Commentary, Local Commentary

Editorial: Hailing Falls Church Forward’s ‘Fab 5’

The News-Press is delighted by the news reported last week that the first civic organization dedicated to a comprehensive approach to making Falls Church a better place, an even better place than it is now, has formed. The “Falls Church Forward” group held its first public forum last Sunday with a speaker from the AARP on cornerstones of a livable community for persons of all ages. Led by this new, young and vital group, over 80 people showed up and the excitement associated with the new organization was palpable. The group already has plans for more meetings that are being announced, including a contingent in the annual Memorial Day parade later this month.

It is hard to overstate the importance of this development for the future of Falls Church. It has been 15 years since the City’s original community-wide association, the Citizens for a Better City (CBC), was the dominant force here. With responsible leadership, the CBC for decades led the City by recruiting and campaigning for the best candidates seeking to serve either on the City Council or School Board and hosting with the F.C. chapter of the League of Women Voters, the Chamber of Commerce and other groups forums and other educational initiatives that helped set the tone for developing the City’s consensus to expand its potential for quality education, neighborhoods and services with a robust if measured pro-growth component to pay for schools and services. It all meant so much for the creation of the kind of vital Little City we enjoy today.

But when the CBC ceased to continue with that kind of leadership roughly 15 years ago, while maintaining an important if diminished role, developing consensus on important policy matters was severely challenged. Now comes Falls Church Forward, with its founding fivesome of young, talented and energetic leaders. Led by the community organizing efforts of F.C. Vice Mayor Letty Hardi, other key figures have joined the effort, including former Councilman Ross Litkenhous, homegrown community organizer Pete Davis, and two powerhouse women: Justine Underhill, who has already announced that she will be running for City Council this fall, and Planning Commissioner Andrea Caumont. Brief bios of all five appeared in last week’s News-Press.

In addition to obvious talent and dedication, this core group, indeed a “Fab 5,” is most clearly defined by its relative youth and vitality, not bogged down by old ways while retaining respect for what’s gotten us here.

Falls Church Forward lists five key areas of emphasis: 1. Housing for all, where neighbors of all ages, incomes and family sizes can live, learn, return and retire,  2. Community businesses where neighbors eat, meet, celebrate, create and make memories, 3. People First Places connected by beautiful streets and plazas serving multiple modes of moving and gathering, 4. Climate Resilience inviting green spaces and more, and 5. Welcoming Culture, a community co-created by and for everybody, not just a privileged few.

To repeat, We are delighted!