Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oh, and One More Thing...

Before I shuffle off from the scene of the Oakland Mills Board in my rumpled raincoat, there's one last piece of news I want to share with the hocosphere. It's about why trash is trash, poop is poop, and why good customer service will put you at the top of the heap.

On Thursday April 18, mac and I participated in the 20 minute Howard County Cleanup.  We walked to the top of Timesweep with a trash bag and gloves, and cleaned up the entrance area into the new Blandair Park. There is no official waste receptacle near this pedestrian entrance, and it was beginning to look a bit "trashy."
We were dismayed to discover that quite a few folks had been bringing their dogs up into the park to relieve themselves.  mac was both disgusted and indignant.  She's waited her entire life for this park--how could people do this?

When we went home I posted about our experience on Twitter, and was advised by fellow blogger Wendi to address my Tweet to @LiveGreenHoward.  Here is what followed.

April 19th:
@LiveGreenHoward 20 minute clean up accomplished! mac and mom, top of Timesweep at Blandair. Rec &Parks--need signs "Pick up after dog"!
April 23rd:
@macsmom Thanks so much for making a difference in 20 minutes! I'll pass along your note to Rec&Parks too.
@LiveGreenHoward Thanks! We want our new #BlandairPark to be beautiful forever! #hoco #ColumbiaMD
April 24th:
@macsmom Blandair Park Mgr has been notified and the pet waste stations will be up asap. Thanks for letting us know!
@LiveGreenHoward You are the coolest! Thank you so much. I'll def. be doing more 20min. Cleanups in your honor!

The first thing you will notice is that the conversation is punctuated by quite a few exclamation points.  You can get pretty excited about cleaning up in Howard County.  And Tweeters can be an enthusiastic bunch.  But the overall message is clear--the folks at LiveGreenHoward are at the top of their game. They listen, they are paying attention, and they are making connections to solve problems. Whoever is keeping an eye on that account took responsibility instead of making excuses.

Wow--do you think they might consider running for the school board?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Leave "Em While You're looking Good

Tonight is my last meeting as a member of the Oakland Mills Village Board.  I've decided that I needed to take a break, because the year coming up will be a life-changing one for me:  my oldest is getting married in September, and my youngest is making the transition to Middle School. (Thanks goodness there isn't one in between!)  This is a year I need to devote to my family.

It isn't any easy decision to make because I have learned so much in the past two years.  If you really want to know the "skinny" on what is going on in your Village, plus greater Columbia, and even, to some degree,  in Howard County, you should serve on a Village Board.  Yes, you have to put the time in, but the education is phenomenal. And your feeling of ownership in your community increases.

I think that most people assume that being on a Village Board is about going to meetings.  The Oakland Mills Board has two meetings a month. But you might be surprised how many other things I have done over the last several years that stem from Board membership.  Let me see now, since being elected, I have:

     visited homes to see their connection to Route 29
     started a children's music/dance event at the Second Chance Saloon
     given testimony in front of the CA Board
     served as a docent for the Columbia Home Tour
     sung "Happy Birthday" to Lavenia Nesmith at a Jazz in the Mills Concert
     run a children's art activity table at the Oakland Mills Art Show
     eaten many a burger at half-price burger night with fellow board members
     run the wagon rides for children activity at the Oakland Mills Cultural Arts Festival
     given testimony in front of the Howard County Council
     become a Hocoblogger

I have been privileged to work with a variety of  excellent Board members, and with a Village Manager who never stops thinking Oakland Mills, not even when she sleeps. If I'm lucky, I'll get the opportunity to do it again, once I have this year behind me. 

On the other hand, if lots of other folks get inspired to run for the Board, well, that would be even more of a victory for Columbia.  I'll just find a different way to serve where I am most needed.

Whatever your talents are, your Village can use them. Who says being on a Village Board isn't exciting? 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Postscript

There seems to be some confusion as to the overall message of yesterday's post.  Let me restate it:  bullies have to learn how to be bullies.  Someone has to be modeling this behavior for them.  They are learning that this is acceptable behavior. 

The title of the post,"Where The Killers Come From". was an (as yet uncredited) reference to this post. "The Bully Side", by Tom Coale at HCR. He states,

"You don't need to tell me if you're being mean to other kids at school and I don't want to know.  I do want you to know that if you are, you are killing someone else's child, (emphasis mine) and it will live with you for the rest of your life."

I have recently learned that programs to combat bullying often fall on deaf ears because those who are bullies, don't perceive themselves to be bullies, so they think it doesn't apply to them.  This would seem to be borne out by some responses yesterday over at TO2C.

Where do bullies come from?  in short:  they've got to be taught.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where the Killers Come From

Recent teen suicides in Howard County have prompted soul-searching, heartbreak, and anger.  How can this be happening to our children?  What kind of a culture do we have that proves so toxic to our adolescent children? Where do bullies come from? Why?


I can't answer why, but I think I know where.

I recently got involved in a war of words on the Hoco Blog Tales of Two Cities. I took issue with the following comment:

 "Yup. And remember, the HCEA (Howard County Education Association) cares about one thing: its members. Don't let them try to convince you that they give a crap about education or students. They're all about the $."

I found it to be "rude, ill-informed, and sadly out-of place."  Rude--teachers don't give a crap; ill-informed--they only care about the money; sadly out-of-place--because it didn't promote open-minded exchange of ideas. Well, then the avalanche began. It was as though I had asked the heavens to open and pee on the whole Choose Civility movement. 

Now, I am an adult, and I expressed my opinion in an open forum. I'm a big girl, and I made a choice. I could have held my tongue if I feared the consequences.

But that is just the problem--today, especially on the internet, we have to be afraid. Because there are bullies out there who use any expression, employ any technique to rip you to shreds if you disagree. Or even if you oppose meanness and bullying.

These people, every day, are creating and perpetuating a world that is to be feared. And what they write is read by others. And modeled by others.

And these people may have children who learn to share their methods, and their values.

When thoughtful people stand by while another gets eviscerated, they are a part of the torment.
And yet they do--we do--because we are afraid. Because we don't want to get involved. Because we think it's not really our cause to fight.  Sound familiar? It would to our teens.

"By their fruits ye shall know them."  Oh, we know them.

Now what?


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What would Mama say?

(Here is a complete version of a letter a submitted to the Columbia Flier today about the Bridge Columbia Project.  I am sure they are wise in limiting folks to 200 words, but I think the complete version just reads better.)

My mother, God rest her soul, lived through the Great Depression,and she passed along some rules to live by. My personal favorite was one I heard invoked in the grocery store manytimes. “If it says “new and improved’, it probably isn’t. And it costs more.” A recent letter about the Bridge Columbia Project seems totake a page right out of my mother’s book. 

Here is the gist of it. “This project is far too expensive;we don’t need anything that fancy, we can make do and scrape by.  My goodness! How can the Bridge supportersdare to make such an extravagant suggestion in such financially troubled times?”

When do we get to dream big for our community?  When do we take a chance on something thatwill not only transform how we get around, but will bring beauty as well?   Theinspiring architecture of this beautifully-designed bridge will make it aniconic structure over Route 29 which says a lot about us as a community.

Secondly, this is a big dream of both form andfunction.  It seeks to improve quality oflife by encouraging better public transit and by enhancing the pedestrian/bikingexperience from East to West.

Sometimes it is difficult to imagine that good can come oftaking such big risks. Isn’t Columbiahere because someone was willing to dream the Big Dreams?  We need to invest in this study now, so thatwe will be ready when state or federal funding is available.

Our responsibility is to move forward in a way that willkeep the Dream alive.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Your Golden Ticket

You have a chance. You have an "in" with the people who know. More importantly, you have an invitation.  The Howard County Housing Department wants you to feel welcome at their  6th annual Housing Fair, "Come Home to Howard County," Saturday, April 14th, at Long Reach High School from 10 am to 2 pm.

This is your one-stop shopping event to explore locations, services, and financing opportunities. Come to learn more, and think more, about options to rent and own in #hocoMD. Our community is meant to be a vibrant mix of renters and owners. Do you work in Howard County, but think you can't afford to live here?  Your daily commute could be a whole lot shorter.  You know the schools are good, and the parks are great. Libraries? Excellent.  Restaurants?  Ask HowChow .

(I hear the local blogging community is superb.)

To add to the excitement, there is a Housing Lottery to enter.  Most of us have gotten over not winning those Mega Millions, but how about a chance to win one of two homes: 9840 Whiskey Run, Laurel, MD 20723, and  7225 Abbey Road, Elkridge, MD 21075. You can visit the Elkridge lottery home tonight from 3-5 pm. More info here:

If you know someone who might benefit from participating in this event, please pass this invitation along. You can be the point of connection for helping someone come home to Howard County. 
By the way, I came home to Howard County in 1999 when I married the man of my dreams.  There aren't any workshops about that at the Housing Fair, but, hey--you could get lucky...


Monday, April 2, 2012

What Makes an Idea Stick?

A Poem, in honor of National Poetry Month


Village, voter,
Columbia lore.
Library, Hoco schools,
Village Centers, Columbia Pools.
Rec and Parks, gardener, crafter
Politics, satire, laughter.
Shy or suave meet-and-greeter:
Blogger, reader, FB, Tweeter.

Pick your labels,
Make them stick
Sign up here--
An easy click!

The next HoCoBlogs Party is Wednesday, April 11th, from 6-8 pm at the Second Chance Saloon in Oakland Mills. Use the comments section below to vote for your favorite BlogTail Party Stickers, or to suggest new ones!  I am on Spring Break this week, so I just may figure out how to run labels through the printer.

Hate labels?  That's fine, too.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Just Pitiful

It is not the purpose of this blog to serve as a source of breaking news, but, as no one in town has been willing to come out with this story, I'm going to jump in. Seriously, where are you guys? Why is this not lighting up Twitter?

So, some time after closing at Clyde's last night, but before around ten am, the People Tree sculpture at Lake Kittamaqundi was stolen.  Yes, stolen. It's gone.  There's just a hole there now. It's hard to know when it was removed because there just weren't many people around at the Lakefront area.  There was no one there to see or hear anything.

An employee at Clyde's discovered the crime while on his way to work Sunday brunch.  "Whoever did it left all these little notes, kind of smudgy typing, stuck on with Scotch tape. They said, 'We are the 66.' And, 'Tree People for the People Tree.' It's just weird."

A friend of mine at the Columbia Flier said the cleaning staff found a typewritten letter slipped under the door of the offices this morning.  The gist of it was that the People Tree has been "liberated" in order to be remounted in Symphony Woods.  The group plans to sell "Preservation Rights" for each of the 50 trees slated for removal in the upcoming  Symphony Woods Park Project. They intend to use these funds (1,000 dollars per tree!) to situate the People Tree  in its new location.

From the letter, "The People Tree was never meant to be a corporate commercial symbol, a trademark of greedy developers.  It belongs, like every tree in Symphony Woods, to the people of Columbia."

I know I'm not a journalist.  I've just been shooting frantic emails to anyone who might know something.  A community historian confirmed my suspicions that the phrase, "We are the 66" refers to the sixty-six human figures which make up the People Tree.  I called a friend who has his finger on the pulse of various demographic groups in Columbia. I asked if he thought there might actually be sixty-six members of this group who managed to keep a plan of this magnitude under wraps.

"Not a chance," he said. "This has got to be the work of a small group of cranky individuals."

I asked a blogger friend on the CA Board what he thought of this analysis. 

"I am sincerely disappointed at this suggestion that the Board might be responsible for yet another display of outrageous behavior," he replied by email. "We don't have a patent on cranky, you know."

Since it is a Sunday, I don't expect much hard news on this, but I'm hoping that the investigative team at Columbia Patch will be on this full force tomorrow. The view from Lakeside must be empty, somehow. I mean, this is more than poinsettias, folks. 

In the meantime, my daughter has a great idea. "Why don't we just plant a real tree there?" she suggested.  

You know, with some help from the Reforestation people of CA, and some decent 
publicity /spin from the County Executive's Office, this just might turn out okay.