Power of Listening and How to Empower Residents

After last week’s Council’s City Hall decision against the wishes of residents at the Public hearing, a resident shared this article. I truly believe listening is a much needed virtue, especially for elected folks. I am copying the article below for you to read.

Put Down Your Phone (And Become More Powerful)

Listening is often considered the softest of the soft skills. So the idea of being a powerful listener can seem like an oxymoron. And yet, my work with executives has taught me that when they really listen to discover what is essential, the impact can be astonishing. It’s certainly one of the most important ways to engage employees.

We know that engagement is a challenge. A recent Gallup survey found that 63% of the global workforce is not engaged. That adds up to waste in the range of half a trillion dollars globally. Putting it more positively, Jim Harter, the Chief Scientist for Gallup,has found that “publicly traded organizations that achieve top decile in our employee engagement database outperform their competition onearnings per share by 147%.”

With both the waste and opportunity implied in these findings, it begs the question, “How can we improve engagement scores quickly and inexpensively?” Among the short list of items that really move the engagement needle is that people believe that “at work, my opinions seem to count.” Listening — really listening — matters.

Many companies fall into the trap of trying to engage their employees bydoing more – which is, in essence, just creating more noise. I have seen this firsthand in Silicon Valley, where managers sometimes go to extreme measures with perks like 24/7 food; show-stopping offsite events with concerts; sports competitions; clubs on every subject from hula dancing to American Idol and many other bizarre and bombastic activities. I believe in the power of play, but at their worst, such activities can completely miss the mark. They sometimes remind me of Pleasure Island in the movie Pinocchio,where the puppet almost becomes a donkey.

Such panem et circenses (“bread and circuses”) may appease some employees, but I am not convinced that these types of “perks” engage people’s hearts and minds in a way that enables them to give their highest and best contribution — in the end, they still treat employees like wooden puppets, and they mirror the problem described by Guy Kawaski as a “bozo explosion,”a downward slide that seems inevitable after a company achieves success. Moreover, such gimmicks don’t make the cut in Gallup’s top twelve engagement measurements.

Deep engagement does not begin with getting people to listen to you; it begins when you really listen to them. Powerful listening is one of the rarest executive practices today, not because of a lack of skill – although that is often the case – but because it’s a skill that’s under attack from social media, smart phones and the ubiquitous expectation of instant reactions. Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation when the other person just started checking his phone? Of course you have. We have a listening famine going on and it’s a shame, because in a knowledge age, so much value creation lies in the ability to figure out what’s important—by listening.

The Quakers practice a particularly powerful way to listen. They conduct what’s called a “Clearness Committee,” which is founded on the belief that, as author Parker Palmer has written, “each of us has an inner teacher, a voice of truth, that offers the guidance and power we need to deal with our problems.” Here is how it works:

First, a member of the Quaker community defines a key decision, personal problem or question that represents a dilemma for a member of their community, who is the “focus person.” Then, they form a committee to meet with the focus person, inviting only select people (the “members”). These members must first commit to the highest levels of confidentiality: nobody can speak of the meeting afterwards, unless the focus person specifically asks to discuss it. Members can take notes, but they must be given to the focus person at the end of the committee meeting.

The committee then meets in an offsite location, where the focus person spends 10 minutes presenting a concise statement of the problem, including any relevant background information. The committee creates a safe space for the focus person to speak, prioritizing that space over the social comfort of the members. For example, there should be no talking between committee members, no loud laughter, no side conversations, no phones or computers, and no rapid-fire questions that could overwhelm the focus person.

Then, there are two hours of interaction, during which members of the committee may only speak to the focus person by asking honest questions – which are not the same as manipulative questions. Manipulative questions have answers embedded in them, such as: “Have you ever thought that this is really happening because you did X?” Honest questions are defined as questions that members couldn’t possibly know the answer to, such as “Did you ever feel this way before?” Honest questions are, simply, all inquiry and no advocacy.

Before the meeting is over, the focus person can allow people to reflect back what they have heard. Again, there should be no opinions offered, just reflections. Five minutes before the end of the meeting, the members are allowed to affirm the focus person for showing strength and courage in sharing vulnerably deep insights. Even at this point there is no advice given and there are no suggestions made. The idea is that the focus person goes away and listens to his or her own inner voice for continued guidance.

The clearness committee is a fascinating listening innovation. If it seems too intense or involved for regular use, you can still apply many of its aspects in your interactions with your team. For example, you can have a rule that you and your team will only ask honest questions: in this way you can avoid the manipulative questions that complicate communication. When one of your team members comes to you with a particular challenge, you can ask her questions to define what the real dilemma is, instead of jumping in with premature, well-intended solutions that actually miss the mark. Finally, you can increase the ratio of listening to speaking by asking questions and spending at least 50% of any conversation actively listening to the other person speak.

The bottom line is this: if you want to engage your employees at a whole new level, if you want to become a person of greater influence, and if you want to discover a new kind of power — listen.

December 2014 Leaf Collection Calendar

Please see below December 2014 leaf collection calendar.

Dec 2014 Leaf collection callendar

Here is the description of the service areas.
SA-1 Calvert Hills Albion Rd north to Calvert Rd; U.S. Route 1 east to Bowdoin Ave.

SA-2 Old Town and Knox Box Area Calvert Rd north to Norwich Rd; Cornell Ave east to Columbia Ave.

SA-3 College Park Estates and Yarrow

SA-4 Lakeland and Berwyn Pierce Ave north to Route 193, U.S. Route1 east to 54th Ave.

SA-5 West Side of Rhode Island Avenue Route 193 north to Niagara Rd; Autoville Dr east to Rhode Island Ave Includes Cherry Hill area.

SA-6 East Side Rhode Island Avenue Branchville Rd north to Narragansett Pkwy/Muskogee St; Rhode Island Ave east to Metro Line.

SA-7 North End Narragansett Pkwy north to Paducah Rd; Rhode Island Ave east to 53rd Ave

SA-8 College Park Woods including Crystal Springs, Acredale Ct, and Patricia Ct

Winter Coat Drive – Nov 26 – Dec 14, 2014

The City is collecting reusable winter coats to give out to the less fortunate ones in the community. The drive will run until December 14. You can drop your donations to one of three drop off locations (please see the addresses below). Your donations qualify for tax deductions. Please ask staff at the drop-off site for your receipt.

Thank you all for your support.


Council Selects Knox Rd Site to Build a New City Hall

At last Tuesday’s Council meeting, the City Council selected the current Knox Road site to build a new City Hall there.

Before the vote, a number of residents testified and asked the Council to consider delaying the vote so that it can explore all other City Hall site options. One of those sites is the Stone Industrial site, which residents think is conveniently located to all residents because of its central location in the city.

Four neighborhood associations in north College Park, west College Park, Berwyn District and Camden previously asked the Council to delay the vote also.

A motion to table the vote was defeated by 5-3. Council member Mitchel, Hew and Kabir voted in support of tabling the motion.

Later the Council voted on the main motion to select the Knox Rd site, which passed 5-3.

I want to thank everyone who came to the meeting, stayed late and spoke at the hearing or watched the meeting. I am very grateful to everyone speaking almost unanimously in favor of tabling the motion to allow more residents inputs on all possible City Hall options. I think the Council really lost an opportunity to bring the entire city population together, especially connecting with residents living in north College Park.

Though residents’s request to table lost narrowly, I think the residents’ presence and voices sent a message in making north College Park more inclusive to City’s future decisions. Residents will definitely need to stay engaged and work harder in raising their voices and advocating more amenities benefiting them.

City Stops Taking Recylable Plastic Bags

Yesterday, we came to know that the County’s single-stream recycling facility apparently is no longer able to take plastic bags. As a result, the city will no longer be able to accept them in recycling.

The city also uses County’s single-stream recycling facility.

This decision was made because of a problem with them gumming up the recycling machinery,

Stores such as MOM’s Organic Market does, however, still accept plastic bags for recycling in the bin in front of the store.

Our staff has reached out to the County about this as we have not been formally notified by them of any changes to their recycling program. The County has confirmed they have NOT changed their recycling program as of right now. They are planning on banning plastic bags, but have not done so yet. All recycling programs in the County will be notified by them once they make the change. But for right now, it is the status quo.

For the time being, the City accepts plastic bags, cling film, and bubble wrap as long as they are contained in one plastic bag that is tied together.

Loose, single bags/film are not accepted in the blue cart as they jam the machines. Plastic film (grocery bags, dry cleaner bags, bubble wrap and air pockets [should be popped], film around toilet paper/paper towels, newspaper bags, bread bags) can be included as long as they are CLEAN – no food residue and they must be dry. Another way to identify plastic film that is acceptable is if it has a #2 or #4. You often find new electronic equipment wrapped in film that can be recycled, as well.

If you don’t mind a bit more effort, staff encourages you to take these bags to a grocery store that has a collection bin for them. This way, the plastic bags can go directly to a recycler and don’t go through the sorting facility where they get dirty. And, it appears that this will be the only option to recycle them in the future, as long as the County moves forward with their plan.

When/if this change does occur, the City would send this information out through College Park Connected, our resident email notification system. staff encourages you to sign up to receive notifications from “Public Works” on this page, if you haven’t already. A link to College Park Connected can also be found on the left hand side of the City’s homepage: http://www.collegeparkmd.gov. Just click on the green “Sign Up Now” button.

We will also put it in the Municipal Scene, on the Cable TV channel, and on the website. Any future communication about the recycling program (e.g. Resident Information Guide) will also list the changes.

Small Business Saturday – This Saturday

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 to promote independently-owned businesses and the City of College Park is announcing its support and participation in the event. Please see this press release for more information.

Additionally, a list of College Park’s independent businesses can be found through this link on the Shop College Park website.

Council to Vote on New City Hall Tomorrow

The Council will consider a motion supporting the selection of the current Knox Road site to build a new City Hall and authorizing staff to retain consultants assisting with this project.

​Staff estimate the site & building demolition, site work, renovation, construction​ at the Knox Rd site will cost approximately 8 million dollars.

The  residents have been debating on the two down town sites, one at the current Know Rd site and another at the Calvert Rd site. A Public hearing was taken at the City Hall on these sites late last month. A majority of residents spoke in favor of the Calvert Rd Site.

Recently, a new site at the Stone Industrial came to the market. Many residents asked the Council to consider the site to be included as a third option. Unfortunately, that request was not approved. That said, residents will be allowed to speak about all these sites at the public hearing tomorrow. Please attend and speak at the hearing if  you can.

North College Park Crime Map – November 19 – 23, 2014

[mappress mapid=”199″]

Stolen Vehicles






[11/22/14]STLVEH07:5909:309530 BALTIMORE AVE







[11/21/14]THEFT16:2316:4710100 Blk BALTIMORE AVE

Police Reminds Residents About Safety During Winter Breaks

As the upcoming breaks approach, our police agencies are reminding residents how to safeguard their home.

We hope this information serves as a reminder of what you can do to reduce your chance of becoming a victim of a crime and to help you remain safe . Protecting your residence while you are home or away:

  • Keep doors and windows locked, regardless of whether they are an up
  • per or lower level windows/entrances.
  • Before you leave your home, check all windows and doors are locked. If you have a home security system, engage your alarm when you are away and when you are in for the night.
  • Use blinds and drapes for privacy.
  • Place lights on a timer to give the appearance of someone being home.
  • Ensure bushes are trimmed back to remove hiding places for potential criminals.
  • Store away and secure any loose items that might be in the yard, for example, a ladder, tools, etc.
  • Ensure your home has good interior & exterior lighting for safety & protection.
  • Never place a key over your doorway or outside the house. Consider leaving a key with a trusted friend or neighbor.
  • Ask a friend or a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your residence while you are away.
  • Take valuable items such as jewelry, money, portable electronic devices, etc., with you to avoid potential theft.
  • If you are leaving your vehicle for a long period of time, remove items of value, secure windows and doors, and if you have a security feature, engage it.
  • Never enter your home if you see that a door or window has been forced. Go to the nearest safe place and contact police immediately.

Report any off-campus unusual or suspicious activity immediately to PGPD: Prince George’s County Police Department – Emergency Line: 911; Non-Emergency Line: (301) 352-1200 University of Maryland Police Department – Emergency Line: (301) 405-3333 or #3333 from a cell phone; Non-Emergency Line: (301) 405-3555

The Last Market Day of the Season

Please see below this week’s Hollywood Farmers Market newsletter. See you all tomorrow.

bread_vendorWe Have a Surprise – Just Around the Corner! 

Join us at the market this Saturday—just around 11 am—and enjoy a special audible treat for the last day of the market. It might be cold outside, but a few sweet voices will be there to warm you up while you shop!


hfm_vegWe’ll be back next spring…

Although the Hollywood Farmers Market will go into hibernation for a few months, we will be back next spring with a mix of our current vendors and a few new ones. During the next few months, the market board members will be working to make the market better than ever, and bring you some more special events to entertain and educate!



This week’s Vendors

  • Pleitez Farm
  • Legacy Manor Farm
  • Calvert Farms
  • Tuckey’s Mountain Grown
  • Roy & RT’s Kitchen and Garden
  • Christiane’s Knits and Gardens
  • Phil’s Dills
  • A Little Pottery
  • Huma Henna Art
  • Crest Hill Bakery
  • Alcoba Coffee Beans
  • Terp Care Center
  • Celestial Sweets

Staying in Touch with Your Favorite Vendors

Many residents say they can’t live without the products they purchase through their favorite vendors at the Hollywood Farmers Market. Although we suspect they are exaggerating, we wanted to supply some of the vendors’ websites in case you’ve got a “jones” for a “can’t live without” product. If we haven’t listed your favorites, just Google them!

Adirondack Furniture by Joe Smith:

Calvert Farms:

Celestial Sweets:

Christiane’s Designs—Knits for Babies, Pets and Adults: 

Crest Hill Bakery: 

Elated Harmonies Massage:

Heavenly Created Desserts:

Huma Henna Art: 

Legacy Manor Farms: 

Morning Glory Farm: 

Phil’s Dills Gourmet Pickles:

Pleitez Produce: 

Roy and RT’s Kitchen (Indonesian Food):

The Wood Doctor:

Thunderbeast Root Beer: 

True Honey Teas:

Tuckey’s Mountain Grown: 

Hollywood Farmers Market is located at the Hollywood Shopping Center (near REI) on Saturdays from 9am to 1 pm. Email: Hollywoodmarketcp@gmail.com. Phone: (301) 659 – 6295 Like us on the FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/hollywoodmarket Copyright © 2014 Hollywood Farmers Market, All rights reserved. www.Hollywoodmarket.org

North College Park Crime Map, November 9-18, 2014

[mappress mapid=”198″]

Stolen Vehicle






[11/12/14]CKAUTO11:1412:129300 Blk CHERRY HILL RD

Recovered Stolen Vehicles






[11/13/14]STLVEH07:3708:345100 Blk MINEOLA RD, PP







#L14312THEFT12:3013:129500 RHODE ISLAND AVE,
[11/15/14]THEFT19:2320:584716 CHEROKEE ST #204, PP

Breaking and Entering Residential






[11/12/14]BREAKR15:5519:059630 MILESTONE WAY
[11/12/14]BREAKR16:4319:059630 MILESTONE WAY

College Park and Neighboring Cities to Support FBI Move to Greenbelt

At last night’s worksession, the Council approved a Four cities resolution supporting a new FBI headquarters at the Greenbelt Metro Station.

The Four Cities Coalition consists of College Park and its neighboring 3 cities – Berwyn Heights, New Carrollton and Greenbelt.

The resolution will cite several benefits for choosing the location, which include

(1) the site meet security standards and it be close to the Capital Beltway and a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rail station (Metro); and
(2) studies have shown that in the Washington metropolitan region, Prince George’s County has the least amount of leased federal office space, but the highest number of federal employees in the region
(3) the Greenbelt Metro Station in Prince George’s County can be developed to house the FBI headquarters
(4) the Greenbelt Metro Station site meets the GSA’s criteria of providing a secure location adjacent to a Metro station and the Capital Beltway
(5) the Greenbelt Metro site would be a model of Smart Growth and transit-oriented development with the FBI headquarters being within a one-quarter mile walk of the station; and
(6) the Greenbelt Metro site is less than five (5) miles from the flagship University of Maryland College Park campus which is home to outstanding criminology and cyber security programs; and
(7) the site also is adjacent to a MARC railway station and has easy access to highways, such as Interstate 95 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, which provides easy travel throughout the Mid-Atlantic Corridor; and
(8) the site is located in the City of Greenbelt and proximate to College Park, Berwyn Heights, and New Carrollton, communities with award-winning schools, outstanding recreation amenities, and a great sense of community.

The Council will also discussed a request for proposals for a videographer to produce a 9-11 minute video promoting the Greenbelt Metro Station as the desired site for a new FBI facility. The video will demonstrate that the Greenbelt Metro Station site and its surrounding area is the ideal location for FBI employees and contractors to work, live, play, and fully participate in a vibrant community life while furthering the mission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The tone of the video will be a positive one supporting this site and will not degrade other sites.

Council to Review ‘The Hotel’ Development at the University of Maryland

At tonight’s worksession, the Council will review the preliminary plan and detailed site plan for the hotel at the south east corner of Route 1 and Paint Branch Parkway.

The developer Southern Management Corporation, Inc., has applied for the Detailed Site Plan for a vertical mixed use development on the property. The property is approximately 43.4 acres , with 3.20 acres site area (after US 1 dedication) having M-U-I zone.

The first and second floor will consist of 57,000 square feet of retail. There will be 295 hotel rooms and 806 parking spaces. The developer plans to use the property as a hotel, conference center, retail uses and structured parking The hotel is proposed to be 13 stories, with 11 stories over first floor retail along US 1.

A seven- story parking structure is proposed over first floor retail (for a total of eight-levels) oriented toward Greenhouse Road. In between, the structure is 2 stories high and includes the hotel lobby on first floor and conference center/retail space on second floor.

The site is designed to be a present a vibrant, bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly environment. Bike racks are provided around the building and parking area.

The ground level of the tower along Baltimore A venue is lined with restaurants and extends up 20 feet. The meeting rooms and an open terrace engage the street from above looking out to the avenue and the University on the second level. The guest rooms begin on the 3rd floor, 40′ above the street.

The ground level activity and engagement continues on Greenhouse Road. The retail level is designed to be perceived as commercial loft space and takes advantage of the grade disparity with Baltimore Avenue to create these high spaces. The garage-ramp brings visitors up from the street and over the commercial space. The first parking level fronting on Greenhouse Road is 20′ above the street level retail.

The store fronts will be designed as two story urban facades oriented to enhance the pedestrian experience. The flat vertical plane of the hotel tower defines the edge of the street and the visual limits of the university. The tower has 10 stories of guest rooms above the lobby and banquet levels.

The penthouse at the top of the tower is less than half the size of a typical guestroom floor. It is set back from the face of the tower so that it does not add to the perceived height of the tower. The penthouse holds mechanical equipment and an activity room whose grand roof terrace provides magnificent views of the University.

Despite Mayor’s Refusal, Residents Want to See a Third City Hall Option at Stone Industrial

In its November meeting last Thursday, the resident members at the north College Park Civic Association (NCPCA) approved a resolution asking the Mayor and Council to explore “all feasible alternatives” for the new College Park City Hall at a convenient “location accessible to all residents” of College Park.

stone industrial site

Many residents want the City to explore the 17 acre Stone Industrial Site in District 2, just north of Greenbelt Road, because of its central location. Please see the map below showing the 3 sites.

city hall sites

Comparison of 3 sites: 1. Stone Industrial 2. Knox Rd Site 3. Calvert Rd Site

Stone Industrial site has come to the market very recently. The City Council has been looking into two downtown sites, one at the current Knox Road location (1.23 acre) and another at the old Calvert Rd school site (3.73 acre).

According to our staff, it will cost the City about $8 – $9 million to build a new City Hall in either of the two downtown locations. The assessed value of the Stone Industrial site is about $5.65 million.

The Stone Industrial site has 3 buildings, and has more than enough office space to meet the size requirement of the new City Hall. You can see more about this site here.

The City Council discussed briefly the Stone Site at the last worksession and asked if staff can be authorized to spend some time in putting together a fact sheet about the site for the Council consideration. Unfortunately, Mayor Fellows rejected that request.

The Council will however consider a proposal at tomorrow’s worksession to purchase the green grassy area at the entrance of the site and possibly use it for a future public use.


Important Meningitis Prevention Reminders

I got this advisory message from the University of Maryland, College Park’s health department. At least 19 students have been diagnosed  with this virus and have been hospitalized. Even though the advisory is mainly addressed to the students, it’s  important that residents take precautions as well.
I’m writing to let you know that we are continuing to see some level of meningitis activity in the University of Maryland community and to offer important guidance for protection from this infection. 
To date, there have been 31 confirmed or suspected cases of viral meningitis in UMD students amongst a student population of 37,000.  Approximately 19 of those students have been hospitalized for supportive treatment.  The virus causing the infection has been confirmed as a strain of enterovirus called ECHO virus, a common cause of viral meningitis outbreaks.  In otherwise healthy people, the course of the illness is generally uncomfortable and similar to the flu, and those affected typically have symptoms for 3-5 days.  Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for this infection.  We are not dealing with cases of bacterial meningitis, an important distinction as bacterial meningitis is much more dangerous.
To reiterate my previous messages, the virus is spread primarily in saliva, stool and secretions.  As such, the most important measures for preventing spread include:
  •         Wash your hands frequently, particularly after using the bathroom.
  •         Stay at home and rest if you are ill to avoid infecting others and avoid those who are sick.
  •         Clean high touch surfaces in your living space (keyboards, doorknobs).  This is currently being done in the residence halls, Ritchie Coliseum, and the Eppley Recreation Center on campus.  In addition, the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life has negotiated increased cleaning in many of the chapter houses.
  •         If you are recovering from the infection and you share a bathroom, be sure to clean the bathroom with commercial disinfectant or bleach.
  •         Avoid kissing and sharing glasses and utensils.  This is especially relevant over the upcoming football weekend.
  •         If you have an underlying medical condition that causes compromise of your immune system, special vigilance to these measures is important. This DocMJ article explains all you need to know about experiencing cotton mouth as a cannabis user.
If you have symptoms consistent with viral meningitis, like fever, headache, light sensitivity and stiff neck, please visit the UHC or your doctor to be checked.  In many cases, the confirmatory test for meningitis, a spinal tap, will not be done, but a clinical diagnosis and supportive treatment can be administered. The treatment includes plenty of fluids, rest and pain and fever reducers. Purchase your pain killers online and enjoy free shipping on EU Meds website.
The health and safety of our community is my top priority, so I ask that you pay careful attention to these preventive measures until this outbreak has subsided.  Additional FAQs and tips can be found atwww.health.umd.edu/meningitis.  With everyone’s participation, we can limit the spread of this and other infections.