There’s a very progressive piece of legislation in Congress that could make a huge difference to the country and to Bethlehem and the city’s southside.

City Parks Director Ralph Carp, down in Washington, D.C., early last week at a high-profile national conference on building green infrastructure, spoke with Representative Allyson Schwartz – D (PA), who is co-sponsoring a new bill that would identify 80 small- to medium-sized cities and distribute $120 million for promoting community greening initiatives. Bethlehem – with more and more being done already by the City and various community groups in the area of green and sustainable development – could benefit directly from the legislation if it’s passed into law.

When Ralph asked Allyson Schwartz what he could do to help, she said, “WRITE IN SUPPORT.”  So please take a look at the bill and, if you find it promising, WRITE IN SUPPORT.

Here’s a brief summary: 4/30/2009 – Introduced.
Green Communities Act – Directs the Secretary of Commerce, through the Economic Development Administration, to make grants to municipalities to promote community greening initiatives (defined as programs increasing economic development through environmental improvements). Directs the Secretary to select 80 municipalities to receive grants. Requires an eligible program partner to develop and plan such an initiative, which may include revitalizing municipal parks and public spaces, tree plantings, green roof construction, and vacant lot management. Directs the Secretary to make grants to, or enter into contracts with, five nonprofit organizations to provide technical assistance and training to eligible program partners in developing, planning, implementing, and assessing initiatives.

More information, including the whole bill, is here.

Contact information:
Representative Allyson Schwartz – D (PA)
*Philadelphia Office*
7219 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19135
Phone: 215-335-3355
Fax: 215-333-4508

Or simply click here to write her using the convenient form at her web page.

If anyone has further ideas as to what can be done to advance this bill through Congress (teachers out there – how about getting your students to write?) please let me know.

John Pettegrew