I'm inviting you to a party.
When? Tomorrow, Saturday October 6, from 11 am to 4 pm, rain or shine.
Where? The Oakland Mills Village Center.
Why? It's the annual Oakland Mills Cultural Arts Festival .
The Cultural Arts festival is one of the events that has helped me to bond with the notion of living in Columbia and participating in Village Life. Readers of this blog know that it has taken me a long time to "get with the program", as it were, of the Columbia experience. I didn't always feel that it was meant for me.
I am extending a personal invitation to Hocoblogger Matt Wilson, whose recent blog post, "Six Months In", was an unexpected reminder of how I used to feel. In fact, it should be a wake-up call to all of us who are happy here. Go read it. I'll wait.
This is a thoughtful, rational indictment of how we can fail as a community--if we are not paying attention. I immediately thought of the moment when I met Matt, at a HocoBlogs party, where I was a co-host with Sarah Husain of SarahSays. He introduced himself to me. And I made polite cocktal party conversation with him and moved on, anxious to be a good party host. I made no true meaningful connection with him, and I made no attempt at follow up.
"Welcome to Columbia. We're just fine without you, thanks."
Yes, I am beating myself up a bit here, because I am the one who is so all fired up about being invited to the party, about being included, about not being invisible. And I let this opportunity slip away because I was too caught up in making sure everything was running smoothly.
"Welcome to Columbia. We're just busy making sure everything is running smoothly."
Matt's blog post stunned me. Missing opportunities to invite people into your circle is all too easy.
So here goes, for Matt and everyone who is reading this post:
The Oakland Mills Cultural Arts festival is awesome. It is the true Columbia experience. As you walk around, hearing live music, eating a snack, browsing vendors, playing a drum, learning about local organizations--look at the people around you. We are White, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and all kinds of beautiful mixes. We are racially, culturally, and economically integrated. We live in single-family detached homes, townhouses, condos, and apartments. Our children go to school together. We are dancing to the music together.
We are not perfect. But we know how to have a good time. And we keep celebrating together, year after year.
The photo? Yes, it's an old one. But it is very precious to me. It marks the first time I came to an Oakland Mills Village event. It was a steel drum concert in the Courtyard. Mary Kate Murray came up to us, welcomed us, and gave us leis to wear. She invited us into her circle.
If you want to find me on Saturday, from 11 am to 1 pm I'll be giving free wagon rides for children 2-5 in the ArtsWalk crossing. Look for the colored sidewalk.