Thursday, May 23, 2013

How Villagey Are You?

Is it just me?  Whenever I consciously attempt to name all of the Villages in Columbia, I invariably come up one or two short. Today I forgot Hickory Ridge and Kings Contrivance, but it isn't always the same ones. Every once in a while you see people online trying to remember all of the names of the Seven Dwarves from the Disney movie "Snow White". It's a similar experience. The first few rattle off the tongue easily, and then memory slows...

I decided to challenge myself to see if I actually know people in all ten villages. I do, but just barely. Of course I know many people in my own Village. After that, it dwindles to two or three families apiece. Interestingly enough, the Villages I forgot were the ones where I know the fewest people. I probably know more than I think I do, because many folks in Columbia these days don't self-identify by Village.

When newer residents move to Columbia, they may be looking for the right house at the right price, good schools, a decent commute. The Village concept may not even figure into the decision at all.  Once they are here, it remains possible to live, work and shop without really gaining an understanding of what Columbia's Villages mean, or the unique qualities of their own village. It may be hard for long-time Columbians to believe this, but it's true. Columbia can be just a nice suburban place with grass and trees and shopping centers, if you don't know.

My own evolution from someone who "lived in Columbia" to someone who lives in Oakland Mills has been slow but rewarding. There is no question that my family's quality of life has been improved by understanding how we fit into Oakland Mills and what Oakland Mills can do for us. What about your own village? Do you feel the same? Does being a part of a Village enhance your quality of life?

On Inspire Columbia there is a conversation going on about Village Centers. This conversation predates the website, of course. Strictly speaking, these discussions are usually focused on the retail aspect of the Centers. I'd like to see a wider discussion about what the Village concept means to us today. Just as trends in retail change, trends in how people think of where they live change, too. If the Village concept is to live on as more than a name on a shopping center, it must adapt as well.

What is your Village doing to reach out to newer residents and keep current with the lifestyles of 2013? What would you like to see them do? Tell me something cool about your Village--I always have more to learn.


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