As I look over the landscape of Reston organizations and civic activity, I am struck by two volunteer-driven sparkplugs of community action—an old friend experiencing a rebirth, Reston Citizens Association (RCA); and a newer one, Sustainable Reston, a child of the Fairfax Coalition for Smarter Growth.
RCA was founded 46 years ago as the Reston Community Association to provide Reston residents with a voice with Reston’s corporate developer, Gulf Oil, and the government. It evolved as a Citizens Association and as the developer withdrew, RCA’s refined its mission “to promote and protect Reston's founding principles in the political arena by serving as a non-partisan forum for all residents and … advocate for the community with county and state government.”
In the early days RCA, headed by leaders such as Janet Howell, then an ardent advocate for Reston’s incorporation as a town, indeed stood up to the corporate developer after the latter fired founder Robert Simon to assure that Reston’s founding principles did not get lost with the visionary Simon. In its early days, RCA had a broad role in a fledging community short on essential services. RCA took on bringing modest health services and established direct commuter bus service, the likes of which haven’t been seen since it was discontinued. The bus took passengers from Lake Anne to downtown D.C. and back, including stops at Rosslyn, the Pentagon, Crystal City, National Airport and a place known just as Building T-7 on a posted schedule. Return service Friday even included cocktails!
Fast forward to 2013. No more buses or cocktails, but we do have public forums for discussion of community issues and we have a public policy voice advocating Reston’s interest to a seemingly distant county government. I hope you’ve seen, for example, recent RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee White Papers on the congestion coming with the new Wiehle Metro Station and another on the need to enhance bus service to connect with train service. RCA’s excellent analytical work can be seen at www.Reston2020.blogspot.com. RCA also hosts community forums allowing residents to directly express concerns and suggestions, e.g., improved bus service directly to county officials. This week it hosts another forum to discuss the county-administered Reston Community Center’s plans to build a new rec center.
In addition to the work of RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee following and reporting on county planning for future development that will dramatically change Reston over time (e.g., doubling in population?) and major new development plans, RCA sponsors televised candidate debates for offices from county school board up to and including our congressional representative, and annually seeks nominations for the Reston Citizen of the Year Award and oversees the selection process to pick the awardee. Another vital RCA operation is the Reston Accessibility Committee, which partners throughout the community to improve access to public and private facilities and activities for people with mobility impairments.
Like any excellent volunteer organization, RCA’s success requires participation of quality volunteers. Contact President Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more info about RCA activities, pick your favorite, and sign up.