Columbia is growing up. I'll admit, for a long time it did seem to be in a state of arrested development, but it's definitely growing up. Some people don't want that because, well, it just looked so darn cute when it was little, you know? Other people don't want Columbia to grow up because it might turn out to be something bad. Like Bethesda.
When you have kids you know from the outset that they are going to grow up. That's the whole point. You have moments when you wish you could just keep them the way they are, sure, but you don't have any serious expectation that you can do that. Life is about nurturing, growth, and change.
It's also true that there will be phases in your child's development that are not so pleasant and you wish you could fast-forward through them. It can't be done. Every creature goes through awkward, difficult stages on the way to becoming more able and mature.
Communities are also living entities. Our responsibility as citizens is to nurture yet not stifle them. If we try to preserve everything in a static environment we are fighting against its life force. We need to be good stewards in the same way we that we try to be good parents: paying careful attention, setting healthy boundaries, staying informed and involved, allowing for forward motion and growth.
This is a big part of why I am so excited by Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods. Here we are seeing Columbia come into its own in an amazing new way. Like proud parents we can say, "I always knew s/he was capable of great things." Like parents we know we can't entirely control how Columbia turns out, but we give it our best and encourage it to spread its wings and fly.
Tuesday evening from 7 to 9 pm at Smith Theatre, Howard Community College there will be a chance for you to get inside the beauty and excitement of the Chrysalis project. From the description of the event on Totally HoCo:
"Two fascinating professionals share their careers founded in math, yet applied to emotionally charged placemaking, and how their quantitative expertise is serving to deliver highly qualitative experiences in Columbia, Maryland."
The event, entitled Math of Architecture & Architecture of Math, features Joni Newkirk, CEO of Integrated Insight, and Bill Zahner, Preisent of A. Zahner Company. Register here for free tickets. Take a look at their bios and you'll see why this is going to be fascinating discussion about how math and architecture are intertwined to create an amazing structure which will be both a community space and breathtaking public art. I'm looking forward to it.
When Wilde Lake was dedicated in 1967 James Rouse remarked that he hoped Columbia would never be finished, that the community would continue to develop and that the residents who would come to call Columbia home would be actively engaged in the process. That has proven to be true and the history of Columbia is an ongoing story.
Columbia is growing up. We can grow with it.