Thursday, March 27, 2014

Principles of Creative Placemaking

Ronit Eisenbach, a professor at the University of Maryland, shared this with us recently. Powerful stuff!


Original posting can be found at:


Principles of Creative Placemaking

[1] …places artists and art at the center of planning, execution and activity.

[2] …leverages the creative potential already present in a place. All places have creative potential just waiting to bubble up. Even while drawing on resources from beyond the community, leveraging local artistic and organizational talent and assets increases the value in a community and the commitment to it, while nurturing an enduring sense of place.

[3] …creates opportunities for people of all income levels and backgrounds to thrive in place. As its value increases, a place that is intentionally inclusive and connected is more likely to spur economic opportunity and allow people to succeed where they are.

[4] …supports economic diversity in the community, providing multiple points of entry and interaction for people of all incomes. The more economically integrated a community is, the more access to opportunity exists for all.

[5] …creates interesting places that capitalize on distinctiveness. A creative approach improves the aesthetics of a place, whether it is the look, feel, sound or even smell. The difference sets that place apart as more interesting than others. A place that expresses its distinctiveness and resists commodification and sameness is more likely to have long-term appeal.

[6] …creates a place where people want to go and linger. Successful places attract people beyond those required to be there. People lingering is an investment of time in a place and is apt to lead to additional investments.

[7] …contributes to a mix of uses and people that makes places more diverse, more interesting and more active, thus making spontaneous interaction more likely. Intensifying and mixing activities creates the promise that visitors can stumble onto the fun, mingle with other people, or happen upon opportunity.

[8] …fosters connections among people and across cultures. The relationships built among diverse groups of people create safer, more open places that create more opportunity and foster a sense that everyone is welcome.

[9] …is always presenting itself to the public and encouraging pedestrian activity. Whether open or closed, a place that is a consistently interesting and active presence to the street promotes more pedestrian activity and creates the public perception that the place is safer and more animated. More pedestrians mean more prospective customers on the street to support more small businesses.

[10]…creates a place where business wants to be. As a place becomes more active, commerce is likely to respond, thus giving people even more reasons to be there.

[11] …convinces people that a place can have a different and better future.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Your Annual Community Celebrations (and more!) Planning Tool (a start)

If you are ready to celebrate all that is Silver Spring, mark your calendar*!

*BUT: Make sure you confirm all dates with sponsoring organizations. We are simply passing through this information. (Did we say confirm all dates?)

Here is a list of major events* we are aware are happening in the Silver Spring Regional Area.

*These are events that are open to the public and welcome everyone. Their common element is that they celebrate community. (Note that some are ticketed.)

IF YOU HAVE OTHERS (or have corrections to what is listed here) PLEASE LEAVE A POST (or e-mail )

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EVENTS, do NOT e-mail us.  Get to the folks doing the event. If it is not clear below, Google them.


For the balance of this year (a growing list!)

Please Note:

  • Events listed below are larger COMMUNITY CELEBRATIONS, FESTIVALS, AND MAJOR FUND-RAISERS events only.
  • This is NOT intended to be a comprehensive list – it is constantly changing.
  • The Silver Spring Regional Center assumes absolutely NO RESPONSIBILITY for the accuracy of this information. This is provided only as a service to indicate the level of activity in the Area.
  • You are encouraged to contact the event directly for any information or question. (The Regional Center has no further information on these events.)

(Series and On-Going events appear at the end. Scroll all the way down to see them.)


APRIL 5 – Saturday
Let’s Get it Started
MD Multi-Cultural Youth Center/LAYC
11 a.m – 2pm - Civic Building
More info:

APRIL 6 – Sunday
MCCPTA Performing Arts Festival
Time TBD – Ellsworth Dr. (Downtown Silver Spring)
More info on event:

APRIL 13 - Sunday
Family Fun Day
Noon - 5pm  - Washington Adventist University
More info:

APRIL 17 - Thursday
100 Million Trees Gala
6-9 pm - Civic Building
More info:

APRIL 19 – Saturday
Jesus House DC Celebration
All Day – Veterans Plaza
More info on sponsor:

APRIL 23 – Wednesday
Conservation Montgomery –Candidate Forum re “Green” Issues
7-9pm – Civic Building
More into on sponsoring organization;

APRIL 24 – Thursday
IMPACT Momentum Awards
7 – 9 am – Civic Building
More info:

MAY 1 – Thursday
Passion for Learning Fundraiser
Evening – Civic Building
More info:

MAY 3 – Saturday
Long Branch Unity Festival
All Day – Long Branch Rec Ctr

MAY 4 – Sunday
Takoma Park 5K Challenge
8am – Throughout Takoma Park
More info and to register:

MAY 4 – Sunday
Langley Park Day
Noon4 p.m.  -  Langley Park Community Center
More on the event:

MAY 4 – Sunday
Taste the World in Fenton Village
Noon6pm in Fenton Village (Southside of downtown Silver Spring)
Maps and more info:

MAY 4 - Sunday
Fiesta Asia
Exact Time TBD – Ellsworth Dr. (Downtown Silver Spring)
More info on the sponsoring organization:
Telemundo’s Fiesta de las Madres
Noon5pm  – Veterans Plaza
More info:

MAY 17 – Saturday
Youth Health Fair
Noon - 4pm  – Ellsworth Drive (adjacent to Veterans Plaza)

MAY 26 - Monday
All Things Nigerian Expo
Exact time TBD – Veterans Plaza
More info on Face Book:

MAY 31 - Saturday
The Just Us Youth Media Festival for Change
Exact time TBD - at the Civic Building
Submission Open

JUNE 6 – Friday
Thunderbolts Baseball Opening Night
7pm - Blair High School Baseball Field
More info:

JUNE 8 – Sunday
Tastes of Africa
Afternoon / Evening – Veterans Plaza
More info to be available soon

JUNE 8 – Sunday
Takoma Park Jazz Festival
All Day – Downtown Takoma Park
More info:

JUNE 12 – Thursday
World Cup Children Friendly Gathering
TBD – Being planned
Stay tuned for more info

JUNE 14 – Saturday
SSTCi’s* Silver Spring Blues Festival
All Day (at FSM) then on Ellsworth (by the Fountain)
*Silver Spring Town Center, Inc.
Stay tuned to SSTCi’s e-mail for more info

JUNE 21 – Saturday
Mid-Summer Wine Fest
Afternoon – B&O Railroad Station (Georgia Ave)
More info:

JUNE 24 - Friday
Suburban Washington Resettlement Center (SWRC) World Refugee Day Celebration
All Day – Civic Building
More info on sponsoring organization:

AFI DOCS Festival
American Film Institute
To see more on AFI:

JULY 4 – Friday
Takoma Park Independence Day Festivities
Parade and more
All Day – Throughout Takoma Park
More info on organizer:

JULY 25 – 27
Capital AudiFest
Sheraton Hotel
More info:

AUGUST 3 – Sunday
La  Main Tendueus Festival
All Day – Veterans Plaza
For info on organizer:

AUGUST 5 – Tuesday (To be confirmed)
National Night Out
All Day – Throughout the Region
More info – and reference to last year’s event - at:

AUGUST 9 & 10 – Saturday & Sunday
Exact Time TBD – Veterans Plaza

AUGUST 17 – Sunday
Washington Regional Transplant Community
Exact Time TBD – Civic Building and Veterans Plaza
More information on WRTC:

AUGUST 24 – Sunday
World Bethel Church Celebration
Exact Time TBD – Veterans Plaza
More information on organizers:

AUGUST 31 – Sunday
World Music Festival
Afternoon / Evening – Veterans Plaza
More info to be available soon

SEPTEMBER 6 – Saturday
Montgomery County’s Official Jazz Festival
Exact time TDB – Veterans Plaza
Stay tuned for more info

SEPTEMBER 7 - Sunday
Takoma Park Folk Festival
All Day – Takoma Park Middle School (Piney Branch Rd)
More info:

SEPTEMBER 13 - Saturday
Salvadoran Sister Cities Fundraiser
Evening / Night – Civic Building
Stay tuned for more info

SEPTEMBER 14 – Sunday
Silver Spring Mini Maker – Faire
All Day – Veterans Plaza
For info on last year’s event:

SEPTEMBER 18 – Thursday
Executive Hispanic Gala
7-11 pm  -  The Fillmore
More info:

SEPTEMBER 21 – Sunday
Cameroon Economic & Cultural Forum
Evening – Civic Building
More info to follow

SEPTEMBER 27 - Saturday
Pan African Cultural Festival
Info on last year’s event and more:

SEPTEMBER – (no date set yet)
South Silver Spring Street Fest
All Day – TBD
More info on last year’s event:

OCTOBER 5 – Sunday
SSTCi’s* Harvest Moon Festival
All Day – Veterans Plaza
*Silver Spring Town Center, Inc.
More info at SSTCi’s newsletters

OCTOBER 5 – Sunday
Takoma Park Street Festival
All Day – Downtown Takoma Park
More info:

OCTOBER 12 – Sunday
International Rett Syndrome Foundation
All Day – Veterans Plaza
For more info on sponsor:

OCTOBER 16 or 23 (tbd) – Thursday
Class Acts FIESTA!
Evening – Civic Building
More info on sponsoring organization:

NOVEMBER 12 – Wednesday
Mu Nu Foundation Ceremony
Evening – Civic Building
No more info available at this time

NOVEMBER 22 – Saturday
Thanksgiving Parade
10 a.m. – Throughout Silver Spring’s Downtown
Stay tuned for more info


YEAR ROUND - Saturdays
FreshFarm Farmers Market
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.Ellsworth Dr. (Downtown Silver Spring)
More info:

YEAR ROUND – Sundays
Takoma Park Farmers Market
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.Laurel Ave. (Takoma Park)
More info:

YEAR ROUND – Select dates throughout the year
AFI Film Festivals
American Film Institute
More info at:

YEAR ROUND - Every Last Friday of each Month
Ethiopian Poetry Reading
7pm – Civic Building
More info on sponsoring organization:

THROUGH SUMMER - Every 2nd Thursday
Contra Dancing
7-9 pm – Civic Building
More info on sponsoring organization:

APRIL 26 – OCTOBER – Saturdays
Fenton Street Market
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.Veterans Plaza
More info:

MAY - ? – Mondays
Lunchtime Lounge
Noon2:00 p.m.  – Downtown Silver Spring (Ellsworth Dr)
See more at:

MAY - ? – Tuesdays
ZUMBA by Washington Sports Club
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Downtown Silver Spring (Ellsworth Dr)
See more at:

MAY - ? – Fridays
Live Music on Plaza Fountain Stage
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Downtown Silver Spring (Ellsworth Dr)
See more at:

JUNE 26 – AUGUST 14 – Thursdays
Silver Spring Summer Swing Concert Series
7-9 pmVeterans Plaza
Stay tuned for more info

JUNE – OCTOBER – Wednesdays (11-3)
Crossroads Market
University Blvd & Anne St (Takoma Park)

More info soon

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Getting Around Silver Spring - Options Abound!

This 'guest' posting comes from
Sandra L. Brecher
Chief, Commuter Services Section
Div. of Transit Services, MCDOT
101 Monroe Street, 10th Floor
RockvilleMD   20850
(240) 777-8383


1.  Transit:  Downtown Silver Spring is a major transportation hub.  There is a wide variety of transportation options to enable non-driving access.  In addition to Metrorail, nearly 40 different Metrobus and Ride On routes converge downtown, plus two MTA Commuter Bus routes operated by the State. We very actively promote the use of these transit options for people traveling into the downtown area which, in turn, helps to free up parking for those who do not use these options.  An overview and links to more information are available at our website:  Let us know if you would like further information on any of these services. 

2.  VanGo Circulator:  The free VanGo shuttle offers convenient transportation from 7 am to 7 pm and circulates continuously throughout the downtown area during weekdays. The VanGo augments our outreach efforts by providing a convenient way for residents and employees to get around town for dining, shopping and other errands, and offering an incentive to take transit instead of driving. This too helps to free up parking by providing those who live or work downtown the option of leaving their cars at home.  Here is a copy of the route map and schedule:

3.  Carsharing:  People who usually use transit or other non-auto modes to get around, but want to use an auto if they need one for a trip best served that way, can use carshare – e.g., Zipcar or Hertz on Demand .  There are several carshare vehicles parked in convenient locations around downtown Silver Spring.  This might be a good option for you to consider for those grocery trips you mentioned in your email.  More information on carsharing is available on our website:

4.  Bikesharing & Personal bikes:  Capital Bikeshare is a short-term bike rental program available to the public.  Montgomery County has provided a number of CaBi bikeshare stations around downtown Silver Spring, as well as in many other locations around the County.
We are also working to improve the biking infrastructure in and around downtown Silver Spring, with a number of bike trails available in that area.  Bikesharing – or a personal bike – can be used for short errands and point to point transportation, and could be a good solution for your transportation needs, especially since bikes are easily parked.  Here is a link to a map of bikeways in downtown Silver Spring:  You can also contact us for paper copies of bike maps.
For more information on biking in the County and many other links please visit our website:

5.  Taxis:  Taxicabs are an integral component of the transportation infrastructure in downtown areas such as Silver Spring.  For trips best made by car when you don’t want to worry about parking, need door-to-door service, or when the weather is inclement, taxis provide a valuable service.  There are a number of taxicab companies operating in downtown Silver Spring.  You can hail a taxi on the street, or go to a taxi stand such as the one located along Ramsey Avenue or at hotels and other locations.  Here is more information on taxis in Montgomery County, including a list of phone numbers:

6.  Pedestrian Safety Audits & Improvements:  The County, together with the State and other interested parties, has conducted several major safety audits targeted at providing safer conditions for pedestrians in downtown Silver Spring. Among the improvements resulting from these audits are more visible crosswalks, better driver advisory signs, pedestrian crosswalk timing improvements, and better enforcement.  For more information go to:

7.  Transportation Management District efforts:  Downtown Silver Spring is designated as a Transportation Management District (TMD).  Commuter Services works with the business and residential communities in the TMD, conducting outreach to inform them about transportation alternatives and providing programs and services to promote use of those options.  We also coordinate with a variety of other public and private entities to increase transportation capacity and make transit and other alternatives to solo driving easier and more pleasant to use.  For more information see:

8.  TRiPS Commuter Stores:  Personalized assistance for all your transportation needs is available at our TRiPS Commuter Stores, one of which is located in downtown Silver Spring.  Residents, commuters, and visitors to our area find the friendly services available at the store helpful in answering transportation questions.  The store also sells and re-loads value on SmarTrip cards, provides transit timetables, and has many other types of information available about ways to get around, events in downtown Silver Spring, and destinations throughout the County.  Visit us at 8413 Ramsey Avenue (corner of Wayne & Ramsey) or call (240) 773-TRiPS (8747), Option 1.

9.  County Parking Facilities:  Finally, for those times when it is necessary to drive and park in downtown Silver Spring, there are over 11,000 parking spaces available in downtown Silver Spring.  The County provides 17 different parking facilities -- here is a link to help you find them:
In addition to these County-provided parking facilities, there are a number of privately-owned parking facilities open to the public.

We genuinely appreciate hearing from residents and welcome the opportunity to work with them to resolve issues. For further information about non-driving options for your particular needs, or about the Silver Spring TMD and efforts to address traffic congestion, please call our TRiPS store at (240) 773-TRiPS (8747), Option 1, or visit our web site at

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Operating Budget 101 (and getting ready for the Forum)

[NOTE: This posting paraphrases freely a similar posting from a couple of years ago.]

On MONDAY, JANUARY 13th the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board will hold its regularly scheduled meeting at the Civic Building, starting at 7pm. As part of that meeting, they will discuss how to prepare for the upcoming County Executive Budget Forum, scheduled for WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29TH. Subsequently, they will draft a letter of advice (at their February meeting) to the County Executive for his consideration prior to him submitting his proposed budget to County Council on March 15th.

This conversation is intended 'newbies' as well as 'old-timers'. This will be the type of conversation that is best attended with someone else you know - you'll want to make sure you talk about it afterwards! So bring a friend, family member, or that young person that is intrigued by our civic process.

SPECIAL NOTE: County Executive Ike Leggett wanted me to share with you the PowerPoint presentation accompanying his series of five budget forums to get public feedback on what you want in the upcoming County operating budget. This is a great, simple way to get an overview of the content and process. You can find it HERE  


Budgeting for our personal, business, or public purposes sometimes can seem daunting. To some of us, life has never been the same since the dawn of spreadsheets – we live by them! They make our capacity to layout and understand budgets a near science – though we know budgeting remains an art… To other of us, even the thought of dealing with budgets makes us shiver… Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

In Montgomery County, budgeting is essentially a year round process with a clear beginning and end. “The 12-month period to account for revenues and expenditures in Montgomery County commences on July 1 of each year and ends on June 30 of the following year.” Simple enough, right? Well, lots of things happen in-between… For a graphic display of the process, go to page 12 and 13 of the document “Operating Budget Process”, found at:

After you glance at the chart, you may want to go back to page 1 and read the document carefully… It includes a wealth of useful information regarding how the process works; it has numbers galore; and it even explains some of the terminology that sometimes makes a glaze go over our eyes.

The approved FY14 budget can be found at:
The links (in Vol. 1: Operating Budget) to 'how to read the budget' and 'budget highlights' might be particularly helpful.

Viewing these documents can answer many of the questions anyone might have about our County’s budget process… But, there’s nothing like having the opportunity to talk through some of the intricacies and details to better understand the process and some of its nuances…And, begin generating questions and comments for the upcoming Forum.

(Remember that at the February SSCAB meeting the Board will deliberate the contents of the letter that will provide advice the County Executive prior to his submission of his proposed budget to County Council March 15.)

If you would like to join us in such a conversation, please come to the SSCAB meeting MONDAY, JANUARY 13th, 7PM. We’ll have with us a staff from the Office of Management and Budget to lead us on this conversation.

Note that the Budget Conversation is at the beginning of the monthly meeting of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board, which begins promptly at 7pm. We hope you’ll stay for the rest of meeting as well.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Guest Blog: Author Judy M. Ford hosts book launch at Kefa (Fri Dec 6)

Guest Blogpost by Judy M. Ford
21 November 2013

As a newly published author of The Light in Your Pocket: Illuminate Your Life in 140-Characters or Less, and resident of Silver Spring, MD for nearly 14 years, I can think of no better place to host my upcoming Book Launch and Reading Event (on 12/6/13 at 6:30pm), than at Silver Spring’s own Kefa Café, in partnership with sister-owners, Lene and Abeba Tsegaye.  Writing this book has been an absolute joy born of a lifetime of experiences and a dream come true for this writer of poetry and inspirational prose.  In the process, however, writing can be an isolating and lonely task.  Fortunately for me, I was surrounded in my writing process by encouraging and supportive friends and family members who kept me going.  I include among these friends and family, Lene and Abeba Tsegaye as their Kefa Café became my home-away-from-home during the writing of this book and their encouragement, support and excitement for me and this project lifted my spirits and inspired me along my way.  As I state specifically in the Acknowledgements section in my book, “Lene and Abeba Tsegaye, owners of Kefa Café in Silver Spring, MD, nourished me with their support, encouragement, enthusiasm, food, a home-away-from-home and more cups of great coffee than I can count through many hours of writing, editing and revising.”  As such, it is only fitting, as well as my genuine my honor and deep privilege, to have my book launch and reading event in my Silver Spring community at ‘my’ Kefa Café!

Given Kefa Café’s commitment, involvement and overall support of the Silver Spring community, particularly the Bonifant Street area, this is not only an event for a single author and her supporters, but a community event.  Through its Space 7:10 events, Kefa Café “provides a venue for local artists to exhibit and sell their work at a super-loved local coffee shop with painted yellow walls and a warm community vibe.”  Kefa Café “presents a mix of artistic work by emerging and established artists who represent the diversity and breadth of creative expression within the Silver Spring community.”  With a strong preference for artists who live and/or work in the Silver Spring regional area, particularly those personally connected with Kefa Café, having my event here just makes sense!

Please see event details below, including how/where you can purchase The Light in Your Pocket, and we look forward to seeing you on December 6th at Kefa Café!

Friday, December 6th, 2013 @ 6:30pm
963 Bonifant StreetSilver SpringMD

Silver Spring Author
Judy M. Ford

For a reading of her newly published book:
The Light in Your Pocket:
Illuminate Your Life in 140-Characters or Less