Friday, August 14, 2020

Out of the Box

One night, a long time ago, I was printing, slicing, and taping name labels to each of my daughter’s crayons. And pencils. And markers. Today I opened a bin of random stuff and saw her old pencil box, from 2009, I think. Inside were almost all of what I had put in, unused, save for the markers and a few pencils. I don’t really have an explanation for this. What I do know is that I packed it all away because “it was perfectly good” and “maybe someone would need it.”

This afternoon I sat with a wastebasket and carefully removed the name from each pencil and crayon. I cleaned off the pencil box. Added a pair of school scissors. I’m finally going to see if I can find someone who can use them.

Something about the repetitive motion of removing each label, so carefully applied - - to no purpose - - made me think about how we do so many things over and over again in Columbia. Sometimes the names are the same, and sometimes they change, and the ages of the players shift. But the arguments are so mind-bogglingly familiar and in general it often feels as though there is no purpose. 

People accuse one another of malfeasance, secrecy, incompetence, greed. Motives are challenged and facts are laid by the wayside. The addition of social media serves to magnify the drama and to minimize the understanding of the eventual outcome. People still write hot letters to the newspaper, too. (I have been known to send a few myself.)

There are a couple of letters to the editor this week about what may become of the Columbia Flier property. They reminded me what a Columbian thing it is to resist change. And how I’ve been indulging in a little of that myself lately.

Newly minted opinion: do with that property what is best for Columbia now and going forward. What could go there that would be a natural fit with nearby Howard Community College and Howard County General Hospital? We need symbiosis, not silos.

While we are at it: it’s kind of crazy how purely unwalkable it is over there. One might say it’s a lovely parkway but I am having a hard time finding the beauty in a set-up that requires you to get in your car to do anything. HCC has a shuttle (the Dragon Wagon) to ferry students to satellite parking. If the mix of businesses at that end of LPP evolved to contain a healthy variety of locations appealing to HCC and HCGH, would they partner on a shuttle that stopped at various places along that loop? 

It might give that part of town the sense of place that I think is lacking.

I once received an invitation to a party which announced,  “we will be gathering to celebrate our annual futility rites.” It was meant to be witty but the words came back to me today. So many of us (myself included) keep doing the same old Columbia things and expecting a different outcome. 

That’s futility all right. Maybe it’s human nature. But don’t we claim to admire a visionary who did bold and untried things in creating a New American City? 

I wonder if we would be on board today.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.