Berlin's a small town a few miles west of Ocean City. It's facing some challenging issues I'll try to summarize in a separate post.
Ron's a small local builder/developer. He also has a strong commitment to energy efficiency and doing things at the local level -- which most of us realize are closely related.
Witness his home, in a small development that Ron (through his Chestnut Creek business) is putting together. Just about every feature has been carefully thought through from an energy-efficiency perspective. That includes not just insulation and the positioning of windows, but also things like the cork flooring, the use of recycled materials throughout the house, the flash hot water heater, and much more.
But Ron stresses that energy-efficiency is one part of a bigger picture -- one that stresses use of local materials in construction. That not only strengthens the local economy, but it cuts down on the materials needed in construction. For example, no need for costly packaging to transport supplies long distances.
One big concern Ron has is the arrival of national, production builders in Worcester County. To Ron, this will have a major impact on local builders -- and related businesses -- as they are squeezed out by much, much bigger builders. Ron believes higher quality work can be done by local builders.
Katherine is a comprehensive planner with Worcester County. Her work focuses on farmland preservation -- a very important issue for the County, and one which the County has had notable success. Again, more on this in a separate post.
And then there's Ron and Katherine's charming and talented 4 year old daughter, Giuliana. I was able to visit Giuliana's shark collection, see her remarkable yo baby container stacking abilities, and find out above her love of olives (I also have an empty olive jar as a souvenir that I'll put on my office shelf when I return to Burlington).
The other member of the "family" is Takoda, who surely leads a dog's life I can envy. Takoda has a favorite cushion to curl up near the front door -- but also enjoys lying down under under the dining table.
Thanks so much, Ron, Katherine, Giuliana, and Takoda for being my first hosts along Route 50!