"Spend a Day in Silver Spring" is what ads the Peterson Companies ran in the Gazette and Post last week said. But instead of only announcing events taking place in their Downtown Silver Spring complex at Ellsworth and Fenton, they also included the Fenton Street Market, South Silver Spring Block Party, and the Buy Local Silver Spring walking tour.
These kinds of gestures to the community would've been unheard of two years ago, when Peterson was struggling to save face after its security threatened to arrest local photographer Chip Py for taking photos on Ellsworth Drive. There's nothing like seeing your shopping center on the 10 o'clock news as the site of a well-publicized protest march to force a company to reconsider its community relations.
Today, the Peterson Companies - and especially marketing coordinator Jennifer Nettles - understand that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that helping out fellow businesses in Silver Spring can only benefit them. Ads like this are a win-win. Publicizing local retailers and neighborhood events are a rebuke to those who complain that Downtown Silver Spring is "corporate". At the same time, Ellsworth Drive's familiar chain stores attract visitors from across the region and form an anchor for smaller businesses without the same drawing power.
I enjoyed the day I spent in Silver Spring last weekend, and if you were there, I hope you did as well. It was a great opportunity to see everything East County has to offer and to spend time with the residents, activists and merchants who work tirelessly to make this an awesome place to live.
Check out this photoset of the festivities last weekend in Silver Spring.