- 4,000 students helped last year
- 20,000 students in need
- Expand our universe
- 4,000 students helped
- 20,000 students in need
- Expand the universe
Yesterday late afternoon found me in the tiny hallway of our home between the furnace closet and the powder room, along with my husband and daughter. That thing where you move from tornado watch to tornado warning actually happened. We were directed to take shelter. That’s our shelter.
Technically the safest place in our quadroplex is inside that powder room but I have yet to convince my husband that the severity of the weather merits our all piling in there at once. It would be possible in a life or death situation: one person sits in the sink, one on the toilet, one stands in the middle.
We don’t have a basement.
How many Columbia homes were built on a slab, like ours? I’m sure there are some in greater HoCo, as well. Many’s the time I’ve wished for a basement for extra storage or a decently laid out laundry room. But never is that wish so fervent as when that ghastly alarm goes off on my phone and we need to take shelter.
The early Columbia homes went up quickly and inexpensively and I wonder if that is why many of them don’t have basements. Too much labor, too much cost. Or were basements out of vogue at the time of their construction? Does it have anything to do with the particular kind of earth our homes are sitting on? I do not know.
I do know plenty of friends who have dealt with perpetually flooding basements who may not wish they had them. But at least they have that solid place where they can retreat in a storm. It’s a trade-off, I guess.
What do you think? Are you a have or have-not? How do you feel about it? Has your home ever been damaged by a tornado or heavy storm? How did yesterday’s storm treat you? Comments are welcome here.
Speaking of local storms, there appears to be some kind of pissing match going on between two male bloggers attempting to assert dominance. If I were you I’d walk on by on the other side of the street to avoid getting wet. Taking shelter probably won’t be necessary. - - jam
I am sitting here and writing words today because writing words is what I do. But I feel wholly inadequate to address what I need to write about. I would rather go back to bed, pull the covers up, and retreat from the deep sense of darkness that I feel. Darkness that comes from evil. Evil that is right here in Howard County.
Yesterday we learned of a break-in at the Harriet Tubman School. Whoever committed this crime did so with the intention of defacing and destroying precious pieces of the history of students and teachers who attended that school. This is more than casual erasure. It is intentional desecration.
The stories of Black people have never been valued in this country and even now there is a move nationwide to suppress them. And right here in our community we see the results of someone who finds those stories to be so dangerous that they must be destroyed.
I attended a story-telling event that was a part of the Columbia 50th anniversary year and heard Bessie Bordenave speak about her experiences at the Harriet Tubman School. Her description of the teachers who were more than teachers - - also loving mentors and role models - - for students entrusted to their care moved me. The Harriet Tubman School was a place where students were sent because they were excluded solely because of their race.The teachers they met there made it their mission to let them know their value and potential.
Someone wants those stories to be destroyed before they can be shared with the greater community. It’s as simple as that.
This action contains within it a kind of cruelty that I cannot wrap my brain around. The destruction of precious pieces of ephemera that cannot be replaced. The desecration of a space whose mission has been so long in coming to fruition is heartless. Time is of the essence for former students of the school. They will not be with us forever. To push back the realization of their dreams is truly cruel.
There’s no other word for it.
Normally I’m good at words. Today I feel at a loss. To all who have worked to make the Harriet Tubman School a center for history and learning, I honor you. And I grieve with you.
Probably the weirdest thing about the controversy of the last few days is the number of people who were unaware that a new library was a part of the Downtown Plan. And, rather than do the necessary learning to bring themselves up to speed on the issue, they have decided it’s some kind of sneaky plot that’s being sprung on them in the most insidious of ways. To turn the brilliant Maya Angelou quote upside down, it is very important to them to not know better, so they aren’t obliged to do better.
It reminds me very much of the old Peanuts comic strip where Lucy is educating Linus on butterflies.
Yesterday’s post seemed to hit a nerve as numerous readers jumped in to share their feelings and experiences about architectural requirements in Columbia. I’m still wading through everyone’s comments. There’s no denying that people have some strong feelings about this. I’m left pondering an exchange where one reader maintained that HOAs are unAmerican, while another responded that they are uniquely American.
As a palate cleanser, I strongly recommend this book by Daniel Pinkwater: The Big Orange Splot.
What got on my last nerve yesterday was an all-out social media attack on two local women who have been nominated to serve on County committees. It was ugly. It was a prime example of all those ills people mention when they rail about the perils of social media.
My first instinct was to run into the burning building to do some good, followed by an intense desire to watch historical programs on television and plunge myself into my new library books. How exactly can you save anyone when the burning building is Facebook and real people’s reputations are going up in flames?
In my experience on social media there are two sorts of responders. One thinks, “Oh! This concerns me, I’d better learn more about this.” The other has no such inner voice of reflection. It’s the latter than we saw on display yesterday.
This was not a reasoned discussion of concerns. This was torches and pitchforks. The Salem witch trials came to mind. And why is it, by the way, that such completely over-the-line attacks happen primarily against women? There is always a reason to demonize women, it seems.
Here’s the deal: you have every right to express your opinion to members of the County Council before a vote. I absolutely encourage you to become educated about the issues at hand and get involved in the process. But this is what I saw yesterday. And there’s nothing brave or well-informed or honorable about it.
I have some ideas about where people got the idea that political engagement looks like burning it all down. I won’t go into that now, although I’ve written about it in the past. What’s more important is that when this style of community interaction becomes the norm, no one is safe. No progress can be made.
It’s all about rallying your troops and decimating your enemies. How do you come back from that? What do you do when they come for you?
*Columbia, MD has entered the chat*
Columbia is a wonderful racially diverse and economically diverse planned community. With excellent schools too. My only issue with Columbia, MD is that the housing stock is old. And you cannot update the exterior of the homes without going through the Columbia Association.
I recently just learned that it’s not a real city or town, but rather an HOA. And the residents must comply with the board. It’s the first I’ve ever heard of that.
Okay, first we need to make the correction that you must work with your Village Association on changes to the exterior of your house, not CA proper. But if you are from out of town that’s an easy mistake to make. Let’s look at the basic information here.
1. Columbia has a lot of positive attributes according to the speaker.
2. They are put off that a) housing stock is old, and b) local requirements hinder independence of owner to renovate.
That thing where “you have to get permission” really bugs some people. I know it was mind-blowing to my daughter when she was house-hunting. Perhaps it’s a generational thing?
We had to go before the RAC in Oakland Mills when we got new windows. Being new to the process we were terribly stressed but it turned out to be fine. We were impressed with the amount of time the RAC members had put into looking at our neighborhood before making a decision. I suppose I would not feel the same had they ruled against us.
When I was on the Board we had to listen to cases where the homeowner was challenging the RAC’s decision. Now, that was stressful. When you are getting in the way of something wants to do with their own property, it can get downright ugly.
Where am I going with all this? Well, perhaps it’s that people who contemplate living here may not have the Rouse vision, the lakefront, and the scenic pathways foremost on their minds. Columbia? It’s that place where you have to ask permission.
I am not suggesting that we should necessarily abolish RACs and guidelines. But I don’t think we realize what a hurdle that is, especially for younger buyers.
The Howard Hughes Corporation is investing a lot of money, time, and effort to make Columbia a really “happening place to be.” And it’s nice that someone with the wherewithal thinks we’re worth investing in. Really. But not everyone looking for housing will be looking for what they are selling.
Perhaps with the crazy housing frenzy that’s going on right now people are just buying in Columbia neighborhoods because they are so desperate to get a house. Maybe their responsibility to maintain their house in a certain Columbia way is the least of their concerns right now. I don’t know.
But this conversation made me think. The primary speaker is someone who has money to invest, and who clearly has a positive opinion of Columbia. This is not someone who pops in and out of town only to label us a suburban, car-dependent hellscape. Is this feeling that Columbia is “the place that tells you what to do with your house” a long term liability for us? Do we need to frame it better or attempt to change the conversation about why we are the way we are?
As always: what do you think?
At the moment I’m having my first cup of coffee of the day and enjoying birdsong and the cool morning air. The sky is blue and the clouds are thin little wisps as though they were put in place by a painter of happy little clouds. It’s seven am on a Saturday and this constitutes a very lazy morning for me indeed.
Since there’s always a story for everything, at least for me, I want to include you in this one. Yesterday I posed this question on Facebook because it was a real dilemma for me:
Suburban etiquette question: our back patio is completely fenced. Would it be permissible for me to have my coffee out there in the morning in my nightgown? I would be visible only to my next door neighbor if she looked out her second-story window. What say you all?
Columbia has rules, you know. We have rules about hanging out laundry, cutting your grass, changing your house and even when you can put out your trash. How was I to know whether there was a rule about having coffee in one’s nightclothes?
Okay, I didn’t think it was something in writing, necessarily. More like “what is within the bounds of good taste if one lives in houses that are close together?” How much personal freedom does one have? Do people who live in single family homes with more space between them and their neighbors feel an expanded sense of privacy? Or do they actually feel more exposed?
We have a variety of housing types in Columbia and that is by design. If you live in an apartment without any sort of outside access like a balcony, then this is not a question you are contemplating. But let’s consider quadroplexes, townhomes, single family homes of modest footprint and ones with more impressive square footage. Does the type of home you live in impact whether or not you would go outside to enjoy a cup of coffee in your nightclothes?
I imagine in the more rural parts of the county one might be buffered by so much land that this isn’t even an issue. My daughter has a friend whose patio actually faces farm animals. I wonder what they’d think?
My own completely unscientific poll resulted in approximately 50 in favor of nightwear on the patio. None opposed. One person suggested I might run it by my neighbor. Two people questioned what kind of a nightgown it was, and, my personal favorite was the person who felt I was being courteous by wearing anything at all!
Now that I have convinced myself that coffee outside in my nightgown is acceptable, I really hope that Columbia doesn’t have any such ordinances to the contrary.
What do you think?
Where are the mug shots? Where are the photos chosen to show the accused in a bad light?
I’m talking about Andrew Ryan Bennett, the Columbia resident who pled guilty to his actions in attacking the Capitol along with a mob of like-minded insurrectionists. First of all, how on earth do we have people in Columbia* who would do such a thing? I do tend to think of us as a hotbed of acceptance and open-mindedness, but that is clearly wishful thinking.
I do think it’s odd that we have not seen the typical “defendant in a sketchy pose suggesting guilt” photographs that we usually see in cases where the accused is not white. Mr. Bennett, of course, is white. The public has been given a screenshot from a video taken the day of the attack but that’s it.
Now these investigations are being done by the FBI so perhaps that makes a difference. I don’t know. But I do know how often we are subjected to mug shots of Black and Brown people who have been accused of a crime and photos taken from their social media accounts which depict them in the worst possible way. It feels to me almost as though the prosecution of the January 6th insurrectionists is being done in such as way as to have as little impact on their public reputations as possible.
Is it because they are white?
Where are the news articles delving into this man’s past, outlining his activities and asking, “where did he go wrong?” We see them all the time when the defendant is Black. A white man who enthusiastically participated in mob activity to take down the United States Government will have received so little public coverage that he will be able to slip back into ordinary existence in lovely Columbia, Maryland. He may have pled guilty to a misdemeanor but what he and others were there to do was far from misdemeanor material.
And Mr. Bennett was there cheering it all on.
Where are the mug shots?
* Yes, I dug around on Facebook to see if I could find this particular person. I am neither a qualified investigator nor a journalist and so anything I found at this point would be tantamount to irresponsible gossip. So I’m not going to go there.
The recent groundbreaking for the Gateway United Way Family Center and the opening of the new Bauder Education Center in Long Reach have drawn the public’s attention to the shortage of affordable, high-quality childcare for young children in our community. Research has shown how important the early years are for physical, social-emotional, and cognitive development. I asked Bonnie Bricker, founder of Talk With Me • Howard County to write a guest post explaining another crucial way to support brain development in young children from the moment they are born. - - jam
Every child deserves the opportunity to have a good life. While we know many factors will impact that outcome, solid brain development in the early years is critical.
Imagine this dream: Children growing up here go through their daily routine seeing and experiencing interactions everywhere. Mom and Dad put their phones down at mealtimes to chat. As each daily walk unfolds, common sights are described and compared. Children learn to notice and add details to conversations. They see parents comparing the fruit in the market, the cashier exchanging warm greetings; folks are unplugged and interacting. It’s an interactive style that may seem dated, but it’s actually essential to the development of the child and later, when that child becomes a parent.
80% of critical brain development happens in the first 3 years of life, and 90% by age 5. Decades ago, we learned that some 3-year-olds had heard as many as 30 million more words in their language-rich households than children in homes that were quieter and less interactive. Those children were far more prepared for kindergarten. In 2018, we learned that toddler chats were directly related to test scores of IQ and language TEN YEARS later. Building those critical brain structures early in life matters over the long span of our children’s lives. It matters for the child and their family; it matters for their ability to hold a joband have sustaining relationships. Our communities are successful when everyone can grow and thrive; it is in the best interests of all of us to spread this critical human story of development:
Our brains grow with our positive interactions, craving the social-emotional hook of human connections in order to learn.
Recognizing that our brains are wired for connection and emotion is essential to understanding the foundations of development being built in the early years. Your warm gaze, your gentle words, your simple adjustments to your baby’s needs in that beautiful loop of responsiveness is key to learning. Humans are not computers; emotion and connectedness are keys to brain-building.
Brain-building moments occur through our days. Whether we’re singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as we diaper our babies or reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the twentieth time to our preschooler, routines provide great opportunities over the span of our children’s developing years. Narrating what we do as we go through our routines helps our children hear new words and to understand how words fit into complex sentences. Whether we chat about the spices we use as we cook or narrate the sights and sounds of our daily walk, these moments are critical to hearing language and learning about our world. Over time, we add layers of knowledge to existing knowledge which helps our children to grow their intellectual capacity.
Repetition matters; multiplication is key. If you add reading a simple book for 5 minutes each day to your routine, you are adding 35 minutes of brain-building a week. In a year, you’ll be adding 12,775 minutes of this essential interaction. By age 5, you’d have spent 63,875 minutes of valuable interaction in that one activity. Adding interactions through mealtimes, playtimes, and daily routines makes a huge difference for every child.
And yet --- while some know this information quite well, many parents, caregivers, and professionals still need this message. So,here’s the good news story: for the last 4 years, current and former HCPSS educators and Speech-Language Pathologists, county government employees, and various community members have joined me to volunteer for Talk With Me • Howard County to help all parents, caregivers, and professionals working with young families to understand that early interactions build brains. We built the content, training program, workshop models, and a network of community members who share this information. Our partnership with HCPSS and the vision of Superintendent, Dr. Mike Martirano has been a huge help; along with the amazing collaboration of the Early Childhood Advisory Council, more than a thousand community members have interacted with the message of Talk With Me in some way, and many are in positions to spread the message further.
Now established, we are transitioning the program to HCPSS. I have spent my entire retirement since 2015 to help spread this important information, and so my next chapter will begin. You can help to spread the message too!
Visit the Talk With Me webpage: https://www.hcpss.org/launch-into-learning/talk-with-me/
For more information, Howard County parents can explore the Howard Basics website and sign up for Basic Insights, offered free to families here: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/the-basics
Explore infant and child research more with great videos for both professionals and laypersons at Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. Start with this link on Brain Architecture: https://devhcdc.wpengine.com/science/key-concepts/brain-architecture/
Bonnie Bricker founded Talk With Me • Howard County in 2015. She is a retired HCPSS teacher, and the author of "Zoom Out Parenting: The Big Picture Approach to Raising Children" as well as numerous articles on social and public policy.
Last week I had an opportunity to meet the new president of CA, Lakey Boyd, and I suspect she may go about her tenure here a bit differently. As we spoke it became apparent that she is putting a high priority on getting out of her office and into the community. Ms. Boyd commented that she wants to put such “field trips” into her calendar so that she is committed from the outset to making time for them.
I think that’s a good idea. It’s a lot easier to look at the Columbia Association as some kind of distant monolith when we don’t feel its leaders are truly engaged in the community. If the only times we see the high-ranking employees of CA are when they are carrying out ceremonial functions, we lack the opportunity to learn about them as fellow humans. Furthermore, they lose the opportunity to learn about us, too.
We talked for a while about the importance of making connections and I got the sense that Ms. Boyd places a high priority on activities and initiatives aimed at building community. When I asked about how she approaches learning about a new place, she spoke not only about those frequent field trips but also about asking around to learn who the people are who are doing interesting things. Who is engaged? Who is committed to trying new things, to service, to making their community a better place?
I wasn’t surprised that Ms. Boyd brought up her background in change management. She described having worked with organizations that had become disconnected from the people they serve. Right now, the Columbia Association is at a crossroads as they come out of the pandemic and assess where they want to focus their efforts and resources. This looks like the sort of challenge for which Ms. Boyd is is well prepared.
Something Ms. Boyd said struck me. She said that she had come to view change as an opportunity for her circumstances to improve. As someone who grips the steering wheel and white-knuckles it through change in my own life, I found this to be quite a concept. Of course it’s an opportunity, not a guarantee, but the hopefulness of that mindset may prove to be a helpful guiding force as CA moves forward under Ms.Boyd’s direction.
Of course Ms. Boyd brings with her an admirable educational background and employment history. That is to be expected. I will be far more impressed if her intentions to get out of the office and interact with people truly translates into a meaningful part of her leadership style and a change in how CA interacts in the community.
What if we came to believe that the head of CA was one of “us” and not one of “them”? I know this may have been true in Columbia’s distant past but not in recent memory as far as I can tell. That’s the kind of change that I would see as a significant opportunity to improve our circumstances.
It’s a big challenge. I wish Ms. Boyd well as she begins her time with us.
Tonight, live and in person, the return of local podcast Elevate Maryland to their fashionable digs on Grantchester Way. Their guest is Brooke Leirman, who is, by far, the most promising and interesting candidate for Maryland State Comptroller. From the Elevate Maryland Twitter account:
First live show is 7/20 at 6:30pm with @BrookeELierman!
Guests, please note: you must wear a mask while indoors unless you’re actively eating or drinking. (Elevate rules.) Thank you!
If you are interested in attending, Elevate does their live shows in Downtown Columbia in the Howard Hughes event space across from Cured/18th and 21st. Parking is right there and keep an eye out for signs guiding you to the exact location.
Alas, my doctor says no indoor events for me right now so I will be there in spirit only. I’ll just have to make do with hearing the show later. I have been very impressed by Ms. Leirman and look forward to seeing what she has to say.
An event that is near and dear to my heart is coming up Saturday night. The Inner Arbor Trust is holding a Fundraiser/Friendraiser for Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods at the Chrysalis. You can learn more at their website. Here are the basics:
WELCOME BACK FRIENDRAISER! (PAY WHAT YOU WISH)
Saturday, July 24, 2021
7:00 PM 11:00 PM
The Chrysalis at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods
Help us fund free performances as we celebrate returning to the Chrysalis at our pay-what-you-wish Friendraiser.
The Board of Directors of the Inner Arbor Trust invites you to become our Friend as we celebrate the return of performances and raise money for our free-to-attend 2021 performances. 100% of these free performances are funded by generous donations, sponsorships, and grants.
Music by FireKite, cash bar, and food available for purchase.
100% OF YOUR DONATIONS WILL GO TO FUND FREE PERFORMANCES!
As with most events at the Park, you will need to reserve your tickets through eventbrite. I will definitely be there. I hope you will, too. As you know, I’ve been a friend of the park since it was but a twinkle in the eye of its proponents. Every new friend that the park makes is another person committed to a park for all in Columbia/HoCo. Come on out and meet other people who are excited about supporting Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods and who believe in its mission of bringing free arts performances to the community.
And for Heaven’s sake, let’s just kick up our heels a bit and have fun in the park!
It’s true that I spend a lot of time scanning Twitter for local stories. As you know, sometimes I come away with what I call “Other People’s Tweets.” Today’s is a doozy.
Was in Columbia, MD yesterday and it was a total car-dependent hellscape, best place to live in America? Totally nuts that people see that and like it
Bulldoze and start again
include beavers on the planning team
Give me a city or give me a cabin.
As for me, I’m getting there, albeit slowly. But, as anyone who has been reading current posts knows, I’ve been spending most of my time going around in circles in Columbia/HoCo’s parking lots and cul-de-sacs. One doesn’t exactly post photos on social media of that. Besides, I’m there to supervise a learning driver, not snap photos with my phone.
But if I were using these daily trips to be a “roving reporter” I’d probably be snapping photos of:
1. Those signs that appear at the ends of major roads or at intersections. You know, the ones that are about the size of the smaller political signs that one plants in the yard during campaign season. Signs touting real estate are permitted on weekends, I believe. At least in Columbia these kind of signs are heavily regulated but I am seeing plenty of “Suboxone treatment: call us” and a variety of other non-real estate signs. I have yet to see any such sign that gave me information I needed, but, perhaps they’re useful to somebody.
2. Siding. Old-school Columbia houses had vertical siding. Wood, I think. Through the years I gather this hasn’t held up well and owners have redone the houses with more durable siding products that are horizontal. Horrors! Has anyone ever written to the newspaper complaining that Columbia started to go downhill when people started using horizontal siding? I wonder if some day we’ll see a restoration program on HGTV where the host lovingly restores a Columbia home to the “original vertical wood exterior.”
3. Tot Lots. Well, you can’t take pictures of them. They’re invisible to the ordinary driver. As thrilled as I was with the signage installed around town during the late Jane Dembner’s tenure with Columbia Association, absolutely none of those signs say “to the Tot Lots.” So, if you are entirely new to the area, you will have no idea that playgrounds are hidden along the pathways. Still bugs me.
I was fascinated by readers who pointed out that many cul-de-sacs have sidewalks only half of the way around. What could possibly be the point of that? To thwart door-to-door salesmen?
Advice for the day: if you see a sign that says Farmer’s Market, you just might be in Oakland Mills where the market is on Sundays from 9-1. That’s a sign worth heeding.
First off, thanks to all of the input about the location of the new courthouse. To all of those who are telling me that the location has always been in Ellicott City, I say: are you sure?
I’d love someone from the County to rise up out of the mist and explain this but I suppose it’s my responsibility to go and ask. We’ll see how that goes.
As to the new courthouse, I was out yesterday doing that practice-driving thing with my daughter and our route took us that way. It struck me as having a bit of that Columbia “joy of discovery” feeling. You wind around what feels like a rather unassuming stretch of road and then: boom. There it is in all its glory.
Over on Twitter today the term to search is Ellicott City. The pictures and videos that come up are of Germany. Why? Because recent flooding in Germany looks very much like the floods in Ellicott City. There’s quite the conversation going on about climate change and the generally slow response to it, even as we experience calamitous weather events around the world. Locally, County Council member Liz Walsh and State Delegate Courtney Watson are celebrating the replacement of some impervious pavement with the environmentally-friendly pervious kind. Every little bit helps.
Finally, more musings from my recent driving adventures. We have graduated from parking lots to cul-de-sacs. Columbia has scads of them. If you think that living in a quiet cul-de-sac protects you from random, drive-by visits, I’ve got disappointing news for you: we’ll probably be driving by in the near future.
I’ve had plenty of time to observe those little islands that sometimes come with cul-de-sacs. Some are beautifully planted, some have park benches or even picnic tables. Some look overgrown and forbidding. I suppose it has to do with the people who live there and how much they want to make something of it.
At some point there was a HoCoBlog called “Live from the Cul-de-Sac.” Does anyone remember? I think it’s a fabulous blog title.
There’s an entire entry on Wikipedia about cul-de-sacs, pros and cons. I found the section entitled “Suburban Use and Benefits” fascinating. But don’t stop there. Continue on to the Criticism and Discussion section. I found the suggestion that real estate delvelopers favor cul-de-sacs because they allow them to fit more houses on oddly-shaped pieces of land an interesting one. Does this mean that if one opposes housing density one should oppose cul-de-sacs? Or, conversely, pro-density advocates support them?
As always, I’m sure it’s far more complicated than that.
I guess I’ve always thought of cul-de-sacs as passé, an old-school suburban device that has passed its prime. They are hallmarks of a car-centric culture, although, in Columbia they are offset by pathways and tot lots which encourage walking, biking, and outdoor play. I’d love you know your opinion of cul-de-sacs. Are they great the way they are? Could we improve them?
Let me know.
Out and About: Chrysalis Kids: Marsha and the Positrons (Free)
Sunday, July 18, 2021
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Chrysalis, 10431 Little Patuxent Parkway Columbia, MD 21044
Event Description: Our FREE family concerts start with a fun mix of science and art! Marsha and the Positrons are a DC-based kindie (kids + indie rock) band known for shows that are a ton of family-friendly fun! Both playful and educational, our original songs about science and how the world works are entertaining for adults as well as kids. Besides getting audiences singing along and dancing to songs that inspire curiosity about science, we play traditional favorites, kid-appropriate pop covers and parodies. Our goal is to send families home with smiles on their faces, plant the seeds for good conversations, and share our positive energy with the audience!
Gates open at 3:30 p.m. for playtime with Imagination Playground, and the performance starts at 4:00 p.m. Beverages will be available for sale, but feel free to bring a picnic (no glass or alcohol - alcohol available onsite).
Tickets available here.
On my mind this morning are the brutal murders at the Capital Gazette and the verdict yesterday that the killer is criminally responsible. My heart is with the family members, friends, and colleagues of the victims. Their names are worth mentioning here:
My mind is puzzling through some thoughts about the murderer. He was an abuser. Journalists covered a legal case that outlined his abuse. He didn’t want to be called out for his actions. He responded with violence.
I’m aware that my words are far from eloquent this morning. I’m trying to get at something that is a big concern for me. If you have suffered at the hands of an abuser, whether in a marriage or romantic relationship, a friendship, or in the workplace, you can easily recognize this man and his actions. It may make you wince, or shudder, or want to turn away. It may bring back memories you have tried to erase.
Abusers do not want to be called out for their abuse. They may completely deny any responsibility. They may place the blame on the victim. They may erupt, enraged at the prospect of facing the consequences of their actions. Or they may quietly, coolly plot what they believe to be a deserved scenario for revenge. In the case of the killer at the Capital Gazette, he had lethal weapons to carry out his plan.
Right here in Columbia/HoCo there are abusers. Some we will never know. Some are operating in public life and in community affairs. We don’t know which of these people have weapons and which do not. But we know they cause harm and they absolutely, positively do not want to be called out for their abuse.
What do we do about that? Ignoring it and hoping it will go away is not the answer.
The new courthouse is finally open. The ribbon-cutting photos are all over social media. So is local commentary, both positive and negative. But this post isn’t about either. It’s about how to get there.
This tweet from Commute Howard was timely and helpful:
There you have it. Not everyone who needs to visit the new courthouse will own a car or have Uber money. For some reason I just adored this. I’m making up an imaginary narrative here:
Blah blah blah new courthouse blah blah blah important people blah blah blah expensive investment blah blah blah Need to get there? Take the bus.
Well done Commute Howard. Here’s the link to routes they mention: RTA Routes and Schedules.
Two more things. First, the nearest places to grab something to eat if you are at the courthouse are now Wendy’s and Pizza Hut. Will we see any new restaurants pop up in the immediate vicinity? And what about a place to grab something for that pretrial headache or a new pair of stockings if yours run at the last minute? Hmm…that would be Walgreens in my direction or Target in the other direction. Will the new Courthouse become a financial boost to nearby businesses?
And the other thing. I expect that one of my readers will fill me in here. Doesn’t the courthouse have to be located in the County Seat, which is Ellicott City? Yet the new one is clearly in Columbia. Solutions might be to declare the new site as being in Ellicott City (complicated?) and changing the County Seat to Columbia (probably more complicated.)
Does it matter?
Whether it’s in Ellicott City or Columbia, Commute Howard wants you to know that you can take public transit.
We got together last night for our first meal in a restaurant since the before times. I mean, the kind of restaurant where one can order grown-up drinks. The chosen location was the Ale House. We wanted to be able to sit outside. I must say we were in the minority on that front. They were doing a brisk business inside with what appeared to be a happy, relaxed, almost all unmasked crowd.
I haven’t been to the Ale House in years and in my opinion it is much improved. I never used to be able to find anything on the menu that was right for me; now there is much more of a variety of different kinds of food. On the other hand, it was nearly impossible for my vegan companion. Service was fabulous and our table was in the shade. There was even a bit of a breeze.
I was having so much fun that I forgot to photograph my first gin and tonic post-pandemic for posterity. That’s what having old friends is all about.
Table topics included local village board politics, the future of housing in Columbia, what local teachers went through during the pandemic, the women who are making change in our community, addressing racism…you know, just the average things you talk about after not seeing a friend for several years. Truth in advertising, we also talked about our hopes and dreams, and our kids. As you do.
One thing that came up in our conversation was that we were in complete agreement that all the people who are doing outstanding, transformative community work right now in Columbia/HoCo are women. I’d go into more detail but I think that’s a blog post unto itself.
The Ale House, with its casual outdoor eat-while-looking-at-the-parking-lot vibe was just the right location for a reunion of old friends. I’m really hoping it won’t be so long before we get together again.
For those of you who have been celebrating the return of sporting events, here’s good news: there’s still time to get your tickets for this year’s MLQ Championship. Even better, it’s being held in Howard County.
That’s right, it’s Quidditch. Major League Quidditch, no less. Three days of championship matches will take place in Troy Park beginning on Saturday, August 21st. You can purchase tickets here and,if you’re a true devotee, order a jersey in support of your favorite team. Alas, it appears that Gryffindor did not make the finals.
When I first learned about Quidditch coming to Howard County several years ago I was nonplussed. It didn’t much make sense to me as a game without the requisite magic and flight described in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Despite my personal opinions, Major League Quidditch is clearly a thing, or, as it likes to call itself: MLQ. This strickes me as similar to Kentucky Fried Chicken rebranding as KFC, but, what do I know?
If you click on the MLQ website link their photo makes it abundantly clear that Quidditch is a contact sport. I wonder how it feels to turn up at an urgent care facility with Quidditch injuries? Can medical professionals restrain themselves from asking the obvious question, “What? Did you fall off your broom?”
All kidding aside, I’m completely behind the event on the third day of the event: Take Back the Pitch. I mentioned this in May if this year as you may recall.
Take Back the Pitch is a showcase that challenges the current understanding of gender in quidditch and opens opportunities for gender diverse athletes to play quidditch out from under the scrutiny of misogyny, transmisogyny, and misdirected misogyny. Through The Gender Diversity Initiative, MLQ seeks to address the very real ramifications of sexism and transphobia for cis and trans women, non-binary folk, and trans men. Through the open-access Take Back the Pitch tournament, MLQ aims to highlight and lift up athletes that are overlooked by their teams and in the community on account of sex and gender, and give them the leadership opportunities, playing time and diverse skill training they deserve all the time. Registration is open to any quidditch player who is not a cis male. All skill levels welcome.
I think this is pretty darned cool, although I note that holding the event on a Monday means it is open only to those who can afford to take a day off from work. The same holds for spectators. Sigh. I hope that, despite this, Monday’s event draws a good crowd. I commend the intention to honor players who are often overlooked or excluded from “prime time” play, but I hope that in future years they’ll give them “prime time” exposure.
It’s a start.
Just for fun, I checked out ticket prices. I was pleasantly surprised. Presale: Ultimate Fan Weekend Pass is only $45.00.
Our premium ticket option! In addition to a weekend pass that allows you to enter and exit the event as you please Saturday, Sunday AND Monday, you'll receive the following:
- MLQ Championship t-shirt
- Front-row seating reserved for Ultimate Fans
- MLQ-branded bag
- Piece of MLQ swag
- Discounted hotel rates
Order before 11:59 pm ET on Sat., Aug. 7.
Who says everything in Columbia/HoCo is overpriced?
I was hunting through old posts for something else entirely and I found this:
Career Goals April 26, 2019
Now this is the job for me.
DPW creates a $100,000 job for outspoken critic Mark Reutter and Fern Shen for Baltimore Brew
I’ll let you read the piece and draw your own conclusions. It’s a fascinating story. I share it here today because, as the young folks say on Twitter, “career goals.”
Dear employment universe,
I am uniquely qualified to be hired as an Outspoken Critic in the $100,000 range. Additional skills and qualifications: Ardent Supporter, Bemused Observer.
Strong writing skills, persistent, consistent work ethic.
Hobbies include anecdotes, vignettes, free-form poetry and doggerel verse.
I wonder if there’s anyone in Howard County who’s hiring? It could be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Anyone who has learned how to drive or helped teach someone to drive has experienced the time-worn tradition of driving in parking lots. The emptier they are, the better. They provide a safe environment for the tentative efforts of the nervous beginner: maintaining a smooth, even speed, staying on the right hand side, signaling, turning, parking, and so on.
Recently I’ve been a part of many parking lot driving sessions. We started with school parking lots, then graduated to Blandair and Centennial parks, which provided more varied topography. Then I began to get creative. I started seeking out entire communities of parking lots. Columbia/HoCo has plenty. Some examples:
I'm here tonight because on May 28, 2014 I stood in this very spot and said, "I have attended multiple CA Board meetings to speak in support of this park. I will keep coming back as often as necessary, and I am not alone."
And so I must begin with these words. I'm back.
What park? This park. Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods: home to the Chrysalis, site of some very cool environmental projects this summer, host of happy hours and free yoga (this Thursday!) and where you can find some of the artsiest picnic tables in town.
For many local folks it’s just the Chrysalis. It is a notable landmark, after all. At its opening cartoonist Mike Ricigliano honored it with some humorous suggestions on how to mark the occasion.
If Columbia is known for having any kind of “skyline”, the Chrysalis has quickly become a part of it. A few seasons ago the Downtown Columbia Partnership created this image to promote Winter/holiday events around town
And just the other day the Columbia Association posted a promotional item on Instagram about its free yoga classes.
Through free and low-cost arts programming and a variety of community events, Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods is getting the word out that Columbia has a park for the people and all are welcome. The Chrysalis, once the target of outrage and derision by local armchair critics, is becoming more and more a part of the community landscape every year.
It wasn’t meant to “blend in” in the way that our venerable tot lots disappear into the natural setting of Columbia’s pathways. But then Columbia itself wasn’t meant to blend in. At its creation it stood for something new and beautiful and, let’s face it, challenging.
Rather like the park, I think.
Coming up this week:
Thursday, July 15th
Happy Hour, 5-7 pm, featuring Holly Montgomery plus yoga class at the Chrysalis, admission free. Learn more here.