Friday, August 19, 2011

Auto Repair Shops in Fenton Village - and more! (A Summer Intern Project)

This summer, we were fortunate at the Silver Spring Regional Center to have with us two interns thanks to the folks at Jesus House, a faith community located in Fenton Village. While the Regional Center is still under transition to a new structure, we continue connecting to community and addressing the many critical issues facing us. These interns were instrumental in helping us keep moving forward while we retool. The interns, named Damilola Odabona and Fikayo Durosimi-etti, have moved on to their studies in England. (They were visiting here for the summer.) But, their wonderful contribution to Silver Spring will stay with us for a long time.

The work they did focused on how we wade through the clutter and highlight some of the unique assets in Silver Spring. For example, they created simple a Google map that highlights the auto repair shops in the Regional Center area. While the project is very much "a work in progress"* and not yet complete, it is fascinating to view the draft they produced, found HERE.

*You are encouraged to help us complete this project by sharing with us the establishments we missed or who might not be there anymore – please simply leave a posting on the map itself and/or on this blog.

It is truly amazing to see the diversity of these establishments, many of which have been around for years. For example, we are all familiar with their heavy concentration on Sligo Avenue and vicinity (south side of Fenton Village.). These businesses provide for a tangible economic activity and viable service for the community and beyond. They are within easy walking distance of the Metro, Montgomery College, downtown Silver Spring, and thousands of residents both in the high rise units on East/West highway as well as the single family residential neighborhood to the east. Yet, perceptually they are "hidden" and do not always reap the benefit of their excellent location... Maybe this map can serve to enhance their visibility in the community and help market their services to others.

So next time you need your car repaired, think "my neighborhood mechanic" before heading out miles away to the other far away places. Also, when you do stop by, talk to the owner and mechanic (they may be the same person!). I guarantee you'll hear a fascinating story you'll long remember. (For example, I found out my mechanic - with whom I share the same last name - is from Columbia and has been at the same location for over 30 years.)

The interns also started a couple of other interactive maps which are similarly useful. One is for the various Ethiopian storefront establishments in the downtown area and another highlights the many faith communities throughout the Silver Spring Regional Center area. These maps are imperfect and incomplete – but with your help we can make them more accurate and thus more useful. Please help us by checking them out and leaving corrections and/or additions on the Google map itself and/or as postings to this blog.



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