Saturday, April 2, 2016

Just a Place to Live

What would I do without Facebook Memories?

"If the town doesn’t start attracting a younger population soon, it runs the real risk of looking like Leisure World in 10 years. The people who understand this dynamic are Julia McCready in Oakland Mills, Ed Coleman in Long Reach, Regina Clay in Wilde Lake and Michael Cornell in River Hill. If you can’t vote, please encourage those who can to visit their village center on April 20 and cast a vote for these good people."
--Dennis Lane, Business Monthly, April 2, 2013

Only one of the candidates mentioned won, and it wasn't me. (It was Michael Cornell of River Hill.) Overall, participation in Columbia civic affairs continues to be dominated by an older generation. Oakland Mills' CA Board seat eventually turned over, not through election, but in a carefully crafted private deal which cut out any pesky public input.

Columbia is busy planning for the celebration of its fiftieth anniversary year, and the slogan is, "Appreciate the past. Imagine the future." There are a lot of good people working to make this happen and I'm looking forward to it. That doesn't change the fact that I'm worried. We can appreciate the past and imagine the future but what are we going to do in the here and now?

Every time there is a local squabble to take Columbia backwards, every time new residents and younger residents go home from a contentious meeting vowing to never return, Columbia moves bit by bit from its original goals. When our community is dominated by those who wish to "Deify the past. Control the Future." we lose the spirit of our mission.

When civic participation is dominated by a narrow band of self-styled protectors then it ceases to become relevant to the community as a whole. There are plenty of good folks at the Columbia Association working to enhance quality of life here. But they can't undo the work of those whose aim is to keep the keys to the kingdom all to themselves.

The sad truth is that time is moving on and passing them by. Meanwhile, Columbia is becoming just another place where you live. The future belongs to our connection to Howard County. The message of Columbia Exceptionalism, if you will, is largely lost. Through the hard work of these Columbia purists, Columbia's message is becoming irrelevant.

Just another suburb. Just a really sixties/seventies place with cul-de-sacs and decaying housing stock and outdated village centers struggling to survive. The lively spirit that makes us who we are is being lost.

The keepers of the flame just can't make themselves let any one else carry the light.

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