BERLIN — Take Pride in Berlin Week, the inaugural expansion of what was formerly Take Pride in Berlin Day, began last Saturday with volunteers gathering in Stephen Decatur Park and Henry Park to clean up the area and restore local rain gardens.
The project, organized by Grow Berlin Green and the Berlin Parks Commission, is part of a weeklong effort to stimulate Berlin pride and "encourage businesses…to go green," according to Grow Berlin Green Project Manager Debbi Colley.
Participants included both residents of Berlin, local high school students and people for whom the local parks have come to represent their favorite place in Town.
Mayor Gee Williams, who presented an award to the Grow Berlin Green group at this week’s Town Council meeting said he was surprised by and grateful for the number of non-residents in attendance.
“They enjoy the parks, they tell me how much their families use them and they want to support them,” he said of his experience at Saturday’s event.
Steve Farr, of Grow Berlin Green, who was among those accepting the award, said he was bolstered by the amount the group had been able to facilitate but looked forward to an even more productive future.
“We’ve still got a long way to go,” he said. “This is just the beginning of the beginning.”
Among participants in the event were the newly-created Worcester Preparatory School Environmental Club, created by juniors Carter Allen, who attended Maryland’s Offshore Wind Rally in Baltimore on Feb. 22, and Zander Farr.
Kathleen Otway, the club’s advisor, and her co-leader Linda Bragg, also attended the Park Clean Up on Saturday. They were joined by eight of their students, all of whom greatly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a community event.
"I think the event was a success and I was really happy to see such a good turn out," said Allen, while his classmate Meredith Soule pointed out that it was "really nice to help the environment."
Allen, Soule, Farr, and the rest of the volunteers spent the morning cleaning, weeding, mulching, and planting herbs and native plant species such as the Black Eyed Susan and Echinacea purpurea ("Pow Wow"). The primary goal of the team at Stephen Decatur Park was to restore the rain garden, which collects rainwater runoff to improve the quality of local bodies of water.
Other attendees at the event included Williams, who expressed his support in community and environmental projects such as these.
Patricia Dufendach, a member of the Berlin Parks Commission, and Mike Wiley, a chairman of the Berlin Parks Commission, worked together to educate the volunteers on the benefits and how-to’s of rain gardens and wildlife backyard habitats, which are certifiable by the National Wildlife Federation. After the event, volunteers retreated to Henry Park, where food was provided by Berlin Area Ministries United and music by Troy Mawyer and Adam Bilenki of Picasso in Overdrive.
Although the Clean Up Day has been an annual event for the past four years, this year is the first that extended the popular event into a week of environmental activities and Berlin pride.
The celebration will end on April 28th at Berlin Intermediate School with Trail Mix, the unveiling of the first in a series of local walking, biking, and running trails.
Grow Berlin Green and the Berlin Parks Commission are proud to have organized one of many events that promote recycling, storm water management, and a greener planet. With their work, Berlin has become Maryland’s first municipality to be certified as Sustainable by the University of Maryland Environmental Financial Center.
Assistant Town Administrator Mary Bohlen encouraged people to continue the Take Pride in Berlin actions and attitudes after the event officially ends Saturday.
To that end, the event ends with a beginning of a sort. GBG will sponsor the inaugural Berlin Trail Mix, an opening of bike and walking trails around Town aimed at encouraging what the group calls a “more walkable, bike-able Berlin.” The event will be 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 28 at Berlin Intermediate School.