About

Who runs this blog?

This blog was created by aspiring blogger and activist Sebastian Smoot, in response to a lack of reliable local news about East County and unmet demand for its advocacy.

I’ve lived in East County since 2010. While we were still in college, my wife and I moved into an apartment in the Briggs Chaney neighborhood near the East County Community Recreation Center. About two years later, we bought our first house in Cloverly. We’re very proud to live in East County and intend to raise our family here.

Before moving to East County, I lived most of my life in Bethesda, near Westbard. The extent of my interest in local government was playing SimCity. I started getting more interested in politics and planning when I studied engineering and public policy in graduate school.

All opinions on this site are my own unless otherwise noted.

Why did you start writing this blog?

I started getting involved in advocacy work in 2013, when I almost got hit by a car while walking on Good Hope Road and realized my community desperately needs a sidewalk.

Mother and four children dodge vehicles as they attempt to cross a 20-ft wide bridge with no shoulders or sidewalks.
Almost getting run over while crossing this bridge got me involved in local issues. Photo by author.

In 2015, I accepted an invitation to volunteer on my community’s civic association, and without realizing what I was getting into, became president. Since then, my interest in local issues has grown rapidly, now that I realize the profound and long-lasting impact of local government decisions and policies in our daily lives.

Although the civic association and this blog take a lot of my time and energy, I’m continually impressed at how effective advocacy can be at achieving results. I hope that this blog inspires others to be active in their communities.

Aren’t there already blogs about East County?

This blog is very much inspired by Dan Reed’s Just Up The Pike (JUTP), an excellent blog about East County. However, since the author now lives in DTSS (downtown Silver Spring) and works in DC, he hasn’t had the time to stay up to date with what’s going on in his hometown. And now that he is so well-known and a professional planner, a lot of his posts are about County-wide transportation and planning issues. Growing East County on the other hand, aims to be entirely focused on East County.

Unlike JUTP, I intend to write primarily for a lay audience that might not currently be engaged in local issues. I’m not an expert in history, education, transportation, planning, politics, or journalism (or any topic on this blog for that matter). I would consider myself a kind of “Chelsea Handler” of East County, going around talking to people to learn about news and issues, except I’m nowhere as funny. Dan Reed, on the other hand is brilliant and witty.

Moreover, as an aspiring activist for East County, I want to work for you as much as possible by reporting issues that matter to you and helping you develop a solution. The main purpose of the blog is not just to inform people about news, but rather to encourage engagement and advocacy at the local level. I’m here to make the case that even if you feel powerless to influence national politics, it is really not difficult at all to make a difference in local issues. That’s why I try to end each post with relevant tips on how to get involved.

There is another blog about East County written by Robert Dryer. I’ll write about it someday when I have an opportunity to meet him and give him a fair chance to explain himself.

3 thoughts on “About”

  1. Very excited to check this out — looks great! You wouldn’t happen to be the same Sebastian Smoot who owes such an engaging writing style entirely to his high school English teacher, Mr. Morse, would you? ;^)

    1. Mr Morse! Wow! Yes, it’s me. Before high school, I was a terrible writer and actually hated it. Thanks to you and the other excellent teachers at St. Anselm’s, my writing skills have improved quite a bit. Even though most of my day job is crunching numbers, effective communication is the single most important skill to have as an engineer. This wouldn’t have been possible without you encouraging me to learn to love writing.

      P.S. Thank you for offering the dystopian literature course: it has helped me better understand some recent events in the news.

      1. That’s very generous of you, Sebastian – thanks. I recall you bringing quite a bit of talent to the table, though.
        We’ve been living in Four Corners for the last 5+ years so I’m really interested in following your blog. Hope you can stop by the Abbey sometime!

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