Monday, May 19, 2014

Breaking the Spell

Deep in the heart of Mr. Rouse's created city hides a mysterious secret: an ordinary plot of land where nothing ever happens.

Yet once a year, out of the mists, a vibrant park arises full of life--music, people, dancing. Then, just as quickly as it has come, it disappears. For only two days in the year this park exists. It is Columbia's Brigadoon.

In the Scottish town of Brigadoon, legend has it, the local minister prayed to God that his home would not be cursed by the evils of the outside world. He struck a bargain with the Almighty that, in order to maintain Brigadoon and its people in their state of innocence, never changing, all would disappear and sleep, awakening for only one day every hundred years.

In our town of Columbia we have residents so determined to keep Symphony Woods unchanged, tethered to an imagined purity, that they have assured that it comes to life but once a year--during Wine in the Woods. And then it almost startles one with what possibilities the park might have, if only it did not languish under a paralyzing spell. It bursts forth with delights to the senses: vibrant, beckoning.

Today I saw people walking in downtown Columbia! They came from all directions, down the sidewalk on Little Patuxent Parkway, crossing roads, carrying blankets, chatting wth friends and family as they made the pilgrimage. I talked to people of all ages. Little children danced, young couples held hands, older couples shared a well-worn blanket and enjoyed the music.

photo credit: Frank Hecker

Now, if real life were like the movies, I'd have to commit myself to a life of slumber to get even a brief taste of Columbia's paradise. But there's one thing of which I am absolutely sure: real life is not like the movies. (Nor am I Gene Kelly.) In real life good people can choose positive change. Brave people can help a community move forward.

And a park for the people can be freed from its spell.


A shout out to Michael McCall and the Inner Arbor team for coordinating volunteers to run a booth at Wine in the Woods this weekend. The response was positive, curious, sometimes even excited. I heard a woman exclaim, "I can't wait for this to happen!"

To learn more, visit .

Shouldn't children be able to dance in the woods more than once a year?


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