By Meghan Curtis
Environmental awareness is a top priority for College Park’s Calvert Hills Citizens Association (CHCA), and they made this clear in February by establishing the Calvert Hills Green Team.
Sustainable Maryland, which has a certification program for municipalities that want to go green, encouraged CHCA to create the team as part of a larger initiative within the city. Although the team hasn’t fully developed their mission statement, co-chairs Meg Oates and Urs Weber cite several priorities, including increasing awareness of environmental issues, developing strategies to address these issues and encouraging actions to proactively safeguard the environment.
Oates has significant education and experience in the environmental field. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from American University and a master’s in environmental policy and ecological economics from the University of Maryland. She has worked in sustainability and environmental policy for the past 15 years.
Weber is also invested in environmental sustainability. He’s read extensively about environmental issues, and he’s also an avid vegetable gardener. He noted that he wants to “be a part of this world and not destroy it.”
The team’s 12 members have been meeting virtually and have also held a few outdoor events. Meetings and events are open to all Calvert Hills residents and are promoted through the neighborhood listserv.
The tight-knit Calvert Hills community is vocal and involved in the environment. “People are constantly chattering about different sustainability issues,” noted Oates. Residents are concerned about the impact of watershed problems in the neighborhood, most notably the flooding on Sept. 10, 2020. The neighborhood is also focused on surrounding woods and the importance of planting more trees. Others share gardening tips, and one resident educates his neighbors about ways to keep Calvert Hills bird-friendly.
The Green Team’s first event was a spring cleanup during which Oates, Weber and about 15 others removed debris from city parks. The team also organized a rain garden tour, in part to educate participants about the importance of water management and the ways in which rain gardens assist in that effort. The team is also planning a guided tour of part of the Anacostia River on August 28 with Anacostia Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting people with the waterway.
The Green Team is young but is ambitious and eager to grow, according to Oates. “We have a lot of big ideas, but because we’re just getting off the ground right now and just starting to mobilize, we’re not quite ready for prime time on those quite yet,” she said.
For more information, contact Meg Oates at firstname.lastname@example.org or Urs Weber at email@example.com.