The Rock Spring Civic Association comprises about 1000 homes in north Arlington VA. Dedicated to community improvement and keeping residents informed about issues affecting their neighborhood, RSCA facilitates effective resident interface with the County government on neighborhood projects and represents neighborhood interests before the County Board and the Planning Commission.
In 1950, The Rock Spring Civic Association came into existence, named for the spring that bubbled up behind the houses on the south side of Rock Spring Road The RSCA was founded “to promote the mutual interests and general welfare of the community.” It was a natural outgrowth of the active and engaged community of strong-willed individuals who found themselves in this area before, during and following the Second World War, and who not only saw the need for change and development but were brave enough to push for the necessary if unpopular changes, even in the face of personal attacks and vocal opposition. Their opinions and battles were recorded for posterity in the monthly bulletin, The Rock Spring Citizen. This periodic newsletter, later renamed Rock Spring New and then The Rock Springer, has kept residents informed for decades.
RSCA’s history is personalized by a rich cast of citizen actors who have played important roles in the political, social and educational affairs not only of Arlington, but of Virginia and the country at large. On the neighborhood roster were Elizabeth and Edmund Campbell, both dedicated to public service and activism. Mrs. Campbell founded WETA and was the first woman elected to a school board in the history of Virginia. Mr. Campbell was a civic leader, with an instrumental role in ending legally enforced racial segregation in Virginia’s public schools. To include other outstanding neighbors, Virginia Stitzenberger, activist /journalist and cofounder of the Rock Spring Cooperative Preschool, Major General C. G. Helmick, who led U.S. troops into Paris and was immortalized in Is Paris Burning? noted social services activist Anna Barber, known for her involvement in starting up FISH (For Immediate Sympathetic Help); AMEN (Arlingtonians Ministering to Emergency Needs), as well as the County’s first temporary community shelter; the “Saint of Rock Spring,” as Dudley Babcock was dubbed for his remarkable gift for working with teenagers; and Senator, formerly astronaut, John Glenn.
RSCA representatives have long donated their talent, expertise and commitment to a wide range of social concerns, leaving their mark on everything from school integration and improved education to helping the homeless, fair housing and voter registration, as well as environmental concerns such as eliminating the Japanese beetle and curtailing pollution of the Potomac River. They have also wrestled lately with such thorny issues as traffic calming, the impact on the environment of development and in-fill, as well as coexistence with expanding educational and recreational facilities.
They have been blessed with dedicated, skilled leaders well-versed in the “Arlington Way” of encouraging citizen participation and building consensus. During the long, eventful tenure of John McCracken, RSCA President briefly in the late 1960s and then again from 1982 until 2001, the neighborhood fought many intrusions and had some notable successes, among them preventing the extension of George Mason Dr. and creating Rock Spring Park in 1990, traffic calming on N. EdisonStreet, and mitigating the effects of the Washington Golf and Country Club’s expansion, thereby saving the Babcock House from demolition.
In recent years Rock Springers have worked with the County government to address flooding problems along Little Pimmit Run in a multi-phase project to replace outmoded, inadequate culverts and reduce adverse storm drainage impacts. Also in the works are plans to place sidewalks and gutters along Old Dominion Dr., another controversial project that saw its beginnings during John McCracken’s final years, stalled for years but now revived thanks to the determination and perseverance of RSCA President Paul Michl. Also, under his leadership, the RSCA in 2007 finally began the lengthy process to link hands with the rest of the County in Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation Program.