Last night in the city that Rouse built County Executive Allan Kittleman was kicking off his campaign for re-election at the Lakefront. Across the street and down the road a bit, another crowd was gathered to view the Undesign the Red Line exhibit at Enterprise Community Partners. These two events were in no way related. Their occurrence at the same time is purely coincidental.
As you may suspect, I was at the second event. There was so much information presented that I am still processing. It was, as our tour guide suggested, like trying to "drink from a fire hose." As I walked around the room I couldn't help but compare what I was seeing to my childhood in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, which at the time was almost exclusively white. What my parents had called Downtown was now more often called the "Inner City" and I don't think we knew anyone who lived there.
Last night I learned how that happened.
I also learned how truly radical James Rouse's mission for Columbia was from a business standpoint. Nobody was doing what he did. It took a wrecking ball to the assumptions upon which home lending and buying had been based since the 1930's. He wasn't just a high minded guy. He was a real estate radical.
He wasn't taking radical actions just for the sake of it, he had a plan. That plan was to undo those old assumptions and let other ideas in. And let other people in to have a share in the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness from which they had previously been excluded.
In the city that Rouse built there is room for a Republican candidate's announcement at the Lakefront and an exhibit which challenges deeply held societal norms and shows them to be based on false and unreliable data. I'd like to hope that there is also room to get all of the people--from both events--to work together for the common good.