“Building community in the suburbs is like pumping up a tire that has a persistent leak.” Marta Vogel and Eliot Applestein have lived in the Tilden Woods area of Bethesda for 23 years. “It was easier to meet people when the children were young.” Now, their daughters are in the mid-twenties and although Marta says she knows ever person on their 32-house cul de sac by sight, she acknowledges that’s because she is always trying to create new ways to bring the neighbors together.
“I would like to start at Senior Village here in the neighborhood. I know at least five single people who are living in their houses alone – the same model we do.” Montgomery Country has a senior village system to help people age in place, but Marta wants to work at a much smaller scale.
Eliot taught AP Psychology in the Montgomery County Schools for 32 years. He retired in 2012 and has a college application consulting firm, bestfouryears.com. Marta is a freelance writer and editor in health communications. They are both avid gardeners, and are in the process of writing a musical farce about affirmative action.
Marta is a regular baker. “I buy wheat in bulk, grind it myself, and make all our bread. No knead bread is so easy. Five minutes to mix, let sit for eighteen hours and then bake.” The morning I left Marta made waffles from her batter. They were delicious.
How will we live tomorrow?
“Robots are a big threat. I like to read the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Occasionally there will be an article about robots. They always stress that robots will not be a threat, but I think they are. Look at GPS. Nobody knows where they are anymore. We are getting dumber and dumber.
“Our older daughter met her fiancé on the high school bus. Eliot and I are involved with the community center here. We are always trying to generate community. Recently we started a contra dance. I went to the school bus stop to hand out flyers. Every kid had ear buds on. Would my daughter have met her fiancé today? No one talks to each other anymore.
“We have lost our sense of awe and wonder. Look at Notre Dame in Paris. When a peasant came in from the country and saw it for the first time, he must have thought he saw God. Now, we never see anything with new eyes. We see fifty pictures of the Eiffel Tower before we see the actual thing.
“We are making our houses ore open, everything in one big space. When we watched TV together or played musical instruments we needed rooms to contain the sound. Now everyone has ear buds on. It doesn’t matter that we’re in a shared space. We’re each in our own heads.”- Marta
“What type of ‘we’ is that? A royal we? If it’s the global, I’m concerned about people being civil. People’s eyes are on their phones. We need to be civil, though it’s hard. In 500 years, will we all be autistic? That’s how we’re evolving. In the singular ‘we’ I want to be non-violent, be tolerant of every being on earth.” – Eliot