We Ignore History at Our Peril
With respect to your March 19 editorial, “Funky, Happy, Forward Thinking,” I would like you to reconsider your sentiment that “history is not a big deal” and that it is best not to delve into history since it might be “unpleasant.”
My class of planning masters students at Virginia Tech has been studying Falls Church history and finds it both very significant and potentially highly relevant to the exciting arts and cultural district plans now underway.
We ignore history at our peril, both in terms of economic development and physical development. We have learned the lessons of urban renewal, in which well meaning “forward thinking” developments obliterated sense of community. Indeed Richard Florida, who you cite in the editorial, asserts that members of the “creative class” enjoy and deliberately choose to locate in authentic historic environments; in Florida’s words from The Rise of the Creative Class, “They equate authentic with being “real,” as in a place that has real buildings, real people, real history.”
We have a responsibility to preserve and make evident even problematic aspects of our past, such as civil rights struggles, in order to inspire future generations to continue to advocate for “justice and diversity.” Civil rights advocates of the early 1900s paved the way for future diverse communities, such as the Vietnamese who have prospered at Eden Center. Linking the two stories would underscore the ultimate strength of the American dream of equal opportunity and the uplifting fact that the city now embraces a wide variety of citizens. My proposal for a slogan: “Falls Church, room for everyone!”
Don’t play to the lowest common denominator (“happy”-ness)–that’s what they already do in the newer sterile suburbs which are suffering from severe disinvestment right now. Character means something more complicated and will ultimately give you a more competitive advantage to moving forward.
Why Dismiss History Due to ‘Unpleasantries?’
Perhaps the editorial “Funky, Happy, Forward Thinking” was written “tongue in cheek” or was meant to ignite controversy. Whatever the intent, the editorial raises issues that need to be answered seriously and realistically.
Though we do not deny that the Eden Center, the State Theater, an “increasingly young professional population”, and the “flower building” can be considered assets to the City, concluding that they are the proper nexus for the City’s “branded” future is unacceptable. First of all, there is no reason why a choice has to be made between “funky, happy, forward thinking” and other assets and qualities the City has. In fact, a viable and lively community, even one that is only 2.2 square miles, fosters many, multi-faceted possibilities.
In addition, the editorial dismisses history as a part of Falls Church’s future because it is shared history and because it includes “upleasantries” like slavery and racism. In proposing both these grounds for dismissal, the editorial errs seriously. National, world, never mind regional histories are made up of local chapters. History matters and we see it and understand it best when we witness its manifestation in our lives and in our communities. All history on a meaningful level, like politics, is local.
The most troubling aspect of the editorial’s position is the dismissal of history because it raises “unpleasantries”. What is the reasoning behind such a statement? Should only pleasant, positive events of the past be remembered and preserved? Don’t we learn from history’s sad, troubling, cataclysmic chapters?
Falls Church has a rich history. That history must include slavery and the existence of racism, but it also must include the heroic struggles and remarkable successes of African American residents who fought and won over segregation and racism in the early part of the twentieth century, making this City a model for the larger struggle to gain equal rights for all its citizens.
It is time to plan a better future for the City. We can only do so in addressing all of the flaws and all of the virtues and assets that the City has.
Irene and Reid Chambers
Via the Internet
There’s So Much More to Falls Church
I agree that the State Theater, the Eden Center and our “Creative Class” may all represent a funky, happy forward-thinking image for Falls Church. But we are so much more than that.
You’re right, the history of Falls Church is shared though out the region, with several exceptions — unlike the thousands of towns that accepted segregation, a community of African Americans stood against segregation and eventfully became the first rural branch of the NAACP. That site is commemorated by one of only two state historic markers in the city. This was also the home of Mr. Costner, Betsy and Rev. Reed and Attorney DuPutron, General Howard, businesses like Brown’s Hardware who fought against injustice. We are what we are and denying what we are because it is unpleasant is both unwise and simply wrong. (Isn’t tolerance and acceptance one of the characteristics of the “Creative Class”?)
I hope our new logo and image reflect the tolerance and support for justice and equality among our citizens, past and present. I hope our image portrays a city where elected officials listen and respond to its citizens. I hope it reflects the energy and passion of its volunteers who create programs, events and opportunities for all it’s citizens to enjoy. I hope the logo reflects the vibrant arts and cultural organizations in the city, our historic places, and Victorian homes. I hope the new image showcases our celebrations. Falls Church knows how to have a good time, be inclusive and see that everyone is comfortable
and feels welcome. We are a city of celebrations, the Memorial Day Parade, Taste of Falls Church, Tinner
Hill Blues Festival, Black History Basketball game, The State Theater, the Victorian Tea and Thanksgiving, Civil War Day, Chinese New Year, St. Paddy’s Day and Watch Night. And finally don’t
forget that “Creative Class”, as described by Richard Florida does not discriminate, does not
force people into boxes, allows us to be ourselves, and validates various forms of family and human identity.
I bet my list will be even more difficult than the 13 Things to Love About Falls Church to boil down to three!
Nikki Graves Henderson
F.C. Concert Band is 14th ‘Thing to Love’
The March 5-11 edition of the News-Press included a letter from Helen Gillespie, a former member of the Falls Church City Concert Band. Unfortunately, an error was made in the heading for the letter.
Instead of mentioning the Falls Church City Concert Band, the header called them the Army Band in Falls Church. There is no Army band in Falls Church.
The same issue contained an editorial listing the 13 Things to Love About Falls Church. Probably citizens could collectively list 100 or more things. I would like to have the Falls Church City Concert Band included as the 14th “thing.”
Our band members are proud to volunteer in this band which has brought much credit to the community not only in playing local concerts at senior homes, churches, parks, etc, but has also (at participant’s expense) toured England and will soon perform a joint concert with the Cape May, NJ concert band in Cape May. Obviously trips to England, and even to New Jersey, are not free, but playing members of the band welcome such opportunities.
Our director, Adam Levowitz, is currently on leave for basic training with the National Guard. He is ably replaced by Davyd Breeskin, who serves as librarian and band manager. Although some sections of the band are nearly full, openings do exist. Interested players may check us out at www.fallschurchconcertband.org.
Robert J Ullery
Some GMHS Booster Mulch Still Available
Thanks to the News-Press for publishing the recent letter from the gentleman who has been a loyal customer of the annual mulch sale sponsored by the George Mason High School Athletic Boosters. Phil Duncan, our sales coordinator, happily hand-delivered an order form to him. Because we do understand that not everyone uses the web, we have had order forms available in various locations throughout the City including the schools and the library. While our website, www.masonathletics.org, remains our main avenue for disseminating information we make every effort to get the word out anyway we can.
If there’s anyone else who wants mulch from the Boosters, please call Phil Duncan at (703) 209-2005. We have a very limited number of bags still available for purchase. Delivery to our customers’ homes is this Saturday, by GMHS student- athletes and adult Boosters volunteers.
he mulch sale is the Boosters’ major effort to raise funds to support a wide range of activities benefiting GM student-athletes and recognizing their accomplishments. We thank the News-Press for helping publicize our sale, and we appreciate the community’s support.
President, GMHS Athletic Boosters Association
State Champs Thank All For Support
To our student body, faculty, family members, community friends, pep band and GMHS alumni who made the trips to Eastern Mennonite University, Robinson High School, and finally Virginia Commonwealth University – THANK YOU! On behalf of the 2008-2009 George Mason Girls Basketball Team (players and coaches), we would like to thank you for your support during our run to the 2009 State Championship. Throughout the season we noticed that when you were there, we played much better. In post-season tournaments, your presence and participation inspired us to take it all the way. We’re so glad you were along for the ride!
2008-2009 George Mason High School Girls Basketball Co-Captains
Abby Stroup, Mayssa Chehata, Kim Kenny, and Paige Kerrigan