Monday, October 5, 2015

Community Engagement Opportunities in the Silver Spring Regional Area

Did you know that in our Silver Spring Regional Area there are a series of regularly scheduled meetings providing everyone opportunities for engaging our community? The public is welcome to these meetings. Formal members of these “Advisory Groups” are nominated by the County Executive and approved by the County Council. Principal among these are:

Meets the second Monday of every month (except July and August) at 7 p.m. in the Civic Building.
They deal with “all things Silver Spring”, within the Regional Area boundaries.  (The Area is one of five “Regional Areas” in the County. See link above for map.)

The “SSCAB” has an active committee structure. Its three Committees are (1) Neighborhoods; (2) Commercial Economic Development; and, (3) Transportation, Energy & Environment. All three Committees meet at the same time (in separate rooms) at 7 p.m. in the Civic Building the fourth Monday of every month (except July and August.)

Participation in the SSCAB Committee meetings by the general public is highly encouraged. You do not have to be a formal member of the Board to participate in their deliberations.

Meets the third Thursday of every month (except July and August) at 3:30 p.m. in the 3rd floor of the Fire Station (8110 Georgia Avenue)

Our downtown area – from the DC line north to the ‘core’ of downtown – is an officially recognized ‘urban district’.  This official Advisory Group provides advice regarding issues impacting the Urban District.  

Meets (most every) second Thursday of every month at Discovery Communications, 8:00 a.m.

This official Advisory Group focuses on transportation issues in the downtown area.


There are also other Advisory Groups worth checking out. For example:

Meets quarterly. Exact dates disseminated through our Regional Area eNewsletter.

This Advisory Group, appointed by the County Executive, provides advice for issues pertinent to the growing arts and entertainment culture in the officially designated Arts and Entertainment District of Silver Spring (generally the same area as the Urban District and the Transportation Management District.)


Additionally, many non-profits hold regular meetings inviting the general public to participate. Dates vary, so stay tune to our eNewsletter for exact dates, times, and location. Among these are:

Safe Silver Spring meets monthly to discuss safety issues relevant to our community. Everyone is welcome to these monthly meetings. They also hold a quarterly dialogues with the 3rd Police Precinct Commander, where the community is also invited.

Silver Spring Green offers opportunities for community members interested in ‘everything green’ to participate in their events and committee structure.

The DSSSV is part of a national movement to establish ‘senior villages’. They also hold occasional events and welcome participation in their committee structure.

(*Google these groups for further information.)


Of course, there are countless non-profits in the area, many of which sponsor wonderful community events open to all… Again: Stay tuned to our eNewsletter for notices of opportunities to participate. 

In the Silver Spring Regional Area, we also have many robust neighborhood associations, condo associations, and emerging tenant associations. These provide opportunities to connect with neighbors for matters of common interest. You are highly encouraged to get in touch with your area association… Best way to find out about them? Ask a neighbor! Most have active ListServs and other social media connections. (While we can not list their meeting dates in our eNewsletter, we certainly welcome notices of their special events that are open to community members outside their boundaries.)

Our schools, libraries, and recreational centers also offer many opportunities to engage and be active in the community… We encourage all to walk over to their neighborhood school, library, and/or rec center and find out more information.  (While we can not routinely list all events going on in these public realms, we try to occasionally include a representative sample.)


The above list tries to capture opportunities for engaging in our traditional civic infrastructure in the Silver Spring Regional Area. However, there are many other non-traditional ways of ‘building community’.  While it is impossible to know “all that is going on”, we remain committed to disseminating at least some of the opportunities that the different entities share with us.  Among these are:

Sports: The many formal (and informal) leagues throughout the area are a viable means of connecting to neighbors and community.

Affinity Groups: Chess clubs and such also offer wonderful opportunities to get to know our community and be part of it.

Faith Community: We recently counted over 60 active faith groups in the Silver Spring Regional Area. Many of these are active in social justice ministry in collaboration with other faith groups. Community also ‘happens’ here.

Festivals and Community Celebrations: In 2015 there will be over 40 “festivals” in the Silver Spring Regional Area. The traditional ones (the Jazz Festival, the Takoma Park Folk Festival, etc.) were joined by the beautiful pageantry of the Ethiopian Festival, Africa-Fest, the Telemundo Dia de la Familia, Harvest Moon Festival, Zombie Walk, Restaurant Week, Taste the World in Fenton Village, and many other entrepreneur – and community - ventures that provide fun and enjoyment for all community members.

Business Area Promotions: Downtown Silver Spring, Old Takoma, the New Ave., and other business areas do a wonderful job of bringing us together to celebrate where community and commerce intersect. The Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, a membership organization, is also very active in the broader Silver Spring area.

Outdoor Markets: At last count, there are at least five active outdoor markets in the Silver Spring Regional Area. These markets also celebrate where community and commerce intersect, while at the same time providing opportunities for local and regional entrepreneurs.

…and then there’s the arts…

Art is life and life is art.  The Silver Spring Regional Area has an increasing number of opportunities where the arts are flourishing. Some of what is mentioned above certainly has an ‘arts component’ – particularly the festivals and craft markets. But there are also the galleries, the performance venues, the ambiance performance on the public squares… The presence of major venues (AFI, the Fillmore, the Silver Spring Black Box) are increasingly complemented by the growing nighttime economy with many restaurants offering live music, comedy, and entertainment... Non-traditional community engagement also happens in these spaces, places, and productions…


[1] Please keep sending us your notices… We’ll do the best we can to include them in our eNewsletter… HOWEVER: We can not guarantee it - and we need at least 10 days notice… You are highly encouraged to aggressively get the word out through other means. For example, if your event is happening in Silver Spring's downtown, make sure you list it yourself on It is easy! Just click on the SUBMIT AN EVENT link.

[2] Please help us disseminate this info by reposting, putting the links on FaceBook, Tweet, etc. Also: If you’ve been forwarded this e-blast (or are reading it on the blog) and you’d like to subscribe to get it directly, the link is HERE.

We look forward to seeing you in and around the Silver Spring Regional Area as we ‘do community’!

Reemberto Rodríguez, Director

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Is Silver Spring a Microcosm of America in the 21st Century?

In Silver Spring we pride ourselves in being ‘intentionally diverse’: A place where people from all walks of life bump into each other in the public square and are invited in to share joyous moments with cultures rooted throughout the world.... Could it be that this is a microcosm of what the America of the 21st Century could be?

Here’s but a glimpse as to what that means on any given weekend in Silver Spring:

  • Thursday night we joined our Salvadoran friends an a fund-raiser for our Sister Cities visit to El Salvador in November. There were folks representing at least 5 nations from this hemisphere. (We heard that some of the younger folks went on to celebrate into the wee hours of the night at the many international spots in Langley Park.)

  • Friday night we went to downtown Silver Spring, visiting a newly opened NY restaurant (AG Kitchen) and the hipster Urban Butcher (both with Cuban chefs!)  We then stopped by Abyssinia Restaurant’s indoor/outdoor party, the Ethiopian epicenter of the week-long national Ethiopian football (soccer) tournament that starts this weekend at the University of Maryland - but it uses Silver Spring as ‘party central’, having booked every hotel room in the area for 8 nights. (We then hung out on Veterans Plaza, people watching and taking on a chess game with a young African American rapper.)

  • Saturday the new African Immigrant Caucus had its inaugural meeting at the Civic Building; and we returned there later that night for the Lumina (Shakespearean) Community Theatre Gala.

  • Sunday is African Fest on the streets of downtown; and then we’ll cap the weekend by joining the Indonesian Muslim Association in America in Silver Spring to watch the new documentary “An American Mosque”, followed by a Ramadan Iftar dinner.

I really do wonder where else is there such a welcoming community; where else do folks come together intentionally seeking, enjoying, savoring, and sharing with folks that do not look like them; have vastly different traditions; and yet have a common sense of belonging… A common senses of wanting to learn from each of the pieces of this interwoven quilt we are building to make the whole stronger… A common sense of knowing that this is very much the America of the 21st Century…

As our County Executive Ike Leggett likes to say, we are no melting pot. (THAT is so 20th Century!)... We are ‘gumbo’, the exquisite New Orleans specialty where all ingredients are in the same bowl, not mixed into one new taste. But rather a bowl where by being cooked together each ingredient makes each other taste better, connected with the wonderful reux, a new spirit for the America of the 21st Century… Welcome to Silver Spring, indeed!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Where to turn for local - and public affairs - video news


Where can we turn for local - and public affairs - video news?

Try these:
If you know of others, please let us know... We are working on compiling a list of local blogs and critical info-web sites as well...


Monday, May 18, 2015

A Special Economic Forum: The Region's Economy in Context

The Silver Spring Regional Area in the Context of the Broader State Economy

Monday, May 18th     7:00 p.m.    Silver Spring Civic Building

The Commercial and Economic Development Committee of theSilver Spring Citizens Advisory Boardinvites the community to this forum on the State of Maryland's economy, with emphasis on the Silver Spring Regional Area. The general consensus seems to be that efforts must be made to improve Maryland’s private-sector economy and diversify beyond the State’s strong reliance on federal spending. This forum will provide an opportunity to hear about alternatives to grow Maryland's economy and expected impacts on the Silver Spring region. 


·         Bernice North, SSCAB Chair 

Introductory Remarks
·         Sigurd Neubauer, SSCAB CED Committee Co-Chair 

·         Peter Franchot, Maryland State Comptroller 

Panel Discussion
·         Lily Qi, Special Assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett
·         Andy Stern, Montgomery County Business Leader
·         Stacey Brown, Montgomery County Business Leader (Silver Spring based) 

Closing Remarks
·         Jamie Raskin, District 20 State Senator 

·          Ed Levy, SSCAB CED Committee Chair 

Speaker bios listed below in order of appearance

Bernice North, Chair, Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board 

The daughter of immigrants from Ghana, West Africa, Bernice Mireku-North is a lifelong Montgomery County resident and a graduate of Montgomery Blair High School.  After graduating from University of Maryland, College Park in 2003 with a B.A. in Government and Politics, she attended Howard University School of Law.   

Since joining the Board, Bernice served as Co-Chair of the Neighborhoods Committee and was voted the Board’s Executive Vice-Chair for two terms.  She also served on the boards of the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation and the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, and served as a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee.   

Bernice works as an Assistant State's Attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where she prosecutes criminal and traffic adult and juvenile cases including domestic assault, drug possession, and driving while under the influence of alcohol.  Bernice resides in Takoma Park with her husband Terrill and enjoys Terps basketball. 

Sigurd Neubauer, co-chair, SSCAB’s Commercial and Economic Development Committee 

Sigurd Neubauer is a non-resident fellow at The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington where he specializes in U.S. policy towards the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf region. His expertise includes: Oman; Persian Gulf security; inter-Gulf Cooperation Council dynamics; Arab-Israeli relations; and Afghanistan. 
Neubauer has many years experience in strategic communications, public diplomacy and research focusing on American foreign policy towards the European Union and the Middle East from both the U.S. defense industry and from the NGO sector. At SOS International Ltd., a privately held operations support company providing information engagement, intelligence solutions and stability operations, Neubauer supports NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul with their respective strategic communications efforts. Under a previous contract with the United States Strategic Command, he analyzed Israeli military security. 
Neubauer has addressed a number of international conferences, including a NATO Maritime Security Workshop in 
Marmaris, Turkey. His non-partisan expert commentary has been published by Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic Council, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Middle East Institute. His work has also been translated into Arabic.
He is a frequent commentator on Middle East politics for a number of international television and radio networks and has contributed to Al 
Arabiya, Al Jazeera America, CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times, among others.
Fluent in seven languages, Neubauer is a graduate of Yeshiva University in New York where he studied Jewish history (MA), political science (BA) and French literature.
Neubauer is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and of the Gulf 2000 Middle East Project at Columbia 
University, is married and has two children. 

Peter Franchot, Maryland State Comptroller 

Peter Franchot was elected Maryland's 33rd Comptroller on November 7, 2006, and sworn into office on January 22, 2007. He was re-elected on November 2, 2010 and November 4, 2014. Prior to his election to statewide office, Mr. Franchot served twenty years in the House of Delegates, representing the residents of Montgomery County. Mr. Franchot served on the House Appropriations Committee and chaired its Transportation and the Environment subcommittee. Throughout his career, he has been a strong advocate for education, healthcare, transportation and environmental protection initiatives. 

As Comptroller, Mr. Franchot has been an independent voice and fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers of Maryland. He serves on Maryland’s three-member Board of Public Works, which approves millions of dollars in State contracts each year. Comptroller Franchot has worked tirelessly to keep Maryland competitive in the knowledge-based economy, assisting working families and protecting the State's natural resources. 

Comptroller Franchot attended Amherst College (B.A., 1973) and Northeastern School of Law (J.D., 1978). From 1968 to 1970, he served in the United States Army. He is married to Anne Maher, a lawyer, and they have two children, Abigail, and Nick. They live in Takoma Park, Maryland. 

Lily Qi, Office of the County Executive 

Lily Qi (pronounced “Chee”) was appointed in 2011 to oversee several priority initiatives related to economic competitiveness and global partnerships. Her major projects include helping to establish BioHealth Innovation, Inc. to facilitate commercialization of biomedical research; building strategic trade and sister-city partnerships with regions in China; launching the Nighttime Economy Task Force to create more attractive places in the suburban community; enhancing private sector participation in economic development; and developing a comprehensive economic strategy to position and brand Montgomery County for future economic success. 

Lily first joined Montgomery County government in 2008 as the County Executive’s Liaison for Asian and Middle-Eastern Communities after serving as spokesperson for the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, and Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for the Washington, DC Economic Partnership in charge of marketing the Capital City for business attraction and retention.                                   

An immigrant from Shanghai, China, who came to the U.S. in her 20’s, Lily is a columnist, speaker and trainer on cultural competency, immigrant integration and Asian Americans. She chairs the Governor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs and serves on the boards of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Suburban Hospital, and the Metropolitan Center of Visual Arts. 

Lily Qi has been featured in the Washington Business Journal, Bethesda Magazine, China Daily and Asian Fortune for her professional and community leadership. She has an MBA in Marketing from American University and an MA in Organizational Communication from Ohio University. 

Andy Stern, president, Andy Stern Office Furniture, Inc. 

Andy Stern is the President and CEO of Andy Stern’s Office Furniture, Inc. and is in his 38thyear in this 2ndgeneration family business which was started by his Dad, Sam, in 1948. Andy Stern’s Office Furniture, Inc. is a full service office furniture and furnishings dealership with three locations in the DC metro area (two in Maryland and one in DC). He has loved every minute of his business life and feels very fortunate to have had such a wonderful family to work with and learn from. In addition to his business life, Andy has served the community as Chairman of the B-CC Chamber of Commerce, The Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, The Green Acres School and numerous other non-profit boards and was a founding board member of Leadership Montgomery. Andy currently proudly serves as a member of Comptroller Franchot’s Business Advisory Council and as Chair-Elect of the Non-Profit Village - a non-profit “incubator” serving Montgomery County. 
Andy and his wife Eve (lifelong MoCo residents - who met in the 3rdgrade at Somerset Elementary School in Chevy Chase) live in Rockville and have been married for over 34 years. They have two sons Ben, 30 (realtor extraordinaire) and Alex, 26 (a third year law student). 

Stacey Brown, Chief Image Builder of Signarama Silver Spring. 

Stacey and her husband, Ian, opened Signarama Silver Spring - a full-service signage and branding solutions company - in May 2010 with a vision to go beyond selling signs and to help their customers build the best image possible to grow their business.  Prior to opening Signarama Silver Spring, Stacey was a Senior Project Manager for Mars Incorporated for over 17 years, delivering a variety of regional and global IT solutions.  She has a BS in Marketing from Rutgers University, New Brunswick NJ, and an MBA from the University of Maryland, College Park MD.   She is also a certified PMP (Project Management Professional). 

Stacey is a native of Washington DC and has lived in Silver Spring for the past nine years with her husband and two children.  Both of her children attend MCPS, and Stacey is a former PTA Co-President and NAACP Parent Council Representative.  She has also held board positions at Evergreen Montessori School in Wheaton, MD and the Women Business Owners of Prince George’s County.  She is a member of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce and is currently serving her first year on the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board.   

Jamie Raskin, Maryland State Senator  

Jamie Raskin is a three-term Democratic State Senator in Maryland who came to office in 2006 in a landslide upset victory against a 32-year incumbent. After collecting 67% of the vote in a primary race all the pundits considered impossible to win, Senator Raskin has three times won election with more than 99% of the general election vote. He is the Majority Whip of the Senate, Chairman of both the Executive Nominations Committee and the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, and a dynamic leader of the liberal and progressive forces in the General Assembly. 
Senator Raskin has been described by the Huffington Post as “one of the most talented state legislators in the country” and named one of the “Top Ten Most Influential Senators” in Annapolis by the Maryland Gazette of Politics and Business. In under a decade in public office, he has seen more than 100 of his bills pass into law. A prodigious debater and legislative strategist, he sponsored and led the successful floor fight on many of the historic breakthroughs in Maryland politics over the last decade, including marriage equality, abolition of the death penalty, passage of a medical marijuana law, creation of the benefit corporation (a new corporate form that has since spread across the country), enactment of direct wine shipment for the state’s consumers, the historic National Popular Vote Compact, and the state’s acclaimed Farm-to-Schools Program linking public schools with local farms. He also introduced and championed landmark anti-drunk driving legislation that requires thousands of convicted drunk drivers to have an ignition interlock device installed in their cars; developed the Green Maryland act, which requires all state agencies and departments to have recycling and composting plans; and has advocated numerous laws advancing civil rights, civil liberties, tenant rights, and consumer rights. He authored the first state law giving victims of race and sex discrimination the right to a jury trial and civil damages, introduced a measure guaranteeing gender parity in programming at juvenile justice institutions, and led the floor fight for reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees in the workplace. As Chairman of the Montgomery County Senate Delegation for several years, he built unanimous support within the delegation to increase the minimum wage in Maryland.    
Senator Raskin is known for crossing the aisle to form potent bipartisan coalitions. He teamed up with conservative Republican Senator David Brinkley to persuade the Senate to pass a comprehensive Medical Marijuana law and won unanimous bipartisan support for the Freedom of Political Expression and Assembly Act of 2009 after a state police scandal involving spying on anti-death penalty, pro-choice, pro-life, and environmental groups. He has also built strong liberal-conservative coalitions to ensure online sunshine disclosure of state expenditures over $10,000 and to enact on-line ethics disclosure for state public officials.  

In the 2015 legislative session, Raskin authored and championed three landmark bills that received overwhelming bipartisan support: the Second Chance Act, which allows people to petition for the shielding of nonviolent misdemeanor offenses when they have been clean for a period of at least three years after termination of correctional supervision; the Maryland False Claims Act, which allows the state and private whistleblowers to go after contractors ripping off the government to recover public monies; and a dramatic reform and modernization of the state’s Public Information Act. 
Senator Raskin is a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law where he has taught more than 3,000 law students over a period of 25 years. At WCL, he directs the school’s Program on Law and Government and its acclaimed Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, which he founded in 1999 and which has sent thousands of law students at 20 law schools across the country into public high schools to teach a course in “constitutional literacy.”  A prolific author and a Senior Fellow at People for the American Way, Raskin’s books include Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People, a Washington Post Bestseller which analyzes patterns of conservative judicial activism and judicial assaults on democratic rights; The Wealth Primary (with John Bonifaz) about America’s campaign finance regime; and We the Students, a book now in its Fourth Edition which has sold tens of thousands of copies and examines cases affecting America’s students and has been called “the bible of the new movement for constitutional literacy.”   
The Washington Post has described Raskin as the Maryland Senate’s “authority on constitutional issues,” the Silver Spring Takoma Voice called him the “whiz kid” of the General Assembly, named him “Maryland’s Smartest Legislator,” and the Silver Spring-Takoma Voice named him Montgomery County’s “Most Responsive Elected Official.” Progressive Maryland praised him as a “Hero of Maryland’s Working Families” and the ACLU named him its Harry Edgerton Civil Libertarian of the Year in 2011. For his role as Senate leader on the marriage quality legislation, in 2013 he was honored as a Hero in the 2013 Pride Day Parade in the Nation’s Capital.  
Senator Raskin is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was an Editor of the Harvard Law Review. He is deeply involved in promoting chess among children and has also been active in Lumina Studio, which is one of the nation’s leading Shakespeare theaters for young people. He and his wife Sarah, who is the Deputy Secretary of the United States Treasury Department and a former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board,have three children.  

Ed Levy, co-chair, SSCAB’s Commercial and Economic Development Committee 

Ed is a native of Baltimore who has 'temporarily' lived in the DC area since the mid-70s, including the last 35 years in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. 
He spent 32 years working for the U.S. Department of Commerce, the last 15 of which working in the Office of the Secretary of Commerce with responsibility for the Secretary and Deputy Secretary’s daily briefing books and correspondence.  In earlier positions, Ed worked on trade agreements with Japan and Taiwan, conducted international trade investigations, and co-chaired an effort to provide expert opinion on disposal of the Government’s $10 billion stockpile of raw materials.  He also worked for Congressman Al Swift (D-WA) as part of the Government’s Legislative Fellowship program. Since leaving the Government in 2010, Ed has worked as a freelance Editor/Writer and has volunteered for several organizations. 
Ed is the Co-Chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board’s Commercial and Economic Development Committee, and has written for the Silver Spring Voice newspaper and website. He has served on the Board of the Northwood Four Corners Community Association, volunteered on several political campaigns and as neighborhood Precinct Chair, edited a small business newsletter, and trained law students in writing and research skills. 
Ed graduated from the University of Maryland-College Park with a Master’s degree in Business Administration including a concentration in Telecommunications, and earlier with an undergraduate degree in Economics. 
He has the proud grandfather of two and a half year-old Maya, and few have stood within Ed’s reach for long without being shown a picture of her. 
Ed has travelled to every state, every Canadian province, and to 71 other countries.