Saturday, April 22, 2023

April Showers


April showers bring May flowers.

Of course, climate change is bringing those May flowers earlier every year. And, as much as we need showers, did they have to arrive on this year’s opening day at the Chrysalis?


Yes, I had tickets for the now-canceled Maryland Winds concert at the Chrysalis and I hope they will be able to reschedule it. They’re a wonderful performance ensemble and the thought of some Sousa in the park is appealing. Alas, today’s weather forecast is, as they say, nice weather for ducks.

I also have tickets for tomorrow’s Downtown Columbia Mini Maker Faire in the Park. The weather is far more promising plus the pervious pathways installed by the Inner Arbor Trust will mean an enjoyable outdoor event rather than a quagmire. 

It rained on the opening day of the Chrysalis, which was April 22, 2017:  Earth Day, just like today. The official program, which included both performers and audience on the stage, kept those in attendance out of the elements. Today’s concert would have been 100 percent lawn seating and there’s only so much rain tolerable to the general public, even for John Philip Sousa.

Earth Day is a good time to remind the public that the Inner Arbor Trust does more than manage programs at the Chysalis Amphitheater. They are responsible for the stewardship of the land which is now called Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods. (You may have heard people refer to it simply as “Symphony Woods.”)

This includes (but is not limited to)  installing the pervious pathways through the park which limit runoff, a partnership with Howard EcoWorks for a conservation landscaping project, and engaging professional arborists to see to the ongoing health needs of the trees in the park. In addition, all outside groups who book the space for events must adhere to clear guidelines  created to protect the integrity of the natural environment of the Park. 

In short, the Trust, along with IAT President and CEO Nina Basu, take better care of the Park than many people take care of their own families. 

There’s been a good deal of misinformation swirling about over the last year pertaining to the Inner Arbor Trust, attempting to confuse the general public and/or to paint what they do in a negative light. Let’s lay that to rest. This is what they do:

The Trust is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization incorporated in Maryland a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Maryland corporation.  The Trust controls the Park pursuant to a perpetual easement granted by the Columbia Association, Inc. (“CA”) to the Trust in 2014 (the “Perpetual Easement”).  The Perpetual Easement required that the Trust develop Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods into a destination arts and culture park in accordance with the 2013 Inner Arbor Plan.  In addition to opening and operating the Chrysalis amphitheater, the Trust manages a substantial portion of the Park for recreational use. - - Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods website

That’s it. As a part of their arts and culture mission the Trust has made a commitment to making much of their programming free to the community.

We often get asked “why free?” Free performances are the most fundamental way in which we can meaningfully bring arts and culture to the entire community we serve. Our mission is “to promote and nurture a park in a unique natural setting for a variety of arts and culture experiences that enrich the entire community.” To embrace the entire community we need to make sure there are high quality, inviting performances for no charge. Both to make sure that we embrace everyone across the economic spectrum, but also so we can reduce the barrier to experiencing art, especially something new. Free is far more than an obligation created in our founding documents - free is a conscious choice we make to fulfill our mission. - - Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods website

Coming up in the Park:

April 23: Downtown Columbia Maker Faire  
April 29: HCPSS - -  Jazz in the Woods, headlined by the Navy Commodores 
April 30: A ticketed 1 mile color fun run/walk followed by a free celebration of the South Asian holiday of Holi and community performances.

April showers bring May flowers.

I wonder what May in the Park will bring? I can’t wait to find out.

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