Thursday, February 18, 2016

Getting the Word Out

Columbia received a belated Valentine yesterday from the Inner Arbor Trust--an update on the progress of the Chrysalis project. Click through the link to see photos, video, and read the information for yourself. Long story short, the work will be finished within this calendar year and the Chrysalis will make its debut in Spring of 2017.

This timely update makes it abundantly clear that, while a small group of naysayers are trying to undercut the work of the Inner Arbor Trust, folks over there are just continuing to do their jobs. And, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of Michael McCall's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Yesterday's report gave me a chance to see that a bigger opponent of the plan may be how little many residents know about it. Pictures of the Chrysalis on Facebook prompted comments such as the following:

  • Aren't they going to have pavilion seating anymore?
  • Don't tell me it's really going to look like this.
  • This is why we're cutting down all the trees?
  • Now we'll never have room for Wine in the Woods.
  • Columbia doesn't need more parks. Columbia needs a nice museum.

It soon became apparent that there was widespread confusion about what these folks were seeing. Some thought it was the Merriweather upgrade, some thought it was the Howard Hughes project on the corner of Little Patuxent Parkway. Many have been sold a bill of goods that "all the trees" are coming down. Some people had heard about the new park but didn't know about the Chyrsalis. Some people didn't know about the park at all.

I made the mistake of trying to respond to all the misconceptions. Why? Well, because I'm a huge fan of the park, and because it was driving me crazy to watch the spread of misinformation. And maybe that wasn't such a wise choice because, by the end of the day, I was left with the feeling that I was a weary warrior in an unending game of social media Whack-a-Mole.

It's just going to take time. There's no way to inform every single person simultaneously. Some people will be connected to what's going on locally, and some will not. And, human nature being what it is, dire predictions and sketchy rumors will spread faster than actual truth.

So I'm going to attempt to step away from trying to fix everything that's wrong on the internet about the Chrysalis/IAT/Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods. Well, mostly. There's just one thing we need to get straight: they are not "cutting down all the trees." No matter what anyone tells you, it's just not happening. Some trees, largely ailing ones, will be coming down. More trees will be planted than removed as a part of the process.

It would be hard to have Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods without the Woods, now wouldn't it? Tell your friends.


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