The following is a guest post by Jamie Rowland, founder of the grassroots campaign "Healing Hagerstown".
In April 2014, after the City Council positioned itself to vote for a temporary moratorium on the relocation and/or expansion of ambulatory clinics in the downtown vicinity, it became clear to me just how out of touch many elected city officials and city administrators are with the needs of the community. It also became glaringly obvious to me, just how out of touch I personally was with the state of the City and the political climate of the community. I took for granted my awareness of the scope of various issues facing vulnerable individuals in our community, shaped largely by my professional work. After watching countless hours of City Council meetings, and reading copious amounts of City documentation available for public consumption on the Hagerstown City website, it became even more clear that the current state of the City is the result of decades of missteps at both the leadership and residential levels. Regardless of my professional commitment to help people in this community, my personal commitment to work toward mending the seen and unseen damage in this community, is arguably much more important. Everyone seems to be waiting for someone else to fix what's broken and in many ways, for those of us who were born and raised in this community, it's as if the torch was never passed from our parents and grandparents to us. If the torch was passed, we have failed to take that torch and carry it toward a hopeful future.
It was from this idea that my vision the group Healing Hagerstown was formed and as my involvement with various community Facebook pages has increased, so too has the outpouring of others' interests to do something to improve our community.
This group is intended to be an easy to access forum for concerned and motivated citizens of Hagerstown and the surrounding areas in Washington County, MD. The vision of the group's creator is simple. Hagerstown is a broken city and it is not going to fix itself. This is evident by the variety of undesirable qualities which the community has acquired over multiple decades. Our city, once known for it's small town coziness has lost its soul. Healing Hagerstown is intended to be representative of the community's journey from despair to prosperity and crime-ridden to charming. This journey, to seek and expect better for this town, can never end. Healing Hagerstown must start from within. Meaning, from within the hearts and minds of the residents who live here and who are willing and motivated to put actions into words.
Besides a responsibility to adhere to Facebook rules, the group rules are simple. If you would like to share information that can or could help heal this community in any way please do so. These posts may include everything from organizing neighborhood clean ups to posting fact-based information about substance use risks and the dangers of overdose. If it's relevant to improving our city and our citizens' quality of life, than post it for others to share. Disrespectful and/or negative posts and comments will not be tolerated and will be removed and acceptance into this group may also be revoked. Group rules are subject to change as the group evolves.
You can join this grassroots movement and contribute your thoughts, ideas, and solutions at their Facebook group, "Healing Hagerstown". The group is a closed group representative of a grassroots movement to facilitate positive changes at all levels in the Hagerstown community.