Saturday, March 11, 2017

Roots and Wings

I had to go way, way back in my posts to find the first mention of Bridge Columbia. Here it is, in 2012:

"Looking for Mr. GoodRouse"

I first learned about the concept of Bridge Columbia while serving on the Oakland Mills Village Board. Since then, I have written about it many times. I even tried my hand at a photoessay of sorts, here:

"View from the Bridge"

As I read the press release about the work that will be done to upgrade the Route 29 Pedestrian footbridge there was something important missing. Where did this idea of improving the Bridge come from? Did the County Executive just wake up one morning and seize upon the notion that this was the right thing to do?

Well, no.

The reason we even have a project and a press release is because of Columbia folks who brainstormed an idea to make the Bridge safer and more user-friendly. And they gathered together more interested and like-minded people and they kept brainstorming. They reached out to bridge designer Fred Gottemoeller who envisioned the importance of making the Bridge a more meaningful connection between East and West. He also created the concept design which has been used to represent the project.

The original group of idea-people became an advocacy group called Friends of Bridge Columbia. A sampling of their work:

  • July 4th events on the Bridge to raise awareness of the project.
  • Attended community meetings, county meetings.
  • Wrote letters.
  • Gave testimony.
  • Met individually with representatives of County government and with Columbia community leaders. 
  • Created and maintained a website, newsletter, and maintained social media presence 
  • Worked to create awareness in local media outlets.

From the roots of the original conversations about making a better Bridge, these advocates have been working to give this project wings for a long, long time. If what we read in the press release really does begin to happen in the Fall of 2017, it's important to note that none of this would have happened without the Bridge Columbia people.

Strangely enough, there's no mention of them in the article.

I know some of the names of the people involved but I am leery to make a list because I will undoubtedly make omissions. If someone would like to send me a comprehensive list I would gladly print it here, because I think it's important to give credit where it is due.

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