Greenbriar Outreach Group Tackles Community Issues

Over the past several months, Greenbriar residents have been busy meeting, researching and learning about the many wonderful free and low-cost services and programs offered to Greenbelt residents. The next Outreach Group meeting will be on Saturday, April 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., on the second floor of the Greenbriar Community Building.

Dynamic Community Governance

Organized by the Center for Dynamic Community Governance (with support from the city), Greenbriar’s newly-formed resident Outreach Group is getting results. It operates with the principles of dynamic community governance. This approach uses a two-step process: a general meeting where concerns and ideas are gathered and then work sessions on the individual topics.

At the general meeting each participant is asked, in a roundtable process, what they would like to see that would make life in the Greenbriar community better. The excitement generated as the round-table progresses is based on the new ideas that each person brings to the discussion. The large group then breaks down into smaller circles, each of which investigates one of the agreed-upon subjects. Discussion of where to find information and other things necessary to the task is followed by each person taking on a specific assignment toward completion of the task.

The idea is to bring together bits and pieces of information about a certain subject, which gives people a variety of options to choose from for the solution that best suits their needs. Information put together like this can be transformative when a previously bothersome issue, such as “how can I affordably get around in this immediate area without a car,” can now be resolved. This idea, to find out about local transportation options that don’t depend on Metro, has resulted in information about The Bus and ShuttleUM being posted on the Marketplace tab of the Greenbriar website,

From Talk to Tasks

Subjects that other work groups are exploring include help, support and resources for caregivers; legal and financial needs Greenbriar Outreach Group Tackles Community Issues by Angeline Butler for older adults; low-cost or nocost food and clothing options; introducing newcomers – and oldcomers – to Old Greenbelt, especially Roosevelt Center and bridging language and cultural divides.

The group is open to all Greenbriar and Glen Oaks residents. New ideas are warmly received and feedback is actively encouraged.

“One exciting development has been to move from information-only to actively taking on a task such as developing a tour of Greenbelt for Greenbriar residents,” said Angeline Butler, the newly elected circle administrator. “This will require coordination and cooperation from a number of people, but working together with other people gives a wonderful sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.”

The fun part of this, Butler asserts, is when an investigation blossoms in an unexpected direction. When researching the University of Maryland shuttle bus, the group found out that seniors (age 60 and over) are eligible to take classes at any state school, including the University of Maryland, tuition-free (there is a registration fee, however). Since students ride the shuttle bus for free, an enrolled senior gets both the class and transportation free of charge.

Jane Mullaney, newly elected circle facilitator, states that the Community Governance approach has far-reaching consequences. “Through the Outreach Group we have discovered that when people learn how to work together, within a structure focused on dignity and respect, strong connections are made and community goals become achievable,” says Mullaney. In the facilitated gatherings, Greenbriar residents, once strangers, get to know each other over a wide spectrum of experience and start to make connections with one another as neighbors. People get to see their neighbors, whom they may pass by each day, as people from different backgrounds and experiences from whom there is much to learn. Through this process, true neighborhoods are born.

For more information, contact Jane Mullaney, janemullaney@

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