Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Live and Let Live

What's going on over at Inspire Columbia? Well, I'm glad you asked. Here's a question:

How can Columbia grow and expand, while protecting the character of each of our neighborhoods?

And here is one of the answers:

I suggest that we NOT grow and expand.
(AUG 13, 2013 Diana B6)

Why do we need to grow and expand? Instead let us maintain, improve and enrich. Growth is not always better. There will always be someone who wants another store or another restaurant. Let's appreciate what we have. There must be an end to this growth or we will become an urbanized, crowded region like Towson, Silver Spring or Bethesda. These are not places I'd want to live. I came to Columbia because it was attractive, convenient, diverse and suburban. I don't want to fight traffic or walk in the snow from a satellite parking lot to run errands. We can always visit more "vibrant" places when we have the urge to -- and then go home to the peacefulness of Columbia.

The last sentence stands out for me.

We can always visit more "vibrant" places when we have the urge to -- and then go home to the peacefulness of Columbia.

There's that word "vibrant" again. We've been talking a lot in recent years about vibrancy as we work towards the realization of Columbia's Downtown Plan. Where does that word come from?

vibrant (adj.)
1550s, "agitated," from Latin vibrantem (nominative vibrans) "swaying," present participle of vibrare "move to and fro" (see vibrate). Meaning "vigorous, full of life" is first recorded 1860. Related: Vibrantly.

It seems to me that those who object to vibrancy feel very strongly the notion of the first part of the definition: agitated, vibrating, moving to and fro. And they don't like it. They find peace in being still. On the other hand, those who want the place they live to be vibrant are focusing on the latter part of the definition, I think: vigorous, full of life.

How do we resolve the conflict, when it is truly two sides of the same coin? As I search through definitions, I see the conflict ever more clearly.

a. Pulsing or throbbing with energy or activity: the vibrant streets of a big city.
b. Vigorous, lively, and vital: "a vibrant group that challenged the . . . system" (Philip Taubman).
2. Exhibiting or characterized by rapid, rhythmic movement back and forth or to and fro; vibrating.
3. Produced as a result of vibration; resonant or resounding: vibrant voices.
4. Relatively high on the scale of brightness: a vibrant hue.

How does that make you feel? Are you drawn to it? Does it make you want to crawl under the covers and hide?

It's all in how you look at it. One person may find a natural spot in Columbia such as Wilde Lake tranquil and serene, while another will pick up on the pulse of life in this natural habitat. There is movement in water, wind, birds, insects, turtles and other small animals. You might say "humming with activity." And that's vibration.

Another person may visit the quiet Lakefront at sunset and feel not reassured but distressed. Why is it so deserted? The beauty of the scenery without the interaction of people strikes them as a sign of lifelessness: a ghost town, eerie in its inactivity. "As silent as death."

In all truly great cities there is a balance of activity and restfulness. A bustling market, a quiet park with a soothing fountain. In my opinion, that is what we must strive for. Columbia's future belongs to a diversity of ages and desires. We must consider opinions different from our own.

What do you think? Go over to Inspire Columbia and share your vision.



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