Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Finding Our Way

Yesterday, at around ten forty am, I was traveling between Bollman Bridge and Running Brook and my route took me along Little Patuxent Parkway. Symphony Woods was to my right, the Mall to my left. I was thinking about the morning's big announcement, wondering if there would be any trace left of all the people who had converged on our "Town Square", if you will. I glanced to the right as I passed the old Rouse Building. Everything seemed in order. Just as I was about to turn my attention back to the road, I saw a small sign.

It read, "Lakefront."

This made me smile. I have often puzzled as to why so many of Columbia's beautiful vistas are hidden. I do know that many Baltimoreans hate to come here because they always get lost.  So when I saw that sign, it struck me as an acknowledgement. I imagined hordes of out-of-towners driving round and round the Mall in frustration.

"They said it's at the Lakefront."

"What Lakefront?"

I've had some discussions on this topic with Bill Santos of Columbia Compass. He tells me that part of the intrinsic plan for Columbia was to promote exploration and the joy of discovery. And when you want to walk the pathways for recreation, and go for a Sunday drive just to see what's out there, this concept holds up well. However, if you want to walk to work or to shop, or to find a location by 8:45 am, it's nothing short of frustrating.

Columbia: we hide our light under a bushel. And you have to come and find us. Are you worthy of the quest?

I wonder if it is a little difficult for Ken Ulman to explain his Columbia roots to outsiders. It's rather like having a quirky, eccentric family and having to introduce them to your college friends, or a future spouse. "Well, they're just not like everybody else..."

Placing that little sign by the side of the road was a smart thing to do. It was an invitation. It said, "It matters to me that you find this place. I welcome you."

I love the idea of exploration and discovery. Let's add to it the desire to shine a light so that people can find their way. It's not surprising to me that these are all things that Dennis Lane did, in his life and through his blog.

We'll be remembering him today.  Please join us.


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