By Ken Feltman
First, thank you to Peg Willingham, chair of the Falls Church City Democrats, for her kind words about the GOP in her Feb. 26 News-Press Commentary. The simple fact is, without her predecessor, Betty Coll, the Community Issues Forum would never have become reality. Today, over a dozen civic, professional, veterans, neighborhood and political groups have participated in developing and conducting informative programs about Falls Church City issues. In addition to these Forums, the same groups have worked together in a charity production at Creative Cauldron to raise money for Inova’s Life with Cancer programs.
Without Betty’s leadership, and the leadership of Sally Ekfelt and others at Citizens for a Better City, Harry Shovlin at American Legion Post 130, Carol Loftur-Thun of Citizens for a Sustainable City, and several others, nothing would have happened.
But things did happen and will continue to happen because we realize that we have more common ground to work to improve together than partisan ground to defend individually. We realize, too, that the unique character of Falls Church – however we define it – makes the cooperation possible. What is that unique character? Perhaps we learned a bit about it at a recent Republican Committee meeting.
As we concluded, a woman said to no one in particular “thanks for another Falls Church quirky meeting.” Her comment elicited smiles, laughter and nodding heads.
One man asked if he had heard right. “Did she say quirky? Or was it jerky.”
“She said quirky,” another man replied. “We’re just a little bit quirky.”
Quirky: Is that what makes Falls Church special, or does it just make us different? Could it be good to be quirky?
Next morning, over coffee with two long-time Falls Church activists and volunteers, I asked what they thought about being quirky. One answered with his own question: Is it quirky to be happy living in a place that people who live nearby think is just a traffic jam and bottleneck?
The other looked at the positive side and suggested that people in Falls Church might be a little more settled. We seem to have – or at least take – more time for community activities and volunteering. Perhaps, she suggested, people have a little more control over their daily lives and how they spend their free time. That allows them to volunteer for one or more of Falls Church’s many boards, commissions and organizations.
I asked more people. Here are some responses:
“Yeah, we are a little different. We’re satisfied with our lot in life. Some guys at my office are over their head trying to make the mortgage payment and have a couple of fancy cars and the latest gadgets. We’re happy with what we have. It works, it fits.”
“We get more out of our volunteer work than we put in, to be honest. Then City staff couldn’t keep up without volunteers pitching in. We have so many activities for our size.”
“We all get along. We share whatever needs to be done, like the car-pooling to practices and games. We live for the kids.”
These comments are beginning to sum up what Falls Church is.
“If you let them, your roots can go deep quite fast around here. Most of us live comfortably, happy, busy, well paid, preoccupied with work and children, lots of things to do.”
“We take Falls Church seriously. In other places, maybe it’s the people who take themselves seriously.”
Children, good pay, fast-growing roots, volunteering and not taking ourselves too seriously: Is that quirky?
Most people agreed that Falls Church is buoyed by government salaries and high-tech jobs. Many people have money to spend on travel and other broadening exploits. People have rewarding careers and rising expectations.
In one way or another, many suggested that Falls Church City’s leading product is educated children. We do not manufacture and ship cars or computers to the world; we send well prepared young people to the best universities in Virginia and beyond. If we were a “company town,” our product would be our students.
Yes, some families struggle with mortgages and taxes that crimp their current lifestyle. They make that choice for their children. They could have a bigger house and lower taxes. Maybe they’re just a little bit quirky about their children’s educations.
Is it quirky to live in a place that most other people just want to drive through as quickly as possible? Despite the traffic and high taxes, many find this a comfortable place to live, like an old sweater, close to the many nearby attractions.
Falls Church seem to take advantage of the many museums, theaters, sporting activities and recreational opportunities, both here in Falls Church and within an easy drive.
Are you just a little bit quirky? Come join us!
Ken Feltman is the Chair of the Falls Church City Republican Committee.