4th Annual Talbot Avenue Bridge Lantern Walk

Begun in 2018, the Talbot Avenue Bridge Lantern Walk is an annual local community event that weaves together neighborhoods once divided by racial segregation. All are welcome! Come join us in shining our lights in the darkness, promoting unity over division, remembering the past and taking steps toward a brighter future…

WHEN: Saturday, November 13, 2021
Gather at 5:15pm, Lantern Walk will commence at 5:30pm

WHERE: 4th Avenue and Hanover Street (North Woodside)
to Talbot Avenue and Lanier Road (Lyttonsville), via Brookville Road
See below for three different ways to participate
View route

BRING: Warm clothing, a lantern, and a bell to ring, if you have one
Any type of lantern will do, from a tea light candle in a glass jar to something more elaborate, either handmade or store-bought. You can find many ideas online. If you have the time and energy, you are encouraged to get creative!  Extra lanterns and tea light candles will be available for anyone who needs them.

For more information, any event updates, and to RSVP for this event visit:
bit.ly/TABLanternWalk

Questions? Contact the Talbot Avenue Bridge Committee (consisting of Lyttonsville, North Woodside, and Rosemary Hills residents): talbotavenuebridgecommittee@gmail.com

WAYS TO PARTICIPATE

1) Join for the whole lantern walk.  As the route is again not a loop, as in previous years, this means that North Woodside residents will need to walk back or have someone pick them up in Lyttonsville.

2) Join for a portion of the lantern walk.  For example, some North Woodside residents could join for the portion that goes through the neighborhood (e.g. 4th Ave -> Warren St/A Wider Circle)

3) Watch the lantern walk pass by.  Neighbors who live along the route can come out of their homes to watch, wave, and hold a candle or lantern of their own in solidarity.  Neighbors who live elsewhere can come stand along the lantern walk route and do the same.

Safety Precautions: Any young children who participate should be closely supervised by adults. And all participants are encouraged to RSVP ahead of time, so we have a good sense of expected numbers and can adjust safety precautions accordingly.

Video of the inaugural Talbot Avenue Bridge Lantern Walk (2018):

Support the Education of Low-Income and Marginalized Kids in MCPS

The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately hurting low-income and Black and brown families, whose adults are overrepresented among essential workers. Their children, especially the younger ones, are falling further behind academically.The new Educational Equity and Enrichment Hubs provide a safe opportunity for in-person support for MCPS K-5 students, based on financial need. Learn more here: www.equityhubs.org.

To make a donation, visit here: www.thecommunityfoundation.org/cof-contribution. Any amount helps; in the Comments box add “For the Equity Hubs.”

* One student = $20
* Cohort of 13 students = $250
* Hub of 52 students = $1,000

— Isabel M. Estrada Portales

Kids Ask Again, Are We There Yet?

In June, Avery Smedley and Luca Utterwulghe (above at left), seniors at Albert Einstein High School, led a well-attended community conversation on racism.

By Isabel M. Estrada Portales

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?”

Avery Smedly, the President of AEHS’s Black Student Union and the founder/leader of Montgomery County Students Toward Equitable Public Schools (STEPS). Luca Utterwulghe, also part of STEPS, is a co-leader of AEHS’s Montgomery County Students for Change. Naomi Weintraub, a youth educator, also helped organize the event. This section incorporates information from a handout they distributed.

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.

There is a lot more, but how about we just talk? Contact Isabel.

On [Not] Making That Call

By Karin Chenoweth

Quite a few years ago North Woodside had a rash of burglaries, and the citizens association held a meeting with the police department at Woodlin Elementary School.

A detective suggested we call the police if we saw someone we didn’t recognize walking down the street. I felt pride when my neighbors objected to the suggestion on account of the many people who cut through Glen Ross and Luzerne to their jobs on Brookville Road.

We often see people we don’t recognize, and even then we knew that calling the police would make our neighborhood hostile and dangerous for many who are just trying to get to work and school. His advice would mean that mostly white neighbors would make miserable the lives of mostly Hispanic and African American men.

Afterwards, I felt confident that we were not a neighborhood where the police are called with little cause. It’s been many years since that meeting, and we may need to rethink this issue.

With the pandemic shutdown, I’ve noticed a big uptick in people taking walks. Many of them I do not recognize, but of course most working people were not taking walks midday before. I suspect that, just as I’ve been doing, more people are walking farther afield and venturing into new neighborhoods.

As a middle-to-older-age white woman, I’m pretty much invisible (I can prove it!). There are downsides to that, but one upside is that no one calls the police or posts on Nextdoor “old lady in sweat pants walking around, keep an eye out.”

I’d like to think that everyone gets the same courtesy.

People may not like to hear it, but we are an urban suburb. We have enormous infrastructure supporting us — sewers, trash pickup, two Metro stops within a mile, and a major state road and federal highway within a few blocks. Walk to the end of Grace Church Road and look east — you almost think you could throw a ball at the Silver Spring high-rise buildings.

The flip side is traffic (remember that?). But a huge advantage is what we may love about our quiet tree-lined neighborhood: we know and like many of our neighbors; we can walk to grocery stores, restaurants, movies; and transit takes us to museums, more restaurants, and the political heart of our country.

So we may like to feel secluded from the bustle of the world, but we are right next to it. Many people walk through our neighborhood, and that will vastly increase if the Purple Line is finished. I think that’s great.

I want to live in a neighborhood others choose to walk through because they like the flowering trees and beautiful gardens, the dogs in the yards, birds building nests, and interesting architecture.

I don’t want to live in a neighborhood hostile to people of color, where the police get called on them just for walking down the street, or where emails fly around warning of a “man in a hoodie.”

Our nation has been forced to face the role police play in keeping African American men, women, and children from enjoying their rights as full citizens in a country largely built on the labor of their forebears. And we have seen far too many videos of white people using the police as weapons against African Americans (think Amy Cooper in Central Park).

I hope we think more than twice about why someone arouses our suspicions. Until police procedures are reformed, we must understand that calling the police could result in death or serious injury. We might want to think that couldn’t happen in Montgomery County. But it has. And it probably will again. Let’s try not to be the ones making an unjustifiable call with unforeseeable consequences.

Supplement: Before Calling the Police, Ask Yourself

Before Calling the Police, Ask Yourself…

Hundreds of residents of Rosemary Hills, Lyttonsville, and North Woodside gathered in June for a candlelight vigil in memory of George Floyd, a Black man murdered by Minneapolis police. Participants were silent for 8 minutes 46 seconds, the length of time an officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck. His last words: I can’t breathe.

Before Calling the Police, Ask Yourself:

1. Is this merely an inconvenience to me? → Can I put up with this and be okay?

2. No, I need to respond. → Can I handle this on my own? Is this something I could try to talk out with the person?

3. No, I need backup. → Is there a friend, neighbor, or someone whom I could call to help me?

4. No, I need a professional. → Can we use mediation to talk through what’s happening, or is there an emergency response hotline I could call?

5. No. → If I call the police, do I understand how involving the police could impact me and the other person? If police are present do I know what to do? See below for some alternatives

Alternatives to Calling Police

And Ways to Help in Montgomery County

Mediation: Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County
301-652-0717, Mon.–Fri. 9:30 am–4:30 pm, or submit an online request. Mediation is a free, confidential, nonjudgmental, and voluntary process to develop solutions to conflict.

Mental Health: Montgomery County 24 Hour Crisis Center
240-777-4000
Provides services 24 hours/day year-round. Mobile Crisis Outreach will respond anywhere within Montgomery County to provide emergency psychiatric evaluations. Full crisis assessments and treatment referrals are provided for psychiatric and situational crises.

Victim Support and Sexual Assault: Montgomery County Victim and Sexual Assault Program (VASAP)
240-777-4357, 24-hours/day
Information and referral, advocacy, crisis and ongoing counseling, support and compensation services for victims of crimes committed in Montgomery County or crime victims who live in Montgomery County, as well as to the victims’ families and significant others.

Severe Heat or Cold: Montgomery County 24 Hour Crisis Center
If someone needs shelter.

Source: SURJ Montgomery County

Black Lives Matter in North Woodside

A neighbor participates in the weekly Black Lives Matter Vigil

As tragic story after tragic story attests, racism and racial bias remain a huge and deeply rooted problem in our country. Indeed there is much work to do. A good place to start would be right here where we live. In the Fall 2020 issue of the Beacon, two members of North Woodside’s antiracism group invited neighbors to reflect on the Black Lives Matter movement as it pertains to our community, and to take action.

On [Not] Making That Call
by Karin Chenoweth

Supplement: Before Calling the Police, Ask Yourself

Kids Ask Again, Are We There Yet?
by Isabel M. Estrada Portales