Words, Words and More Words...
Our newest columnist Joan Christian shares about her experience moving to Bowie and how things have changed over her 14 years here.
The move from Tuxedo, NY to Bowie, MD held the promise of a beautiful new phase in my life. Retirement offered unexpected excitement as I met new neighbors, sorority sisters, local politicians and a glimpse of the opportunities and history of this place called Bowie.
Bill Alshire was the first political contact responding to a call for help. Until we got to know him, we might have felt he was just too good to be real. But real he was. Bill was wonderfully compassionate and always 'on the dime'. He passed on a few years ago. What a loss...
We learned that the bumpy, winding asphalt covered Church Road that fronted many of our newer communities was actually an improvement over the stone road which had served as a connector to the farm communities surrounding two Episcopal Churches, Trinity to the North, and St. Barnabas to the South. Church Road began at the intersection of Annapolis Road until winding its way across the single lane country road of Central Avenue and then on to its terminus at St. Barnabas and St. Anne's School.
I always believed that the state celebrated my coming by making Central Avenue a two lane highway! This month marks the fourteenth year of my Bowie tenure. I guess I'm almost a long time resident! Let's celebrate!
Living in this part of the universe, a newcomer soon becomes aware of the complexity of just living. Understanding the roads is one thing, understanding the mindset of some long time settlers is quite another. Boasting of their long term residency, settlers claiming 25 to 35 years or more in Bowie were heard to bemoan the 'change' these new folks brought to their beloved town of farm plantations. The probability that the newcomers had spent equal time building the communities from which they came held little truck with those claiming the blood of the original settler class in their veins.
A conversation with military veteran and college educated octogenarian, Kenneth Mills, brings the light of reality to the historical picture. Long term residents of color were not admitted into the halls of the 'elite' settler class. Segregation openly barred equal access to city employment; restaurant service, meeting halls, churches; sporting events, schools, retaining family properties and getting public funding for infrastructure projects in the poorer communities.
Today, with the arrival of thousands of politically astute tax paying newcomers, many of the discriminatory protocols have become less transparent. The new residents have staked the rights conferred by the status of their property taxes, local community organizations (HOAs), presence at city wide gatherings and involvement on task forces, state, county and city committees and elections to determine the political and structural direction of their city. However the same proclivities I witnessed in NY are clearly evident here in Bowie and its environs.
Recently the local and regional press cleared the decks for an all out assault on some local politicians. Many neighbors questioned, just what was the real deal? The feeding frenzy was a reporter's picnic, giving little heed to facts while utilizing words which described much but said little of any substance.
What has continued for several weeks is a spectacle of accusations, innuendos and counter attacks which would never be permitted in the UK or any other democracy. Comments sprinkled liberally throughout the news briefs included, "Seems connected to...", "Alleged tampering with evidence", "The tip of the iceberg...", " Alleged corruption", "May be linked to.." etc., etc., etc.
Whatever happened to the concept of 'Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt'? How many lives have been ruined because of such a rush to judgement? I keep wondering who would benefit from such an exercise?
And then what appears to surface is the process of the selection of the county council leadership. That pending election may have convinced some to take sides for their own benefit. What offers promise in this modern city of Bowie is that there are many residents, old and new, of all stripes and shades of opinions who are questioning the direction of the story and the role of the press in its drive to shape public opinion.
The journey continues.