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Letters for Winter 2022

Letters for Winter 2022

Lauren Brown portrait


If “food desert” has an opposite, I live in it. Giant, Harris Teeter, MOM’s Organic Market, Aldi, Safeway and Target are all within about two miles of my home in Bowie. They’re all spacious and well-stocked with fresh produce, milk and meat.

But fewer than 20 minutes west across Prince George’s County, the supermarket landscape isn’t so super. In Capitol Heights, bordering D.C., options within a similar radius include corner markets and small strip-mall stores with a limited selection of wholesome foods.

UMD doctoral student Brittney Drakeford is working to improve the menu of choices in this area, where her ancestors were once enslaved. Plantations and farms blanketed the landscape in the 1800s, then modest urban-suburban homes sprouted up for white families fleeing from the nation’s capital in the next century. Now Capitol Heights’ population is 90% African American, and for those without cars, the gleaming Wegmans four or five miles away in Lanham might as well be on Mars.

Drakeford’s efforts to provide healthy choices close to home include opening a farmers market in the parking lot of the Capitol Heights Home Depot and helping to run a community garden; she next has big ambitions for Black churches to share their commercial kitchens and vacant land to support local growers.

She juggles all this while not only pursuing her Ph.D. in urban studies but also working full-time for the county as a planner. One question guides her, she told me: “How may I better understand my family’s history and urban development and zoning in preserving family stories?”

You can read about her family’s history of tragedy, perseverance and aspiration in Sala Levin’s feature on page 34.

Don’t miss our cover story on page 28 about how the NCAA’s lifting of restrictions on student-athletes making endorsements and other deals is changing the world of college sports, and how Maryland is helping to steer Terps through it.

And if you’ve ever been forced to question human nature after buying a dinette or sofa on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace (hand raised here), you’ll enjoy our profile on page 46 about an alum whose business provides a safe online marketplace for middle- and high-end furniture.

Actually, you may just want to settle in on your own sofa to read the whole magazine.

The Big Question

Every time I read about someone wanting a ferry or bus to Ocean City because of wasted fuel, I think that person has never packed a vehicle for a week at the beach with a husband, wife and three kids, the dog and grandmother. Try transporting beach towels, picnic baskets, balls, plastic buckets and shovels, beach umbrellas, a week’s worth of food, sheets, pillows, etc. on a bus, ferry and then a bus again. Ain’t gonna happen.

Mary (Pillatt) Felter ’66, Arnold, Md.

Inclusion Matters

Fantastic! My son is a high school junior. We’d love for him to participate in this TerpsEXCEED program when he leaves high school. You also badly need to start a college wheelchair basketball team!

Catherine Berruer Ojo

Letter From the Editor

You truly drew me into the magazine with your statement that your son was moving into Denton Hall. Denton Hall was my first dorm, and I was immediately transported back to my move-in day and thinking how different it probably was from that of your son.

Your diversity (hiring) campaign caught my attention as I remembered my first encounter with Jewish students (one of whom was my roommate for my freshman and sophomore years). I learned so much from her and have fond memories of our time together.

I am so proud to see all the work that is going on at Maryland, from diversity to the inclusion of students with disabilities. I am proud to be a Terp. Keep up the good work.

Dr. Jean (Brown) Parker ’70, Springdale, Ark.


Wow! Just completed reading the Fall issue and I can’t come up with sufficient superlatives to express how much I enjoyed the entire issue. Cover to cover by far the best work ever! Thanks so much for all the work that went into this!

Steve Rome ’73, Laurel, Md.