Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Good Neighbors

I am unaccustomed to running into my neighbors at HoCo politico events. It just doesn't happen. Over the six years we've lived in our current neighborhood, it’s only happened three times. The third time occurred last week at Courtney Watson's event in Columbia when I ran into my next door neighbors, the good ones.

Seven years ago, as our side by side homes were being built, I first met Hatem. Later we would become introduced to his wife and two children. Maha now brings her homemade baklava to our 3rd of July parties. When they traveled back to visit family in Egypt, we kept an eye on their house.

At the party, Hatem told me that he was on the board of the Howard County Muslim Council and explained some of the work that the council is doing in the community. He made a point to mention that Courtney regularly attends their functions and has been supportive of their efforts.

I loved this moment. I often lament about the sad state of loco civic engagement and awareness. When I suddenly discovered that, right next door, another neighbor was quietly doing his part to make HoCo a better place to live, it made me happy.

In contrast, on the other side of my house is a family that has also moved in at the same time. They have two daughters and after seven years I don’t even know their names.

We spoke a little about the plans for a Muslim school and worship center in western HoCo. I told Hatem that a friend of mine is on the executive board of Residents for the Responsible Development of Woodmont, which “opposes the project currently proposed by Dar-Us-Salaam of College Park because it’s size and intensity are far in excess of what RRDW believes is reasonable for the Rural Conservation district and the rural west of Howard County”

I sincerely hope that the Dar-Us-Salaam community and the greater Cooksville community can reach some sort of mutual accommodation on this. There are good people on both sides of this zoning debate so there is good reason to be hopeful.
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