Tuesday, October 25, 2016

#EVERYVOTEMATTERS Our Daily Tip to Get Out the Vote

OCTOBER 24: Engage the wait staff at Waffle House - or the McDonald’s drive through - and remind them to vote vote vote. They will appreciate a fellow citizen recognizing their dignity and worth… And your encouragement may be just what they need for them to vote vote vote.

OCTOBER 25: Vote early! Polls are open for early voting in many States. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. Don’t despair. Vote vote vote. https://www.vote.org/early-voting-calendar/

OCTOBER 26: Focus your energy on the possible. Beware of wasting your precious time, energy, or thoughts on those who you know will not change their minds. Reach out instead to those who simply need encouragement to get to the polls and vote vote vote.

OCTOBER 27: Sharing your enthusiasm for voting is the most effective way to encourage others to do the same. Stay positive. Affirm this greatest of civic duties. Talk it up. Show up!

OCTOBER 28: Remind your female friends that there was a time not too long ago when they could not vote. Don’t squander this ‘right’! Others fought - and died! - so you could vote. We owe it to our ancestors to vote vote vote.

OCTOBER 29: Remind your friends (and yourself!) that this election is much more than the Presidential race. There are MANY local races (and referenda) to learn about, care for, and vote vote vote. Simply Google “sample ballot”, enter your address, and you will see your local ballot.

OCTOBER 30: When you door knock, post on social media, and talk with discouraged friends: Beware. Be VERY AWARE. Many are going to great length to convince you to NOT vote. No matter: Encourage other to Vote, vote, vote!

OCTOBER 31: Do the obvious. Offer to take your parents, your adult children, your old aunt, your scrooge uncle - your own family members! - to the polls. Don’t let it be that they don’t vote because you never insisted! The family that votes together stays together.

NOVEMBER 1: Pray. Yes, pray. Pray that we - and each person we encourage to vote - find it in us to be above the fray; to understand that all of this is for much more than the craziness of the moment; that we each - individually - can make a difference. Pray on. And vote vote vote!

NOVEMBER 2: Stay positive. Impossible? No! Not if you emphasize the beauty, wonders, and magnificence of what is the U.S. of A - and its people. A people that are good and gracious; thoughtful and thankful…And yes, challenged, broken, and dysfunctional - far from perfect. Yet, vote we must. Because. Because it is the right thing to do. Vote vote vote.

NOVEMBER 3: Impress upon everyone you run across today how preciously individual we each are. Sure, we are millions. But, those millions are made up of ones. We each are one. Each ONE matters. Vote vote vote.


#EVERYVOTEMATTERS  Our Daily Tip to Get Out the Vote: Have fun. No one likes a grouch. Authentically enJoy talking up the responsibility to vote. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is also [plifting. It connects us with millions of other Americans. It is our most prolific common ritual. And it should feel good. No need to “hold your nose”; be proud to vote vote vote. !Vote mi gente!

November 5

Don't vote. Don’t complain…. So vote vote vote!

NOVEMBER 6 - Sunday

#EVERYVOTEMATTERS  Our Daily Tip to Get Out the Vote: For those who are faith-based, you probably heard reference to the importance of voting preached from the pulpit today. If not - and even if you did, here’s an inspiration.

NOVEMBER 7 - Monday

 The one question you will get the most today is: WHERE do I vote? There is a SIMPLE answer! “Just GOOGLE it!” www.google.com Just enter your address and walla! - Up comes your voting place. NO EXCUSE not to vote vote vote!

NOVEMBER 8 - Tuesday

Only one thing to do today: 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Learn How to Develop Buildings You Care About in Silver Spring, May 13-14

This is the first time such an offering is made in Silver Spring. It highlights our Area's continuing welcoming environment for entrepreneurship.

Guest Blog By Emily Brown

Learn How to Develop Buildings You Care About in Silver Spring, May 13-14

In Silver Spring, the demand for walkable residential properties in the area is intense; as pointed out in a recent blog post, from the middle of the last decade through the middle or end of this one, Silver Spring will have added in the proximity of 5,000 residential units throughout the downtown area.

On May 13-14, the Incremental Development Alliance, a national non-profit, will be holding a Small Scale Developer Bootcamp, designed to teach would-be small real estate developers the basics of small residential and mixed-use projects. This event is co-sponsored by CNU DC, and focuses on how an incremental approach to building cities makes communities stronger and creates more wealth for citizens.

While large development project are essential for meeting the residential and retail needs, small developments also play a key role in the evolution of place.  The advantages of disseminating knowledge on details of the development process include locals owning property, which in turn encourages community engagement and increased participation in the economic and civic sphere. For example, the development of small retail allows entrepreneurs and small businesses to move into spaces at oftentimes less rent found in some larger new projects.

Silver Spring is a market that is ripe for small projects. The demand is here, and so is the need to preserve a neighborhood environment that encourages small business development and local engagement. 

If you’ve ever wondered why that lot on the corner couldn’t be a coffee shop, or had an idea about how to fill a gap on a commercial strip, you may want to consider attending this event. (NOTE: THERE IS A FEE FOR THIS EVENT.)

The Small Scale Development Bootcamp  kicks off with a Happy Hour at Fire House 1 on Friday May 13 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, with an all day training the next day, Saturday May 14, from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. It will be taught by experienced developers, John Anderson and Michael Lander. Participants will learn technical skills and resources to navigate development financing, zoning and entitlement, site selection and building design in order assemble your own small scale real estate deal. The workshop will also address issues surrounding becoming a developer, risk management, quality of life and basic business setup and contracting methods.

WHAT: Small Developer Bootcamp
WHEN: Friday, May 13, and  Saturday May 14, 2016
WHERE: Fire Station 1 and Montgomery County Planning Department Building  
(8787 Georgia Ave Silver Spring, MD 20910)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Garden of Daily Living - a belated Earth Day gift

(This was given to me by a senior who worked in our office sometime in 2012… I’ve lost contact with her, but will be forever grateful for this gift.)

For the garden of your daily living

Plant three rows of peas:
peace of mind, 
peace of heart, 
peace of soul.

Plant four rows of squash:
squash gossip, 
squash indifference, 
squash grumbling, and 
squash selfishness.

Plant four rows of lettuce:
lettuce be faithful, 
lettuce be kind, 
lettuce be patient, 
lettuce really love one another.

No garden is without turnips:
turnip for meetings, 
turnip for service, 
turnip to help one another.

To conclude our garden we must have thyme:
thyme for each other, 
thyme for family, 
thyme for friends.

Water freely with patience and cultivate with love.

There is much fruit in your garden because you reap what you sow.

Monday, April 18, 2016

What is going on in the (real estate) development world in Silver Spring?




So, you want to know: What IS going on (in the development world) in Silver Spring? What are all those real estate developments deals and great projects that are coming out of the ground? What has happened recently? What is the history? Where are we headed?

Well, obviously there is no simple answer and no single place that has all this wonderful information. Oftentime when we try to produce such “lists of lists” they become outdated before they are released and/or the staff capacity is simply not there to maintain it all up-to-date.

Given all these caveats, here is an imperfect, incomplete, and probably not fully accurate snapshot of “What is going on (in the development world) in Silver Spring."


First things first: What you see ‘coming off the ground’ in the downtown area is probably one of the following 1000+ residential units that have recently been completed:

[] Behind the Civic Building: 222 multi-family units.  This project is actually part of the overall downtown Silver Spring development.

[] Down by Montgomery College: (the old Dry Cleaning Institute building): 210 multi-family units now open. (Built behind the historic structure, which is incorporated into the development.)

[] South Silver Spring (Kennett Street): Commonly known as The Galaxy, this is a 241 unit multi-family development.

[] Ripley Street Washington Property’s project, 286 multi-family units, recently open as well... Home Properties's project across the street is also open.

[] EYA/Chelsea School: At Pershing and Ellsworth - by the old library. It includes 63 townhouses, plus the preservation of a historic structure.

[] 8706 Georgia Avenue: One of two office developments turned into housing, this 240 unit apartment complex will be within easy walking distance of the Fillmore and AFI - recently open.

Projects in different stages of development review could bring an additional 2000 units. Some of these include:

[] Silver Spring Library Residential Site: Fronting on Bonifant, this project - almost complete now - will have 120 multi-family units and commercial on the ground floor.

[] 8621 Georgia Ave: This Folger Pratt project, bringing 262 apartment units is currently under construction. 

[] Fenton Baptist Church: This project will rebuild the church and will have street level storefronts, along with 200+ multi-family units.

[] The Old Sligo Police Station: This redevelopment will include 70 garden style units and 12 townhomes in a mix of artists housing as well as market rate housing.

[] The Falklands Chase Redevelopment: This major redevelopment in the northwest side of downtown is slated to eventually include over 1,000 units and more than 60,000 sq. ft. of retail.

[] Studio Plaza - Phase One:  In the heart of "Fenton Village", this 476 unit development will have a major public plaza and some retail, with underground parking (some of which will be public parking.)

[] The Blairs:  The complete 'redo' of the existing Blairs shopping center and adjacent residential developments will be a major new 'destination point' in downtown Silver Spring. The current construction is a 'replacement' of old units; but the project is planned to add a substantial number of new units over the years.


Somewhat dated, but still good: If you want to see some of the above projects in a graphic representation, you can review a presentation given by Park and Planning about a year ago – but still very relevant:

  • Given what has been built recently, it is safe to say that from the middle of the last decade through the middle or end of this one, Silver Spring would have added in the proximity of 5,000 residential units throughout the downtown area.

Other than residential, major projects include the total redo of the old CitiPlace into Ellsworth Place; and, United Therapeutic's "Phase 3" development.

CONTEXT (and a bit of history) [plans and such]

NOTE: On January 8, 2013, the Planning Department did a session outlining all developments in downtown Silver Spring that are under construction and/or in the planning process... See the PowerPoint presentation HERE... You may also want to view another presentation we did which places these developments "in context"... You can find that presentation HERE

Now, step back a minute… If you want to put all of this in context, you’ll want to review some framing documents. Your first stop to understand the context of what is going on should be a fuller understanding ‘how a building gets built’ in our County… Check out “A Resident’s Guide to Land Use Master Plan Process in Montgomery County”:

After that, you’ll be better ready to understand the Silver Spring plans in particular by reviewing the Silver Spring CBD (Central Business District) Sector Plan, found at:

Next you’ll be ready to step back a bit again, and see how this Plan fits into other plans and other planning issues. There is a July 2011 update to all this information, readily found at:

For a synopsis of all these plans, see more of the presentation made by Park and Planning a few ago:

To get a picture of what is here today, nothing provides a better overview than our own web-site:


Wikipedia actually does a decent job providing some history for us:

The Chamber’s web-site also has a brief history and context:

So does some of the local neighborhood historians:

And, of course, the Historical Society has a wealth of info:

Our own historian, Jerry McCoy wrote a book titled “Then and Now: Downtown Silver Spring”… He also wrote a history of book of the broader Silver Spring area:

Gus Bauman, a past Planning Commission Chair did a wonderful timeline that we posted on our blog not too long ago:

While there’s been many articles written about the growth in Silver Spring, this one (somewhat dated) seems to be one of the best:

As if all of the above is not enough, you could also have some fun Googling “Silver Spring redevelopment” not only on the web, but in ‘pictures’ and ‘YouTube’… And – this is quite something if you’ve never tried it – go to ‘more’ in the Google bar; scroll down to ‘even more’; then find the link to ‘scholar’. There you will find amazing historical works ranging from the useful to the useless. (For example, there’s a University of Maryland thesis back from 2005 title “Imagined Pasts, Imagined Futures: Race, Politics, Memory, and the Revitalization of Downtown Silver Spring”.)

All of this will lead you to more information than you probably need – but, you’ll have loads of fun in the investigative journey!

NOTE: I ENCOURAGE YOU TO LEAVE ANY ADDITIONS/CORRECTION TO THE ABOVE AS A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG... And, please consider 'following' this blog so you can get future postings automatically.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS of the Silver Spring Regional Center

The Silver Spring Regional Center connects Montgomery County and community members, businesses, institutions, non-profits, visitors, and all interests in Silver Spring.

Our mission is to "Strengthen communication between the community and various agencies of County Government; Coordinate necessary interagency action with respect to each local area; and recommend programs and policies tailored to the local community."

The work of the Center is done through efforts in the Silver Spring Regional Area, which encompasses the area south of the beltway (plus Four Corners), east to the Prince George County line, south to the Washington DC line and west to Rock Creek Park. 

In the downtown Area, much of the work is done through the Silver Spring Urban District which provides enhanced services to the Central Business District to ensure that downtown Silver Spring is maintained as a clean, safe and attractive environment to promote a vibrant social and business climate to support long-term economic viability and vitality. SSUD services include ambassadorship , security, streetscape maintenance, walkway repairs , tree maintenance, marketing, promotions and special events. The Silver Spring Urban District sponsors a summer concert series, the Silver Spring Jazz Festival, the Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade, the Taste the World in Fenton Village and other events to attract people to downtown Silver Spring.  

Downtown is also an "Arts & Entertainment District." The goal of the Silver Spring Arts & Entertainment District is to provide a welcoming, eclectic, urban center in downtown that showcases the arts and entertainment community, while providing a unique source of culture, recreation, and entertainment for residents and visitors, and creates a dynamic economic anchor for downtown Silver Spring’s continued redevelopment and revitalization.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS for the Regional Area

[1] Purple Line and BRT: The Silver Spring Regional Services Center (RSC) worked with the County's DOT to move forward the planning for the Purple Line Light Rail project as it nears the start of construction. Community-wide meetings, information sessions, and dialogues were held to discuss progress and the cost savings measures suggested by the State; as well area specific convenings with various neighborhoods and groups adjacent to future stations (i.e.: Wayne Ave ara residents; Lyttonsville and Rosemary' Hills and their master planning process; Arliss Street townhouses; and the business communities in Bonifant, Long Branch, Takoma Langley, and Brookeville.)  Similarly, work began with the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Rapid Transit System. The Silver Spring RSC worked with DOT in identifying a diverse pool of participants from the area's traditional and non-traditional civic infrastructure to serve on the CACs.

[2] Small Commercial Hubs: The Silver Spring RSC is working with the many stakeholders in the Area's commercial hubs (outside the core of downtown and Takorna Park) to "celebrate today while plans made for tomorrow." A new web-site directory was developed for Montgomery Hills; working with neighborhood residents, a composite list of businesses in the Brookeville/Lyttonsville area was generated; under the leadership of the Long Branch Business League, new murals have been added to Long Branch; serving on the Takoma Langley Commercial Development Authority, new banners were put up, as well as a new ad campaign initiated; and, with collaboration of the Urban District, the 5th Taste the World in Fenton Village was highly successful.

[3] Placemaking: The continuing emphasis on placemaking has yielded concrete ideas, including the recent experiment to introduce quality busking ("street performances") in carefully selected public spaces beyond the core of downtown to increase the sense of safety and security, as well as providing a more enjoyable urban public realm. Working through an intensive community input process, the implementation of various pedestrian and bicycle circulation improvements are well underway under the auspices of DOT's Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvement Impact Areas (BiPPA.)

[4] Engaging the Community: The Silver Spring eNewIetter has expanded its reach to nearly 5,000 recipients; and it is routinely Facebooked and Twitted - as well as cut-and-paste to neighborhood listservs. Participation in the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) is on the rise, with more residents attending not only the formal monthly meetings of the CAB, but also the many meetings of its three Committees: Neighborhoods, Commercial Economic Development, and Transportation, Energy, and Environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS for the Urban District and Arts & Entertainment District

[1] Support of Veterans Plaza Events: The Silver Spring Urban District supported over 70 events on Veterans Plaza - and adjacent Ellsworth St., which is oftentimes closed for events as well - by closing and opening the street, managing trash disposal, recycling efforts, and general ambassadorship support. 

[2] Production of Marquee Events: The 10th Annual Silver Spring Jazz Festival, was once a gain a great success; as so was the
Thanksgiving Parade bringing thousands of people to downtown and bringing major social and traditional media exposure to downtown. The Taste the World in Fenton Village has now grown to be an expected annual event to affirm the many independently owned restaurants in the southern part of downtown Silver Spring.

[3] Collaboration with Other Agencies: Working with DOT staff, the new VanGo schedule and route were implemented, now providing for a real loop which mns later into the weeknights and Saturdays. The Silver Spring Urban District, working with Department of GeneraI Servicres, WMATA, DOT and others retired the IOS operations for the Silver Spring Transit Center; and helped orient users to the new station, distributing over 2,500 brochures. The SSUD reaffirmed its Weekender Program with the Department of Conections, agreeing to continue this highly successful program indefinitely.

[4] Recycling: The SSUD recycled approximately 5 tons of material (plastic, glass and aluminum bottles and cans). delivering it to the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station.


The work of the Regional Center is done in part through the efforts of various advisory groups. These include:

·        The Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board
·        The Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Committee
·        The Silver Spring Arts & Entertainment Advisory Committee

Reemberto Rodriguez, Director
Silver Spring Regional Area

Monday, November 23, 2015



Recently the highly successful Fenton Street Market announced they will be moving on from Silver Spring's Veterans Plaza next year.  As Megan Moriarty, Owner/Operator of the FSM put it in their announcement, "We moved down from Fenton Village [to Veterans Plaza] when the Civic Building opened to help activate the new public space. And it worked! FSM helped turn a hardscape plaza into a community gathering place. Now, the Plaza is hopping all the time and it is time for FSM to take its model to new places in Silver Spring." (FSM is one of the State of Maryland few "B" Corporation, a private company with a stated public purpose.)

The pressure for activities other than Fenton Street Market on Veterans Plaza on Saturdays has increased dramatically the last couple of years. Additionally, the Fenton Street Market's commitment to Silver Spring has not changed - if anything it has increased. They will now be able to more effectively activate other parts of Silver Spring with their innovative approach to community building through local commerce.

The Fenton Street Market on Veterans Plaza served a great purpose during the start-up phase of this amazing public space. They were instrumental in demonstrating that Veterans Plaza could become a gathering place for people from all walks of life. The demand for the space on Saturdays - particularly over the last couple of years - has put a continuing stress on the commitment to the Fenton Street Market to use the space on almost every Spring / Summer / Fall Saturday. Being relieved of that commitment will provide us the opportunity to satisfy a growing demand from other community initiatives that are seeking to use the space - and it will provide the FSM the opportunity to do new ventures.

Silver Spring's downtown is changing dramatically. The renovated Citiplace - now renamed Ellsworth Place - is bringing not only new stores like Michael's, Ross, T.J. Maxx and various new restaurants, but it will also be home to the entertainment venue Dave and Busters. This new level of activity, coupled with the increasing success of Peterson Co.'s Downtown Silver Spring, The Fillmore, and the growing number of restaurants in the area, are bringing additional new life to the core of downtown Silver Spring. Plus, the FSM is not going far! Indeed, we are working with them to spread the success of the core of Silver Spring to other areas throughout downtown.

Veterans Plaza has been so successful that there are more groups wanting to access Veterans Plaza than there are non-winter Sundays in the year. So, freeing up Saturdays will ensure that even more groups are satisfied and can participate in 'building community' in Silver Spring.

We are thankful to the Fenton Street Market for their amazing entrepreneur leadership and their community commitment to make Veterans Plaza a truly successful public realm. We look forward to continuing working with them as they help us spread this success to other areas of downtown Silver Spring and beyond.

Reemberto Rodriguez