Commentary: What to look forward to in 2018?

Commentary: What to look forward to in 2018?

— As the year 2017 draws to a close, I would like to take a moment to reflect on three community values that were particularly evident this year. We have invested enormous time and energy creating our values and they can be seen in the implementation of the One Fairfax Resolution.

With the July 2016 adoption of the One Fairfax Resolution, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors laid the foundation of a racial and social equity policy to ensure all individuals have an opportunity to reach their highest level of personal achievement. The resolution is a public commitment to achieving racial and social equity through county policy which include collective leadership, community engagement, equity tools and infrastructure to sustain systemic changes, and shared accountability.

One Fairfax moves us beyond embracing our growing diverse population to implementing a growth model driven by equity. Actions introduced by One Fairfax and completed in 2017 would be the establishment of the Police Review Panel and the hiring of an independent police auditor, Juvenile Justice Reform and the Pre-K initiative.

I am excited about building on these initial accomplishments in 2018.

Fostering and Expanding Community

Crafting anything starts with Vision and Planning. Which reminds me that nothing occurs in a vacuum because Nature always rushes in willy-nilly to fill it. In the case of a Vision Vacuum, input and information are critical to the formation of a Plan. Together those fundamentals can nurture and expand community. To be successful, however, requires good public policy, community engagement, and professional expertise. Good neighborhoods don’t just happen; they result from vision, planning and community support.

Last year witnessed multiple examples of diverse groups of stakeholders gathering in a public meetings. Thank you for voicing your concerns, contributing your ideas. I recognize that is a special kind of civic service demanding time, talent and treasure from us all. In the final analysis, it is not the loudest voices or the most massive audience but that which is of the most long term benefit to the community that defines the right Vision and Planning.

Belief in a Bright Future

Two remarkable young women – Maame Biney and Veronica Day – boldly remind us that the best may be yet to come.

The "Laugh until you can't laugh anymore" 17-year-old Maame Biney will be representing the U.S and her hometown, Reston, in February at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Which speaks volumes for someone born in Ghana and who didn’t even grasp the concept of ice until age 6. Her sport: short track speed skating.

With her infectious giggle and joy at winning, she is also the first African-American woman to join the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Team. And after the Olympics, will she hang up her skates? Probably not.

According to Anthony Barthell, Women’s Short Track National (Olympic) Team Coach, "She’s a natural athlete. Most natural athletes have a hard transition to skating because speed skating is so unnatural. It goes against everything you’re taught as an athlete. So for her, she’s learned how to skate and is able to use her natural athletic abilities... In my eyes, I feel she can be one of the top girls in the world. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but she has the potential."

Remarkably, she hasn’t lost sight of the long-range big picture. With a goal of becoming a chemical engineer, graduating on time – with her friends – is as important a goal as short track skating and applying to college. Now, that is a comprehensive life view.

Think for a moment: What is it when you have a 64-pound, head-first, face-down toboggan without steering, an engine, brakes, or seat belt, hurling along at 90 miles per hour, through ice-covered turns? Answer: A skeleton sled, very possibly held by Vienna native and Madison High 2007 grad, Veronica Day. She is also an Olympic hopeful for the 2018 U.S. Winter Olympic Skeleton Team.

Wait a minute, you’re probably puzzling, how did this happen? Wasn’t she a high school track and field stand-out? Besides, there isn’t much snow in North Carolina where she graduated from college with a degree in international business and international studies.

Both true – clearly, this is someone who continues to learn and grow physically as she continues to expand culturally and globally. Equally true is her spunk and determination in her growth potential: “Do I think I can be number one or two in the U.S.? Absolutely, I don’t think it’s a pipe dream at all.”

All I can say is that with strong public policy and public participation and local schools educating crackerjack female student athletes, I have every confidence in and am looking forward to another productive, successful year in 2018! With every good wish to the entire Hunter Mill community for warmer weather and a Happy New Year.