Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Who is "the community"?

Ms V needs to get something off her chest that has been bothering me since Friday. Let me preface that I don't write my blog to bash anyone. This is like my personal diary related to my community. It's also a venue to ask the tough questions. If we don't talk about things openly, then feelings fester and resentment sets in. That being said here it goes....

I went to Thai Orchid with two fellow East of the River residents. We began discussing lack of bike racks at commercial centers East of the River. I sent an email to a contact person at DDOT to find out the process for getting bike racks. I also emailed the DDOT Pennsylvania Ave Great Streets Team excited that we were getting bike lanes as part of the project. And that is where my joy came to a screeching halt.

Despite the project documents and the Bike Master Plan mention bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave, DDOT promised "the community" that all references to bike lanes would be excluded because "the community" doesn't want to promote biking on sidewalks. The exclusion of the bike lanes really don't bother me, because there are bike lanes on Mass Ave SE, which has significantly less traffic, lower speed limit, and a less difficult terrain.

What does bother me is the use of the term "the community". Who is "the community"? To be fair to DDOT, in my career I've been in situations where once you reach an agreement with "the community" you do NOT want to reopen that can of worms. So no harm no foul, DDOT. However, why wasn't my concern just as valid? Aren't I apart of "the community"? Why are some people "the community" and others aren't? Are people who attend meetings, "the community"? What about those who miss meetings due to work or school? Are we not part of "the community"?

Ms V will admit that in my five years of living in Fairfax Village, I've never been to an ANC 7B meeting or many project specific meetings (other than Poplar Point). It isn't that I didn't care what was happening in my neighborhood, but I honestly in the past was too busy working two jobs or working evenings or going to school in the evening. I have been to a handful of Hillcrest Community Civic Association meetings, and since September 2009 I faithfully attend the PSA 606 meetings. At both the HCCA and PSA 606 meetings, the people in attendance are largely from the single family homes in Hillcrest, usually older (65+) and have lived in the neighborhood a long time. This group are regulars at every meeting. Are they "the community"? Are their needs, desires, and wants representative of Fairfax Village which is largely young single-women with children or retired single-women?

In all my years of living here, I've never received a newsletter or correspondence from my ANC Commissioner. So how is my ANC Commissioner (an elected official) representing me, if they aren't communicating with me or my neighbors? Again, it's not that people in Fairfax Village don't care, but this is a working class neighborhood so people work long hours.

Ms V is about solutions. I have been emailing my neighbors to ensure that Fairfax Village and the townhouses in Hillcrest are represented at the regular community meetings (PSA 606, HCCA, and ANC7B). In addition, I have my ANC Commissioners phone number, so I will reach out to him. We are part of "the community".

No comments:

Post a Comment