Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Day After

The day after Christmas some people think that it is over. They take down their decorations and haul their trees to the curb. There are dishes to wash and trash to take out. Some people have to go right back to work. Others are at the stores bright and early for the after-Christmas sales. Still others are returning gifts.

The day after a big community meeting some people think it is over, too. After the big turnout, where folks vent, criticize, argue against or support a cause, they go home. And for them, it is over. They may go away feeling like winners or losers, or without the answers they came for, but, on the day after, it's over. Isn't it?

The Community Meeting in Oakland Mills about the County's purchase of the Verona Apartments was November 19th. So on November 20th, some folks felt vindicated, others were angry, some disappointed and depressed. And others were just rolling up their sleeves and getting back to work.

The Village board continues to work on this issue and all things pertaining to quality of life in Oakland Mills. Stevens Forest resident Ian Kennedy, who earlier this Fall got the ball rolling on the idea of a CA Family Advisory Committee, made a proposal for a neighborhood investment fund which could benefit places like Oakland Mills and the challenges we face as an older Columbia Village. For them, it isn't over.

For our County Council Representative, Calvin Ball, I'm not sure it ever gets to be "over". Each day is an ongoing part of the process of something: listening and responding to constituents, crafting solutions, working to get them implemented, receiving feedback, responding to feedback...

You get the picture.

After the meeting on November 19th, Dr. Ball got to work drafting letters to:

Howard County Police Department

Howard County Public Schools

Howard County Economic Development Authority

Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning

Howard County Housing Commission

Each letter addressed specific concerns raised by residents at the meeting. Dr. Ball asked for prompt and ongoing partnership to address the issues. I checked back with him to see if he has received any responses and he said, "Yes. Many have responded or met with me and many are working with the Board on issues and the Master Plan."

This is what happens on the day after. When I left the Village Board I remember thinking that it felt at times as though issues moved through so fast that we didn't have enough time for follow-up. And now that I am not on the Board it can feel as though meetings come and go with no sense of what is coming next. But the follow-up is always there. Places to find it in Oakland Mills: The Board Newsletter from Chair Bill Gray; the Village Newsletter from our Village Manager Sandy Cederbaum; and the newsletter from Councilman Ball's Office. (And sometimes on this blog, and Bill Woodcock's The 53.)

Another sure-fire way to find the follow-up is to get involved to support the issues you care about the most. I still have Ian Kennedy's words in my head as he viewed the crowd at the November 19th meeting: imagine if all the people in this room were gathered here to use their powers for good.*

And so, on the day after Christmas,or the day after New Year's, you may still be celebrating, or you may be putting it all away and going back to everyday life. Then again, you may be taking stock of what came before and charting a new course forward. Wherever you may be, I wish you joy. I thank you for reading this blog, and I invite you to be an active part of your community in the year ahead.





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