Saturday, April 4, 2015

Ask Jamie

As a relatively new subscriber to Baltimore Sun's daily digital edition, I have found a nostalgic pleasure in reading the advice column, "Ask Amy". Yes, I orginally subscribed in order to get unrestricted access to the Howard County news online, but I'm still trying to take advantage of the daily Sun as well.

Ongoing stories in Baltimore include school budget deficits, concern about crime, fluctuating opinions about the mayor, development deals that may be too sweet, neighborhoods which are pockets of long-entrenched poverty. And then there's sports, weather, the comics and Ask Amy.

Advice columns used to be quite popular in newspapers. Long before national syndication was a thing, local newspapers engaged readers by encouraging them to send in their questions on personal problems and etiquette. I found a reference that dates back to 1798, in England. Advice columnists then were known as "agony aunts" or "agony uncles" 'if male. (Useful trivia.)

Of course this got me thinking what kind of questions a truly local Columbia/Howard County advice columnist would receive. So, in a spirit of fun, I am launching "Ask Jamie"--a whimsical look at hyperlocal questions and predicaments. Today's letter comes from "Young Professional".

Dear Jamie,

My husband and I have recently purchased a home in Columbia, Maryland. We got a really good deal, love the neighborhood and the larger community. But one thing really ticks us off. Why does some Village Association get to tell us what color to paint our house? It's our house!

--Young Professional

I'm interested to see how Jamie will answer this one. Just because those of us who have lived in Columbia a long time understand how these things work, we can't assume newcomers just automatically gain understanding once they pick up the keys to their houses. Should Jamie find a diplomatic way of defending the status quo? Should he encourage these new residents to get involved to change the system?

These questions and more will be answered in our next edition of "Ask Jamie". Submit your questions for Jamie in the comments below.


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