It Takes a Village

Essential to the diversity we are rightly proud of in Rockville is the inter-generational nature of our neighborhoods. I am proud that I helped establish our Village several years ago with a very insistent mentor and friend.


East Rockville’s first Village holiday party was fun for all ages.

Today at the Rockville Senior Citizens Commission’s Candidate Forum, one of the other candidates brought up my friend and mentor, who needs a little more help than she did several years ago, and inadvertently described my son and some of the things he helps her with. I’m glad he appreciates my family’s commitment to service. The pairing of teenagers with senior neighbors is one of the best things that a Village can do for a neighborhood. I see the self-esteem my son has developed in part because he knows how impactful it can be to help others, and having an older friend makes him feel like a real community member. I know their visits do her good, as well, and not just because her lawn gets mowed or her snow shoveled.

Some of the specific ideas I shared this morning at the Senior Center are things we can do to foster inter-generational diversity so that we’re caring for one another at every age.

Things like:

  • Encouraging job sharing between teenagers and seniors who want a part-time job. School has become so demanding it can be hard for kids to have a job, so why not share a part-time position with a senior who can mentor them as they enter the work force.
  • Advocating with MCPS to offer yard work for seniors as a P.E. credit as other districts around the country have done.
  • Offering service-learning hours through the neighborhood Villages.

The City of Rockville is rightly committed to diversity, and that commitment should be reflected in how we translate diversity into inclusion both within the senior population and between the senior population and the broader community. Diverse needs don’t end at 60, and our seniors continue to have much to contribute to Rockville.


Rockville Forward Coalition at the Senior Citizens Commission public forum on October 10, 2019.

What I’m reading:

Bliss, Laura. “7 Reasons Why Aging Riders Need Better Transit.” CityLab, 4 Aug. 2017, www.citylab.com/transportation/2017/08/older-people-will-need-much-better-transit/535806/.

Goodyear, Sarah, et al. “What Does ‘Livable’ Mean to Older Americans?” CityLab, 15 May 2014, www.citylab.com/solutions/2014/04/what-does-livable-mean-older-americans/8968/.

Henkin, Nancy, and Emily Patrick. “Intergenerational: Grantmakers in Aging.” Intergenerational | Grantmakers in Aging, Grantmakers in Aging, https://www.giaging.org/issues/intergenerational-strategies/.

We All Walk on the Same Sidewalks

Rockville elections are non-partisan and, when we’re at our best, driven by a sincere desire to serve the City and its people, not by adherence to an ideology.

The National League of Cities lists “Cooperation between elected officials belonging to different parties is more likely,” as a positive thing about non-partisan city councils. While our priorities might be guided by one set of beliefs or another, local governance should be about elevating the daily lives and shared experiences of each of us, and all of us together.

Non-partisan elections require candidates to talk about who they are through sharing a vision and a plan for implementing the needs of the City, rather than just saying, “I’m this party’s candidate” and allowing assumptions to be made based on broad brushstroke definitions.

The number of times I’ve been asked about my political affiliation while talking to voters across the City is notable. Even when I mention that Rockville elections are non-partisan, there seems to be a pressing desire to know. So I answer directly, and try to steer the conversation back to our sidewalks and streets, our parks and our growth.

I heard from a neighbor a couple of weeks ago that one of the county-level political parties has endorsed a City Council candidate. There is also evidence that special interest groups associated with a political party are ready to bring in resources from the county and state to support certain other candidates. The spirit of non-partisanship and cooperation across all divisions for the good of the city we love might be sacrificed in favor of a “win at any cost” approach to our local election. More than any other issue, this strikes at the heart of the question, “Who are we, and who do we want to be?”

Do You Remember the First Time You Voted?

I was a sophomore at LSU in Baton Rouge when I had my first opportunity to vote. That year’s gubernatorial election featured a three-way race between incumbent Buddy Roemer, convicted felon Edwin Edwards, and KKK leader David Duke. Governor Roemer lost in Louisiana’s “jungle primary” and the choice was narrowed to Edwards and Duke, with Edwards, an early civil rights advocate, eventually winning in a landslide. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
 
Later, when Governor Roemer was a regular at the coffee shop I managed, I learned a few things from him that are as unforgettable as the first time I cast a ballot. As we talked about how to get a minor league baseball team to come to Baton Rouge and generally solved all the world’s problems, I noticed how much he cared about the people he had served and, for someone in their twenties who was unsure of what should come next, he gave me a sense of belonging to the broader community. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned over the years began with those conversations—success is measured by what you do for others, dignity stems from humility, and belonging starts with inclusivity. Governor Roemer reached out in a small way, but his welcoming and positive influence has impacted my life for over two decades.
 
The Together for Rockville campaign has one more project to accomplish—mailing a welcome postcard to newly registered voters. It’s a small thing, but by extending a hand to thousands of newly registered voters and including them in this election we make the Rockville community stronger.

Visit the “Join Us” page to learn how to make a difference.

Family date night at the poll. Matt’s been voting with us since he was in a baby carrier.