Thursday, July 18, 2024

Better Late Than Never: A Few Things

Sorry I’m late. It took forever for me to get to sleep last night and my best sleep turned out to be from around 3:45 to 6:30. For me, that’s oversleeping.

A few things:

Have you taken this survey yet? The deadline is July 31st. I completed it yesterday. My unprofessional assessment is that is was a bit too long for me, but still doable. I absolutely hate long surveys. 

Racial Equity Perception Survey for Howard County Community Members is part of the work of the Howard County Office of Human Rights & Equity. If you are not following them already you can check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

There’s an article about new CA President Shawn MacInnes in the Baltimore Banner. 

One more thing: I read something recently that suggests to me that the Columbia Assocation Board will be considering some pretty major changes in CA’s relationship with the Villages. Has anyone out there been following this? Any opinions? 

Let me know.

Village Green/Town² Comments 

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The Key Word is Public

The State of Maryland maintains a website specifically to inform the public about prominent garden locations throughout the state. It falls under their promotion of tourism. 

Gardens of Maryland 

In HoCo, the Howard County Conservancy is on the list. Their focus is, of course, primarily environmental. Other locations lean more historical, while some fit a more ‘traditional’ description of a public garden - - Brookside Gardens in Montgomery County, for instance. According to the American Public Gardens Association:

A public garden is an institution that maintains plants for the purposes of public education and enjoyment, in addition to research, conservation, and higher learning. It must be open to the public and the garden’s resources and accommodations must be made to all visitors.

That’s a broad enough definition to encompass a wider variety of places than I would have expected, which explains the variety in the State of Maryland’s list. I am realizing now that I assumed that public gardens were mostly synonymous with formal gardens.  Not so. From the definition above, the highest priority looks to be that the gardens be 1. open to the public and 2. truly accessible to everyone. 

Clearly I have more to learn about public gardens.

In April County Executive Calvin Ball announced the formation of a Public Gardens Work Group to begin the work of creating Howard County’s first official public garden at Longwood in Glenwood. The project falls under the leadership of Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.

Image from Howard County Government 

Do you have ideas? Suggestions? Priorities that you hope they will keep in mind? Good! They want to hear from you. In fact, there’s a hybrid meeting this evening. From Rec and Parks:

Here's a reminder that we are still seeking community input for the design of Howard County’s first public garden. Join us at a focus group meeting on July 17 from 6-8pm at Department of Recreation & Parks’ Headquarters (7120 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia). Sign up to speak or submit your testimony now. Learn more:

If you can’t can't testify in person you can email testimony to:

The Longwood site has the potential to provide public spaces for aesthetic enjoyment as well as environmental education. Embedded within all those possibilities is the heavy burden of the history of the land itself as a “plantation” or forced labor camp for enslaved Africans. My highest priority for this site is that the resulting gardens place as high a value on the history as they do on the planting and maintaining of the natural environment.

What do you think?

Village Green/Town² Comments 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

New Biz


National news is truly taking a lot of the wind out of my sails these days. Trying to focus on the local takes a lot of effort.

Okay, that’s enough of that. Here are three new local businesses you might be interested in:

New to me is a place called The Village Center. They describe themselves as both a family center and a wellness center. Located at 10203 Tanager Lane, Suite 102 in Columbia, they offer a range of services including massage and facials for adults and drop-in play and language classes for children. To my knowledge there’s no other business in HoCo that combines these elements under one roof.

Opening last weekend in Ellicott City is a place called Twin Thrift Vintage. I don’t mean Main Street Old Ellicott City, though. It’s closer to Glenelg.

I don’t understand this entirely, but it looks like Twin Thrift Vintage is a part of (or operating alongside) a business called Westwood Unique. They’re in a repurposed church building at 13554 Triadelphia Road. Twin Thrift Vintage describes its self as “Twins finding finds (vintage and pre-loved).” You can get a glimpse of their offerings on Etsy.

My last offering is a place that popped up yesterday in my Facebook feed. It’s called Boxcar Coffee. It’s a mobile business and right now it’s located at Twin Knolls Road in Columbia. (Think behind the Walgreens.)

Image from Boxcar Coffee social media 

There are a number of businesses/offices back in that little cul de sac, not to mention the Walgreens, where you can get many things but certainly not a cup of freshly made coffee. So that just might be a great little spot to draw potential customers.

True confession: one of the photos I saw yesterday showed this fellow's set up and I noticed that he had a musical instrument (maybe a guitar?) resting on a chair in the shade. I’m fascinated. Is this a musical coffee service? Or is coffee what a musician does between gigs?

I may need to stop by and find out. 

Any other new business I should know about?

Village Green/Town² Comments 

Monday, July 15, 2024

Are Mall Restrictions “Working”?

Have you been to the Mall lately? I have not, but my post-college kid stopped by after a recent visit and clearly takes a dim view of the curfew/chaperone rule. 

“I mean, it’s summer!”

I get the point. How many air conditioned spaces are there in town where teens can meet and socialize without a substantial financial outlay?

It’s not just a Columbia thing. The establishment and enforcement of these kinds of restrictions is happening in other nearby areas as well. This piece by Leslie Gray Streeter in the Baltimore Banner looks at what “mall life” meant to teens of her generation. 

Local malls are restricting teens. Gen X would never have survived. Leslie Gray Streeter, Baltimore Banner 

It’s more than a pure nostalgia piece, although it does provide a delicious glimpse into what made the mall such a magical place for Streeter and her contemporaries. I spent my teen years in a town without a mall and we certainly bemoaned the fact that there was “nowhere to go!” other than the library, the indoor mini golf, and the movies. 

Streeter also addresses changes in parenting styles and the advent of helicopter parenting. I noted that change myself when we attended college orientation for our youngest a few years back. The school held a special session just for parents. I was flabbergasted to learn that many parents expected that they’d hear from their college kids at least daily once they had gone away to school. 

Despite these societal changes, one person quoted in the piece notes that the kids who are now required to be chaperoned don’t behave a whole lot better than when they were on their own, and that the parents don’t seem to be doing much about that. Hmm.

I was glad to see that Ms. Streeter touched on this point:

Because of changes in retail, nobody — including kids — needs to shop in person at a mall to get what they want. But both Lehr and my sister think that if businesses respected the money that the young demographic spent, they might be less restrictive. “You think about whether the malls would be failing as much if they looked at these kids as actual consumers,” Lynne said, who added that she thinks some of these curfews and restrictions have a racial bias (as do I).

I agree, on both points. 1. Teens are undervalued as mall consumers and 2. these kinds of rules have their roots in racial bias.

The Mall Problem, Village Green/Town², February, 2023

Teens love and patronize malls with far more faithfulness than many adults. (Just Google the phrase “teens spend money at malls” if you’re curious.) If we respond to this situation by throwing more police and more restrictions at it, we are essentially developing exclusionary policies that place value on some people and devalue others. 

So we’ve been doing this for over a year now. What are the results? Is the Mall “safer”? Has there been an increase in business overall or has it declined? Are teens taking their dollars elsewhere? 

I’d love to know.

Village Green/Town² Comments 

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Making Plans

It’s Saturday and for some reason I have a bad attitude this morning about posting local events, possibly because the weather doesn’t look promising. But that doesn’t mean I should take it out on you. (Don’t say I haven’t warned you, though.)

But who knows? It might clear up.

Clark Elioak Farm is celebrating Fairy Days today and tomorrow. 

Photo from Clark’s Elioak Farm social media 

Sunflowers of Lisbon are having a special Final Weekend Sale: All you can pick flowers with general admission. 

Photo from Sunflowers of Lisbon social media 

There’s a fundraising event at Reckless Shepherd for the All Shepherd Rescue organization.

Image from Reckless Shepherd social media 

Ridgely’s Run Community Center is hosting a Yard Sale from 9 am to noon in Savage.

Out at the Howard County Fairgrounds you can visit the Native American Pow Wow both today and tomorrow. Learn more at Visit Howard County: Whispering Winds Pow Wow.

Image from Visit Howard County

And, of course, the markets:

Maple Lawn Farmers Market, Maple Lawn Boulevard, 9 am - 1 pm

Please note: the produce is IN at Freetown Farm, so it’s more than just plants. Frankly, there’s so much going on just with the Community Ecology Institute today I could do a post solely on their offerings. Check them out if you haven’t already. 

Have a wonderful Saturday whether you’re out and about or home reading a book. 

Friday, July 12, 2024


 A Tweet:

Dear people racialized as White:

When y'all say it's not a race thing, you've made it a race thing by rendering your racialized experiences invisible, which is indicative of how the race thing works. - - Deadric T. Williams,  @doc_thoughts

Last night I removed someone’s ability to comment on the blog. I do that very rarely. Generally it is for one of two reasons:

1. They verbally attack others who are commenting.
2. They verbally attack my family.

Yesterday’s commenter chose to go down the road of claiming that something wasn’t racism because they, a white person, said it wasn’t. This is just not going to fly with me, and I said as much. Their response was to persist at length and to become more belligerent.

Friends, I am willing to discuss a lot of things in the comments and I try mightily to make it a space where people can express more than one point of view. But I am not obliged to make space for white people attempting to control definitions of racism. I reject that. 

This is not because I think I know everything about racism. Absolutely not. It’s because I am clear that the place to look for wisdom on this topic is the Black people who have experienced it. Period.

I’m going to share this quote again:

The overwhelming majority of racism happens unintentionally, without white people’s knowledge. Racism is so engrained into our society’s infrastructure—indeed, at our nation’s social and economic foundation—white folks’ actions are often racist accidentally, even automatically. - - Johnathan Perkins, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, UCLA

So, in case there was any confusion about this - - I’m clearly articulating it today. Village Green/Town² is not obligated to provide a platform for white people who insist on defining what racism is or who attempt to control conversations about race at the expense of Black people. 

We have plenty of other things to talk about here.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Inspector Introspection


There’s something that’s been on my mind lately but I haven’t known exactly how to frame it. I’ve decided I’m just going to jump in anyway. You may have heard the County Council member Liz Walsh will be introducing legislation to create an Office of the Inspector General in Howard County.  You can learn more here.

Intellectually, it feels like supporting this is a common sense sort of thing to do. I mean, if the whole purpose if this office is to “investigate waste, fraud, and abuse” who could be against that, right?

But, the incident in 2023 with the Howard County auditor has left such a bad taste in my mouth that I find I have deep ambivalence about Ms. Walsh’s proposal.

The county auditor essentially ‘hid in the bushes’ (shielded himself from view) to spy on a library event because some internal ‘gut’ feeling motivated him to believe that Black women were not to be trusted and needed policing. By him and the powers of his office. 

Who Are the Real Lurkers?” Village Green/Town² February, 2023

If that’s what an Inspector General in Howard County is going to look like, I don’t want one. If I had not seen how this played out in the community, I probably would be the first to support Walsh’s proposal. I have followed the work of Inspector Generals in other jurisdictions with interest. Heck, I follow Baltimore City’s Inspector General on Twitter - - although largely for her photographic sunrise content. 

He used the powers of an official Howard County office to take actions that were deeply racist and based on racist assumptions, and caused unnecessary harm to the credibility of the library director, Tonya Aikens, and the Howard County Library system as a whole.

I am sure he’d deny my assessment of this and I’ve seen plenty of online supporters of his actions. As I noted at the time: 

The overwhelming majority of racism happens unintentionally, without white people’s knowledge. Racism is so engrained into our society’s infrastructure—indeed, at our nation’s social and economic foundation—white folks’ actions are often racist accidentally, even automatically. - - Johnathan Perkins, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, UCLA

So tell me. What are we going to do in the establishment of an Inspector General that will create a different outcome? I’m open to learning more. 

If it’s going to result in more white folks centering white folks and policing those that they see as “other”, then I’m not interested. Our community is full of way more than enough of that already.