Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Five Quarters, Or: When Life Just Doesn't Add Up

Yesterday I heard ESPN sports broadcaster Tony Kornheiser say the following, "If that game'd had five quarters, the 'Niners woulda won it!"


It seems there were a lot of folks who just could not believe that the Ravens could win, were winning, did win. In the the face of the evidence they continued to restate their own preconceived narrative. It's almost as though they weren't watching the same game that I was.

This brought to mind the process we have been enduring while moving Columbia into the future. Take, for example, the Inner Arbor plan for Symphony Woods and its detractors. In many ways it is the very same story as a controversy in Oakland Mills a few years ago over replacing an abandoned bank property with a Walgreens. I suspect that at least a few of the same people are involved.

Meetings were held, petitions were circulated. Rumors were spread. Here are some of the objections: it will draw a "bad element." (A suggestion that it will somehow increase crime.) It will destroy the beautiful natural setting. (Boarded up business and parking lot. ) Children will be hit by cars speeding through. There will be car accidents because of the required turn-off. It will drive the Food Lion out of business and that, in turn, will kill the Village Center.

Am I forgetting anything?

The Walgreens has been here for awhile now. It is doing quite well. The Food Lion is still open, and a new manager has been making significant improvements. The Village Center has added another business. Yet I haven't seen any letters to the editor saying, "I thought the Walgreens was a bad idea, but I was wrong." Or newspaper articles revisiting the controversy and comparing the objections to what has actually occurred.

I suspect that, even though some of the detractors are happily using the Walgreens, they'd still tell you what a bad thing it was for the community. Some would call that cognitive dissonance. Some might call it "sour grapes".

These are the same folks, who, in the face of the facts of the Inner Arbor plan, will continue to spread untruths about it. And then the same newspaper articles will appear, merely saying that residents are "divided."

Something about this whole process needs to change.

We've had newspaper articles and editorials, letters to the editor, and then blog posts, and now people can send emails directly to the CA Board of Directors. But we're still stuck in the same old rut. Well, maybe it's time to get unstuck.

Ian Kennedy's Change.org petition, followed by the creation of the Facebook Group "Let's Make Columbia Awesome", is reaching out to members of our community who are normally left out of the process. Younger residents are often unaware of how Columbia works, and young parents do not have the leisure to attend meetings.

Ian's YouTube video gives viewers very real images to get excited about. This is no behind-closed-doors whisper campaign. This is up front, fact-checkable advocacy that anyone can plug into, think about, and discuss. It says:

Want to learn more--here's how.
Want to do something--here's how.
Have an idea to share--here's how.

So, this idea about having "five quarters" in the Super Bowl? Let's try that. And then next year Tony Kornheiser will be foaming at the mouth, ranting, "Whose stupid idea was it to have five quarters, huh? I'll tell you who. Somebody who doesn't understand fractions!"

Well you just can't make some people happy. It is hard to be happy when you're mired in cognitive dissonance. So, what can we do?

Let's be aweome.


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