Happy Thanksgiving! I am hopeful, on this traditional day for giving thanks, that everyone can put aside their differences, and recognize the many blessings we enjoy in this nation. Whether young, old or in-between, rich or poor, native-born or immigrant, regardless of belief or gender, we are so fortunate to live in America. And even more fortunate, perhaps, to live in Northern Virginia, where diversity is celebrated and welcomed, not mocked.
Granted, not everyone agrees, but most public policies in our local jurisdictions focus on uniting, not dividing, The most recent example is the One Fairfax policy under consideration by the Board of Supervisors and the School Board. Last year, both bodies adopted a One Fairfax Resolution that directed the development of a racial and social equity policy to ensure that all individuals have an opportunity to reach their highest level of personal achievement. The policy establishes common, shared definitions; identifies areas of focus that support a thriving community and promote equity; and articulates the business procedures and infrastructure roles at a high level to support successful implementation of the policy.
The intentional focus on racial and social equity positions Fairfax County government, along with the School Board, the community, and other sectors, including higher education, business, non-profit, faith, philanthropy, and civic organizations, to identify and address institutional and structural barriers to opportunity. Ultimately, facilitating full inclusion of the economic, social, and creative contributions of all county residents will result in greater economic security for families and a stronger local economy.
None of this will happen overnight, but the foundation has been laid over time, including Fairfax County’s Strategic Plan to Facilitate Economic Success, adopted in 2015. Research shows that equitable regions experience stronger, more sustained growth. Regions with lower income inequality and less segregation (by race and income) have more upward mobility. Companies with a diverse workforce achieve a better bottom line, and a diverse population more easily connects to global markets. This is the future. Working to improve the future now will reap dividends in coming years, often without the investment of dollars, but the investment of strategies, understanding, philosophy, and appreciation – for our similarities, as well as our differences. What better time than Thanksgiving to move this policy forward!
Congratulations to Kathy Trichel, Mason District resident and fabulous volunteer at Green Spring Gardens, on the occasion of earning the Elly Doyle Park Service Award from the Fairfax County Park Authority. Kathy has volunteered for more than 13 years, as a Master Gardener, as a plant propagator, and as a FROG (Friend of Green Spring). Kathy is reputed to have two green thumbs (!), and also uses costumes, props, and a little drama, to interpret the cultural and natural resources for visitors to Green Spring Gardens. Fairfax County wouldn’t be the great place it is without loyal and dedicated volunteers – indoors and outdoors – and Thanksgiving presents another opportunity to say “thank you.”
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]