For some reason, people who live in other parts of Maryland seem to have a derogatory opinion of my home county. We’re rumored to have high crime, terrible schools, low-class housing and businesses.
When I told people that I was buying a house in Bowie–one of the best places to live, in my opinion–I got a lot of warnings. People were afraid I wouldn’t be able to find a “nice” neighborhood. I couldn’t go out after dark. My children would be unsafe! One person, who will remain unnamed, told me I wouldn’t fit in because there are no white people here. (Both insulting and untrue.)
I’m not sure exactly how this bad rep got started. (Well, I kinda know. See previous paragraph.) But I love living here for so many reasons, and I’m a little tired of people dissing on PG. So in that sprit, I present to you a short and incomplete list of reasons why I LOVE living in Prince George’s County!
- All the gorgeous diversity! And I’m not just talking about racial diversity, though we’ve got that in spades. As of the 2010 Census, our county is 64% black, 19% white, and 15% Latino. We’ve got immigrants from Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern and Western Europe, Central and South America. Walk into literally any public place in Prince George’s County, and you’re likely to hear people speaking in at least two different languages. And all this diversity also means opportunities for people of so many different backgrounds. We’ve got Bowie State University, a historically black member of the University of Maryland System, development opportunities for minority and women owned businesses, religious services in just about any faith or language you can think of, a thriving LGBT community, and a Commission for Individuals with Disabilities. I love that my kids are growing up here, and that when they walk down the streets of our neighborhood or through the halls of their school, they feel like this is the type of place where they belong. Not secluded away in some all-white enclave, but right here, among all of these real and beautiful people.
- Some remarkable public parks! parks here in Prince George’s. In the above pictures, you see the Wizard of Oz themed playground at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, horseback riding, also at Watkins, and the scenic view at Lake Artemesia in College Park. There are dozens more that are unbelievably creative and beautiful. Our Parks Department really goes all out. (And they’ve got a pretty awesome conservation record too!)
- Greenbelt is great! I can’t talk about Prince George’s County without giving huge ashoutout to my hometown, Greenbelt, MD. This is about the quirkiest, most un-pretentious and inclusive town on the face of the Earth. I grew up in an Old Greenbelt town house. We were all members of a co-op managed by Greenbelt Homes, Inc. Sort of like an HOA, except really it’s nothing like an HOA. They did all of our home maintenance and repairs, managed community areas, and sent someone over with a key every time my sister and I locked ourselves out of the house. Greenbelt is a planned community, founded in the 1930’s by Eleanor Roosevelt herself. You can walk EVERYWHERE from your house. They’ve got a lake, a national park, an old-timey movie theatre, and the best Labor Day Festival anywhere as far as I’m concerned. But the best thing to do in Greenbelt is sit in the Center and people-watch. I’m not even going to try to describe it. You’ve literally never seen people quite like this. These are my people.
4. Bowie–My new home town! I grew up in Greenbelt, but Bowie is my new home, and I’m sure I’ll live here until the day I die. We’ve got quiet walking trails, some fantastic parks, good schools, low crime, and about a zillion things for kids and families to do. In the summer, we’ve got free concerts at Allen Pond and a huge fireworks show on the 4th of July. There’s an active Senior Center, a community gym, two great libraries with so many programs I could never list them all, and some super friendly people. You could also take classes on anything from dance to ceramics to cooking and more through the Parks Department. Plus we have all sorts of festivals and parades, most of which involve delicious food. This really is an awesome place to live.
happens to be the best branch in the whole wide world. We have an amazing group of moms (and one dad!) who are supportive, loving, and fun. I’ve met some of my best friends in the world through this club.
6. Some really good schools: It’s true, Prince George’s County Schools don’t have the best reputation. I’m not going to try to claim that every one of our public schools is outstanding, but that doesn’t mean your kids can’t get an outstanding education here. My kids attend Whitehall Elementary School. It’s a National Blue Ribbon School, a certified green school, and a certified EGATE (Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education) school. You might have read in my last post that I’ve started homeschooling one of my kids because of some severe separation anxiety issues. His two older sisters, however, are still at Whitehall, and we love it there. The Principal, the staff, and especially the teachers are all caring and conscientious. Whenever I walk into the building, I’m greeted by a warm smile. Everyone knows me and my kids. Not only are the teachers responsive to my concerns, they seek me out to praise my children! I just got off the phone with my daughter’s third grade math teacher. She spoke to me about how intuitive, hard-working, and self-disciplined my daughter is for forty-five minutes! And it’s Spring Break! Prince George’s is also home to Eleanor Roosevelt High School, my alma mater. It is one of the most high-performing high schools in the state, and they specialize in STEM education.
7. The Bowie Baysox! We are super lucky to have a winning Minor League Baseball team right down the road! My kids have been to tons of baseball games. The tickets and the food are way cheaper than a Major League game. Plus the parking is easy, the kids get to run the bases after the games, and you’ve got a nearly 100% chance of getting to meet Louie!
8. Funky and Eclectic Neighborhoods:
Whether you’re looking for an urban, walkable neighborhood, a quiet suburb, or even a more rural areas, Prince George’s County has it all.
9. Vibrant arts scene: Dude. If you’re looking for a place that supports the arts, this is it.
In 2001, people from four different cities in Prince George’s (Hyattsville, Brentwood, North Brentwood, and Mt. Rainer) all got together and decided they wanted to make a community that focused on all types of art. There are resident artists who live and work here, as well as regular community members. If you’ve never been, you really should just walk down the street in one of these 4 towns. It’s a sight.
10. It’s my home. This is where I belong. It’s where my family belongs. It’s “where the heart is,” as they say. I love Prince George’s County, and I’m so happy I live here!
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