Thursday, February 14, 2013

Get Out of Town!

I don't get out of The Bubble much these days, I'm afraid. I travel all over the county, teaching in sixteen schools, but that's about it. I know where all the good places are to get a Diet Coke.

My most recent trip ito Baltimore was a trip to the Meyerhoff with my younger daughter to see a concert version of Hairspray, narrated by John Waters. The performance was enhanced by singers and dancers from my older daughter's alma mater, the Baltimore School for the Arts. The afternoon was filled energy and excitement for the quirkiness that is Baltimore. I was struck by how little of this we have in Columbia. Now,when the Columbia Festival of the Arts brought March Fourth to the Festival at the Lakefront, it was a glimpse into that kind of experience. They brought us something from the outside world that connected with that Lakefront audience in a new way. And it clicked. It was beautiful to behold.

Clearly it is important to venture out of the bubble now and then. Yesterday my husband and I arrived in San Antonio for the TI:ME/TMEA13 Conference. (Music Educators) Right away I was struck by how many interesting old buildings have been preserved here. An old Dillon's Department Store repurposed as a Mall. The Alamo smack in the middle of everything. The Gonzales Convention Center, built in 1968, then expanded and transformed in later years, fits in beautifully with the style of the older buildings, and the architectural detail of the Riverwalk, the beautiful pathways and cafes along the banks...

The Convention Center is nestled into the Riverwalk, which means that high school brass players, here for All State, spilled out into the courtyards to warm up for auditions. As we returned from dinner, we came upon a companionable cluster of tubas, sitting in a stone alcove by the river, playing their hearts out.

It is just breathtaking how the indoor and outdoor spaces are so conducive to arts uses. And not just for the arts. The Convention Center,along with its theater, are used as the setting for a myriad of events throughout the year. It was meant to be just plain "people friendly". City signage everywhere is clear, there are plenty of map-signs to tell you where you are, there's good public transportation, and lots of people are walking, too.

How dare anyone say that Columbia doesn't deserve this experience? I speak not of remaking ourselves in Baltimore's image, or San Antonio's, but of having the guts to make something of ourselves. Something worth having, something ALIVE. We need to make some big decisions to fulfill some big dreams. When you see how beautiful things can be, you know it is worth the work and the risk. Be a believer, be an advocate, and don't give up.

If you have big dreams for Columbia, Columbia needs you. Now.


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