Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Notes on the State of Virginia

While a little presumptuous of me, I thought that a good title. And I do belong to the political party founded by Jefferson even if it's been through many philosophical permutations over the past two hundred or so years. At least since the mid-60s, we are pretty solid on the principles that "all men and women are created equal" even if Jefferson himself didn't always live up to his own aspirations in that regard.

Reston City Center from the Hospital
Maybe I should call it "Notes on the State of Northern Virginia" as my kids who were down at Virginia Tech a couple of years ago say the culture is quite different down there. We are in the blue part - or as some say, the "communist" part of Virginia as opposed to the "pro-America" "real Virginia" farther south and west. It is fairly common to see Obama/Biden 2012 stickers on cars around here.
My slight shock came when the hospital staff came in with the papers to send off to Richmond for my granddaughter's birth certificate. It is interesting that her dad was born in Maryland and her Mom in Florida - all Eastern Seaboard below the Mason-Dixon line. Yes, I admit my prejudices against the old rebel confederacy. But I am pleased to report that at least in Northern Virginia, things are looking pretty good in a multi-cultural progressive sense.

Reston is a beautiful city. It's expensive, certainly. But it is well-organized and pleasant. It's a good mix of a planned community with a good government to private linkage - many of its support services, particularly recreation, are provided through a private neighborhood association. The schools here are good. I understand Fairfax County to be one of the top school districts in the country - even if maybe they lag a little behind Alexandria..

Not all of Northern Virginia is blue. I went to the DC LDS Temple in Maryland the other day. On the way back, not wanting to pay toll on the Dulles Access Road or park in the stalled traffic of the outer-loop of the beltway, I exited on Old Georgetown Pike as soon as I crossed the Potomac to Virginia. I knew where that came out on Route 7 right by Reston (near the Dollar Tree store where I got the "princess" pink balloons). Driving up through the beautiful woods I noticed some very large mansions, presumably of the 1%, with frequent Romney signs out front. I was tempted to stop and take a picture as the image sort of matched the alleged demographic of Governor Romney and his supporters. But I was anxious to get back to my kids and their daughter in the multi-ethnic and more economically middle.

The most striking feature is the amiable diversity of the population here in the DC suburbs. The other night before the birth we were over at the old, original Reston dating back to the 1960s and it reminded me of Bellevue on the East Side of Seattle in the days of my youth. Long before the Microsoft boom, Bellevue was the prosperous and progressive suburb with its 60s "modern" style communities built around lakes, parks and trendy shopping. We walked by the community center there in old Reston with some sort of party starting up with a bunch of Muslim people. Women were dressed in burqas and very fancy gowns with colored and golden trim carrying in food trays. Wait a minute. I just looked it up. Last Saturday was the last night of Ramadan! That's why they were having a night-time celebration.

I have spent a lot of my time here in hospitals and doctor's waiting rooms. Everything is good with my new granddaughter, but that's just the nature of the newborn business and someone has to be the chauffeur. Sitting around in medical centers one sees a real cross-section of the local community. It was fascinating to watch the multiple ethnic peoples coming and going, turbaned Sikhs, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, European-Americans, Asian Indian women in beautiful saris, and several mixed-race couples and families. They appeared to be professionals and blue-collar workers and everyday people of all kinds. I was very interested to see the hospital staff of all sorts of combinations of people mixing and sharing friendly time in the cafeteria. It was very American.

I think Thomas Jefferson would be pleased.

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