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!