urban parks


by Nic Wells

After his first wife died in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson secretly courted Edith Bolling Galt on regular strolls with her in Rock Creek Park. In 2008, police discovered a man from Chevy Chase growing marijuana in the Park, and in March 2013, someone sacrificed a goat and chickens in a part of the Park near Piney Branch Parkway.

These three dissimilar events share one common feature:  Rock Creek Park.

While such anecdotes may or may not be good conversation starters, stories that impress, they are indicative of what geographers call a sense of place, a combination of experiences and certain attributes that makes a place distinctive. Without a doubt, Washingtonians have that sense of place with Rock Creek Park.

Because Rock Creek Park includes the main stem and many diverse units scattered throughout neighborhoods in Northwest and Northeast,  Rock Creek Conservancy’s community engagement meetings this summer and fall seek to explore and understand locals’ senses of place of the Park.

We’ve held two meetings so far – one in Mt. Pleasant, the other in Chevy Chase. The turnouts at both were fantastic, with people asking questions and chatting about the Park over coffee, tea and delicious treats provided by local businesses. If you happened to miss these, there will be more community meetings in September and October, so stay tuned! Until then, explore the Park and develop your sense of place of place in Rock Creek Park like the charmer, the stoner and the butcher did, but unlike them, please keep it PG.

You also might want to check out a recent issue the Washington Post Magazine, which featured a great cover story about Rock Creek Park. Give it a read, and then get yourself to the Park!

Nic Wells, a McLean native, interns for Rock Creek Conservancy, part of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, and studies Geography and Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Advertisements

RCC logoby Nic Wells

I wouldn’t consider driving a pastime. Driving drains me, and radio stations never seem to live up to their “no commercial” arrangements. Driving doesn’t do Mother Nature any favors, either. But, as I drove through Northwest DC to get to work this morning, I rolled down my windows and, quite frankly, enjoyed my ride for once.

I cruised down streets filled with shades of green, so many that even Crayola’s 96 Crayons cartons couldn’t compare. I know I’m not the only one who is impressed. National Geographic’s  “Nine Cities That Love Their Trees” recognizes the District’s 36% tree cover – much of which belongs to our very own national park, Rock Creek Park, and its constituent parks scattered throughout the city.

Now, you don’t have to be a treehugger to appreciate what Rock Creek Park has to offer. Its trees provide shade that is desperately sought by profusely sweaty people like myself on those humid summer days. Civil War buffs can troop through Fort Stevens and Fort DeRussy to trace the footsteps of long-gone soldiers.  Whatever your reason for visiting, you are guaranteed to find something of interest in Rock Creek Park.

Unfortunately, Rock Creek Park is not as lucky as its visitors. In recent years, its natural and cultural resources have taken a beating. Non-native invasive species like English ivy threaten the ecosystem’s fragile balance, and historical landmarks and access routes have deteriorated. Luckily, Rock Creek Conservancy  is working to change this.

With the 125th anniversary of the park approaching in 2015, Rock Creek Conservancy is developing exciting yearlong plans to celebrate the occasion, some of which include engaging with neighbors in local communities that use the Park and its resources. Rock Creek Conservancy will host two Saturday morning meetings: one on June 21 in the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and the other on June 28 in the Chevy Chase Library from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

The meetings will include four “topic tables” relating to Access, Historic Buildings & Designed Landscapes and Civil War Defenses, Programming and Recreation, and the Environment. The meetings will provide platforms for local residents to offer ideas and are designed to give residents the opportunity to play a vital role in the Park’s future.

If you’re allergic to driving like I am, these meetings can help secure a future with scenic drives through Northwest DC. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Nic Wells, a McLean native, interns for Rock Creek Conservancy, part of the Bethesda Green Business Incubator, and studies Geography and Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

by Alison Wentzell

Free Lending Libraries Help Create Neighborhood BondsBGnews_logo

The burgeoning global literary movement has spread to the District with the help of Philip Vahab, who created a small library on his front lawn.  The library is just a small wooden model of a house that he put on a post and filled with his wife’s old books.  Then he noticed that his mini-library became remarkably popular, so much so, that he started seeing visitors from other communities throughout the DC Metro area.

You’re probably wondering about the environmental aspect of these literary boxes.  Simply put, they could kick start a movement toward creating more sustainable communities.  Whether or not Vahab realizes it, he’s doing more than promoting community interaction and literacy.  The libraries allow people to get books that they might have otherwise bought from a bookstore and donate books that they might have just thrown out or left cluttering their shelves.  Also, since the lending libraries cater to neighborhoods, people can easily walk to the box in their area to pick out a new book rather than driving to a library or bookstore.

In addition, the libraries forge a community bond, which can promote overall sustainability.  People who have libraries on their lawns have noticed the formation of greater bonding with their community.  For example, neighbors are more inclined to share household items or form carpools.

For more information, check out the Washington Post article here.

Chevy Chase’s Western Grove Urban Park to be Urban Oasis

In 2001 Montgomery County purchased the newly named Western Grove Urban Park near the Friendship Heights Metro.  The project is expected to cost around $1 million to develop, with an annual operating budget of $55,000.  The lot is set to become a 1.9 acre “urban oasis” that will feature lighted brick paths, gardens, a natural play area, moveable furniture, and Wi-Fi access.  Designed to keep an open garden quality, it is the first of this kind of urban park in Montgomery County.

For more information check out the article on Gazette.net.

Events

  • BG 101, Sept. 25, 4-5:30 PM, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Join Bethesda Green for their regular orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events, and volunteer opportunities.

  • Bethesda Green Luncheon Speaker Series,  Sept. 26, 12-1:30 PM Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Learn about Montgomery County’s new Green Investor Incentive Program from presenter Peter Bang, Montgomery County Department of Economic Development.  This FREE seminar discussion will address who is a qualified company or investor, amount of investment, and the application process.  Register here.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.