Tuesday, June 2, 2009

guest blog: community life, handmade

Necklaces on display at last Sunday's Handmade Mart on Ellsworth Drive in Downtown Silver Spring. Photo by ohmeaghan.

The following is a guest post about last Sunday's Handmade Mart on Ellsworth by friend of JUTP Hans Riemer. This blog is always looking for contributions - if you have something to say, shoot it to justupthepike at gmail dot com.

Although I missed the Silver Spring Dance Party, this past Sunday I attended the Handmade Mart on Ellsworth in downtown Silver Spring along with my wife Angela and our 20-month old baby Henry. We had a great time!

Highlights for me: superb shopping for unique and affordable eclothes, kids endlessly splashing at the fountain and only 50 feet from the music stage, fish kabobs at Moby Dick (don't let the cafeteria vibe fool you, its slow and tasty), a ton of edgy/creative types prowling Ellsworth, and a memorable band called Yell County--bravo to whoever booked them, I think they were one of the best bands I've seen perform in a while.

At home that evening I considered how lucky we are to have this kind of community life right here in downtown Silver Spring. Having a young kid, I am there at least once every weekend, and sometimes, four or five times. Having all of this within such a short trip from the house is a real boost for our quality of life---and not having to drive as many miles is clearly an environmental benefit. Teenagers, families with kids, hipsters, new immigrants, neighborhood busy-bodies---there's something here for everyone.

Improving community life is an important goal for sustainable growth in our rising downtowns---Silver Spring, Rockville, North Bethesda/White Flint, Wheaton---rather than carving up the agricultural reserve with more sprawl developments that are a 25 minute drive from anywhere.

Sometimes these heated, protracted debates over growth and development can be wearying and too abstract. Good, civic-minded people can find themselves wondering, does any of this really matter? Last weekend, walking through a vibrant downtown with my wife and my son, there was no doubt in my mind the answer is yes.

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