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In partnership with Downtown Silver Spring.

Much has changed in Downtown Silver Spring. In just the last few years, booming businesses and job transfers to the area have made the city abuzz with energy. From innovative spaces for work like the OUTBOX presented by Adventist Healthcare to inspiring places for play like Color Me Mine, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dull moment.

Walking the popular weekly farmers market on a rainy Saturday morning, CAPITOL STANDARD photographer Jon Williams asked strangers young and old one simple question– what are you doing here? — to get their take on an ever-evolving neighborhood.

A few had recently moved to the area but already call it home. Other’s have lived in Downtown Silver Spring for years. And yet some were still trying to answer that question for themselves. Either way, we enjoyed meeting the people and getting to know the faces of Downtown Silver Spring. Here’s what they said:

Meet Brett

Brett is 35 and calls himself an “Agent of Peace” for Talking Breads bakery.

“I drive 2 and a half hours from Harrisburg, VA to sell bread. The individuals who own the bakery signed up for this market and we do pretty good business. I don’t know all the numbers but they must be pretty good.”

Brett, 35

Meet Ramses

At 53 Ramses works as an Energy Analyst for the federal government.

“My girlfriend lives nearby. On Saturday’s we come out here and shop. My girlfriend buys greens and I buy cheeses. I love the outdoor market. It’s neat to have all of this fresh produce and fresh fruit. The vibe is friendly and relaxed. On Saturday’s, no one is in a hurry. People seem to just be happy to be out here.”

Ramses, 53

Meet Mac Cadet

Cadet is 25 and has lived in Silver Spring all his life. He works as an Inspector for Montgomery County.

“I was born and raised in Silver Spring. This is all I know. But I want to travel and see the world. I like to help the kids out here. Seriously, I mentor every young man I come across. The kids out here need someone to talk to.”

“Everything is so convenient to Downtown Silver Spring. The train station is right there. There’s a Whole Foods. This area has been upgraded a lot. Lots of people come down. There is so much diversity. You walk down Downtown Silver Spring and see so many different cultures out here.”

Mac Cadet, 25

Meet Adrienne

At 68 Adrienne is an energetic legal secretary. She is a regular at the Downtown Silver Spring open markets.

“I like the fresh fruits, bonding with farmers, and trying new things I’ve never seen before. I have been doing that for years. I also like coming out here to walk. Walking keeps me young.”

“You can’t just lay around, you have to move your body and do stuff. You have to make friends and keep them. Be good to your friends. Be good to your family and keep your family close. All this technology is making us go into our own little world. Smile. Be happy. Donate when you can. Do the best you can.”

Adrienne, 68

Meet Sawa and Lebna

Sawa is 24 and a student. She also manages the modeling career of her 2-year-old daughter Lebna.  

“Everyone’s smiling here. Everyone’s stopping and talking to you no matter what color you are. I love that. When I was in middle school there was nothing here. Now there’s lots to do.”

Sawa 24, Lebna 2

Meet Melissa

Melissa is 32 and new to the city. She works for the FDA as an IT Project Manager.

“This is my first time at the farmer’s markets. I’m meeting a friend. I just moved here for a job and I like it so far. I have no attachments. I hated my job and the location so I moved. Been here a year and a month.”

“Dating has been terrible. I haven’t met a lot of people yet. And I work from home a lot so it’s hard to meet people. I have tried online dating but it gets tiring. I haven’t had anything crazy happen so that has been great. I want to find another job with the government and meet new people. I want to have an actual relationship and I want to stay here.”

Melissa, 32

Meet Jamel

Jamel, a 33-three-year-old Civil Engineer is visiting from New York.

“I’m from New York. Every year, my friends from college and I pick a city to meet up for our fantasy football draft. This year we picked DC. But I actually come down here a lot. To DC and to Downtown Silver Spring. I like Silver Spring because it’s very diverse here. It’s very chill. Everyone is very open and willing to talk to you. The neighborhood has a very particular vibe and I love that.”

Jamel, 33

Meet Claudia

Claudia is 30 and works as a seamstress and spiritual guide in Downtown Silver Spring.

“I grew up here. I left for a bit but after having a kid I decided to come back. I love that it’s very inclusive. There’s a mesh of people here.”

“It’s not every day that you meet someone who is into spiritual guidance. When I was giving birth to my son I actually passed away. I was medically dead for 10 minutes and 37 seconds. I was not aware that I was dead but I was at peace. I woke up and immediately knew I had a purpose for being alive. I knew I couldn’t waste my life. I knew I wanted to do something with my life and not waste time. That’s when I started doing spiritual guidance. I have 8 clients now.”

Claudia, 30

There are more people to meet and things to do in Downtown Silver Spring. From the open-air markets to the OUTBOX, go discover the many #FacesofDSS.

Visit the OUTBOX, an outdoor workspace complete with Wi-Fi and seating, in Downtown Silver Spring.

Photography by Jon Williams