If you’ve ever strolled along Grace Church Rd. in the spring, you’ve probably seen colorful swaths of tulips blooming at the edges of the expansive lawn at 1923. Meet the man behind the tulips: Phil Costello has been planting them here every year since 2011. His interest in tulips took root when he lived in London: From his office near Buckingham Palace, he observed the planting of thousands of tulips. He also traveled frequently to Holland, where the flowers have been prized since the 16th century.
Phil starts planting his tulips in late November or after the first frost. He designs and digs trenches and places each bulb individually, this year about 750. (His all-time high is 2,100 bulbs!) Then he covers them with four to six inches of soil. Recently he has hired neighbors David Maya-Shelton and Jayden and Austin Jackson to help in the labor-intensive activity.
A major challenge is foiling predators, responsible for ruining up to 25 percent of the tulip garden. Squirrels dig up bulbs, but don’t seem to eat them. “They taunt me,” Phil laughs, “and then they throw away the bulbs,” leaving them on neighbors’ porches and in their yards. He places chicken wire over the bulbs to deter the pesky rodents and removes it so the tulips can grow when the weather warms. Deer don’t dig up the bulbs, but they do eat the blooms. “It’s constant effort,” says Phil, “vigilance is required.” He jokes that the deer of Grace Church may have changed their eating patterns after he placed signs directing them to a nearby street for better food.
Phil recommends purchasing tulip bulbs from colorblends.com. He also welcomes visitors to his garden. This writer has the advantage of seeing the vibrant flower display from her kitchen window, but you can take in the view come springtime. We’ll look for you on our street.
On May 1, 2022, the NWCA Board and Community Design Committee dedicated the first North Woodside Memorial Bench, in honor of longtime community volunteer, Woody Brosnan. The short ceremony, held in the “pocket park” at the intersection of Lanier Drive and 3rd Avenue, included a ribbon cutting by Mr. Brosnan’s wife, current North Woodside resident and NWCA Secretary Amy Henchey, plus memories of Mr. Brosnan’s dedication to local service by neighbor Gus Bauman.
If you would like to contribute to the cost of the bench you may make a donation to the NWCA’s new Neighborhood Beautification and Memorial Fund. To donate by check or PayPal, follow the directions on our NWCA Dues page.
Under the inspired leadership of Bertie LoPiccolo, neighbors and friends gathered on an unseasonably beautiful President’s Day to help Julie Savage and Keith Carlson lay a mosaic path leading to their newly built backyard ADU (accessory dwelling unit).
“I dreamed of building a healing, welcoming ADU space for my small therapy practice and imagined a whimsical, joyful path leading up to it — a piece of community artwork that would bring people together. Bertie caught the vision and made it happen, with the added expertise of Suz Podrasky and many first-time mosaic artists.
In the days leading up to pouring the concrete, I gathered small mosaic creations from anyone who had any inclination to contribute. (Thank you to so many in the neighborhood!) The finished path is a magical collection of birds, bugs, trees, words, a cicada, rainbow, sun, moon, small house, and so much more.
Feel free to come to 1914 Grace Church Rd. and check it out anytime. In challenging times, I hope it will be a reminder of all the good that is possible when we come together in new and beautiful ways.”
Need the inside or outside of your house repainted? Got a chair that needs re-upholstering? Desiring some custom-made cabinets? Interested in taking cello lessons or an art class? In need of assistance resolving a conflict? Looking for a unique handmade piece of jewelry or hat? There are neighbors who offer all these services/products and more!
Over 2 million refugees have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks. While over half of them have gone to Poland, more than 230,000 refugees have poured into Moldova, a country the size of Maryland with a population of just 2.6 million; Moldova has welcomed more refugees per capita than any other country. For a sense of scale, this is akin to 30 refugee families suddenly arriving in North Woodside and needing neighbors to provide food, shelter, clothes, diapers, legal and medical services, and more. For more information about the refugee situation in Moldova, a couple recent news articles:
North Woodside resident Lilian Pintea grew up in Moldova and his mother and many close family members live there. Last week he sent out a private appeal to neighbors for donations to support refugee relief efforts in Moldova. Dozens generously responded and this week he was able to wire the funds to Moldova to be put to immediate use. He has set up a public gofundme page to raise additional funds.
Those wishing to support refugee relief efforts have many worthy options to choose from. If you would like to support refugee efforts at the local level in Moldova and receive updates on how the funds are being used, consider supporting this neighbor’s gofundme campaign.
Skip back to end of the school year 2002. What happened to the Woodlin Wizards weather vane on the cupola atop our elementary school? It seems to have vanished! Bummer, “the pump don’t work cuz the vandals took the handle.”
My and my wife Patricia’s son Tony was finishing his last year there, and our two daughters attended there as well. So I got the notion to try to do something as a tribute for the school and the wonderful principal, Emily Kesser, like making a new weather vane to replace the one taken by the vandals. Having been around the block a few times in my youth, I had an idea. Signs went up around the area offering a no-questions-asked $100 cash reward for the weather vane’s return or its simply being put in our yard. Wishful thinking. No takers. These kids today don’t need any money. Too affluent a neighborhood, I suppose.
I learned that the Woodlin PTA was instrumental in getting the first Wizard weather vane made by a local metal artist, David Hubbard. I visited David and lo and behold, he still had the original full-size drawing of our Wizard. Piece of cake!! I got ahold of some stainless steel sheet metal and started cutting and welding. Metalwork is one of my hobbies—go-carts and minibikes and such. When I installed this new Wizard on top of the school—completely ignoring what the school maintenance staff said to me about going up on the roof (it’s my nature)—where it now lives, I got advice from metalworkers on how to install it in such a way as to make it just about impossible to steal again. One-way screws and a detent in the shaft did the security trick. I may have to go back up there to remove it for the rebuild if the contractors and construction personnel can’t handle it. What a fine old Wizard we have. I hope the new school has a spot planned for it.
Beacon Editor’s note: Woodlin Elementary School’s PTA President reports that the school’s cupola (including the weather vane) is to be incorporated into a “learning lawn” that will face Luzerne Ave.
An Interview with Anthony St. Hill, USPS Postal Carrier by Anna White
If you live in the neighborhood, particularly on Glen Ross Rd. or south, there’s a good chance you’ve crossed paths with Anthony St. Hill, a USPS postal carrier who has delivered mail to the neighborhood for almost 15 years—as a one-day-a-week replacement carrier for over six years and then full-time for the past eight. He is one of two postal carriers who serve North Woodside full-time; the other is Marqueze Bradley, who has delivered in the northern section of North Woodside for three years. Known for his conscientious service, Anthony knows by heart the names and addresses of all the neighbors—human and canine—along his route. In January, he graciously agreed to a phone interview on his one day off.
What is a typical workday and workweek for you?
On a regular day, we deliver packages and mail simultaneously. Only during Christmas season do we deliver earlier. Then we come in at 5:00 am and deliver packages until 8:00 am. My normal route starts at 7:45 am and goes to 4:25 pm—that’s my regular eight-hour day—but every day we have an additional two to three hours. I work six days a week. For regular carriers, the only day off is Sunday.
Do you get overtime pay?
Yes, we do get overtime because we are unionized. We get overtime after eight hours and then after 10 hours, we go into penalty time, which is double. We work anywhere from 10 to 12 hours on a daily basis. And with this COVID and stuff it’s even worse. Sometimes we have 10 to 12 carriers out sick, and then we have to cover those routes because the mail and the packages have to go there every day.
COVID has impacted your work?
At my station now we have about 10 carriers out. [Last year] it was the same way, and I was out. At the beginning I thought it was pneumonia, but when I got tested I was positive. Some of the people who worked next to me tested positive and management never told me, so then I was out almost the entire month of January 2021. With COVID it makes [the job] more strenuous, working longer hours on a daily basis, due to packages increasing with everyone ordering online and covering coworkers who are out sick.
What do you like about working in the neighborhood?
I love working in the neighborhood. For me, it’s like a family environment because I know each and every tenant on my route and they know me. I start at 2nd Ave. where the nursing home is and cover 2nd Ave., Hanover, Glen Ross, Lanier, Grace Church, Elkhart, 16th, the townhouses on Lyttonsville, the high-rises—all that is my environment. The families know me, the kids they know me, even the pets know me. I love my route because I love my tenants. They look out for me, and I look out for them. Most of my customers have access to my phone number. When they don’t see me for two or three days they call me to make sure I’m okay, on vacation. Is there any way neighbors could make doing your job easier? If you have a dog [that stays outside] put your mailbox at the curb to avoid any dog biting, because dogs are by nature territorial. That’s the only thing I would say. If the dog is inside, no problem. Most biting happens during summertime and other times when children are on break; children like to run outside to play and [forget] to close the storm door. If you are expecting mail, make sure your dog is inside.
Any interesting stories related to delivering mail in the neighborhood?
There are dogs I have to say hi to. When the owners are walking them and they pick up my scent I have to say hello to them or just pet them or they will not continue. And those are big dogs—Chula, she’s a pit bull. She lives in the high-rise. Anytime the owner walks her, she says, “Chula becomes a puppy when she sees you!” I have to pet her or she will not let the owner carry her anywhere else. Then I have Luna, on Lanier. She’s a husky with blue eyes. Same way. I have to say hi to her or she will not move. And I have Charlie. I have to say hello to him every time [or he] will keep barking and barking. People ask me, “You not afraid of dogs?” No, I grew up knowing dogs. I know about dogs. [The dogs on my route] are like extended family. Have to say hi to them or they will not continue their walk.
Is there anything about yourself you’d like to share with neighbors?
I was born in Panama, and I dance my national music. That is what exposed me to the world. My first travel outside of my country was [through dancing]. I used to perform on a ship in the Panama Canal from 1984 all the way to 1999, when I came to the United States. And I still perform my national music. I was one of the top dancers when I used to perform in my country. And I still perform here. I like it. I love it. I retired from dancing for six to seven years, but I started dancing again.
Like you to know I’m married, I have five kids, four grandbabies. That’s basically it. I’m a very religious person. I’m a faith Christian. God is the center my life. I’m Episcopalian. I usually go to church every Sunday. Only Sunday don’t go to church when I have to work. Other than that in church every Sunday. And that’s it. That’s who I am.
UPDATE: September 9, 2022 is Anthony’s final day delivering mail in the neighborhood. If you would like to express your appreciation to Anthony for his many years of excellent service, contact the NWCA Communications Coordinator for more information.
A flat tire is one of the most common mishaps that can occur while riding a bike. A piece of metal, glass, or even a thorn can end an otherwise enjoyable ride. I am offering a free hands-on workshop to show you how to repair a flat tire while on the road or trail. At the end of the two-hour session you will know how to remove a damaged wheel, identify the cause of the flat, locate the puncture, repair the inner tube, and what basic tools you should carry to take care of such an emergency. All materials, including patches, cement, practice tubes, and written step-by-step instructions will be provided.
Sessions will be limited to two participants, ages 16 and up, and will be held outdoors on my deck with plenty of spacing between us. Masks will be required. Bring your bikes to practice removing a wheel and mounting it when the repair is completed. We will practice patching a puncture on inner tubes that I provide. I plan to hold these sessions through the spring and summer. If interested, please contact me to schedule our workshop.
Kudos to Manuel who has serviced a whopping 98 bikes for free since April 2020 and fixed up and given away 32 donated bikes!
For more information about Manuel’s bike tune up services and bike donation project:
Let me run a couple of scenarios by you. Raise your mental hand if they seem familiar.
You consider racism abhorrent and often tell yourself and others that you don’t see race.
You want to acknowledge the contributions of Blacks, so every February you assign your students readings from Black authors, attend the Black History Month celebration at work, and talk to your children about it.
You like diversity in schools and neighborhoods because it prepares kids to deal with a world full of people of different races and ethnicities.
Keep these scenarios in mind and read on.
This summer, amid the anguish and rage that peaked with the murder of George Floyd at the knee of a police officer, our neighborhood’s kids did us proud. Luca Utterwulghe, 17, and Avery Smedley, 17, both of Luzerne Ave., called a meeting to discuss how our community can support the needed transformation for racial equality and justice in our country and county. Above their great advice, we heard a question anyone with kids has heard before: “Are we there yet?”
In the car ride of racial equity, their impatience with our slow driving is justified. To speed things up, they call on us to be antiracists by actively identifying and eliminating racism through changes in systems, organizational structures, policies, practices, and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.
Think about the scenarios above. If you don’t see race, can you see racism? Can you notice if your workplace’s hiring practices keep people of color out even unintentionally?
If you don’t see race, do you consider the potential dire consequences before calling the police on a Black person? Do you wonder what made you think the police were needed?
In your syllabus, are all the Black contributions crowded in February? Do you solicit Black expertise only about racial matters?
When you think about diversity, is it your kids or their kids you are thinking off? Is it hard to hear that kids of color are not “training wheels” for when white kids graduate to the “big bike” that is the world? What else would you do to achieve that diverse environment? Would you move to a mostly Black neighborhood? You say those schools are bad? Why? And why should income and zip code determine the quality of kids’ education?
We try to do right, but as our exasperated kids tell us, waiting for the arc of history to bend towards justice is taking too darn long. We need new approaches and changes at every level. Some of it begins by talking about things that hurt. (Trust that none of us, including people of color, find these conversations easy.)
Even our language needs to change—why capitalizing Black is meaningful—to confront and unlearn racist mindsets to act in accordance with our values.
Hear out Black people when they bring up issues and actions that you might not have thought were racist. People of color don’t often expect racial slurs in this neighborhood, but inadvertent slights are all too common.
Let friends and family know that neighborhood schools give us an immediate opportunity for committed antiracist action. We can support equity-focused and antiracist policies at the county level and at the Board of Education. Begin with advocating for the pending district-wide boundary analysis.
You can email MCPS Board members to call for police-free schools. The presence of police is experienced quite differently by Black and brown children. Use the hashtag #CounselorsNotCops.
Let’s start having difficult conversations in small groups or one-on-one. Are you concerned about any of this? Have you had a negative experience with a neighbor or passerby? We can talk it out as neighbors and fellow citizens. If we can’t talk to the people who live nearby, our chances as a country are slim.
Woody Brosnan, a North Woodside resident for more than 30 years, died at home on April 15, 2020. Self-described as a “civic busybody” and called the Mayor of North Woodside by others, Woody was an active community volunteer and organizer, who served on the board of the North Woodside Citizens Association.
The news of his death spurred an outpouring of tributes, with neighbors describing him as a great neighbor; a kind and principled human being; a leader in our community; a decent, kind soul; a mainstay of the neighborhood; an anchor of the community and so many good causes; a tireless activist; and his death as a huge loss for our neighborhood and the larger community.
Woody and family moved here at a period when I was president of our citizens association and then chairman of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). It was during what the press called the Silver Spring War, between 1984 and 1996. As Woody became engaged with the issues (Purple Line was a part of the overarching struggles), we would talk. In time, he came to work for an At-Large County Councilmember who lived in the Bethesda area. In those years, he importantly brought to her office a perspective about Silver Spring’s unique character and attributes that she otherwise would not have had. She grasped the significance of a new Blair High School and Purple Line and revitalized downtown Silver Spring. As chairman of MNCPPC and thereafter, Woody would remind me of the value of our modest Sligo Golf Course, “Even though you’re no golfer, Gus.” I always valued Woody’s quiet voice.
Resolution Honoring James “Woody” Brosnan
December 15, 2019
The North Woodside Citizens Association hereby resolves to honor the contributions of James “Woody” Brosnan to the neighborhood of North Woodside and the greater Silver Spring community.
As a longtime resident of North Woodside, and former president of the Citizens Association, Woody spent many years working to improve the quality of life of those who live here. His capacity to see all sides of an issue and pragmatic approach to problem solving have helped to shape the neighborhood’s approach to many issues.
His dedication to bettering the lives around him goes beyond his immediate neighborhood. In addition to serving on the Association’s executive board, Woody has also been a longtime member of the Presidents’ Council of Silver Spring Civic Associations (Prezco), co-founder of Safe Silver Spring, president of the Sligo Creek Golf Association, and staffer for former Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg. His leadership across a range of organizations has served to inspire others to get involved in efforts to improve the community.
Besides his community service, Woody is also well known as a loving husband and father and for his distinguished career as a journalist.
Those who live in North Woodside are lucky to have Woody Brosnan as a neighbor, friend and community leader. We take great honor in recognizing Woody’s contributions to our neighborhood and thanking him for his service and friendship.