FEBRUARY 2015logos


Community Updates 

In this issue

A Tribute to Mike Faden
Photo: Neil Greenberger
Familiar Face to Civic and Environmental Community, Attorney Retires After 30 Years

By Caren Madsen 


Any county resident who has been involved in either drafting or advocating for environmental legislation over the years has most likely run across seasoned Senior Legislative Attorney Mike Faden. Faden retired this month after 30 years of public service. 


He joined the Montgomery County work force in 1986 after serving as legislative counsel for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and working on energy and arms control issues for six years.  Before his stint with UCS, Faden worked as legislative counsel for former Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis after graduating from Boston University Law School. In his early years in Montgomery County, he worked under a contract the county had at the time with the Georgetown University Law Center.


"What I've found most rewarding over the years has been the chance to work with elected officials to help them find effective legislative solutions to policy problems," said Faden, as he reflected on his career.  "It's rewarding to find solutions that break legislative impasses."


Faden has worked on essentially every environmental issue that has come before the Council during his time in the county. He helped craft bills on tree canopy, stormwater management, urban runoff, smoking, the disposable bag tax, the country growth policy and the urban road code.  He has worked through resolutions to many contentious issues over the years and has earned the respect of elected and non-elected county officials as well as members of the local environmental and building community.


"In addition to serving the County Council wisely all these years, he made the law accessible and clear to ordinary citizens, while treating us as respected partners in the legislative process," noted Ginny Barnes, an environmental activist in the county for over 20 years.   


Faden has spent countless hours explaining the fine points of legislative measures to residents who have called his office.  And when Conservation Montgomery and partners in the "Trees Matter" coalition gathered to celebrate the passage of two landmark tree laws in 2013, Faden was there in the crowd.  He was one of the first public servants in the room to be acknowledged for his hard work on the two bills.


"In working with Mike on the street tree bill, I came to know him as a plain-spoken man, willing to ask questions and learn as much as he could about trees and how they grow," said Bethesda resident Arlene Bruhn, who advocated for the street tree bill passed in 2013.  "He was able to keep the bill on track because he never assumed a knowledge of trees or building practices beyond his grasp. I am particularly grateful for his patience, graciousness and humility during the process."


Faden's advice for environmental and civic advocates who want to persevere is simple.

"Tell your story clearly and push hard for what you need. But remember that the ideal can often be the enemy of the real." 


Mike, we wish you the best.  Thank you for your hard work and dedication. We'll miss you! 


Council Votes to Ban Use, Sale of Certain Polystyrene Products

From the Montgomery County 
Office of Public Information 

The Montgomery County Council has unanimously voted to ban the use and sale of certain expanded polystyrene food service products and the sale of certain polystyrene packing materials in the County. The legislation also will require the use of compostable or recyclable alternatives. 

Bill 41-14 prohibits the use of foam food service products by food service businesses and the sale of foam loose fill packaging (packing peanuts) and bulk foam food service products. Among the items that the bill covers are containers, plates, cups, trays and egg cartons. Products packaged outside the County before receipt by the food service business, and materials used to package raw meat, seafood or poultry, are exempt from the prohibition. 

Winter Bookshelf stack of books on the dark wood background. toning. selective focus on the middle book

By Arlene Bruhn
Conservation Montgomery Board of Directors 

Snow has fallen, and for many families, this is a great time of year for a hike along a wooded trail. In Best Hikes with Kids, former CM Board member Jennifer Chambers describes a variety of hikes for families with children throughout the metropolitan region.   There are over 70 hikes outlined, all easily accessible.  Jennifer has figured out the details for you.  Try taking a walk with your children.  They may just be itching to get outside and explore. 


As you explore, you may want to identify wildlife and plants you see along the way.  Take a peek at National Geographic Kids' Bird Guide or the National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States by Peter Alden and Brian Cassie.


For those who don't like venturing out in cold and blustery weather, freezing temperatures signal a great time to curl up beside a fire, with a hot cup of tea, and immerse yourself in a book.


A great addition to our bookshelf is A Year in Rock Creek Park  - The Wild Wooded Heart of Washington by Melanie Choukas-Bradley.  Many of you are familiar with her wonderful descriptions of Washington trees in her earlier volume City of Trees. With beautiful photos and engaging and powerful prose, Melanie leads us through the many facets of Rock Creek which has headwaters in Montgomery County.  The book comes alive with stunning photographs by Susan Austin Roth.  Once you start reading, you will be captivated.  Check out Melanie's website and get out to hear one of her inspiring talks.


If you are  contemplating changes to your garden especially if you're thinking of  planting a new tree this spring, you will enjoy Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy.  This is my go-to book for information on native trees and the reasons why we should plant more of them in our gardens.  Full of eye-opening facts and photos, this colorful and intriguing text is geared to adults but will be a favorite among curious children who will revel in the pictures of magnificent insects and larvae.Tallamy explains why insects are essential to a sustainable ecology. Additionally, the text has many helpful suggestions on tree species, tree selection, and wildlife needs with emphasis on a sustainable ecology. If you ever doubted that trees matter or that birds need insects to survive, read this book. Tallamy, Chair of the Department of Entomology at the University of Delaware, leaves no doubt that we must take better care of the natural world.  You can help, right in your own back yard or by conserving native trees along your neighborhood roadways. This book is a must read.

For those who enjoy delving into the intricate lives of bees in the garden or are focused on growing your own organic food, we recommend Attracting Native Pollinators by the Xerces Society of Portland Oregon.  You will find pictures of bees and wasps that you never knew existed, descriptions of the plants that attract them, together with cautions about fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticide application in your garden.  The survival of the pollinator population is critical to our food supply and the ecological health of our community.  The photographs in this text are especially useful in identifying visitors to your garden.

Last on our list of recommendations is Farmacology - Total Health from the Ground Up by Daphne Miller, M.D. This book does more than advocate organic agriculture.  It's shows us why healthy soils are critical to human health.  Full of wonderful anecdotes and personal stories, this book is engaging.  Miller emphasizes the interdependency of man, animals and the plant world.  She shows how stress in plants and animals impacts human health.  So while you're planning your summer vegetable garden, be sure to read this text and learn more about biodynamic farming and the importance of keeping the soil healthy.  As one reader wrote, "Don't take dirt for granted."