Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Silver Spring Common Values

What IS Silver Spring? What is our identity? What are our common norms and values?

The Silver Spring Regional Center’s geographic boundary is very different from the ‘postal’ Silver Spring. We are concentrated in the area bounded by the County line to the east; the DC line to the south; (approximately) Rock Creek Park to the west; and, the Beltway to the north – but also including the Four Corners neighborhood. We are about 80,000 residents during the night (i.e.: people that call this area home) and 120,000 community members during the day (i.e.: people that work here.)

We come from all walks of life; have different expectation of ‘community’; and, bring an array of assets to our Silver Spring.

Yet, what IS Silver Spring? What is our identity? What are our common norms and values?

What seems to resonate most often is that we are a community that enjoys our multi-ethnicity and diversity; honor our traditions and heritage; live the arts; support entrepreneurship; and treasure our youth and elders.

How we bring these values to life; how we make them part of our every day community; how we muddle through constructive tensions and inevitable disagreements – how we do these things remains the challenge… But, it is a challenge that a critical mass of community members seem to be willing to take on…

As we take on these challenges, let’s not forget that what we are trying to do here in Silver Spring has really never worked before… So, let’s not expect it to be easy sailing… Where else is there a community where all are welcome – and all are at the table - regardless of background, ethnicity, or economic status?... Where else are all stakeholders in (general) agreement that the community’s multi ethnicity and diversity is THE community asset to cherish, grow, and ferment?

So, chime in: What IS Silver Spring? What is our identity? What are our common norms and values?

6 comments:

Reemberto Rodriguez, Sr. said...

This will certainly be an interesting discussion. It might be best to first clarify what we mean by 'common values'. My understanding is that 'common values' are the beliefs and behaviours that bind us together. 'Common values' are those 'things' that we collectively 'buy into' and 'agree about'... 'Common values' are built on common experiences that we choose to share by choice...

Susan said...

Silver Spring, for me, is the best example of the Great Melting Pot that is the United States. I think that's what keeps it so vibrant and dynamic! Silver Spring is also an idea...a welcoming environment for all with so much to see and do. And it will only get better when the Civic Building at Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring's "living room," opens next summer. Happy New Year to All.
Best, Susan

WashingtonGardener said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The diversity is what I value most. Not just the ethnic and economic but the acceptance of lifestyles. We have lots of people here who live outside the box. Whether it is their choice of how to earn a living or their personal style, in looks or housing or income level.

This year for the first time in over
20 years here, I am hearing people publically critize others for shallow traits, e.g. accents, skin color, clothing, looks, income level.
I have heard public complaints about less afluent residents and the businesses that cater to them and how we need to get rid of them. I have heard volunteers belittled for not dressing sylishly. I have heard racist comments about African-American owned businesses.

It saddens me that the tolerance that added such richness and character to our community seems to be eroding.

If this is what revitalization brings then it isn't worth it. If we truly value diversity, then we will have to work really hard to keep it.

Anonymous said...

Is there an address for the Center? It would be nice to drop by, shake hands, and talk about our community.

Many changes are happening. Revitalizing can be a lot like "gentrification." Those who have invested much to bring about "improvements" want to see their investments pay off; that happens when folks with money come to shop. (Unfortunately, they can get uncomfortable around us "lower class" types.

Anonymous said...

I understand your point. However, if people with money consider African Americans and/or their businesses "lower class" types, then I for one don't want their money.

If the people with money coming to shop are that intolerant of the diversity that we cherish, then do we allow them to destroy that diversity? Do we allow gentrification to turn our community into another "any place" USA, where everyone looks, acts and dresses the same? Do we allow them to ostrasize the artists and lower income residents? When the MPDUs and workforce housing units are built in the same buildings with said "people with money" will they be treated as neighbors or shunned?

What is most disturbing is that the comments I have heard were very public - said to strangers at meetings and groups. This implies such a deep belief that this mentality is a universal truth that strangers will agree with them.

Or do we work to keep what I, for one, value most about living here?

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