Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News from Greater Falls Church

The Mason District Fall Town Meeting won’t have presidential candidates in debate mode, or Tom Brokaw as moderator, or be televised coast-to-coast, but it should prove interesting to Mason District residents nonetheless.

The Town Meeting, to be held next Wednesday, October 22, at 7 p.m., at the George Mason Regional Library, 7001 Little River Turnpike in Annandale, will feature a panel discussion about Fairfax County’s Lines of Business (LOBs) review in preparation for the Fiscal Year 2010 budget process. Fairfax County is projecting a budget deficit of more than $400 million for Fiscal Year 2010, which must be addressed through a combination of spending reductions and other strategies.

Braddock District Supervisor Sharon Bulova, the Board’s budget chairman, and Susan Datta, director of the county’s Department of Management and Budget, and I will discuss LOBS, what they are, and how they relate to the budget process. A question and answer period will provide attendees with an opportunity to make recommendations of their own about services they deem necessary, or expendable. This meeting is not one of the 20 community dialogue sessions being held across the county, so no registration is necessary. I look forward to seeing you next Wednesday.

Civic associations looking for a handy way to welcome new neighbors and give them information about rules and regulations, and gentle reminders about how we want to live in our community, might want to follow the lead of the Westlawn Civic Association in Falls Church which recently published a Neighborhood Guide for distribution with its regular newsletter. The handy little yellow fold-over guide outlines responsibilities as a Fairfax County resident, as well as information about the Zoning Ordinance and the Property Maintenance Code. The guide, available in English and Spanish versions, outlines easy reminders about trash, noise, keeping your front yard neat, parking, dog walking, and many other neighborhood concerns. Congratulations to Westlawn residents for taking the initiative to reduce frictions and enhance their neighborhood.

Mason District has a new neighbor! Just Neighbors, a non-profit partnership founded by the United Methodist Church and serving the immigrant community of Northern Virginia, recently relocated from Arlington to their new office on Columbia Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads. Just Neighbors provides legal assistance for family unification and employment authorization, and for refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world. Just Neighbors’ clients come from 87 different countries, including El Salvador, Honduras, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Bolivia, Somalia, and Iran. Log on to www.justneighbors.org for more information.

Mason District’s Kaleidoscope, our monthly dialogue on diversity, is featuring something very special this month. Participants are reading Greg Mortensen’s book, Three Cups of Tea, a fascinating true story of an American mountain climber who got lost near the K2 peak in northwest Pakistan, and ended up building schools for girls in impoverished villages near the roof of the world. His passion, dedication, and sometimes craziness, makes for fascinating reading. The book’s title comes from a village chief in the Karakoram Mountains, who explained to the author that you drink three cups of tea to do business: first as a stranger, then a friend, and finally family. Kaleidoscope will meet on Wednesday, October 29, from 5:30 until 7 p.m., at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. And yes, tea will be served.