You probably won't see this in Montgomery or Fairfax or Anne Arundel, suburban counties with generally high self-esteem. But in Prince George's, there's a movement afoot to sell local residents on where they live.
So there they were on Central Avenue by the Addison Road Metro station on Monday, 15 folks wearing T-shirts and waving signs that said, "Prince George's Proud: Discover Us!"
"You always hear about the crime, but there are a lot of good things going on here, too," said Thurman Jones, a member of the Seat Pleasant City Council. "We're just getting started."
It was a modest beginning to what organizers hope will become a sizable campaign to convince middle-class residents that Prince George's is the place to be, not to flee. "We are all in this together," said Bianka LeBeouf, owner of a Capitol Heights printing firm who donated the signs and T-shirts.
"We live in the shadow of the nation's capital . . . and people know about Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County," said LeBeouf, who has lived in Prince George's for seven years. "But people don't know about our free parks and historic sites, the beautiful country and all of the business opportunity."
The movement arises in part from a concern that some of the more affluent newer residents haven't planted roots in the county and, while they may be settling in, they still hear too much that's negative and not enough that's positive about where they live.
"It's a feel-good campaign," said Phil Taylor, a demographer with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and one of the organizers.
Sure there are problems, said Taylor, who lives in Lake Arbor. "In other counties, the people stay and fix it themselves. Let's keep that middle class and be proud of Prince George's County."
Organizers, several of whom also have been involved in political campaigns, plan to have a kickoff rally July 1 and also a fund-raiser and festival in late August. Both events will be held at Rosecroft Raceway in Oxon Hill.
At Monday's event, commuters strained to read the signs as they zipped up and down Central Avenue, but many waved and honked at the group. "See, they get it," said Ervin Reid, of Mitchellville, who helped coordinate the event and passed out fliers to cars as they stopped at the traffic light.
The fliers described Prince George's as a "shining star shooting into the next millennium with speed and brilliance." The county, the flier noted, has 33,600 high-tech jobs and 900 high-tech firms; more than 200 historic sites; the University of Maryland and Bowie State University; and "the world-famous Washington Redskins."
"And we've got a secret weapon," Reid told the motorists. "Watch out for the 'pride slide,' the electric pride slide! People will be standing in line like they did for 'Star Wars' when we unveil that."
Reid plans to teach the new line dance, which he choreographed especially for the project, to several elected officials who will show off their moves at a kickoff rally on July 1 at Rosecroft Raceway.
"We're going to attempt to teach [the line dance to County Executive Wayne K.] Curry," said Del. Darren M. Swain (D-Bowie), one of the campaign's co-chairs. "This is a little bit about fun, too. It's sorely needed. There are just too many negative things about this county in the media.
"This campaign is totally grass-roots and goes across all party lines. It is just so important that we survive and prosper here."
County Council member Audrey E. Scott (R-Bowie), the other co-chair, agreed. "We're not Montgomery County. We're not Fairfax," she said. "That doesn't mean we're not as good. Every place has negative things, but we have a lot more good than negative, and that's the point.
"A lot of people see the glass as half empty. We're trying to get the people to look at it as half full."
For more information, contact Ervin Reid at 301-429-9362.
CAPTION: County Council member Audrey E. Scott, left, and Ervin Reid wave posters promoting the benefits of Prince George's on Central Avenue near the Addison Road Metro station.