"How long have you lived in Columbia, Julia?"
Again. Again with the age-old question.
I had expressed a positive point of view about plans for the Crescent neighborhood and I was almost immediately called out for doing so. You can see the conversation here, on the Columbia, MD -- Downtown Developments Facebook page. And you can read about the Planning Board's approval of the plan, plus more in depth analysis.
I have grown more than weary of being asked how long I have lived here. Do you want to know why new people who move to the area don't get more involved? Well, maybe it's because the first time they come to a meeting and express an opinion, someone asks, "well, how long have you lived here?" As though that number alone defines credibility.
Ain't nobody got time for that.
It is the hubris of those who believe that their New American City belongs to only a chosen few, and that it must be protected from outsiders with a zeal reserved for archeological findings and museum collections. And who are the outsiders? Well, use this simple test. Do their opinions differ from yours? Hmm...not good. Ask them how long they have lived here.
It's a slam dunk.
The question we need to be asking is not, "How long have you lived here?" But "How long do we want Columbia to last?" Do we want Columbia to outlive its founders? Do we want Columbia to live beyond its first generation? If so, then it is well past time to give up this litmus test for community participation.
There are better conversations we can have with each other.
- What made you choose Columbia?
- What makes you stay?
- What do you love most?
- What could make Columbia better?
- How do you want to be a part of Columbia's future?
Village Elections are coming up on April 25th. Listen carefully to your local candidates. Are they asking the right questions? Are they truly listening to your answers? If you live in Columbia, you have the right to an opinion and a right to be taken seriously by your Village Board members and CA representative. It shouldn't matter how long you've lived here.
You're here. I'm glad you're here. Now, let's get to work.