“They called me the Senator,” Hope Porter recalls. “It was a joke.”
Half a Decade of Accidental Activism
Her start in local politics may have earned her some friendly teasing, but it is Porter who has had the last laugh.
It’s been 50 years since the now-infamous saga of North Wales drew Porter into preservation activism, a move she says was kind of an accident.
“I’m very shy, not a born organizer. But the sheer terror of losing this place compelled me.”
Porter grew up in Fauquier County, and eagerly reminisces about riding horses all over its countryside during her childhood. When the massive development at North Wales — one that would bring 31,000 new residents to the county — was proposed on top of the land she loved so much, Porter could not stay silent.
For nearly 30 years, she fought to defend the 4,200 acres at North Wales (claiming victory in the end), and, in the meantime, formed the Mid Fauquier Association to protect other threatened land around the county.
“We were guinea pigs, no one knew what they were doing,” Porter says of the organization’s early days. Despite their alleged ignorance, Mid Fauquier grew to be an influential entity in the county, eventually renaming themselves Citizens for Fauquier County to reflect their concern for every acre in Fauquier. Throughout the years Porter has led the charge on everything from government transparency (it was Porter who began taping board of supervisor meetings) to equine industry recognition.
Named the Citizen of the Decade by the Fauquier Citizen-Democrat, Porter is one of the most powerful people in the county—yet has never held public office. That Fauquier County is dominated by agriculture and is still a sought-after destination for traffic-weary travelers is very much a credit to Porter’s legacy.
Not that this nonagenarian is going anywhere.
“We’ve got a tiger by the tail here,” she says.
“There’s always more.”