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Another Year of Thanks in Reston

Just in time for Turkey Day, I offer my annual list of what I'm thankful for in Reston.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! If you're headed out of town to see family for the holiday, I hope you aren't encountering too many travel hassles.  If you're hosting dinner here, I hope that your turkey and cranberry sauce preparations are going well.  (Save me a drumstick!)

In keeping with the tradition I established last year, I'd like to share with you the Reston-related things for which I am thankful. As I stated last year, I think it's important for us to express gratitude for our blessings in life. 

Because RCA serves as a community watchdog, we're frequently talking about matters that concern us.  We've seen (and I've written about) a lot of controversial issues in Reston this year, whether it's the funding plan for the Silver Line, the debates on the Master Plan Task Force, or development we believe runs counter to Reston's principles. 

But our concerns are born out of love for our community, and the belief that Reston is worth protecting.  There are things that could be better, but at its heart, Reston remains a great place to live, work, and play.  I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.  And I'm glad to take a break from writing about controversy for a week, and focusing on the positive side. 

With that in mind, here's what I'm thankful for for this year:

- I'm thankful again this year for my colleagues on the Reston Citizens Association.  We've done a lot this year to expand our issue portfolio, become a more vocal advocate for Reston, and strengthen our ties to other community organizations.  We couldn't have done any of that without the hard work and dedication of RCA's Board and committee members.  They've written reports and letter, attended meetings, spoken out at hearings, reached out to fellow Restonians, exchanged ideas via email, and worked for the betterment of Reston.  They've done all of this on top of their work and family responsibilities, and their commitment and spirit have never wavered.  Thanks to all of you.  I'm looking forward to another great year!

- I'm especially thankful for Ken Fredgren, chair of RCA's Reston Accessibility Committee.  I've praised Ken in this space before, and every word of it was deserved. He remains one of the politest and most good-humored people I know, and he works tirelessly to make Reston a better place to live for people with disabilities. 

This year, in addition to his usual duties with RAC, Ken commuted down to Richmond on a regular basis to participate in  the HJR 648 Work Group, which has proposed changes to Virginia's building code to make it more disability-friendly.  And he organized and hosted a community forum to urge Restonians to push for adoption of these changes.  Although Ken must deal with the limitations of post-polio syndrome, he manages to accomplish more than just about anyone I know.  I'm delighted to be able to support Ken and RAC in their work.

- I'm thankful for the members of the Master Plan Task Force.  Although the Task Force's work has been slow, and it remains to be seen how the plan changes will affect Reston's future,the Task Force members themselves deserve our thanks.  They have waded through the minutiae of planning principles and floor-area ratios and traffic studies, attended multi-hour meetings, and exchanged in an open and honest dialog about the tradeoffs that we must consider as we plan our future development.  Thanks for your commitment and diligence.

- I'm thankful to the Reston Association Board for their hard work and stewardship of our homeowner's association.  At meetings that often run deep into the night, the RA Board works to strike a balance between providing the facilities and services that Restonians want, without letting assessments rise too high or overrelying on borrowing.  There have been a fair number of complaints on Patch about the forthcoming assessment hike.  I understand the complaining; no one likes to pay more, and in this still-recovering economy, money is tight for a lot of folks.  But I believe RA is a responsible fiscal steward, and they're doing their best to maintain that difficult balance.

Also, I'm thankful to RA President Ken Kneuven and Vice President Andy Sigle for strengthening ties with RCA and ARCH, so that we can work together on community issues.  I believe our dialogue is working to Reston's benefit.

- I'm thankful for the Reston Community Center's new online registration.  I know RCC has been wanting to move to online registration for several years, and it's exciting to see that it's finally here.  I plan to enroll my daughter in swimming lessons at RCC this spring, and I'm glad that I'll be able to do it without standing in line or sweating out the results of the lottery system.  Congratulations to RCC on their new 21st-century registration system!

- I'm thankful for the people who pay attention to Reston issues.  With the Internet bringing the world to our doorstep, it's easier than ever to get caught up in what's happening on the other side of the globe, and forget what's happening in our backyard.  But there's no shortage of local matters, and they may have a tremendous impact on our lives.  So to all those who keep up, and especially those that speak up, thank you.  Whether or not we agree on the issues, your involvement is good for all of us.  An engaged citizenry is one of the best way to build a strong community, and Reston has that in spades.

- I'm thankful that the Nationals made the playoffs this year!  The Nats were a tremendously exciting and likeable team this season, and I was glad to be along for the ride as they rode a terrific rotation and a more-powerful-than-expected lineup to 98 wins and the first postseason baseball in DC since 1933.  (I'm less thankful for Game 5 of the Division Series, but I am thankful that I can now think back on that game without becoming physically ill.)

- I'm thankful for Pollo Peru.  I'm always glad to see a family-owned business make it in Reston, and I'm very grateful that I can satisfy my Peruvian chicken fix without leaving town.  I'm also thankful that they righted a wrong this year and added black beans to the menu.

- On the home front: I'm thankful for my daughter, Leslie.  She is growing into a caring, funny, smart, loving, thoughtful, and eloquent young woman.  She's a talented flutist and an aspiring scientist.  Next year, she'll be taking on middle school.  After that, the world!

I'm thankful for my parents, both for their love and support over the years, and for taking care of Leslie on the nights when I have one of my many community meetings.  You guys are the best!

And last but certainly not least, I'm thankful for my girlfriend, Jennifer.  Your support, love, and caring give me the strength to take on the challenges I face.  Your sage advice makes me a better community leader and a better person.  I look forward to many more years by your side.  I love you!

Thanks to all of you who took the time to read this, and who read me regularly and comment on my posts.  May this year bring us all many reasons to be thankful.

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Speaking of giving thanks, are you thankful for a Restonian who works hard on behalf of our community?  Then nominate him or her for RCA Citizen of the Year!  You can download the form from RCA's website.  Get your nominations in by December 7th!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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