Sunday, May 21, 2017

If You Build It

I keep going back to Wine in the Woods even though I don't really drink wine. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a taste of merlot now and again, but life experience has taught me that wine equals migraines. As I watch people wander through the woods with a glass in one hand and a bottle in the other, I have to suppress a shudder when I imagine the likely consequences. But that's just me.

I keep returning to our annual rite of Spring because of this.

I continue to be excited about Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods. Despite being a card-carrying introvert, I'm happy to turn up annually to talk to perfect strangers about the Inner Arbor Trust. Wine in the Woods is a great time to do this. You're not trapping people in a room to lecture them. You're not making a do-or-die presentation for funds.

You're sharing enthusiasm.

This year's experience was especially sweet for me because we had more than architects' drawings and computer-generated renderings to talk about. We could simply gesture to the left of our booth to the Chrysalis, where musicians were playing and happy festival-goers were spread out on the grass like brightly-colored wildflowers.

The park is not some lofty pipe-dream. It is here, it is happening, and more is on the way.

Talking to people at Wine in the Woods is a sort of evangelism. While more people than ever already know about the Chrysalis, there are still plenty who don't know about plans for the park at all. Some don't understand that the park is separate from Merriweather Post Pavillion. Some think that the construction by Howard Hughes along Broken Land Parkway is on park property. (It isn't.)

So you talk to one person, and they walk away with more knowledge than they had before. And they tell their friends. Little by little the word is spread. Many people I talked with understood that the park is a part of the overall resurgence in Downtown Columbia to create a vibrant core for our community. Yes, people were telling me this year, things like:

  • I really think this is a continuation of Rouse's dream.
  • I like everything they're doing to make this whole area more walkable.
  • This is a part of what makes Columbia a number one place to live.
  • I want to know what else is happening at the Chrysalis this summer.
  • The Butterfly building is going to be so cool. Will it be available for rentals?

If you are going to Wine in the Woods today, stop by the Inner Arbor Trust booth and say hello. You can get a free bracelet and a list of upcoming events. Or, for a small donation, you can get a Chrysalis  poster or a nifty Chrysalis tote bag.

Better than that, you can enjoy some great conversation.

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