Editorial: A Reason to Celebrate
Today, August 1 marks the official one year anniversary of the Germantown Pulse.
There have been great stories of triumph, such as the Northwest football team’s run to repeat as Maryland State Champs, as well as the surprising and exciting playoff run by the Seneca Valley boys basketball team over the winter.
There have been stories that have inspired us, such as the neighbors who set up a GoFundMe account to help the family who had lost everything to a house fire on Wanegarten Court in March.
The Germantown Pulse has grown each month, thanks in large part to word-of-mouth from readers and friends. In one year, with a very small marketing budget, the Pulse has grown from 301 unique users for the entire first week of existence last August to an average weekly reach of 3,930 unique users. In July, 16,493 unique users turned to the Pulse for local news and information.
Thanks to our readers those numbers continue to grow.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
As the Germantown Pulse embarks on its second year of existence, the hope is that we’ve earned the trust of our readers and that you too are encouraged by our growth. The ultimate mission of the Germantown Pulse is to, in some small way, make our community a better place to live and work.
Since the beginning, the Germantown Pulse has wanted to somehow create a sense of civic pride in the Germantown area. And while we have expanded our coverage a bit to include more Clarksburg and Damascus news since The Gazette Newspapers stopped production, Germantown has remained our main focus.
Germantown residents have a lot to be proud of, and we could all do a better job in celebrating and advocating for the place where we live, work, and play.
Which is why it was so very encouraging, back in June, to attend the first meeting of the Germantown Alliance 2.0, as it was called. As an unincorporated town, Germantown is at a disadvantage compared to other Montgomery County towns such as Rockville or Gaithersburg, which are incorporated and have an elected figurehead that can advocate for their community. Germantown does not have a mayor. The official elected representative of Germantown is Councilmember Craig Rice, who does a great job, but he is alone on the County Council in representing the interests of Germantown as the Representative from District 2.
Yes, there are four at-large members who represent all of Montgomery County including Germantown, but three of them live within two miles of each other in Takoma Park, which is 25 miles from Germantown. The fourth lives in Garrett Park, which is 17 miles from Germantown. Their distance from Germantown does not imply that they are not doing their best for Germantown, only that they are far removed from the day-to-day happenings in our area. Germantown is actually bigger than some of the incorporated areas. By comparison, Takoma Park is listed as being 2.089 square miles, with a population of 17,721. There is one at-large council member for every 5,907 people in Takoma Park, and they have a mayor and a city council because Takoma Park was incorporated in 1890. There isn’t even an MCPS high school within Takoma Park. They have three members of the County Council, but no high school.
Germantown is 10.8 square miles with a population of 90,676. If the reverse were true and the same ratio is applied, Germantown would have 15 at-large council members. However, that is just fantasy.
Twenty years ago, the Germantown Alliance became an important part of Germantown history as the members of the Alliance advocated for residents and businesses in the Germantown area. Unfortunately, in the last ten years, the Germantown Alliance has lost its status as a major political and social advocate, leaving the area without an independent voice for Germantown.
This summer the new Germantown Alliance has released an online survey that asks residents what they like best about living or working in Germantown, and what they would do to improve it. Organizers are hoping to re-form the Germantown Alliance and include as many organizations as possible.
The Germantown Octoberfest was a product of the Germantown Alliance. Sadly, it too is no longer around. It was announced earlier this year that there would be no more Octoberfest, leaving Germantown with no celebration of its civic pride -- no identity.
Just about every other community in Montgomery County has a celebration of its identity. Damascus has Damascus Day, Gaithersburg has Celebrate! Gaithersburg, Rockville has Hometown Holidays, Poolesville has Poolesville Day, Silver Spring has the Silver Spring Jazz Festival, and finally Takoma Park has the Takoma Park Folk Festival.
Germantown has no civic pride event. One of our high school football teams won back-to-back state championships, but there was no event held in town to celebrate that amazing accomplishment. You can be sure that if Takoma Park had a high school, and they won the Maryland State championship in anything, they would have held some sort of civic pride event.
While the idea of incorporating Germantown may be dead, that doesn’t mean that the 90,000 residents of Germantown should have to attend another community’s civic pride event to have the experience of civic pride. Let’s stop celebrating where other people live. Let’s do something to celebrate our hometown.
Germantown residents should urge community leaders and leaders of their local homeowners associations, PTAs, social groups, knitting circles, and running clubs to get involved in the new Germantown Alliance and find a way to celebrate all that is good about Germantown. Let’s all try to make Germantown a better place to live and work.
Getting started is as easy as clicking on the survey and sharing it with friends and neighbors. It is imperative that all residents, businesses, and civic groups participate and share the online survey, which can be accessed by clicking here. The survey will be open until the end of August.
It is the fervent hope of the Germantown Pulse that it can help Germantown become known for something more than being where the daily traffic back-ups start on I-270.
Is there really nothing to celebrate about living in Germantown? Those of us that live here know that there is. In the meantime, we can all celebrate the one year anniversary of the Germantown Pulse.