Monday, June 9, 2008

south silver spring breaks out with second-annual block party

Silver Spring-based Lloyd Dobler Effect was one of fifteen performing acts at yesterday's second-annual South Silver Spring Block Party. Check out this slideshow of the Block Party.

A rapidly growing neighborhood continues to build a name for itself as hundreds of residents braved triple-digit heat indexes for yesterday's second-annual South Silver Spring Block Party.

Dozens of Downcounty restaurants, merchants, non-profits, artists, and even a handful of Silver Spring bloggers set up booths along Kennett Street offering everything from food samples to "Fair Trade" t-shirts to even pet adoptions. New for this year was a stage, with fifteen musical and dance performances taking place throughout the day.

Formerly an industrial area separating Downtown from the Shepherd Park neighborhood in the District, South Silver Spring has experienced an explosion of residential development, with thousands of apartments and condominium units being built over the past five years. With so many new residents, bringing neighbors together was a must, says David Fogel, vice president of the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association.

"A few of us came together saying 'we need more vibrancy'" in South Silver Spring, Fogel says. "The Block Party's a great example of that. It's not just talking online but rubbing shoulders."

so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .

Booths line Kennett Street during the South Silver Spring Block Party.

Planning for the block party began last winter and was made easier because so many people who helped coordinate last year's event stuck around. "We had a good core group from last year's," states Fogel. "Everybody had a positive experience and wanted to do it again."

For some, the event was enough to get them involved in the community. Kristin Callahan, who moved to Eastern Village four months ago, and Jessica Lindstrom, who's lived there for two years, were encouraged to help out by Fogel, who also lives in the complex. "A lot of people from our building are volunteering here," says Lindstrom.

"I think it's definitely good for the community," says Callahan. "People get to come out and meet each other, learn about local businesses they may not have heard of."

Many residents felt inspired to get involved, though some admitted it wasn't likely given other obligations. South Silver Spring resident Zahava sat on the grass outside the Kennett Street Garage while listening to local rock band Lloyd Dobler Effect and feeding her children a snow cone. "To see people in my neighborhood being involved it makes me want to do more," says Zahara, who declined to give her last name, "but having two young kids . . . eating breakfast is an accomplishment."

Acorn Market is a new, bi-monthly event hosted by the Gateway Georgia Avenue CDC.

The Block Party served as a launching pad for Acorn Market, a bazaar of local merchants in Acorn Park organized by Gateway Georgia Avenue, a community development corporation aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods on both sides of the D.C.-Maryland line. With nearly two dozen vendors from the Downcounty participating, the market was a "tremendous success," says Jane Henderson of White Oak, the corporation's treasurer.

While Gateway Georgia Avenue also works in the District, almost all of Acorn Market's funding came from the Montgomery County government, explains Shepherd Park resident Marc Loud. "As D.C. does more of the underwriting and funding, you'll see more vendors" from the District, he adds.

In addition to reaching across the state line, Fogel noted other goals the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association aims to accomplish closer to home, including building a retail base and improving pedestrian connections to Jesup Blair Park, east of Georgia Avenue. "Getting across Georgia Avenue is tough, not necessarily if you're my age, but if you have kids," says Fogel. "We really need to dig back into the zoning to meet the needs of an urban area . . . if we're gonna grow in a way that's sustainable for all these things."

"I think at the end of the day we'll have a lot more people than we did last year," Fogel notes. "It's an incredibly exciting time to be part of developing a new urban community. Next year, we'll have thousands of new people living here."


Thomas Hardman said...

Takoma Park is rightly famous for the "little get togethers" that it puts on.

Silver Spring should do the same.

Building community through a good old fashioned picnic with a dance band or two is almost guaranteed to succeed, and the more you do it, the faster the networks build.

rtsind said...

How many people at the block party were from Progress Place?