but federal, state and utility incentives make it opportune. This is a real investment that pays dividends, better than a low interest CD." One simple tool he uses to get homeowners thinking greener is a gauge featured on the TerraLogos website (under What We Do) that shows just how much energy his customers are saving second by second.

Van Buren's passion for and philosophy on a sustainable future is helping the people of Baltimore push back against rising fuels costs. He and his partner Frank Lee, and their employees spread the word during Baltimore's Green Week, green festivals, community events and homeowners meetings. "Many people are aware of the need to save energy," Van Buren says, "but the work of educating and building awareness and providing information is what we must continue to do." His next green event will be at the Chesapeake Green Living Festival, June 19th and 20th at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds.

Tyler Brown, Project Manager, Real Food Farms, Civic Works

Looking at Tyler Brown, project manager for Real Food Farms, there's no question that this man is a cultivator. But Brown is not only a plant and fresh food cultivator, he's a people cultivator, working for Civic Works, Baltimore's Service Corps in many community gardeners across Baltimore.

Long before Michelle Obama planted her White House garden, Brown saw the need for healthy food when he was in college volunteering and learning on a school farm. That led him to is current job as a coordinator and a collaborator with an impressive network of community gardens, city and nonprofit initiatives that understand the need for fresh food city that he sees.

Baltimore has a great nature resource, vacant land that can be put to productive use providing great, healthy produce, according to Tyler. Neighborhood communities like those around Lake Clifton Park have no access to fresh food because there aren't any local supermarkets. Brown, his volunteers and community groups that he works with aim to change that equation across Baltimore.

Lake Clifton Park is Brown's farming hub. Three hoophouses set on six acres of what was once a lake bed with soil was in no condition to produce fresh food. Civic Works trucked in tons of soil to build raised beds from which Tyler and a small army of volunteers now produce fresh local produce for Baltimore's under-served neighborhoods.

His work in many small projects has brought to healthier food choices and sustainable farming practices to the inner city. Real City Food sells it produce at stands outside the Hoop Village at the Real Food Farm at every Wednesday afternoon and at The Green School of Baltimore every Thursday.

Next up on Brown's list of projects is a food delivery wagon that will bring foodstuffs like produce grown at the Real Food Farms gardens and even goodies like locally-produced ice cream to some of Baltimore's underserved neighborhoods.

Although funding is always tight, Brown sees tangible results for the Baltimore community with a small investment that will yield great rewards for Baltimore far into the future.

"With the support and interest of the Mayor's Office, the Office of Sustainability, the nonprofits, the community gardeners, the corporate community and ordinary individuals," he states, "we will see over the next 10 years urban farming really coming together. There is a lot of interest from local institutions as well that want local fresh produce. We are going to see a whole string of new farms springing up all over the city with the encouragement of government and industry."

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