Did you attend the Towson Fourth of July Parade? Green Towson Alliance (GTA) made its fourth appearance there this year. The local environmental workforce captivated the crowd with colorful puppets of bees, butterflies and flowers. So, who is GTA?

GTA came together in 2015 as a small group of about six community environmental activists. Each was deeply committed to their own projects, including recycling, vehicle reduction and tree planting.


For example, Wendy Jacobs, of West Towson, is a Master Naturalist with a passion for protecting habitats and ecosystems. Fellow GTA member Carol Newell has long been promoting recycling and sustainability in her neighborhood of Stoneleigh.

Anneslie’s Beth Miller launched a popular walk-to-school initiative at Stoneleigh Elementary when her kids were students there. Other members hail from Rogers Forge, Loch Raven Village and other neighboring areas. The small but mighty original crew joined forces to bolster one another’s efforts.

“From the very start, we said we’re going to be a force of action, not a bunch of complainers,” Jacobs said. GTA’s “action-oriented” meetings are held on odd month Mondays at 7 p.m. at Pickersgill and typically draw about 25-30 attendees, dependent on the action being pursued.

With a variety of projects and work groups tackling planning and advocacy efforts at the county and even state governmental level, there are plenty of opportunities to serve improvement of the community and the environment.

One of the bigger projects currently underway is consulting on the development of Radebaugh Park to create a beautiful space with natural terrain and native plants, and “not just another flat, sun-baked field,” Jacobs said. “It’s really going to be something special for Towson.”

GTA leads events with appeal for all ages. Stream cleanups are great family activities. Daisy and Cub Scout troops have helped plant trees. (“The most important thing you can do to heal the planet is to plant a tree,” Jacobs says.)

GTA has helped teen scouts coordinate Eagle projects. Students at Goucher College have become valuable contributors to the volunteer workforce, particularly in habitat restoration. GTA also hosts library seminars with “green speakers.”

This year, GTA tapped student artist Sam Birkenthal, a rising senior at Towson High, to design the nature-themed art display. Birkenthal’s giant bees and butterflies “flew” along on bamboo poles carried by GTA volunteers.

Pat Mochel enjoyed seeing the looks on the children’s faces along the parade route reacting to the props.

“Someone in front started dipping them down so the kids could see them and touch them, and by the end of the parade, we all were doing it,” she said. Enthusiasm is catching — and hopefully, it will inspire even more action.

“I think there is a great thirst in the public on how to make decisions that support our ecosystem, locally, statewide and nationally, and do as little harm as possible,” Mochel said.

Go to the GTA website at Greentowsonalliance.org, or follow the group on Facebook (where they have nearly 750 followers), and consider ways you can help make a difference, not just for Towson but for the amazing Earth we all share!