We Have Everything We Need
Neighbor and fellow landscape architect Sally Dunne had stage four cancer for years. Surgeries, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants bought her time. Always cheerful and beautiful—even though bald—she’d walk past our house with her large black poodle Leo. If he liked you, he’d stand on your feet.
One Saturday Sally’s friend John Secretan stopped by our gate saying Sally was dying. Without delay we walked over to her house where she was in bed with her friends around her, and Dr. Ed trying to keep her comfortable. “It’s really hard right now,” she said softly. She had spent the day signing checks for all her favorite causes with the help of her executor.
The image stays with me. How much more time do any of us have to be generous with those who stay after? Why are we down at City Hall arguing the fine points of who should get more, who should get less; view or dollars or the elusive “property value.”
It will come down to those checks in the end that maybe we won’t even get to write ourselves. (Sally was lucky I think to have the presence of mind and dedication to do that in her last days.) Perhaps our things will be sorted out by feuding relatives or on the street in an estate sale. What matters is not the money in the bank or the property we’ve collected but the joy and good will we’ve generated.
We are incredibly fortunate to be here—not in Syria, not in North Korea, not in a poor village without opportunities. Someone said to me, “We’re arguing about rich people’s problems.” We value our town and its environment and have worked to protect it with one result being the Historic American Landscape recognition for the town and Greenbelt. We delight in the beauty and our unique neighborhoods. Together we have built the value of our town and its reputation. With that property values have soared. It’s time to give back, not fight for more. We have everything we need, and more to give.
Landscape architect Ann Christoph is a former council member.