Sunday, September 13, 2015



  1. 1.
    a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area.
    synonyms:settler, colonist, colonizer, frontiersman, frontierswoman, explorer, trailblazer, bushwhacker
    "the pioneers of the Wild West"
  1. 1.
    develop or be the first to use or apply (a new method, area of knowledge, or activity).
    "he has pioneered a number of innovative techniques"
    synonyms:introduce, develop, evolve, launch, instigate, initiate, spearhead, institute, establish, found, be the father/mother of, originate, set in motion, create

Yesterday, at long last, I became a pioneer. Not the well-known Columbia Pioneer with the capital P, but an entirely new kind of pioneer. Lower-case, maybe, but every bit as proud. Look at that second definition above. It is Columbia as a verb. You'll see words like instigate, launch, spearhead, develop, set in motion.

(Photo by Dave and Ilana Bittner, HoCoMoJo)

That's me with the bright green, Chrysalis-green umbrella, just right of center. Almost two hundred people showed up yesterday--in the rain--to participate in the ground-breaking event for the Chrysalis amphitheater. This is the beginning of Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods. We have begun.

You've heard about the Inner Arbor plan? Maybe you signed a petition to get an amazing park started for our community. Perhaps you've been to their website to see the plans. Or did you stop by the booth at Wine in the Woods? Yesterday speaker Michael McCall reminded us that progress has many parents. And in that moment I realized that I had become a pioneer.

I've been blogging about this park since at least January, 2013. I signed the petition, wrote letters to the editor, spoke at CA Board Meetings (multiple times), spoke at the Planning Board hearing. I volunteered at the Inner Arbor booth at Wine in the Woods. I say this not to boast, but to show the path by which I became a pioneer. And I didn't really even know it was happening.

If Columbia is to survive into the future, it must have second-wave pioneers. The fact that nearly two hundred people, including young children and teens, came out to celebrate the beginning of something new, says that there's a pretty healthy wave shaping up in our little town. We will not die. We will not be a footnote in the history of well-meaning planned communities.

Yesterday representatives from the State, County, and leaders from Columbia came together to make something happen. This was quintessential Village Green/Town²: where Columbia and Howard County intersect. County Executive Alan Kittleman spoke about bringing young people back to the park. County Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty talked about the importance of art within our community and as a focal point in the park. The representative from the Howard Hughes Corporation described how the park will be part of a vibrant Downtown Columbia.

In case you ever thought that the golden age of Columbia had come and gone and that you missed it, think again. It's never too late to become a pioneer.

Catch the wave.


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