A goal is to bring more diversity to the Network in the future. There may be opportunities for environmental leaders in the group to collaborate on formal diversity training as well as outreach to diverse communities.
While the first Network meeting covered a variety of issues, from climate change to waste reduction and pesticides, subsequent meetings have been more focused discussions. The second session explored the problem of silos within the county government and the lack of coordination between multiple county agencies and staff from the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.
“When county agency staff and Parks and Planning staff with responsibility for environmental regulations don’t play well together, it’s the environment that suffers,” said Conservation Montgomery Chair Caren Madsen, who has organized the Network meetings. “The value of the Network is bringing all of us together to break down our own silos. We can learn from one another and get a lot of information on these issues at the same time – and straight from the source if the Executive and DEP Director continue to participate in these discussions.”
A third Network meeting focused on climate change. The discussion was coordinated and led by a climate team composed of Michal Freedman from the Sierra Club, Jim Driscoll from the Climate Mobilization and Jeff Weisner from 350 MoCo. The Elrich administration has hired a new Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Adriana Hochberg, to coordinate environmental efforts with climate change at the center of her portfolio.
The Network will embark on its first field trip in May, a trek to the Watts Branch watershed. Elrich has cited Watts Branch cleanup as one of his priorities. Similar to the approach used by the Network climate team, a Watts Branch team is setting up the watershed tour.
“Local government and advocates find common ground through collaboration such as this active Network,” said Caroline Taylor, Executive Director of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance. “Cheers to the Elrich administration for seeing the value of a productive teamwork strategy and to Caren Madsen for shepherding the process.”
Is your favorite environmental or civic organization involved in Network discussions?
To inquire about your organization sending a leader to meetings, contact CarenMadsen@msn.com.