Publisher Kenneth Brown

Publisher’s Column: Creating Community in Our Communities

There was a real sense of community spirit in the room at the Combined Communities Holiday Celebration on Dec. 3, in every sense of the word. Multiple community associations were well represented, and state legislators, County Council members and even the County Executive knew it was the place to be. The atmosphere was festive and fun, people were laughing and talking, and the dance floor stayed packed. (You’d be surprised who knew the latest line dances!)

Danny Blount, president of Hernwood Heights and vice chair of the Combined Communities Advocacy Council for Greater Randallstown, founded the event. I know there were probably dozens of holiday parties around the northwest so please excuse me for not being aware and mentioning them. I’m highlighting the Combined Communities’ 10th year celebration because of how it came about: Danny wanted to bring the community together in a positive, harmonious way. (You can read more about what inspired this event on page 8.)

This particular celebration allowed me to reflect on the many community members and community leaders who do so many things for so many people—just to make sure we have a decent quality of life. Many times it is a selfless, thankless job to lead a community association. We all know how many of us like to complain and criticize, but when the call for action goes out or a request for volunteers, such as to help clean the neighborhood, or plan an event, we duck and talk about how busy we are.

My hat is off to all community leaders for what they do, as well as to the behind-the-scenes folks who support them. After all, they are also busy and carry out their responsibilities without getting a dime.

As we end the year, I would like to take the time to say thank you to all of you!

You hold meetings and publish newsletters to keep us informed. You contact our elected officials when there is a problem with crime, snow removal, or sidewalks and roads that are in disrepair. You encourage us to attend meetings of the County Council, school board and government agencies so we can learn the process and see how government is supposed to work for us. You develop budgets and review contracts for your community’s needs.  If you’re lucky, you have a committed board of directors to help you.

Those are the things that are making us better. No matter where I go, everybody wants the same things: safe communities, good schools, clean neighborhoods. We’re not that different in what we want and what we need.

If I asked you the name of your neighbors three doors from your house on either side, could you tell me? Being involved in the community means building relationships in the community in which you live. Relationships are the very things that can break down barriers and build bridges.

We wonder why certain communities are better than others. It’s because of the people involved and how organized they are. I’ve been in communities where there is no leadership and no organization. The lack of concern and decline are very apparent.

I can go back to the time when everybody knew everybody. The village concept is that we should be there for one another, creating a safe, healthy environment for our families and community.

When I was growing up, I knew everybody who lived in my block. And everybody knew my parents, brothers and sisters and me. Why is that important? Because we looked out for one another. We took care of our community and if there were problems, someone was there to straighten it out.

Though we have a lot of people doing good work, we can always use more. As I like to say: Everybody doesn’t have to do everything but everybody needs to do something. We need each others’ ideas, energy, etc., to solve problems. Nobody can do the best job by fixing things by themselves.

Many may fear what’s to come based on comments that have been made by a number of people regarding the outcome of the presidential election. I am confident that in the northwest, where we have an extremely diverse population that includes African Americans, Whites, Muslims, Jews and Asians, I know we are neighbors first, and community counts.

Let’s continue to work together to strengthen our community and make it vibrant. Let’s keep the community in our communities, and make us proud!

If you’d like to give a shout-out to a member of the community, go to the Northwest Voice website at http://nwvoicenews.com/community-leader. Be sure to share a brief example of why they are special.

In the meantime, the Northwest Voice wishes you much peace and blessings during this holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays!

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