A few years ago Nancy Fayer participated in a discussion circle on global warming organized by Simplicity Matters Earth Institute (SMEI). It was right about the same time that Howard County began pushing awareness of environmental issues. Ken Ulman had recently run for election on his platform for green development in the county and the Environmental Sustainability Office was being established.
Members of Fayer’s discussion circle were interested in learning more and sharing information on climate change with others in Howard County, so they formed an advocacy group called The Climate Change Initiative of Howard County (CCIHC), and began leading discussion circles for other interested groups.
When Fayer’s discussion circle ended, the group decided to carry on as an Earth Care team. They invited the community to their first program on climate change on April 29, 2009.
"The enthusiastic response to that program encouraged the Earth Care team to organize and present a series of monthly programs to examine different aspects of climate change,” Fayer said.
“Thus the Earth Forum of Howard began its first series on October 16, 2009, at the First Presbyterian Church.”
The Earth Forum of Howard County is a grassroots movement which brings together environmental activists, related local government agencies and faith groups to examine and understand climate change and its many aspects through education and actions to encourage sustainable living practices. Events are free and open to all.
The 2011-2012 Earth Forum Series runs through April from 2 - 4:30 p.m., on the third Sunday of the month. The Forum attracts from 60-125 participants each month. It meets at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County, 9325 Presbyterian Circle in Columbia. The church has been an active sponsor and provides resources for a safe and respectful forum, as it fits in well with their mission to be “better stewards of the earth.”
Those involved with Earth Forum are typically active when it comes to putting resources, time and community effort into mitigating climate change. They often become involved in sustainability efforts, and discuss energy savings and similar programs.
The next event will take place on Feb. 19 and will feature Peter Doo, a sustainable building innovator and designer of LEED certified, LEED registered, and net-zero energy buildings.
The Forum features a “community involvement” model in which each event has a featured speaker, refreshments and a networking time in which people can actively chat to generate ideas and find like-minded people for their projects.
Following the networking period, there are usually small discussion groups that emphasize specific plans of action.
Earth Forum Partners include Columbia Community Exchange Time Bank, Green Building Institute, University of Maryland Extension Howard County Master Gardeners, Climate Change Initiative of Howard County, Triple TeQ and Howard County Office of Environmental Sustainability.
As they head into their fourth year, the organization plans to put into practice several community projects, including expanding educational outreach programs.
Issues of climate change are bigger than any one group and The Earth Forum plans to form more networks and alliances with other interested groups, as well as become a community organization that can stand on its own.
For details about upcoming programs please keep an eye on the Patch.com Events listings and watch the Going Green column.