Sunday, March 31, 2019


The Sheraton at the Lakefront is going to have a new life as a Marriott. Not just any Marriott, mind you, but the four-star Marriott Autograph brand. In an article for the Baltimore Business Journal, Carley Milligan writes:

Owner and developer Costello Construction will add 70 rooms, bringing the total to 290, and update the entire interior and exterior of the hotel that sits on Lake Kittamaqundi at 10207 Wincopin Cir. The focus will be on creating a "high quality" and "luxury" product, Costello Construction President David Costello said.

Well that’s just great. I’ve never been able to afford staying there, and now I really won’t be able to afford it.

Why would I need to stay in a hotel in the place where I live? Well, what about for fun, a kind of “be a tourist where you live” experience? It must have a lovely view.

I wonder...

This piece about Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum opening its doors to overnight guests made me wonder if Columbia/HoCo has any venues that would be worthy of the sleepover experience. As to spending the night in a wax museum: no, no, no. Count me out.

I do know that once a year the Mall in Columbia opens its doors for a huge Girl Scout Sleepover. But that’s an experience best left to Girl Scouts and their fearless leaders. I’m talking about the kind of sleepover experience offered by places like the Aquarium or the Science Center* in Baltimore. Do we have any places that could pull that off?

  • The Historical Society in Old EC?
  • Upstairs at the Whole Foods?
  • The Robinson Nature Center?
  • The Howard County Conservancy?
  • Merriweather?
  • The Chrysalis?
  • The Patapsco Female Institute?
Outdoor venues would have to rely on good weather. I guess they’d be more like camp outs.

Of course I’d rather tuck myself into an actual bed at the end of the day, but lots of folks have more adventure in them. What do you think? Does Columbia/HoCo harbor a great sleepover adventure?

*A tip of the hat to Elevate Maryland co-host Tom Coale’s appointment to the Maryland Science Center Board of Trustees.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Picture This

Starting out with a shout out to Washington Post reporter Ovetta Wiggins, who provided much-needed context to a Statehouse photograph.

My initial response to the same photo looked like this:

The lack of representation of anyone who isn’t a white man is appalling. No matter what they were discussing, this lack of diverse perspectives limits the conversation. That’s a problem.

Speaking of problems:

Truth in advertising: I haven’t yet read the article because I was so gobsmacked by the assumptions made in the promotional tweet. I couldn’t resist pushing back a little:

My brain made the leap from the latter photograph to the former. Maybe there’s no women in the top photo because they’re too busy applying makeup to work on advancing their careers? Or, perhaps they haven’t been able to establish political power because they’re not applying makeup well enough?

Perhaps to understand why I find such an article frustrating you might appreciate seeing it flipped. How would that look? I’m not even sure at this point. Should we do it like this?

On average, men spend nearly one hour less on self-care and hygiene activities and attention to their outward appearance than women. By contrast, women use this time to prepare for their daily responsibilities by engaging in a disciplined morning routine.

Or, like this, a literal flip:

On average, men spend nearly an hour a day on their appearance. Meanwhile, women are likely spending that time checking work emails or networking to advance their careers.

In my opinion it’s just a specious comparison to begin with. I’d go after the huge imbalance in time spent on household chore, childcare, and emotional labor first. But that’s just me. You may think otherwise.

I’ll leave you with one final question. How long is it going to take for more women and more people of color to make it into that top photograph? Because that is long overdue.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Her Story

A recommendation to get out of the Bubble and do some time travel at the same time.

The Venus Theatre in Laurel is running a series of interactive events or “iterations” entitled “JaneApp”.

From the playwright, Deborah Randall:

Reg had all of the best intentions. She was an app designer, a volunteer. She wore a yellow vest and protected women in abortion clinics. She held their hands. Until one fatal day when the abortion clinic she was volunteering for was bombed. Reggie made it out alive but completely changed. Diagnosed with PTSD she spends most of her time in her basement apartment working on her Jane App. She believes if she can get herself back to 1971 and meet the woman of a successful underground abortion movement in Chicago, she might be able to change some things. Or at least understand the hostile world around her. 

I had never heard about the Jane Movement until reading the promotional materials for this play. It’s not something we learned about in school. Well, in 1971...I was in school. It wasn’t history. It would have been an underground current event. At any rate, many years have passed since and the knowledge of this piece of American women’s history has never entered my consciousness.

Right now, when a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices is under attack, it seems a very good idea to learn.

A good place to start before buying a ticket is the following article by David Sturm:

Woman’s trauma frames the pro-choice movement,  Howard County Times

The “Jane” in the title is a direct reference to the Jane Collective, an underground movement in Chicago that provided abortion services from 1969 to 1973, a time when abortion was illegal in most states.

You can learn more from the Laurel Community Spotlight video.

The Venus Theatre is located at 21 C Street in Laurel. The website states its mission as “...setting flight to the voices of women.” Its founder, playwright and actress Deborah Randall, has been bringing challenging new works to the community for over 10 years. She is a graduate of the UMBC Theatre program.

“Jane App” is described as “Four Friday Performances with different scripts, to be podcast and live streamed.” Each performance runs about an hour. Tickets for each event are $20.00.

It’s a chance to support local theatre, elevate women’s voices, and learn something, too.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Leadership: His and Hers

To close off Women’s History Month, here’s a fictional exercise based on very real things I have heard and continue to hear spoken about men and women in leadership positions in Columbia/HoCo. I’ve compressed them all into two imaginary “candidates for promotion.”

Perhaps you have met someone like this. Perhaps you are someone like this.

We still have a very long way to go.

The Candidates:

He’s a real leader. A real take-charge guy, you know? Sure, he’s a little rough around the edges but he really says what he thinks. And it just shows how passionate he is about his work.

Boy, does he ever know how to put his foot down. He knows what he wants and won’t tolerate any deviation from the goal. Staff know they’d better get the job done and no back talk. That’s why he’s won so many awards. He shakes things up. Makes things happen.

You don’t go around his back, no sir. Not if you value your life. Wouldn't stand for it.

Listen, leadership isn’t about being everybody’s best friend. You’ve got to have the vision and then use your smarts to push things through. Some people might not like that, but, you know, they’re probably slackers.

I say he’s our guy.


This woman is a problem. She’s difficult, you know? Bossy. Strident. She just comes right out and tells people things. The way she does it ruffles feathers. And when you take the time to tell her why she’s wrong she gets so...emotional. You know. Shrill.

She could be more pleasant. Ask more questions, smile more. There’s no reason to be so rigid when you could just take the extra time to make everyone feel comfortable. What’s the rush? Why so focused on deadlines?

Really I find it easier just to do things without telling her. It’s a whole lot simpler feeling like I can do things my own way without all that extra “management.”

And, who does she think she is, just pushing those new ideas without looking for approval first? I mean it’s only human nature to want to rebel against that kind of controlling behavior. So what if she’s smart? Does she have to be such a show-off about it? Like I care about her awards?

It comes down to this: she’s just not...likeable, you know? Not a team player.

I don’t think we can work with this woman.

Happy Woman’s History Month, HoCo. Here’s to better tomorrows.

What If

It’s not often I get to send you to a student newspaper. Thanks to a Twitter link, I read this article from Wingspan, the “Centennial High School daily online news source.”

High School Students to Participate in First Ever Howard County Student Exchange Day by Sasha Allen and Emily Hollwedel

On Wednesday, March 27, participating Wilde Lake students will travel to Glenelg, and Long Reach students will go to Centennial. On April 4, participating Glenelg students will go to Wilde Lake, and Centennial students will go to Long Reach. On the days of the exchanges, the students will attend classes until fifth period, where they will meet with school liaisons and debrief. 

It all started with an idea from Wilde Lake Student Rachel Henry. She looked at the many differences between her school and Glenelg, and wondered what it would be like to visit Glenelg for a day. The article outlines how she took her idea to school administration, reached out to Board Members, and how it grew to become an exchange between four different schools. 

The school system has been working a lot on what they call “amplifying student voice” in the last several years. This looks to be a good example of that. I hope that students involved will be able to candidly share their feedback once this exchange is over, and that student news publications will cover it.

You see, the seed that started all this was not a random thought of, “I wonder what kids at Glenelg are like?” Ms. Henry was looking at racial and financial disparities and thinking about issues like school segregation within HCPSS. So, while adults are maneuvering and posturing about redistricting, students are keenly aware of what the real deal is. 

What I want for students, including myself, is to stop thinking of pre-conceived notions about schools in our own county. I go to Glenelg on Wednesday, and to be completely honest, I’m 
terrified. Four boys got arrested there last year for racist and anti-semitic graffiti. Being mixed, and Jewish, those hate crimes directly pertained to me.

Former Wilde Lake principal James LeMon, now Executive Director Of Community, Parent, and School Outreach, is hoping this experience will give participating students some insight into how other students experience school in Howard County. I am, too.

I’m looking forward to hearing what they find out.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Food, Glorious

I enjoy interesting questions.

Baltimore Sun reporter Christina Tkacik asked this one on Twitter:

It's my first official day as dining reporter for the @baltimoresun. 
What's opening? What's closing? What's #trending? Send tips to:

She got another interesting question in return:

I'd like to see a story that covers the evolution of dining in Columbia. How well does it today reflect Columbia's founders' vision and how has it changed and shifted as Columbia and surrounding areas matured? Big story. (If it were me, I'd have fun digging thru the archives!)  @babuwriter

What a cool story that would be: a history of Columbia specifically through the lens of its restaurants. Do they say anything about who we are? If the Columbia Archives has already done this, let me know.

Speaking of history:

You can pick up this piece of Columbua ephemera on eBay for only $37.00. Any takers?

Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it might be a good time to put together the annual list of local places where you can eat al fresco while looking at your car. 

It’s a HoCo thing, apparently.

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Party

Mother told you things. She said, “before you leave the party, always thank the birthday party mom.” She said, “If you accept a date earlier in the week, you can’t ditch them for a better offer later in the week.” And she most definitely said, “Don’t make a big deal out of being invited to a party when you know that other people haven’t been invited. It will hurt their feelings.”

You remember that, right?

But social media was not raised by your mother. Social media bursts onto the scene with the energy of a two year old who has gotten into your stash of chocolate espresso beans and the brazenness of a teen who wants you to know that yes, they were invited to the party and you weren’t.

So there.

This painful realization came to mind recently when I viewed pictures online of a private party to which I was not invited. Now, it doesn’t bother me to view photos from fundraisers which I couldn’t afford or family birthday parties for aquaintances from whom I couldn’t expect to receive an invitation. This was different.

It was a local arts nonprofit celebrating an important announcement in which I was extremely interested. This may seem odd to you, but I legitimately could not understand why I was not in attendance. I checked my records which confirmed several moderate monetary donations. I checked my blog, which showed approximately ten posts specific to this organization, nine of them positive. I considered my record as a supporter of the arts.

I was more than puzzled. I was hurt. I was angry.

Here were people I knew, with whom I have worked on community initiatives, posting photos from a private party which had elevated some and not others. That’s life right? Not everybody gets invited.

Social media lays it right out there, letting you know who has been chosen and who is expendable.

But when you are a small, trying-to-get-off-the-ground arts nonprofit, that’s really not a good look. It’s a very tough road to start from scratch and build up a group of loyal donors, whether big or small. And every donor is important. Or should be.

I recently read a quote which speaks directly to this situation:

When you're not grateful for every supporter you're leaving money on the table.

In my opinion, anyone who had donated even ten dollars to this organization should have received an invitation to this event. Perhaps they all wouldn’t have been able to attend. But the goodwill engendered by such a gesture would have been incalculable.

If you want to build brand loyalty, be loyal those who legitimately care about your brand. Otherwise you’re nothing but a club for the cool kids and the rich folks.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

An Unexpected Party

While my official family birthday celebration is going to be at lunch today, my husband suggested I pick a place for dinner last night, in honor of the day.

If your neighborhood place is having a party on your actual birthday, I think that’s a sign. So to the Second Chance we went.

They clearly knew I was coming.

I ordered my favorite chicken cheesesteak with marinara on the side. You’ll be happy to know I also got my birthday beer.

I even received birthday greetings from 2C manager Jacquie. And, true to their word, we all got birthday cake. Yum.

It’s good to have a neighborhood place. It’s especially good when they help you celebrate your birthday. And there was not even one hint of humiliation by birthday singing, for which I was mightily grateful. 

Do you have a neighborhood place? I’d love to know the stories of what makes it special. If I get enough responses it would make a wonderful follow-up post to this one. So tell me about the place nearby where you don’t have to get dressed up and it just feels like home. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019


Things I’ve been looking forward to on my birthday:

Well-wishes from family and friends on Facebook.

Birthday snacks at work from my co-teacher.

Things I wasn’t expecting:

Unicorns at Clarksville Commons.

An arty party at the library.

This conversation:

Talking about my upcoming birthday with students. 
Me: You know, I don’t really know what I want for a present this year.
Little boy: Beer?
(I teach four year olds.)

I certainly wasn’t expecting this 

Since it’s my birthday, and I can write what I want to, I want to take a moment to express gratitude for the gifts that make my birthday, and every day, joyous and worth living. Those gifts are people: family, friends, coworkers, blog readers, acquaintances I know from their passionate involvement in our community, leaders who lead with insight and love. Columbia/HoCo wouldn’t mean what it does to me without you.. 

You are the gifts. 

I had a conversation with my boss yesterday where I lamented that, as of this birthday, I could no longer get by with calling myself middle-aged. 

“But, you’re not old!” She said.
“Maybe not, but, if I say I’m middle-aged now, I’ll be saying I expect to live to be 120.”
She looked at me for a moment.
“It’s a goal...” she suggested.

Challenged accepted.

Friday, March 22, 2019


Signs of Spring in Howard County:

High schools in bloom with their annual crop of musicals.

High school fundraisers selling mulch.

The annual reminder from the nice folks in my village not to over mulch your trees.

Discussions of the Orioles prospects
The almost unnoticeable blip of CA and Village elections.


Worries about Old Ellicott City.

Impatience about graduation dates at Merriweather.

Announcements of the Summer line up at Merriweather.

Village cleanup day.

To pull up dandelions or leave them for the bees: that is the question.

Counting down the days to Sine Die in Annapolis.

What says Spring to you in Columbia/Howard County?

Thursday, March 21, 2019


More anxiety. Less ability to focus. Under-developed fine motor strength. Poor core stability and balance. More and more children are coming to school showing one or more of these issues.

Slime. Mermaid fabric. Microbead pillows with Lycra coverings. Kinetic sand. Squishy toys. Inflatable bounce playgrounds and trampoline party zones.

You might be surprised to learn that these are two sides of the same coin.

All these toys and experiences are like over-the-counter medications to address a serious and often ignored crisis.  On the whole, our children today are starved for sensory experiences. Their worlds are missing the experiences of childhood that earlier generations took for granted: climbing, swinging, sliding, spinning, hanging upside down. Walking barefoot, balancing on a wall or railroad tie. Digging in sand and dirt, mixing in water, squishing mud, carrying sticks and rocks and incorporating them in play. 

The need for creative, open ended outdoor play often cannot be accommodated in an era of overworked parents who over schedule their kids in activities to keep them safe. Schools remove or reduce the arts, recess time, and child-directed play to focus on academics. The end result: our children are being deprived of the most basic building blocks of their developing years. This deficiency affects social and emotional growth, negatively impacts the development of learning behaviors which assist in cognitive growth, and contributes to lower self esteem, and greater anxiety.

You can get more background on this topic here:

The decline of play in preschoolers — and the rise in sensory issues  by Valerie Strauss for the Washington Post

As an early childhood educator and an arts education advocate, I have long wanted to write about this topic, but I have hesitated because it didn’t fall within my local, community-focused sphere.

But now I have found my local connection. These folks, possibly known to you as the Columbia Families in Nature people, are raising money to create a Community Ecology Center  in Howard County.

CEI is under contract to purchase a six acre organic farm in Columbia! We are protecting this unique property from being developed and will be creating a Community Ecology Center where people can learn through direct experiences about how they can have healthier, more sustainable lifestyles!

We are 25% of the way towards unlocking our $30,000 matching gift! If each family that has attended a Columbia Families in Nature event contributes $30 we will be 75% of the way there!  You can also sign up for a peer-to-peer fundraising page via the link below to be able to significantly grow your ability to help make this vision into a reality for our community!

Now, the description of this project talks about nature and the environment, healthy living and learning about sustainability. I’m here to tell you that this project, plus the other initiates of this organization (Columbia Families in Nature, and Roots and Wings Learning Community) are jam packed with sensory experiences that kids (and their grownups) crave. 

Into our compartmentalized, too-passive, electronic-dependent lives comes an invitation to come outside, to touch things, to get messy, to join together with others to make something meaningful happen. I truly think this could be an amazing resource for our community and I invite you to contribute

I can’t promise you will never have to buy another Squishmallow or spend raucous afternoons in the bouncy castle zone. But adding some digging in the dirt and splashing along the edge of a stream just might be the best medicine for what ails us.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Completely slept through the alarm today. This is probably a sign of something.  I do feel slightly more rested, at any rate.

The comments from recent posts have been enlightening. When I first closed comments on this page and asked people to respond on Facebook, I wasn’t sure it would work. It took a while, but the transition has been successful. Eliminating anonymous trolls has been delightful.

I do continue to find it puzzling that comments and “likes” to my blog are primarily from women. I don’t think that my blog is a “women’s blog”. (Whatever that may be in 2019.) Anecdotally, my observations from way back when still hold up. Women will “like” and comment on posts by both men and women. Men primarily interact with and show approval for posts by men.

Most of those aforementioned anonymous trolls? They were men. Hmm...

I once heard the theory that girls will go see a movie about a boy and his dog, but boys won’t see a movie about a girl and her dog, so movie makers generally make the “boy movie” as it will bring in the most money.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Columbia Question

I wish I had something fully formed for you this morning. I don’t.

But I do have a question, for those of you who are Columbia-minded. How long has it been the fashion to distrust and decry the actions of the Columbia Association? Surely it can’t always have been like this. It seems unlikely to me that it has been adversarial from the beginning.

The recent attempt to change CA’s status from an HOA to a Community Benefit Association stirred up that old familiar song.

We can’t trust CA.
You have to watch them every minute.
They’re trying to pull a fast one.

And much, much more.

Another social media disturbance centers around certain statues at the Lakefront which will be put in storage while construction is going on. People are quite heated on this topic as well. Never mind that CA has a proven track record in caring for and returning public art. For some reason that doesn’t factor in to the public response.

Correction: H/T to reader Debbie Nix who pointed out that it is the Howard Hughes corporation, not CA, that will be storing these particular statues. 

My apologies.

At any rate, at what point did the Columbia Association morph from “our association “ to “our hated overlords”? And can anything be done to change that?

I think we really must address this because, were I a new or potential Columbia resident, I would want nothing to do with being involved in the community based on the way people berate CA. Scaring people off before they even begin is hardly a Columbia core value.

Monday, March 18, 2019


I told myself I wouldn’t be judgy. And yet, here I am.

A moment that I can’t get out of my mind from yesterday’s Solidarity Vigil at Dar Al Taqwa came at the very end, as folks were leaving. A group in front of me on the sidewalk paused as a man held up his phone to take a picture. Someone said, 

“Put your scarves back on.” 
“Yes, get one with the head coverings.”

And in that moment I felt a prickly uncomfortable feeling that these people were somehow at the mosque as tourists. They wanted a souvenir photo in native dress. 

That one little moment left a bad taste in my mouth after what was a powerful and sacred event.

The message from speaker after speaker was clear: we must come together, again and again, as neighbors. It is not just a nice thing to do. It is essential. 

Being a neighbor is not the same thing as being a tourist. Wanting a souvenir photo wearing your vaguely exotic headscarf is an act of playing pretend, dressing up, and wanting to get brownie points for your efforts. It feels really, really “white man’s burden” to me. And it made me sad.

I don’t doubt that everyone who came yesterday did so because they wanted to do something good, and that they cared about the Muslim community. But that one moment reminded me of how easy it is for those in a position of privilege to “visit” other cultures and yet not truly enter in. 

As for me, I admit I hadn’t given a thought to a headcovering at all until I walked in and realized my mistake. I  am grateful to a well-prepared UU friend who had brought extra. I noticed that that Unitarian Univeralists around me knew the proper responses to the prayers, as well. Their informed and thoughtful participation make me think.

There were many references to love last night at Dar Al Taqwa. Will we carry that love with us? Will we put love first instead of letting differences divide us? Will we learn to put others first instead of making it about ourselves?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Soup and Solidarity

The first time I attended Soup r Sundae it was the very last time it was held in the old Rouse Building. It was a warm day and some folks wandered out on a balcony to look at Lake Kittamaqundi. The young son of local media team HoCoMoJo got up and danced, much to the delight of the crowd. A charming college student was there in some official capacity. He remembered me from checking out books at the library and I was flattered.

The Rouse Building is now Whole Foods, and that adorable dancing two and a half year old is now in Middle School. The charming young man is a college graduate and works for a legislator in Annapolis. Soup r Sundae, once a project of the local Rotary, is now put on by The Faith Partnership and hosted by Wilde Lake High School.

One important thing remains the same: it benefits Grassroots.

My daughter and I haven’t always made it every year, but we try to. She actually brought it up to me this time. “Are we going to that Souper Bowl thing? Because I like soup.”

I love soup. And I care about Grassroots, so we will be there.

Later today there’s another event quite different than the first. The purpose is not food, fun, or fundraising. There will be a SolidarityVigil at Dar Al Taqwa to show community support for our Muslim neighbors and friends who are grieving the New Zealand massacre of 51 Muslims gathered for prayer. It begins at 6 pm.

I have never been to Dar Al Taqwa. I have never been to a mosque. It’s easy to donate a small amount of money to a familiar charity and eat and drink with friends in a festival atmosphere. It is much harder to come to an unfamiliar place to sit with unfamiliar people in their grief.

The excuses are many. There might not be enough parking, it will be too crowded, there will be so many people it won’t matter if I am there, it will be an unfamiliar order of service and I won’t know what to do. So many reasons to be uncomfortable. So many reasons to opt out.

But here’s the thing. Even if I go and there are so many people that “no one knows I was there” it will have worked a change within me. Those small changes, from within, are the small miracles from which big miracles grow. If we are willing to be uncomfortable and venture into the unknown for one another out of love, what great things we might be able to do together.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Emerging from the Wreckage

This has been a rough week, It began for me one week ago when friends, family, and former students gathered to celebrate the life of my beloved father-in-law. As beautiful as the service was, it couldn’t ameliorate the pain of the farewell. And that is to be expected.

The week that followed included a brutal (for me) time change, a completely uncalled-for smear of a local advocate, continuing racist jabs on the County Executive’s Facebook page, a horrific slaughter of Muslims in prayer in New Zealand, and a bout of some kind of stomach virus.

Big and small, this week wrecked me.

Into this week came the glimmer of something worth being happy about. The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission’s Ian Kennedy announced that Darin Atwater’s Soulful Symphony will be the Orchestra in Residence at Merriweather. The announcement has been all over the news so I doubt you have missed it. But it hasn’t popped up here because, well, this has been a really. Bad. Week.

You can get a glimpse of the Merriweather event facilities at the upcoming taping of Elevate Maryland with guest Darin Atwater this Thursday. Although I’ve never been there, I understand that, since the Merriweather renovations, the space has been available to book for weddings, events, and private parties. More importantly, you can get a chance to hear from Soulful Symphony’s Darin Atwater and learn more about what’s ahead in this upcoming collaboration.

We got a taste of Spring weather this week along with the turmoil and grief. A lot of us are just looking for any kind of a sign that good will not be overwhelmed by evil. Sometimes all you get is a crocus or a bit of sun or a song.

Friday, March 15, 2019


Right now, here in Howard County, people are hurting.

People of the Muslim faith are reeling from the news of brothers and sisters in New Zealand shot down during Friday prayers. People who have made it their business to advocate against gun violence  are hurting, those who have lost loved ones to gun violence are reliving their pain.

Everywhere you go today in Howard County, you will very likely be near someone who is in pain.

The new editor of the Howard County Times, Erin Hardy, comes to us from the Capital in Annapolis. This morning she writes:

I lost five of my loved ones, family members, co-workers in the Capital Gazette shooting last June. Every mass shooting hits me like a ton of bricks that is magnified x 1000. I'm so tired and angry and sad that we KEEP DYING.

To everyone who is in pain today, most especially my friends and readers of the Muslim faith, I offer my condolences and my support. You have friends here, you have allies here, you are not alone. I will not turn my head and pretend this isn’t happening. I will listen if you want to talk. I will use my voice to speak up on your behalf.

The sign in front of my house reads, “Hate has no home here.” But today pain has made its home here. I believe we are all called to find a way to respond to that pain and ease the suffering of our neighbors.

Thursday, March 14, 2019


Almost every day I see comments on the County Executive’s Facebook page decrying the hiring of so many African Americans to leadership positions. It seems perfectly acceptable for these people to suggest that, because Calvin Ball is a person of color, his hiring of other people of color is a scheme, a scam, some kind of racial nepotism. Oddly enough, when previous County Executives hired mostly whites, these people weren’t online complaining.

I wonder why.

I am put in mind of this quote from Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

When I'm sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say, 'When there are nine,' people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that.

It has become increasingly apparent to me that many white people are just fine with an all-white world into which one or two “minorities” are slotted to show how open-minded they are. The truth of the matter is that there are enough qualified, even far more than qualified people of color to fill many many positions in the County, yes, even all of them. And they have been there, long before Dr. Ball was County Executive. 

Calvin Ball didn’t invent qualified Black leadership. It has been here. It’s not a plot, it’s not a scam. He doesn’t get nefarious kickbacks from some kind of Black people cartel. The individuals you see working for his administration have been among us all along but the systems designed for hiring have systematically sifted them out. Not because they are unqualified but because those systems were designed by white people looking for white people. 

You know those people who say “it shouldn’t matter what color the person is, it should be the most qualified person who gets the job?”  How blissfully unaware they are that the process is set up from the get-go to make the white candidates more visible and keep those of color at the fringes. Even though many of these decision makers would claim they are not racist, the fact remains that the system and the process for hiring remain systemically racist. If we don’t challenge that, we are complicit.

The recent history of this country has been “allowing” one or two people of color to be in the same space with the rest of us and calling it diversity. How many of us stop to think how exhausting and fearful it is to be one of only one or two, day after day, year after year? As whites in the United States  we move largely in spaces that are designed with our comfort in mind. When we feel the racial balance change, we may subconsciously feel a sense of discomfort. 

I am learning that 1) that discomfort is nothing to what my colleagues and friends of color have been feeling all of their lives, and 2) it’s good to feel that discomfort. It’s teaching me something.

Although it’s unlikely, it would be completely possible to fill every position of leadership in Howard County with highly qualified people of color. And maybe that would make us uncomfortable. 


When all of them were white nobody raised a question about that.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Prom Possibilities

I just dropped my glasses into my coffee. Let’s do this thing.

Did you know there’s a social media group where teens can post a photo of their prom dress so no one else will get that particular dress? How is this even a thing?

Yes, prom season is upon us and I do believe I’ve written about it before. Notably:

  • It is sad that we don’t have local prom venues so our kids don’t have to go out of town.
  • Multiple staged group prom photos are silly, IMHO.
  • Prom-posals are DREADFUL

Here is something a bit cheerier in the prom department, from a group of parents at Atholton High School:


Becca’s closet has about 700 dresses in our closet at Atholton High School. The Discovery Channel is donating 200 MORE dresses. Last time we got a donation, the dresses were brand new and never worn.  

My principal is so supportive of us taking up more space because it’s such a good cause but as soon we we get those dresses in, they have to go out!!!!! 

Our “A Pretty and Polished Affair” event is on March 30 at Atholton High School. If you know if a student who is need of a dress, please send them our way! 

We not only have dresses but shoes, alterations, accessories.... anything a student needs for a successful prom. 

Please share, share, share away! If there are any questions, please email me

This is not just for Howard county students. We will not turn anyone away!

How cool is this?

That made me wonder. Is there anything that is done to make prom more affordable for students from low-income families? Is there any kind of prom assistance?

Senior year of high school seems to be a minefield of one expense after another. Many of the fancy things one can live without. But what of the community experience with one’s peers that is Prom? Not everyone wants to go, of course.

What if you do and there’s no money? A free dress and accessories, though wonderful, wouldn’t be enough.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Not So Springy

There are many fascinating things going on in Howard County right now but this morning I chose to sleep in. I hope you will forgive me.The time change is not my friend.

While I have you here, I want to give a shout out to everyone who went to Annapolis yesterday to March for education funding. Recommended reading: “Maryland’s Red for Ed Moment” by Cheryl Bost.

If any of my readers have handy dandy tips on how to cope with this Spring Forward thing, please share them in the comments.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Not Again

Meanwhile, over at Mount Hebron...

The video in question has been taken down. A viewer described it as:

A student asking other students on camera what types of ethnicity they wouldn’t date and why. The responses and reasons were insensitive and straight up racist.

Over on the County Executive’s Facebook page there’s a steady stream of visitors claiming there’s no racism in Howard County. I think they may not be looking hard enough.

I look forward to seeing what kind of response the school system will taken on this. It was my understanding that a lot of work had been done to improve the school culture at Mount Hebron. This video calls that into question. This new incident reinforces the concept that addressing racism is not a “once and done” proposition. The work is ongoing.

Also, even if you change the school culture, if the way that families address or don’t address issues of race in the home remains unchanged, then the cycle is likely to continue. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Dragging and the Dregs


That’s the number of blog posts I have published.


That’s the number of blog posts that contain the word “Republican”. Yes, I checked.

Although I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a Democrat, I truly haven’t spent much time here dragging the Republican Party. That’s just not how I operate.

Well, there’s always a first time.

Yesterday I saw the most vile accusation, complete with photographs, printed on the Howard County Republican Party Facebook page.

Translation: here are brown skinned people in photographs together. They are not our kind of brown skinned people. Let us take one piece of information we know about one of them and smear the whole lot of them without any other facts or context. Here you see the dregs of political discourse.

Annihilation by association.

Truth in advertising: I know Deeba. She is a strong advocate for equality and social justice in Howard County. She also loves being in photographs as much as I hate them. At one event I dubbed her the “Selfie Ninja”. That’s just a part of her enthusiasm for being involved in good causes.

On Wednesday Deeba helped out a friend who needed a ride to Washington, DC, because her car was in the shop. An ecumenical group of faith leaders were presenting a letter to Nancy Pelosi in response to an upcoming resolution to condemn Congresswoman Omar for comments critical of Israel. You can read the letter here. Deeba isn’t a friend of Linda Sarsour, but she did have her photo taken with her because, as I said, she’s a big fan of taking photos at events.

What the Howard County Republican Party doesn’t tell you:

  • Ms. Jafri was present at the event standing between Linda Sarsour and Rabbi Alissa Wise. 
  • The content of the letter they were there to deliver. (Read it.)
  • The names of the other signatories of the letter, which would clearly show what an interfaith initiative this was.
  • What any of this has to do with County Executive Calvin Ball.
Oh, and one last thing. The Howard County Republican Party doesn’t publish the name of the person making these accusations. They are promoting one hundred per cent of the smear with zero per cent of the accountability. 

There you have it: the Howard County Republican Party.

Oh, but Howard Republicans aren’t all like this, you say? How would we know? After all, their policy is guilt by association. Naturally they can expect to all be painted with the same brush.