Sunday, August 31, 2014

What's in Your Back Pocket?

I have an article that I have bookmarked to consult on days like these.

"Blog Ideas Are Everywhere"

(Oh, yeah? Then why can't I think of any?)

But I re-read the article, calm myself down, stop fighting my own fears at having nothing to say. It's almost like a meditation, or a prayer. When you strive to write every day, you need that. Ask anyone who is attempting to keep the daily discipline of writing.

You want to do it. You enjoy doing it. You love the flow of it when it flows.

You hate doing it. It hangs over your head. You want to rebel against it.

So I keep that article in my back pocket. Re-reading it is rather like renewing one's marriage vows, or recalling why one got married in the first place. Sometimes it jolts my brain into making a connection that produces new ideas. Sometimes it relaxes me enough to to be able to "step away from the computer." After all, the author states, "Your best ideas usually come when you aren’t trying to think about them."

This is where my journey brought me today, a short video by General Electric about--ideas.

@generalelectric: Some ideas start out ugly, even scary. But with the right environment, they can transform into something beautiful.

Yes, it's a feel-good, sappy bit of commercial self-congratulation. But it still gets me. It reminds me that, in my quest for a daily blog post, my hope is always to reach into my back pocket and pull out a beautiful idea every time. Maybe I need to start an Ugly Ideas Journal--a place to nurture ragged scraps and threads and funny-looking concepts--and give them a supportive environment to transform into something beautiful.

The first thing I'm putting in that journal is this guy.

 (Taken from GE Video)





Saturday, August 30, 2014

Strangers Bearing Gifts

Social media was abuzz yesterday with word of a newly-released ranking that Ellicott City and Columbia ranked 3 and 8, respectively, as best suburbs for education in America. As a local blogger I received an email from the creators of the ranking, Movoto, along with a link to their article. My first response was: How did they choose? And, who are they?

It seems that the reponse of most other people was: Woo hoo! look at us! We rate!

Is it possible that we are getting a bit sucked into top ten rankings and click your town to supremacy contests these days? I wonder.

So, to answer my questions:

How did they choose?

  • Student-teacher ratio
  • Money spent per year per student (bolding mine)
  • High school graduation rate
  • rating (based on test scores for the area)
Who are they?

This is Movoto. They are a real estate company. The ranking appears to be a function of their blog. I don't really know anything else about them. I am not here to cast aspersions. But I would ask that folks actually look into the background of groups handing out rankings before accepting their accolades.

If you read the article you will see the words wealthy, affluent, spending, money. Close behind? Test scores, test scores, test scores. Possible conclusion--buy into these affluent suburbs and you will be a part of these high-ranking school systems.

The biggest and most reliable prediction of school failure is poverty. Conversely, higher test scores correlate with higher incomes much of the time. This is why Ellicott City ranks above Columbia--Columbia has a wider spread of household incomes. So what is this ranking really celebrating?

Yay! We have money! We bought expensive houses! Our kids will make the school system look great!

I have been a part of many conversations recently where residents are fed up with schools being defined by test scores. This is not what excellent education is really about. Included in that frustration is the knowledge that realtors reinforce this specious definition by steering families toward affluent areas and away from many Columbia neighborhoods based on test scores alone.

I love our schools. We have incredible teachers doing wonderful work every day. We have beautiful children to challenge, support, inspire. That is worth celebrating.

We don't need a pat on the back from a real estate company. We're bigger than that--aren't we?



Friday, August 29, 2014

Make It So!

A new buzzword in the education field is engagement. You can read more about this in an article about a Gallup report on teacher engagement. Apparently teacher engagement is crucial to student engagement, and the numbers are down. (Really?) Yesterday I passed a brand-new bulletin board display in a teachers lounge. It read: I feel engaged when...

And it was blank. I laughed to myself.


Now, it was blank because it's the beginning of the year, and it is obviously an all-school exercise meant to fill up over time. But I found it to be a bit disconcerting because there are so many answers that teachers would probably like to put on that bulletin board that they don't dare to.


I feel engaged when:


  • My knowledge and expertise is solicited and considered when curriculum and programming changes are being considered.
  • I am permitted to speak openly with parents who ask me questions about my subject area.
  • I am treated with respect by the Board and Superintendent during contract negotiations.
  • My planning time is respected as a valuable part of the educational process and not usurped for administrative meetings.
  • My teaching is evaluated through consistent and fair observation, and not by student numbers on high stakes testing.
  • I am actively involved in choosing and participating in relevant Professional Development sessions.
  • I am encouraged to teach in a way that truly benefits my students.
It is too simplistic to say, "these numbers say teachers need to be more engaged, so--get engaged, teachers!"


It is no surprise to me that, given the current environment in education both in the U.S. and in Howard County, that teachers lose heart. But let's be honest and talk about why, and really do something about it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to Work

Today I begin my twelfth year teaching music and movement to special needs preschoolers in the Howard County schools. I am extremely lucky to have a job which uses my specific interests and talents. I travel to sixteen different schools in the county.


Over the last eleven years I have experienced joy, frustration, sadness, triumph, and even hilarity in my work. I am privileged to work with wonderful students, teachers, and support staff. When a lesson goes well I am walking on air. When it doesn't I go around under a cloud until I figure out a way to improve it.


In the grand scheme of the program of Regional Early Childhood Centers, what I do is just a tiny piece. I try to remind myself of that when I get bent out of shape about something. But, to me, each class is my whole world. It is a chance to get that airplane off the ground and take flight.


I have spent a good deal of time on this blog championing music education in our schools. I see every day what music can do to lift up and engage students on the autism spectrum, or with language delays, physical impairments, cognitive delays. I witness how students with special needs and those without can be united in the enjoyment of creating music.


To quote the old, old song:


How can I keep from singing?


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Definition of the Thing

I have climbed up on the blog twice this morning, and twice it has thrown me off. As an act of sheer desperation I give you the following homework assignment:

Do you see Columbia's Villages as being self-contained? Why, or why not?

First, a definition:



(of a thing) complete, or having all that is needed, in itself.

synonyms: complete, independent, separate, free-standing, enclosed

"each train was a self-contained unit"

From Wikipedia: Columbia is a planned community comprising ten self-contained villages, located in Howard County, Maryland—the second wealthiest county in the United States, according to 2013 U.S. Census Bureau figures.

So, what do you think? And, does it matter?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tables Turned

I meant to heed the invitation of the Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC) and attend the grand opening of ShopHouse SouthEast Asian Kitchen at the Mall in Columbia yesterday.

Join them on Monday, August 25th for their Grand Opening! 100% of purchases benefit the Howard County Food Bank when you mention the word "fundraiser."

Yes, I picked up my lovely companion HoCoHouseHon and we headed to the Mall to do just that. It was a beautiful sunny day, a little warm for my taste, as we strolled along the new "Lifestyle Plaza" toward our destination. ("Really? It's called a Lifestyle Plaza? That's silly.") We noticed the various gated areas outside the newer restaurants, creating space for outdoor eating.

HowChow would be amused to see that we now have places to eat outdoors in Howard County that don't involve a view of the parking lot. Instead, we will be looking at other diners at other restaurants, eating outside, looking at us. How meta.

When we got to ShopHouse, it was packed. Despite my charitable intentions, I shrank from the crowd. I suggested we go to Zoe's. My daughter countered with Seasons 52, her new favorite.

"I don't have the money for that," I said.

"It's not as expensive as you think. It depends on what you order."

I hesitated.

"You don't have to treat me. We can split the check."

It was clear that she knew something which I did not, and that I was on the verge of being a complete stick-in-the-mud. And so I acquiesced.

I'm so happy that I did. Seasons 52 is a beautiful restaurant. The service from our waiter, Oreste, was exquisite. While it is clear that one could spend a great deal of money here, it isn't necessary. (That 12.95 Mandarin Orange Cosmopolitan cocktail--tempting, but out of my range.)

I ordered a cup of Piedmontese Beef and Black Bean Chili ($4.95) and a Kalymnos Greek Salad (7.95). Both were delicious, and just the right size. This is not the kind of place where a reasonable price means a minuscule portion. You won't go home with a styrofoam clamshell of leftovers, either. It appears to be aiming for "just the right amount". It's a refreshing change.

My lovely companion had a Blackened Steak and Blue Cheese Flatbread, (9.95) which was both beautifully presented and delicious. Our waiter kept tabs on us throughout the meal without being obtrusive, filling our water glasses when needed.

So I was already convinced, but then the waiter arrived with the dessert tray. It seems that Seasons 52 has these very small but amazing desserts. At 2.75 apiece, a splurge seemed a reasonable decision to make. We chose the pecan pie with vanilla mousse and the raspberry cannoli.

Wow. What a perfect ending to an already impressive first experience.

In summary:

  • Lifestyle Plaza may be a silly name but it's bringing some much-needed excitement and fun to the Downtown/Mall experience.
  • I need to go back to try ShopHouse.
  • I need to make a donation to the Howard County Food Bank.
  • My daughter was completely right about Seasons 52.
  • Sometimes it's great to be wrong.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Are You As Afraid As We Are?

It was a big room, and the room was full. In Howard County, in Columbia, Maryland, where some feel that issues of race are no issue at all, almost every seat was filled and plenty more were standing.

I can't tell you numbers. I can't give you a breakdown by race or ethnicity, gender, or age. I can tell you that people were there because they cared. They were angry, scared, worried, frustrated, determined. Possibly hopeful.

If you want to get a sense of the conversation, go to Twitter and enter #embracegracism. You will see many sides of the one issue: young people, education, law enforcement, use of force, due process, diversity training, racial profiling, overcoming notions of privilege, creating relationships. Building bridges.

Two things stood out for me. One was Dr. David Anderson's description of the built-up fear and expectation that something bad will happen in interactions with law enforcement. He wondered aloud if police bring that same kind of fear to those same encounters.

"Are you as afraid as we are?" he asked.

The officer responded that in those situations you don't have time for fear. You rely on your training. You go into automatic pilot and any move that is out of the ordinary prompts concern. And I'm sure that is all true, and none of us want to think that we are being protected by officers who are roaming around with fear in their hearts, but still. There may be a deeper issue in there that went unaddressed. Just maybe.

The second thing that struck me were the few moments of laughter. This was a serious conversation, and there were a few uncomfortable moments where one could feel the electricity of anger unspoken ripple through the room. When the topic of the use of force came up, Dr. Anderson said, jokingly, "Where's the non-lethal option? Could you tase me or something?"

There was laughter, and some applause. But it was the laughter of a pent-up tension where if you do not laugh, you will cry. The laughter of, "How ludicrous is it that we are discussing how I can avoid being killed by law enforcement?" "How do I train my son to present himself as non-threatening during a traffic stop?"

In her opening remarks, Councilwoman Courtney Watson spoke of the need to respond to young people during times like these. "Mom, nobody ever answers our questions." She's right that we need to answer those questions, and ask our own as well. The conversation yesterday happened because local leaders came together and created a safe space for that to happen.

Now it is up to us to create our own safe spaces for the conversation to continue.

Many thanks to Bridgeway Community Church, St. John Baptist Church, Howard County Police Department, Maryland State Police, Howard County Government, and anyone else responsible for making this happen.





Sunday, August 24, 2014

Who's Excited?

In August, 2013, the Columbia Association instituted a six-week citizens academy called Excite Columbia. I first wrote about this last August. I had questions then, and I still do. More than anything else, my biggest question is, how do we present something like Excite Columbia so that it reaches new residents and young people?

And that question shows, of course, my long-standing point of view that in order for Columbia to survive, new residents and younger people must be engaged and given a place at the table. I see Excite Columbia as a wonderful way to say: 1) this is how Columbia works, and 2) how do you want to be a part of how Columbia works?

I went looking for the name of the prominent red sculpture at the lakefront which I mentioned in yesterday's blog post. I found it in a PDF of a Columbia Walking Tour brochure. (We have a walking tour? Who knew?) It is called "Sail" by James Arthur Benson. It is made of steel, and it is wind-activated. Wow. I had no idea that it was a kinetic sculpture. Has anyone ever seen it move?

That search then led to questions about the Bell Tower which I often hear people reminisce about. And that led to this video by Barbara Kellner of the Columbia Archives. Fascinating stuff. Watch it! As a teacher I can't help but think that we should be teaching Columbia History to children and young adults. That's my gut feeling about what Excite Columbia should be all about.

The impression that Columbia made on its new residents and young people in the late 60's and early 70's has stayed with them forever. I read over and over again how growing up in Columbia was a life-defining experience. Especially now--when we are seeing in the Downtown development a continued flowering of what Columbia can be--creating a Citizens Academy is a wonderful thing.

How do we take that idea and make it "exciting" for children, young adults, and new residents?




Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Different Angle

When we ate dinner at Whole Foods Thursday night, the most meaningful part of the experience for me was the view. Not the only meaningful thing, mind you, just the one that moved me the most. I had never seen the Lakefront from that angle.

Sitting in the cafe area, one looks out at the fountain, the large red sculpture, and Clyde's from the right-hand side. I don't think anyone in Columbia has ever routinely had that view except for those who have worked in the Rouse Building. It's pretty amazing to live in a community fifteen years and to suddenly be presented with a whole new view. It is a beautiful vista.

Once that view belonged to only a select few. Now it is open to many.

Following the news from Ferguson, Missouri in the news and on Twitter has been giving many of us a view we never wanted to have. Some in our community have known it all along, some have had an uneasy suspicion that it was so, some have looked right at it and not seen it.

Well-known illustrator Mary Engelbreit of St. Louis was censored by Facebook this week for posting this drawing. "To be clear, I did this drawing as an illustration of the ugly, hard truth that racial profiling is still happening in this country." Many comments on her drawing were hateful and racist. These people did not want to see "Mary Engelbreit" speak from the heart about an issue that made them angry or uncomfortable. That was not her place.

She wanted to say something about what she saw. She wanted to share her gifts from a different angle. Her drawing reminds us that "None of us are free if one of us is chained."

How will we respond in our own community?

Sunday afternoon from 2:00 to 3:30 Bridgeway Community Church will host "Building Bridges Between Law Enforcement and the Community." This event will be "a community-wide town hall meeting about 'Justice for All.' Come out to be a part of a community conversation about building bridges between law enforcement and the community."

We are all challenged by the events in Ferguson to take the risk to see from a different angle. Accepting the same old view is just not an option.



Friday, August 22, 2014

This and That

There was a great conversation taking place on Facebook yesterday about Columbia Tot Lots, prompted by this letter. It wasn't that long ago that CA was putting the focus in downsizing Tot Lots, getting rid of some outright and transforming some others for different purposes. It made me remember when Ian Kennedy and others went to CA and asked for the creation of a Family Advisory Committee. What ever happened with that?

Apparently a new local podcast premiered yesterday--HoCoLife. Has anyone listened yet? What do you think?

I took my daughter to Whole Foods yesterday morning just to look around. The last time she was in that building was for our first Souper Sundae event. As I recall, it was an unseasonably warm day and we walked out on the deck and enjoyed the view. I gave her a little talk about adaptive reuse before we went inside.

When we were done I asked her, "Well, what do you thnk?"

She said, "It's awesome!" Then, "Do you think we could come back for dinner?"

My friend Al Romack recommended a blog a while back: BonneVivanteLife. Today's post is so brilliant I want to share it with you. After all, it is Friday, so Let's Get the Party Started.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

To Begin

One of my favorite back to school quotes is from Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton.

"October is a fine and dangerous season in America. It is dry and cool and the land is wild with red and gold and crimson, and all the lassitudes of August have seeped out of your blood, and you are full of ambition. It is a wonderful time to begin anything at all. You go to college and every course in the catalogue looks wonderful. The names of the subjects seem to lay open the way to a new world. Your arms are full of new, clean notebooks, waiting to be filled. You pass through the doors of the library and the smell of thousands of well-kept books makes your head swim with a clean and subtle pleasure. You have a new hat, a new sweater, perhaps, or a whole new suit. Even the nickels and the quarters in your pocket feel new, and the buildings shine in the glorious sun."

Alas, we go back to school in August with plenty of "lassitudes in our blood." Maryland weather will not bring us stereotypical Fall until at least October, if not later. There's just something counterintuitive about buying back-to-school fashions when the first day of school may be as hot as any summer day. We shouldn't be in school, we think. We should be at the pool.

Of course, people go back to school in all kinds of weather and climate zones. While I crave a hint of coolness, perhaps a bit of color beginning to tint leaves on neighborhood trees, that's only one narrow way of defining a back-to-school feeling. For many going back to school means a safer, more secure environment. Regular meals. Caring adults. Access to books.

The older I get the more conflicted I get about the American way of doing education. There's good and bad in every bite. But as difficult as it is for me to leave summer behind, I honor and respect the teachers all over this country who are preparing to reach out, exhort, support, and challenge children one more time. Their goal is to "lay open the way to a new world."

Let us have one more snowball, one more swim, one more chance to run in the sprinkler, stay up late and sleep in. Then we turn our faces to new challenges.




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hide and Seek

Yet again I have learned something from Twitter just by following an interesting thread.


@iankennedy7: In the vein of "Columbians gonna Columbia" (i.e. complain), no bike racks @columbiawfm is unfortunate. #WFMColumbia


@howardjp: @iankennedy7 @ColumbiaWFM Which is especially bad since the bridge over 29 pulls right up to the back of the building.

@chrisbachmann: @howardjp @iankennedy7 @ColumbiaWFM Bike racks at lake k in general would be nice. And ones that are not hidden from view.

@iankennedy7: @chrisbachmann could you imagine what would happen if we hid parking lots like we hide bike racks? actually, maybe more people would ride...

@ColumbiaWFM: @chrisbachmann @howardjp @iankennedy7 Thanks for the feedback, guys! I'm going to pass this along and see what we can do!

@iankennedy7: @ColumbiaWFM @chrisbachmann @howardjp Thanks! Tweet was not a slight towards you specifically; symptom of a broader problem here/in suburbia

@ColumbiaWFM: @iankennedy7 @chrisbachmann @howardjp Absolutely! Thanks for being awesome and bringing it to our attention :)

@ColumbiaWFM: @iankennedy7 @chrisbachmann @howardjp I found them!

@Lanny: @iankennedy7 I was at @ColumbiaWFM on Saturday and took delight in the fact that they DO have bike racks! I saw them on side toward fountain

@iankennedy7: @Lanny @ColumbiaWFM That's great! didn't see them out front but glad to know they're there.


I never considered bike racks because I don't bike. So I just wasn't looking at the situation from that point of view. Now I think I will be on the lookout for them. Where are they placed? Are they conveniently located? Are they easy to find? If we want to encourage more walking and biking and less dependence on individual cars, how should this shape such decisions?

What I learned: finding bike racks is sometimes a game of hide and seek, and Columbia Whole Foods Market has a great social media person. One might even say "awesome".

P.S. This year's Columbia Bikeabout is September 13th. Learn more here. The ride finishes up at the Wilde Lake Old Fashioned Family Picnic. I feel reasonably certain there will be a place to park your bike.




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dress Rehearsal, Part Two

This is what it looked like when it was only a twinkle in someone's eye. And this is what it looked like last night.

The nice people at Whole Foods opened their doors to members of the community last night and HoCoHouseHon and I were happy to be included. Luckily they invited plenty of folks with better photography skills than I have. Facebook and Twitter were full of gorgeous views of the new store and of friends celebrating at the outdoor tasting event.

I never got lunch yesterday, so I may have been more excited than most as I sampled the various foods on offer. Raw oysters, tomato-melon salad, grilled sausage, filled brioche, cheese, ice cream, sushi...I was really hungry and it was really, really good food.

We had a wonderful tour of the new store from Meg, a Whole Foods employee from DC. It did my heart good to see how they have incorporated the stunning views of the lake into the shopping experience. I know this will sound hokey, but the store feels like more than a store. It's an experience. It could almost be a party.

I have written in the past about the sometimes frustrating "hidden" quality of Columbia's best features. Well, the Lakefront is hidden no more. Last night was a coming-out party, in a sense. Not just for Whole Foods, or, by extension, Haven on the Lake. But for all the ways they will bring people to enjoy the Lakefront.

Last night was a generationally diverse event. I saw everyone from hipster couples to baby-wearing mamas, village board members, bloggers, grandparents, and Pioneers. Yes, there were probably soccer moms. And dads. The last time I saw that kind of generational diversity in Columbia aside from Lakefest was at Wine in the Woods.

Just as the founders saw racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity as a powerful part of the Columbia dream, generational diversity is a powerful statement of the liveability of Columbia today. I'm excited by the creative adaptation of the Frank Gehry "Rouse Building" because it gives a new generation the opportunity to enjoy a classic Columbia landmark in a new way.

I'm looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting Out

I have fond memories of school field trips to the Shaker Lakes area near my home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. We observed the changes of the seasons, listened for birds. I got my boot stuck in the mud--quite an adventure. We collected leaves and learned the names of trees, gathered seed pods and acorns, smelled pine needles, watched the ducks.

All those memories came flooding back when I saw a link to these upcoming programs at the Howard County Conservancy. Stephanie Holzman will be leading Babes in the Woods, for parents with carry-able infants, and Stories Under the Sycamore, for "new walking toddlers and little ones in rugged strollers." What a wonderful way to introduce children to the natural world from their earliest years, not to mention a great way for frazzled parents to reconnect and re-energize.

That made me think about a group I heard about on Facebook, Columbia Families in Nature. So I looked them up, too. Their website contains a link to a video on YouTube explaining the reason for the group's founding, which is worth the watch. How do you get people to care about preserving the environment? You start with children and families.

And then there's this: the project at the Robinson Nature Center to create an outdoor Nature Playground for kids. I learned about it from reading Lisa B, Mrs. S. : "A Dream Come True", post from July 23rd. Anyone who knows me is aware that I have been wishing and hoping and lobbying for a musical playground in Howard County. Many people have been the recipient of a nice note from me with the following link. My thought was Inner Arbor. It looks like the folks at the Robinson Nature Center had been thinking about it all along.

As the children head back to school there will be more sitting, more time inside, more paper and pencil learning. Now is the time to make the effort to schedule in a date with nature. It is so easy to forget. And yet we all have such a deep need to connect with our natural world. We are extremely lucky that Howard County has so many ways for us to do it.



Sunday, August 17, 2014

What Comes Next

To wrap up the discussion of the past few days, I have decided to share the response from the PTACHC Board to Superintendent Foose and the Board of Education. As both letters were shared openly with PTACHC Delegates, it makes sense to me that I should be willing to share both to give you a better picture of this issue.

August 8, 2014

Board of Education of Howard County

Superintendent Renee Foose

Howard County Public School System

Dear Chairman Giles, Members of the Board of Education of Howard County, and Superintendent Foose:

The PTA Council of Howard County (PTACHC) values the longstanding relationship we have with the Board of Education of Howard County (BOE) and the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). This relationship has enabled all of us to work together to help each and every child in Howard County achieve their personal best.

The overall purpose of PTA is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. One way the PTACHC accomplishes this is through informing our members, parents and community about issues impacting the students in Howard County.

We are honored that the BOE, Superintendent Foose, and the Howard County Education Association (HCEA) have liaisons who attend our monthly general meetings to provide information directly to our members and parents, hear their concerns and answer their questions. This opportunity for all three organizations to deliver information directly has been invaluable to all our organizations, the parents and the community.

We were shocked to learn that BOE Vice Chairman Ann De Lacy sent the enclosed email to Maryland PTA President Ray Leone. Considering our longstanding relationship with both the BOE and the HCPSS, we are deeply disappointed that you would not feel comfortable coming directly to us should you have concerns regarding our organization.

The PTACHC officers and members are aware that Vice Chairman De Lacy is disappointed that we have included a liaison from the HCEA at our monthly general membership meetings. At our May general meeting, Vice Chairman De Lacy expressed outrage that our organization allowed the HCEA to provide an update to our members regarding contract negotiations. The update provided by the HCEA liaison reiterated information that had already been reported in the press. Vice Chairman De Lacy expressed that not only what the PTACHC was doing was illegal, but that she would be reporting the incident to legal counsel and Superintendent Foose. We were confused and shocked at this outburst, and President Delmont-Small explained to those assembled that as an organization we felt it important that the BOE, Superintendent Foose and HCEA all have an opportunity through their liaisons to provide information and answer questions at our general meetings. When asked if we should continue to have the liaisons at our monthly general meetings, our general membership agreed that it was important to hear directly from all three organizations.

Moreover, until receiving a copy of Vice Chairman De Lacy’s email, our organization had assumed the exclusion of the PTACHC from meetings with PTA presidents, the superintendent and/or HCPSS staff was an oversight. Vice Chairman De Lacy’s statement in her email that "our Superintendent (sic) has learned to circumvent the PTAC (sic) leadership by directly going to the local PTA Presidents," seems to indicate otherwise, and we are concerned and deeply troubled. We have been hearing that individuals in the "school system" felt the PTACHC was "giving parents too much of a voice," but we had discounted those remarks since the BOE and HCPSS have always indicated that they welcome parental involvement. However, the enclosed email gives the impression that your organizations are not as welcoming of parental input as thought. As the largest parent organization in the county with over 26,000 members, we are understandably concerned that the PTACHC’s efforts and subsequent success of engaging and empowering Howard County parents to advocate for their children is not wanted in Howard County.

Maryland PTA has suggested that we ask the Maryland State Board of Education to intervene in this matter. But we have confidence that we can address this issue at the county level, and instead, we would like the Board of Education, Superintendent Foose, the PTACHC leadership, and Maryland PTA to enter into mediation to ensure that our organizations can continue to fulfill our purposes and missions and work together for the students of Howard County.

Although it is unclear whether the concerns expressed by Vice Chairman De Lacy are shared by the BOE and/or Superintendent Foose, we feel it is imperative that we discuss the unsubstantiated statements contained in the attached emails as well as our concerns as soon as possible.

Thank you for all that you do for the students of Howard County and we look forward to hearing from you shortly so that we can schedule mediation.


Christina Delmont-Small

President, PTA Council of Howard County

Reg Avery

Executive Vice President, PTA Council of Howard County

Tonya Tiffany

Vice President of Issues, PTA Council of Howard County

Liz Eldridge

Vice President of Operations, PTA Council of Howard County

Ashley Alfeo

Secretary, PTA Council of Howard County

Mary Nicklin

Treasurer, PTA Council of Howard County


So, what's next? Will the Board and/or the Superintendent distance themselves from Ms. DeLacy's actions? Will they accept the invitation from the PTACHC Board to enter into mediation? Or will there be no response at all?

And what effect will this have on Board of Education elections?

To quote local blogger Jason Booms, "Stay tuned, as more will follow."


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Follow Up

This question came up yesterday on Facebook after a friend read my blog post. I thought it would be good to share in with a wider audience.


Well, did Ms. Delmont-Small do these things, these things that were purportedly illegal, and not distribute info that should have been distributed so that meeting would have been better attended? Is there any weight to Ms. DeLacey's claims? If so, then where should she take her complaints? Educate me, please, so that I see what you see....


No, she did nothing illegal. Allowing a teacher to speak at a meeting of delegates of a Parent Teacher Association is not illegal. Nothing was said that hadn't already been published in the newspaper. Equal time was given to representatives from the Board and Central Office. Ms. Delmont-Small and the Board of PTACHC are there to help parents make the best choices for their children, so their goal is to ask questions, entertain more than one point of view, encourage lively discussion and deep thinking for the sole purpose of supporting our children in school. Allowing a discussion of pros and cons of The Common Core is not illegal, either. And where she stands on the Affordable Care Act is, dare I say, irrelevant to the matter at hand. Ms. DeLacy makes assertions that are just plain inaccurate--I know people who were at the Superintendent's meeting that she claims no one attended. It is extremely difficult to tell what parts of the letter are mistakes and what are deliberate falsehoods.

In addition to the letter smearing Ms. Delmont-Small and the PTA Council of Howard County, Ms. DeLacy has been keeping busy this summer bearing false witness against Paul Lemle of the HCEA and fellow Board Member Cindy Vaillancourt.(Yes, I have concrete proof in writing.) I find it odd that although she claims to be concerned about the propriety of what should or should not be discussed openly during negotiations with HCEA, she has been actively spreading rumors and spinning false narratives all the while.

In fact, I am now extremely suspicious that Ms. DeLacy may be the source of this piece by Armstrong Williams that I wrote about on July 14th. It follows the same pattern of inflammatory language, creating false narratives, casting suspicion, and overall character assassination that we see in her other work. You may recall that this piece even includes a swipe at County Executive Ken Ulman.

This kind of behavior truly taints the work of our entire Board of Education and Superintendent Foose. And since Ms. DeLacy claims to speak for Dr. Foose, it paints a very ugly picture of what our school system has become. Teachers come back to work on Monday. Students start the following week. What on earth can we say to them about who is minding the store on our behalf?







Friday, August 15, 2014

Civility Fails at the Board of Education

This Spring I visited a meeting of the PTA Council of Howard County to share concerns I had about cuts to instructional time for Art and Music as a part of the Model Schools Initiative. It was an extremely positive experience. The group was warm and supportive to all present. The president, Christina Delmont-Small, ran the meeting in a professional and extremely effective manner. By the end of the evening I had decided to apply for the delegate position from Oakland Mills Middle School that I knew would be opening up at the end of the school year. (And you know I hate meetings, so that says a lot.)

The PTA Council of Howard County (PTACHC) states as its mission:

The PTA Council of Howard County (PTACHC) serves the 73 PTAs and its 25,000+ members in Howard County, MD who through advocacy support the mission of PTA, which is to be--

  • A powerful voice for all children,
  • A relevant resource for families and communities
  • A strong advocate for the education and well-being of every child.

The meeting I attended clearly showed that PTACHC takes its mission seriously, respects all parties in the education process, and strives to support parents so they may make the best choices for their children.

Therefore I was deeply disturbed to learn that Board of Education member Ann DeLacy sent the following letter to Maryland PTA President Ray Leone. The Board of PTACHC met to discuss the implications of this letter and to formulate an appropriate response. As a part of their official response they released Ms. DeLacy's letter to delegates, in order to give a compete picture of what had occurred.

After a good deal of thought I am sharing that letter here because I feel strongly that actions like these should be brought out in the open. As my mother always said, don't put anything in a letter that you don't want to see in the newspaper.

From: "Ann DeLacy"

Date: Jul 8, 2014 5:21 PM

Subject: Concerns About the Howard County PTA Council

To: ""

Dear Ray,

My name is Ann De Lacy. I was elected to the Howard County Board of Education with the assistance of my then friend, PTA Council President, Christina Delmont-Small, on November 6, 2013. Since that time, I have served as a Board of Education liaison to the PTA Council. While I found last year's meetings to be positive and worthwhile, I have strong concerns with the current leadership of the Council.

Mrs. Delmont-Small has expressed openly negative opinions about the Affordable Health-Care Act but I have been extremely shocked about her open and organized opposition to the Common Core Standards. When I asked her, during a meeting, why she did not post the National PTA's endorsement of the Common-Core Standards, she stated that their position was one-sided.

Mrs. Delmont-Small has actively inserted the PTAC into a very contentious negotiations process with our local NEA Affiliate (I am the past President). She has allowed Howard County Education Associations (HCEA) PTAC Reps (new this year) to solicit information from Council Representatives and discuss collective bargaining during Council meetings. When I ask why this was allowed when bargaining was not open and the discussion was illegal, Mrs. Delmont-Small stated that parents had as much right to hear from the Teacher Reps as they did from the Board of Education Reps.

In April of this year, Mrs. Delmont-Small was supposed to email all of the PTA Presidents for a Community Meeting with the Superintendent and the BOE. Not one President attend. After going directly to some local PTA Presidents, I found that they had not received information from PTAC. When I presented the information as part of my BOE report to PTAC, Mrs. Delmont-Small stated that this was an election year and she thought PTA members should focus on the BOE without the Superintendent and staff being present.

I have met with several local PTA Executive Officers this year. None have expressed extreme concerns about the Common-Core Standards nor in the Collective Bargaining process.

You will be receiving emails that will fill-in gaps and catch you up with the goings on in Howard County. I no longer attend PTAC meetings and our Superintendent has learned to circumvent the PTAC leadership by going directly to the local PTA Presidents. Please look into my concerns.


Ann De Lacy

Howard County Board of Education, Member


This letter contains factual errors, downright untruths, odd criticisms (Affordable Care Act?) and what is worse, evidence that Ms. DeLacy speaks also for Superintendent Foose when she says,

"I no longer attend PTAC meetings and our Superintendent has learned to circumvent the PTAC leadership by going directly to the local PTA Presidents."

This behavior is outrageous. As an individual action by Ms. DeLacy alone it truly represents a betrayal of her responsibility to be an advocate for parents and children in our school system. And it strongly suggests a systemic mindset that PTACHC should be "cut off" from participation in school system meetings.

This is not how to run a school system. And this is certainly not how to Choose Civility. The Board of PTACHC has formulated a response to this, and will continue to act as an advocacy organization to support the mission of the PTA. But we, as the larger community, must also formulate a response.

Is this how School Board members should behave? Is this how the school system should treat parents? We pay taxes to support our schools, we have elections and use our votes to choose Board of Education members to direct the Superintendent's work in educating the most important asset we have: our children.

We have a voice. You have a voice. Use it.





Thursday, August 14, 2014

Definitions for 500, Alex

I attended the Oakland Mills Village Board meeting on Tuesday evening because I had a question. Here is what I said:

I love living in Oakland Mills, and I am familiar with the all of the good work of those who worked on the Oakland Mills Revitalization. But recently I keep hearing the word "reinvent." I wanted to make sure I knew what that meant, so I looked it up in the dictionary.

Reinvent: To make over completely, or to change (something) so much that it appears to be entirely new.

That's a really big deal. In light of this:

1. Where can I find the working definition that the board formulated for what exactly constitutes "reinventing Oakland Mills?"

2. Also, where can I find the body of evidence you are using to justify "reinventing Oakand Mills"?

Co-chair Bill McCormack was extremely courteous to me, but he didn't seem to understand my question. He referred me to the Village website to read the minutes of the meetings that had been held so far. So I asked again,

Where can I find the working definition that the board has formulated for what exactly constitutes "reinventing Oakland Mills?"

He seemed genuinely surprised. After a moment he said (I am paraphrasing here) that Oakland Mills has some problems and we are trying to fix them.

And I said I looked forward to learning more and then I sat down.

One of my favorite quotes about language comes from Confucius.

If language is not correct then what is said is not what is meant. If what is said is not what is meant, then what ought to be done remains undone.

I must say that I think it is extremely dangerous for the Oakland Mills Board to be embarking on a process of "reinvention" with no stated definition or body of evidence to support their work. This is not an effective way to do business. These people are in position to make decisions that affect the entire village and influence how the rest of Columbia and Howard County sees Oakland Mills.

I do think that if one has a mission, it should stated clearly and thoroughly and shared openly for public comment. I do not think that any board has a mandate to just make it up as they go along. Remember about the road to Hell...and that's assuming one has good intentions.

I want to assume our board has good intentions. But how on earth can I tell?






Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Henry Knows

Today I'm going to talk about Henry. Henry has been on my mind a lot lately.

What? You don't remember Henry? Really?

That's okay. Some days Henry doesn't remember Henry, either.

This is Henry. His story is just one part of a documentary entitled "Alive Inside" created by Dan Cohen and his nonprofit organization Music and Memory. The film also features Oliver Sacks, author of Musicophilia, and Professor of Neurology at NYU.

"Alive Inside" follows the Music and Memory project, which worked with Alzheimer's patients and found music to be "a powerful tool for connecting elders to the people around them and restoring a sense of self."* In the video clip, Oliver Sacks says,

"The philosopher Kant once called music the quickening art, and Henry is being quickened--brought to life."

Science Friday featured the Music and Memory project and the documentary "Alive Inside" on their August 1st program. They interviewed both Dan Cohen and Oliver Sacks. The quotes from Oliver Sacks are taken directly from that broadcast.

In responding to Henry's experience with music in the film, Oliver Sacks says:

I've seen this happen with hundreds of people who don't have any direct access to their pasts but for whom music can act as a bridge...this has not just an emotional impact, though that's crucial, but says something about the brain's strange retention of music which is very remarkable, and uniquely human.

Interviewer: What do we know about what's happening in the brain when this happens?

Sacks: Well, when music is played or imagined many areas in the brain get activated. Some of them are hearing areas, some are visual areas, motor areas, many are emotional areas. There's no one music center in the brain. There are a dozen networks which hold together and, in this way, music is rather different from language. There are very specific language areas in the brain. And if those are knocked out, people can become aphasic, and lose language.

Whereas it is almost impossible to lose music; it's very robust.

I have listened to this portion of the interview over and over again. (Well, I had to, because I had to do that transcribing myself. You can listen here.)

The information Sacks is relating explains not only why music helps Alzheimer's patients, but also, in my opinion, why music is a essential part of our children's education.

Music connects. Music is the connection. Music travels within the brain to all the deepest parts of the self. Even when cognitive areas are damaged or degraded, the networks within us that are music can still thrive.

Look at all the areas in our brains that music can "quicken": hearing, visual, emotional, motor...So, in education: music can be the oxygen which allows the strictly cognitive paper and pencil work to "breathe" into the student and be meaningfully retained, the leavening which allows the learning process to rise, the glue that makes the learning stick.

Some day one of us, or more, may be like Henry. If it is me, and I am down and troubled, please fill my iPod with James Taylor, will you?

But let's do something in the here and now for our children. Let's stop letting people tell us that music, or art, or movement, or play are just something nice that you do. We know better than that, don't we?

Henry knows.



*Taken from Science Friday interview.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Good News

Here are some things that made me smile recently in Columbia/Howard County:

  • A visit to Snowden Boston Market where customer service was excellent all around and they served the food on real dishes.
  • Last night's meeting of Howard County Parents for School Music--a new year of arts advocacy is in the works.
  • The newly renovated Savage Library where we had our meeting. It's gorgeous. I can't wait to go back and explore.
  • Two Miles for Two Hearts continues this Saturday, bringing some good out of grief for the Ellicott City Community.
  • Courtney Watson, candidate for County Executive, will be at the Oakland Mills Village Board Meeting tonight for a listening session.

And one more thing, a bit outside of the local scene. My friend Justin, he of the successful heart transplant, posted this last night on Facebook:

It's official - I've been cleared for driving a car and swimming (but not at the same time)!

Some days a smile is all you really have to get you through.




Monday, August 11, 2014

Schools and Home Rule

Yesterday was about opportunity. Today is about challenge.

While choosing to live in Columbia presents a opportunity to get involved, trends in the Howard County Schools are reducing meaningful involvement. So the same people who reach out to engage may find themselves rebuffed.

As a response to the nationwide preoccupation with standardized test scores, hcpss has focused numerous efforts on "underperforming" schools. What does this mean? Well, while schools with consistently high test scores have a great deal of autonomy, schools with low scores receive much more specific direction from Central Office. They lose what I like to call "Home Rule".

The culmination of this is, of course, the Model Schools Initiative which is scheduled to begin this Fall in five Title One schools. Now, this piece is not a critique of the initiative itself--it contains both good and bad components--but rather an attempt to show how little control these schools have over their own destinies. All of these schools are in Columbia.

The kind of people who are drawn to Columbia have enthusiam, energy, open-mindedness. And they have opinions. If choosing Columbia means an opportunity to get involved in your child's education, then these people are going to want meaningful involvement. They may be willing to look beyond test scores as a definition of school performance, but the lack of Home Rule could very well be a deal breaker.

A friend of mine said this, "I don't hear a lot about parents being eager to send their children to our public schools any more. I do hear a lot about home schooling." This was an eye-opener for me. Among my friends with young children, I do see a growing desire to opt out of the standardized public education system and create something better.

Why? Because these are those enthusiastic, energetic, open-minded people who have opinions. And they want to be a part of their child's education. When parents don't see a meaningful role for themselves in their neighborhood schools, we lose a vital reason for them to want to live in those neighborhoods.

Letting "the people" get involved is a messy process. But it is central to a sense of ownership. If we want to bring more families to Columbia, we need reasons for them to be a part of things--not on the outside, looking in. When parents are cut off from engagement in their child's school, the ones who are able to consider other options will do so: private school or home schooling.

And so we lose those children, who would add to our school communities. And we lose those parents, who have so much to give to our schools. And then our schools, little by little, become the schools of those who have no choice. And then, Columbia--

What do you think?


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Seeing the Opportunity

In discussing the issue of how Columbia needs to appeal to families, a friend said this:

The thing that I rarely hear, but needs to be put out there, is that Columbia presents an opportunity to be involved.

If you seek a high performing school district because you just want to get your kids out the door and don't want to engage the school system very much, a high performing school district is probably what you need. However, if you want your child to learn more than academics, and want them to lean about other people, Columbia is the place to be.

There exists every opportunity for a child to learn and succeed at Columbia schools, but only if you are willing to be engaged help make that happen. Being educated in a Columbia school brings a lot more questions, and I think if kids are asking those questions, the kids, and the families grow from that dialogue. I see a lot of that in the parents of Columbia students.

This was so beautifully said that I didn't want to change a word of it, so it is used here with permission. Do me a favor and read it again.

"An opportunity to be involved." Our schools in Columbia are supported just as much by committed, involved parents as they are by highly qualified, devoted staff. A principal may set the tone of how the school operates, but it takes teachers, support staff, students, parents, and other family members to truly make it come alive. To the extent that the school welcomes such involvement, it opens the door to a better education for all students.

And this opportunity is not just about schools. Living in Columbia offers the opportunity to be involved in Village life and in the greater workings of Columbia as a whole. Or it should. When new residents reach out to get involved, are they welcomed? Not always.

If Columbia holds an appeal to those who wish to be involved, then we need to make sure that we are ready for them to get involved. We need to be open to addressing the issues that are meaningful to them. We need to be willing to stop talking and listen.

Opportunities for engagement. Learning about other people. Growing from dialogue.

Columbia can be an exciting place to live, learn, and grow.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Truth Behind the Numbers

Yesterday a simple conversation on Facebook promoted me to ask these questions:

  • Why do we define schools by test scores alone?
  • What happens when neighborhoods lose families with children?
  • Do we really choose diversity?
  • Where do we go from here?

Why do we define schools by test scores alone? I realize now that a better question would be, "what happens when we define schools by test scores alone?" When I ask "why?" perhaps I am having a head-banging-the-desk moment, in other words, "Why do we allow numbers to define our schools--why, why why?" But, I digress.

A friend suggested that Zillow is pushing this way of thinking with their national ad campaign in which a white soldier is seen videoconferencing with his white wife about a prospective new home in what is assumed to be a geographically distant community. "Did you get my email?." "Yeah, it's got a great kitchen, but did you see the school rating?" **cut to wife frowning** And the new Zillow radio commercial: Your new home just appears on your phone, in the right school district...

This comment yesterday summed it up: I completely blame the school rating sites. Reality is: low income students will almost automatically mean drops in test scores for a gazillion reasons. But people read that as, "Oh, kids do bad here." So, when people choose schools "by the numbers", they are choosing more affluent neighborhoods with less economic and cultural diversity.

What happens when neighborhoods lose families with children? My neighborhood school is actually a Title 1 school as there are so few families in our neighborhood with kids (a lot of original owners and older owners). So, most of the kids are from the low income housing and rental units. BUT... there is a good mix of students of upper middle class, middle class and poor... just a bit too lopsided. And fantastic teachers and staff.

Recently I was at a party where someone suggested that we are "Manhattanizing" Columbia. Her explanation? We have housing for the upper-middle class, and we have housing for the poor, but have very little housing opportunitinies for solidly middle-class families. This led to a discussion about housing turnover in the villages, how to encourage and support middle class home ownership in Columbia, and how to promote it.

A friend who grew up here commented, I completely agree that Columbia was intended to have a high percentage of families for it to work right. The fact that there are more single person households in Columbia than households with children says a lot. That is certainly part of the discussion.

Do we really choose diversity? Again, this could be a much better question. We? We, who? Ah well. Speaking for my own family--my husband bought the house because it was a midpoint between DC and Baltimore/Towson where he was working at the time, and it was in his price range. And I moved here because of him. Neither one of us chose the Columbia of Rouse and the People Tree.

On the other hand, we are both people who are happy to live in cultural and economic diversity, don't care two hoots about test scores, and want to be good neighbors. So, in a way, we grew into Columbia. When our daughter approached kindergarten age I had heard that Talbott Springs was a "rough school." So I visited the school. I met with the Kindergarten team leader. I came away satisfied that this was a safe and supportive environment.

We have to acknowledge that most people are not choosing Columbia for Columbia. And, if we allow real estate companies to define neighborhood choices "by the numbers" then more and more people will choose less diversity. (In reality we are really talking about socio-ecomic diversity.) And, if this cycle continues uninterrupted, Columbia neighborhoods will not have the balance of families to support our schools.

Where do we go from here? Certain themes seem to run throughout this discussion. Columbia needs to actively recruit more families to live here. We need to get serious about this. And we need to look at ways to support home ownership for middle-class families. We need to fight back against defining our schools by the numbers. And we need to do a much better job educating both prospective and new homeowners about what Columbia is all about.

And one more thing--well, I'll hold that thought for tomorrow. It's about opportunity.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Diversity, Diversity, Diversity

Real estate. When I see those two words I think of Lucy in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Her voice is forever stuck in my head. While others wished for toys or a new bike or candy or new clothes, Lucy was looking for a bigger investment. I thought of Lucy when I saw this post on Facebook:

10655 GREEN MOUNTAIN Cir, COLUMBIA, MD 21044 - 4 beds/3 baths(MRIS) Sale Pending: 4 bed, 3 bath, 1452 sq. ft. house...

This is a sampling from the thread that followed:

Home prices in Columbia are clearly governed by some mad god.

I have no understanding of it.

It is fascinating to watch pricing trends. How they vary street to street, part of town, etc. Ellicott City goes a LOT higher because they don't have the "bad schools" that a planned community has with including the poor in districting. My neighborhood school is actually a Title 1 school as there are so few families in our neighborhood with kids (a lot of original owners and older owners). So, most of the kids are from the low income housing and rental units. BUT... there is a good mix of students of upper middle class, middle class and poor... just a bit too lopsided. And fantastic teachers and staff.

Wilde Lake?

I went to Long Reach, which is a "bad school". But in reality it's one of the top schools in the country, along with all the other schools in HoCo.

No, the elementary school. Bryant Woods. But Wilde Lake is a "bad school". Um yes... tell that to the kids going to schools all over the country and their high SATS and high AP passing scores.

Yeah. The fact that there are Black kids at the schools doesn't make them bad. There are people that don't see that.

I completely blame the school rating sites. Reality is: low income students will almost automatically mean drops in test scores for a gazillion reasons. But people read that as, "Oh, kids do bad here." Or... maybe they even do admit to themselves (though I doubt it). "I don't want my kid to go to school with so many bad (black) kids."

At the high school level there's basically a completely different school experience/opportunity for low-performing and high-performing students. If you're smart you'll get your AP classes regardless, if you're not you'll get remedial classes and they'll focus on helping you just graduate. So there's both a "bad school" and a "good school" inside every high school.

But yeah... if you're so afraid of black people that you can only live in the most gentrified of gentrified districts then I guess all the schools will seem "bad".

Very true.


I'm sharing this conversation with you because it touches on some uncomfortable truths that we don't like to talk about in Columbia. The people in this thread graciously allowed me to share this with a wider audience. I want to stress that this is the beginning of a conversation here. This is not an opportunity to take pot shots at the individual whose thoughts I have shared. It is pretty clear to me that these are folks who are part of the solution, not the problem.

These are the points I'm going to focus on tomorrow:

  • Why do we define schools by test scores alone?
  • What happens when neighborhoods lose families with children?
  • Do we really choose diversity?
  • Where do we go from here?






Thursday, August 7, 2014

Absent Voices

The story goes that a little boy looked around his elementary school and said it needed "more teachers made out of men."


Yesterday as I posted a sampling of local blogs I found myself horrified that only one out of the five posts I shared was by a woman.

This was followed by some soul-searching. Do I just skip over blogs written by women and not give them fair consideration? In other words, am I myself a part of the problem? I find that I do look first at community-focused blogs, as that is my own area of particular interest. Women seem to be less represented in that category.


There are plenty of women writing blogs in Howard County, as evidenced by the aggregator page run by Jessie Newburn and Robin Abello. Their chosen topics range from personal life musings to food to faith and beyond. But in the area of community and politics, women are under-represented. And I wish this were not the case.


There are excellent male bloggers in Howard County and I wouldn't want to lose a single one of them, even if we don't always see eye-to-eye on the issues. But their perspective isn't enough. We can't keep accepting the male perspective as our default perspective and then sprinkle in a few women for "equal time". Our world doesn't look like that. So why should our blog community look like that?


So, women of Howard County, I'm looking for a few good bloggers. Or, a whole bunch of them, to write on community topics and/or politics. Could there ever be an old-girls network in Howard County blogging? Who knows. But we need to start with more bloggers made out of women.




Two new posts from Lisa B., Mrs. S. for August 6th and 7th. It's great to hear her voice.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I'm looking forward to hanging out with some local bloggers this evening at Jailbreak Brewing Company. So, with that in mind, here are a few recent local posts I think you ought to read:

Tom Coale of HoCoRising writes about what it takes to kill a lake and what that means to us right here in Maryland. "Lake Erie--Closer Than You Think."

Eric Freed writes in two poignant posts about living with depression on Away from the Things of Man. "Depression is the Pits" and "Shaking Off the Melancholy".

Wendy Scherer of Finding Blanche offers a beautiful piece on love and loss. "The Collateral Damage of Divorce".

Marshmallow Man offers his take on accessibility (or the lack therof) to quality local news over at The 53.

I found out last night that my friend who received a heart transplant is well enough to come home from the hospital. And another friend is in the hospital following a serious car accident. Life is precious. And puzzling.