Monday, June 6, 2022

HoCo Holler: The Many Faces of ARTreach


His name was Orlando Phillips. He drove the shuttle which took us from the parking lot at Long Reach High School to the ARTreach Festival at Long Reach Village Center. I know his name because he introduced himself. Mr. Phillips had incredible presence. Honestly I think he could show up as a substitute teacher in middle school and get everything running smoothly in about ten minutes. If you know what this would entail,you know how impressive that is.

Because of Mr. Phillips and the RTA shuttle, people were able to access the arts festival more easily. Parking was just one piece of what made ARTReach work. With the exception of our shuttle driver, we came and enjoyed and went home again without knowing the names of any the people who made the event happen.

Tents were set up, chairs and tables, too. Supplies delivered and replenished.Trash was emptied. People worked at various booths facilitating hands-on art projects. Performers made music, which means someone was running the sound. Vendors sold food, children’s performers juggled and entertained with puppets. Artists gave demonstrations. Volunteers gave tours. So many people were involved in making Saturday an enjoyable experience for the community. 

My daughter and I sat in the shade in the Long Reach courtyard and just watched all the goings-on. All different kinds of people and all ages were out and about and having a good time. On one side of us a young child dove into a bowl of fresh fruit salad, on the other an older man fed his disabled son. Across the way performers were getting ready to set up a puppet show. Volunteers were coming and going from the Columbia Art Center. 

Possibly my favorite part of the day was finally getting the opportunity to go inside DOODLEHATCH. Owner and creator Lee Andersen opened the vast, one-of-a-kind interactive art installation to the public for ARTreach, which I think was a brilliant choice. I could easily spend an entire day there if it were an acceptable thing for grown ups to simply hang about, playing pretend. I need to go back as a paying customer and take a few photos. 

Food vendors Althea’s Almost Famous and sweet treats by Mochichi of Baltimore were on hand. Village center restaurants provided festival goers with additional choices. I had the most phenomenal watermelon shave ice from mochichi which made me question my years-long allegiance to snowballs. My daughter enjoyed a lunch of chicken quesadillas and guacamole from Los Pinos restaurant.

Every time people find a reason to come to Long Reach Village Center - - or any of the older Village centers, really - - and realize what genuinely good places they are is a win for community-building in Columbia.  People are too quick to write off “the old Village center concept” in my opinion. Yes, they have challenges. Yes, they need to adapt and transform themselves into places that make sense to the Columbia of today. But, really and truly: they’re not dead yet. They can be places where all kinds of people come together to meet day to day needs or to celebrate.

I’d like to suggest that those who are bound and determined to stand in the way of that kind of adaptation and transformation may very likely bring about the demise of the village centers they say they want to preserve. But that’s another story altogether.

A huge HoCo Holler to all the folks who made ARTreach happen from the planning stages, the funding, through the actual event and even the clean-up. A special thank you to Orlando Phillips, our RTA driver, who made us feel welcome and took us where we needed to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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