On Monday, we held the first meeting of the newly elected RCA Board. We have another strong Board this year, with many returning faces and a couple of new members with fresh ideas and energy. I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.
At the beginning of Monday's meeting, I asked each Board member to name one thing that RCA had done well in the past year, and one thing for us to work on this year. Our Board members noted with pride many of our accomplishments, such as the tireless work of the Reston 2020 Committee on issues such as the and the , the many achievements by Ken Fredgren and the this year, and the fact that we took our (and did so successfully, with no technical glitches). Everyone felt good about what we did over the past year, and with good reason.
However, I was even more interested to hear the Board's goals for the new year. And because I like the goals we came up with, I thought I'd share them with you, so that all of you know what RCA will be focusing on in the coming year.
- Strengthen our volunteer and fundraising efforts. These items are at the heart of any community organization, and RCA is no exception. The more money and manpower we have, the more we'll be able to accomplish for the betterment of Reston.
We've got a committee that's looking at avenues for volunteer recruitment, and we plan to establsh relationships with and with organizations such as Volunteer Fairfax. On the fundraising front, we've got several Board members (including our two new members, Sridhar Ganesan and Gary Lee Thomas) exploring options for bringing additional funds our way.
- Increase public awareness of our work. We've made strides on this front over the past year, from starting this blog to improving outreach to the local media, especially for 2020's projects. But we need to keep building on our communications, to ensure that all Restonians are aware of us and what we're doing.
That goal encompasses a number of things. It includes improving and explanding our website (more on this in a minute). It includes getting on Facebook and Twitter. It includes preparing and distributing press releases whenever we record a major accomplishment. It includes holding more on issues of interest to Restonians. It includes restarting our newsletter, so that we can reach Restonians directly in their inboxes. It includes having a greater presence in the community, at events and in general, spreading the word about who we are and what we do.
Our goal is to make sure that the average Restonian is as informed about RCA as the elite group that reads this blog on a regular basis. Our secondary goal is to make sure that our citizens can differentiate RCA in the "alphabet soup" of Reston organizations. As Hank Blakely noted at the meeting, "Whenever I tell people I'm with RCA, the first thing they ask is why their assessments keep going up."
- Keep fighting and educating the public about Silver Line funding and the looming toll crisis. As Terry Maynard noted at the meeting, now that on the Silver Line, there may be less public pressure on our elected officials to seek alternate funding sources to reduce the burden on Dulles Toll Road users. But Loudoun's participation doesn't change the math, and toll rates are still going to rise sharply unless alternate funding solutions are found.
RCA has been a leader in on this issue, and we need to keep the campaign going and continue agitating for a solution. We can't let MWAA and our leaders turn a blind eye to this issue. One idea that we discussed was to hold a community forum laying out the numbers and explaining why it is important to act. If we decide to hold such a forum, look for more information in this space very soon.
- Make our website a one-stop shop for RCA (and perhaps general Reston) information. RCA's website is currently static: the information does not change on a regular basis, and is updated only for events like the election. If you've read it once, you don't need to go back and look at it unless you forgot something.
We want to make the website into a dynamic experience, with information being updated on a regular basis. We want to give you a reason to keep coming back to the site. We plan to post agendas of upcoming meetings and minutes from previous ones. We plan to expand the information on our committees, so that you can know what they're up to right now. We plan to make it possible to donate to the RCA on our site, or to contact your Board representative directly. In short, we want to make the site the one place you need to go to find out what's happening with RCA.
Additionally, we discussed the idea of providing general information about the community on our site, such as a calendar of community events or news updates in emergencies. The recent derecho showed how fragile our communication network can be, and how important it is to have a reliable channel for news and information when calamity strikes. Although our next revision of the website will likely focus on providing RCA-specific information, we will explore ways to ensure that community information is shared in a timely manner, whether through RCA or another source.
- Take on more projects of wide public interest. RCA has a broad-based mission, and there are a lot of projects we could pursue that fall under our goals. Several Board members expressed a desire to expand our portfolio and take on issues that impact a wide cross-section of our citizens. We have several projects that meet those criteria: 2020's advocacy on the Silver Line and the Task Force speaks to matters that will affect the future of all our citizens, and RAC's efforts benefit Restonians with and without disabilities. I believe our new has great potential here: the education of our children affects all of us, and there is no shortage of issues for the committee to address.
- Strengthen our partnerships with other Reston organizations. As my comment about the "alphabet soup" above would suggest, there are a lot of community organizations in Reston. Each of us has our own mission, but we all share a common goal: working to make Reston a better place. Beyond that general goal, there are many more specific goals that some of us share. Why should we duplicate efforts when we can work together? We all have finite quantities of money, manpower, and time, and by joining forces on projects of common interest, we can maximize those scarce resources.
That gives you a high-level view of what we want to get done this year in RCA. Want to know more specifics? Keep your eye on this blog, where I'll be sharing news of our projects as they happen. Or better yet, get involved! As I said, we're actively seeking new volunteers. Either way, it's a new year for RCA, and we're recommitted to serving our fellow citizens.