NFCCA

Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ June 2008

Could Our Civic Life Be More Inclusive?

By Caitlin James

I am grateful to live in a neighborhood with such an active civic association as the NFCCA.  I love that NFCCA president Carole Barth keeps the community deeply informed about issues at the county level affecting us all.  I also love the multiculturalism of our neighborhood but recently have been musing about whether the NFCCA reflects that diversity.  I shared my thoughts about this recently with the NFCCA Board.  Now I’d like to also share some of these thoughts with the community of Northwood News readers.

Although I could not find precise statistics about the racial breakdown of our particular community, there are statistics available online for Forest Knolls Elementary School (FKES), our neighborhood school.  The racial groupings at FKES are as follows:  Hispanic, 34.4 percent; White, 32 percent; African-American, 19.6 percent; and Asian, 14 percent.  In addition, the percentage of FKES students in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program is 21 percent.  (Source:  www.mont gomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/regulatoryaccountability/glance/currentyear/ schools/02803.pdf.)  While this may not be an exact representation of the backgrounds of the North Four Corners population, it gives us at least a rough idea of the racial and linguistic diversity here.

The fact that one in five students at FKES has limited English proficiency tells us something about the language barriers faced by many of our neighbors.  It has me thinking:  wouldn’t it be wonderful if these neighbors could enjoy the benefits of the NFCCA that I do?  I asked the NFCCA Board if they would consider making the Northwood News a bilingual publication (i.e., in English and Spanish) so that more members of the community could be reached and kept apprised of local news.  There also are other things that could be done to make the NFCCA more inclusive, such as providing Spanish interpretation at the membership meetings or having translations of the entire newsletter on the association’s new website.  Any of these initiatives would require volunteer hours and/or additional funds for translation services and to pay for the additional pages in the News.

Is this just a pipe dream I’m having, or are there others who might think along the same lines?  Would Spanish speakers with limited English read the Northwood News and come to the meetings in larger numbers if language were not a barrier?

Of course, there are many other racial/ethnic groups represented in our neighborhood, but I thought this might be a good place to start because of the size of the Latino population.

In hopes of reaching out to Spanish speakers, this article is being published in English and Spanish.  Whether you are a Spanish speaker or not, with limited English or not, please get in touch with me if you have any comments or suggestions on the issues I’ve raised here or any interest in getting involved in related efforts.  I’m hoping to get a sense of how much interest there is in the community in undertaking such initiatives.  I’ll compile any responses to share with the Board.  You can reach me [contact information redacted].   ■

Lee Este Artículo en Español

   © 2008 NFCCA  [Source: https://nfcca.org/news/nn200806a.html]