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When I was younger, I would wonder why women of a certain age would dye their hair an unbelievable red and dress in sweaters with large and sparkly appliques. Now that I am of that age, I get it. Middle-aged women disappear in society, and we do what we must to get noticed.

But nothing has made me feel as invisible as participating in the hearings on the Charles County Comprehensive Plan. When the public was invited to provide input to the comprehensive plan, I thought Charles County had finally changed. I started to believe the rhetoric of transparent governing. But it seems only the methodology has changed.

In former administrations, the important land use decisions all occurred behind closed doors. Now, the land speculators who control the county send a front man to a public meeting to state what they would like.

Regardless of citizen testimony, economic data, scientific evidence and county goals, what the front man suggests is adopted. But I refuse to be ground into apathy again. I intend to continue to participate and encourage others to join me. Someday, ordinary citizens will have an equal voice. I will see you at the next public hearing.

Tara Carlson, Waldorf