Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Safe Grow and Outside Advocacy

(Background: The Safe Grow Zone ordinance would create an education campaign around the health & environmental effects due to the application of pesticides for cosmetic lawncare purposes and would promote alternative pest-control methods. It would then ban cosmetic lawncare pesticide application in Takoma Park, albeit with a set of health and safety exceptions and a waiver process for exceptional cases. The city council, at its July 8, 2013 meeting, moved ahead with the ordinance and is slated to vote, on July 15 and 22, in two readings, to possibly make it city law.)

I've looked at advocacy material from Beyond Pesticides, whose reps have appeared at two council meetings -- one spoke at the March public forum on the initiative -- and from groups such as the Maryland Pesticide Network, which successfully advocated for "Bay Friendly Lawn Care" at the Maryland state house. I've looked at advocacy materials from the campaigns for the pesticide bans now in place in Ontario and Quebec and the partial bans in Connecticut and elsewhere.

I've also spoken to Pro-Lawn-Plus president Mark Schlossberg, who has attended several council meetings. According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Schlossberg is "President of the MD Association of Green Industries, Inc, which represents our Industry in Annapolis." I and my council colleagues have received comment from Tom Delaney, Director of Government Affairs at the Professional Landcare Network; Karen Reardon, Vice President, Public Affairs at RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), who said she'd be attending the July 8 council worksession, although I didn't meet her; and Sam Camuso, "a Green Industry representative for nearly 20 years." And I had an e-mail exchange with someone from the Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery, initiated by a Holly Avenue resident.

Further, I had an exchange with Carol Holko, the MD Department of Agriculture assistant secretary responsible for pesticide programs -- she had testified against legislation, HB433, "Lawn Care Pesticides, Child Care and School Facilities - Prohibition," that was proposed during the 2013 Maryland legislative session -- and I had a not-very-useful exchange with a physician member of the Maryland Pesticide Advisory Council.                                                                                                                             
It's all grist for the mill. I and my council colleagues do our best to weigh advocates' points on their merits, taking into account their origins, together with Takoma Park public voices -- I ignore non-Takoma Park petition signatures -- in order to arrive at our positions.

Really, it doesn't matter to me whom Jay Feldman (Beyond Pesticides) or Mark Schlossberg (Green Industries, Inc.) has met locally or fed position points. What matters to me is the value we can derive from their advocacy.

By the way, here's a nice, 2-page brochure that Carol Holko from the MD Dept of Agriculture pointed me to: What You Can Do Without Pesticides. This is the sort of educational material that the city should be able to leverage in our educational campaign at very modest cost to the city. 

I hope this helps.

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