All posts tagged: Silver Spring MD

Observations from…The City of the Future

Depending on your age and where you lived, your childhood construction toys of choice may have been Tinkertoys (my favorite); Meccano (if you or your grandparents were European); an Erector Set (I may still have the scar from falling off the top bunk onto one of our construction sites); or Legos (our children’s favorite). I started thinking about construction toys while standing on the top level of the Silver Spring transit center this afternoon, talking with an engineer, and looking down at the vast construction site that is now our front yard (of sorts). My mind wandered to, “These men and women on the site below may have started out on the family rug many years ago with the Erector Set.” Some of them may, in fact, be living their dream! For the past twenty years, we have lived in downtown Silver Spring. We cross a relatively narrow residential street and a small plaza set in the center of an office complex to get to the Metro station, which houses the Red Line. I use …

Observations from Home: The Silver Spring Day Off Edition

If you don’t read anything else in this post, go to the bottom and watch the last video.  Morgan James is beautiful and has a wonderful voice, but you won’t be able to take your eyes off the Tambourine Man.  He’ll bring you up, no matter how down you are.  And you’ll thank me for it. Now, on to the rest of the post. I seldom take a weekday off where I’m at home in Silver Spring.  Yet after working about 20 weekends in a row (perhaps I exaggerate), I decided to take today off and make it  a three-day weekend.  It was interesting to be around downtown Silver Spring and see the following: Bikes are sprouting up everywhere one looks. First it was the Capital Bikeshare stations that arrived in downtown.  But in the last month, we’ve been inundated with the new dockless bikes, and today was the first time I walked around town and had the sense that they are EVERYWHERE!  (At least if you walk around the condo/apartment heavy downtown.)  They look …

Kefa Cafe

Gratitude turns what we have into enough

Among the institutions in our community of Silver Spring, few are beloved as much as a small coffee shop run by two sisters who left Ethiopia in the 1980s to escape violence and political upheaval.  Lene and Abeba Tsegaye – with the help of their brother – established Kefa Café in 1996.  In a recent Washington Post article celebrating the reopening of the shop after a fire, Lena said the two sisters, “…wanted their independent coffee shop to be a place where people talked to each other, not just another cafe where people buried their noses in laptops.” There is no WiFi at Kefa, named for the southwestern Ethiopia province where, the 9th-century legend goes, a goat herder named Kaldi saw his animals become so energized after eating coffee beans they couldn’t sleep.  “There is a history about coffee,” Abeba said. “It’s not just about getting caffeinated. People make big decisions around coffee.” The title comes from a sign they recently posted in their window, in celebration of their 20th anniversary in Silver Spring.  I …

Observations from the road: (The family, friends, community edition)

This is a tale of family gathering to grieve in the best way possible – by telling stories.  It is a tale of being part of a community. It includes guitars.  (Always guitars.) And it includes a haircut in a mini-United Nations. Hang with me.  I’ll try to be brief. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I received a call early in the morning from my sister Debbie.  She called to tell me that our brother-in-law Raouf – husband of my younger sister Carol – had passed away suddenly as a result of a heart attack.  Their two boys had come home from college the day before and the family had shared a meal together on Tuesday night.   By mid-day Wednesday, their lives had changed forever. My older brother Steve and I spoke.  We were not able to get to the funeral, but quickly agreed to find a mutual time to travel to Tennessee to see Carol and the rest of the family. Our father – he of the recent 90th birthday – had just moved into …

Silver Spring Farmers Market 07 19 14

Just another beautiful day in Silver Spring

Have I mentioned recently how much we love our local farmers market? Candice and I were downtown bright and early at 9 a.m. to do our weekly shopping at the Silver Spring FreshFarm Farmers Market. (Julie at Evensong Farm sells out of her eggs quickly, so the early bird gets the worm…or, more appropriately, the best eggs in the Washington area!) We now buy more than half of our weekly groceries at the Silver Spring Farmers Market, and today was no exception. As I was waiting for Candice to pick through the ears of corn at the Spring Valley Farm stand, I looked up and saw this beehive of activity around food, flowers, and community — and couldn’t resist the shot. After making our stops at Talking Breads (the scone this week was especially tasty with my eggs at breakfast), North Cove Mushrooms (for our usual pound of shiitake and oyster mushrooms), Blue Ridge Dairy (love the butter and Greek Yogurt) and many more stands too numerous to mention, Candice commented on how the sights …

The Best Places to Raise Your Children…Murfreesboro Edition

(NOTE: See my 2020 update to this post here.) Business Week magazine just included Murfreesboro, Tennessee as one of the best places to raise your children.  Well, if they’d just asked me I could have told them that a long time ago. For years now, I’ve been using a little vignette about growing up in Murfreesboro as a part of a talk I give about the livability of towns and cities.  While Business Week focuses on Murfreesboro as a recession-proof college town, I believe there’s a lot more to it. When I think of home, I remember 407 East Main Street in Murfreesboro.  I grew up in Murfreesboro when it was a city of 35,000 people.  My parents bought a simple 1880s-era home on Main Street because it had an apartment where my grandmother could live with us.  Over the course of twenty years, four generations of our family lived under this roof. Murfreesboro has a history that was very real and very present to me as a child.  I could walk four blocks to the town square, …

In Praise of Independent Coffee Houses

Dolores emailed me this morning to say that our neighborhood coffee house here in Silver Spring – Kefa Cafe – was having a customer appreciation day with free food.  Candice and I had been looking for a time to have a coffee together, so we braved the remnants of Hanna that are making their presence felt in Washington today and enjoyed our coffee, pastries, and good company. There’s a nice post on Kefa on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s This Place Matters site where Dolores tells why this is her Third Place in Silver Spring.  Run by two sisters since 1996, it is a great place to hang out, enjoy good food, and meet interesting people.  Candice and I shared our table today with two middle age guys who just returned from their weekly basketball game at a local gym…a tradition they’ve continued for 20 years. Support that special independent coffee house in your town.  Like all unique and special places, they are going too fast. More to come… DJB