Friday, June 30, 2023

F ³: Flier Grounded

The piece to read today can be found here:

Sun Kills Columbia Flier Newspaper, Len Lazarick, Maryland Reporter

You can safely assume that this week’s  F ³ stands for something else entirely.

Anyone who has been reading the Flier from week to week cannot be surprised at this outcome. Its demise still felt like a blow or a betrayal. Columbia is the second largest metropolitan area in the state of Maryland and we now have no newspaper.

Realists will remind me that local news has been dying for quite some time. I have been writing about it here. That doesn’t ameliorate the sense of loss. 

That young upstart - - the New American City - - chronicled its beginnings and its early years in its own local paper. No longer a young upstart, Columbia now has no one to be that beacon. I don’t mean to say that we are somehow so exceptional that we deserve to have an excellent local paper more than all the other communities across the US that have lost theirs. 

We are not alone in our loss.

But we need that kind of high-quality, professional journalism in Columbia now more than ever. As local journalism has declined, locals have been getting their “news” (or perhaps views) in social media groups that filter what they learn and think through many layers of opinion. Thus it is possible to visit a different social media group and be stunned by what their interpretation of the truth is. We all believe that it’s the other folks who are listening to false prophets. 

A strong free press cannot prevent that but it at least it can hold its own and provide a starting place for learning what you need to know about your community. Without that we are wandering in darkness, dependent upon rumors and what George said that Bob said about that meeting Helen went to. 

You need a lot of money to operate a newspaper, and a lot of good sense. If you look at what’s happening nationwide it’s clear that the people with the money do not have good sense. In Columbia the people with the most money are probably the Howard Hughes Corporation but if would be ridiculous for them to bankroll a newspaper. How could they in good faith write about or investigate themselves or issues in which they have an interest?

But who else has the money?

In reading Len Lazarick’s article I realized that I missed the Columbia Flier’s greatest years, having arrived here in 1999. Oh, how I wish I could have read the paper he describes. I’ve been told so many times that I “just don’t understand” because I wasn’t here back then. This paragraph in Lazarick’s piece really drove that home in a way I haven’t felt before.

The Flier was more than just a writers’ paper. What’s striking going through boxes of old clips I dragged out for this series was how closely we covered this new community — the opening of restaurants, the closing of stores, the community dustups, the arguments over tot lots and door colors, the nitty-gritty of everyday life. While there were wonderful photo spreads and long features, there was also column after column of “notices” about routine events and meetings.

I get the sense that the early writers of the Flier were motivated by the belief that Columbia was growing into a real and significant place, and that real places had newspapers. Their idealism makes me a bit sad today.

On the same day that the Sun slipped the news on the Flier in tiny print that could barely be noticed, Howard Magazine announced the nominees for the Best of Howard Reader’s Choice contest. Here’s the list of bloggers for your consideration. 

Of course it’s nice to be nominated. I made my case earlier for supporting the Merriweather Post blog. It’s not a life or death contest and no material prizes are awarded. Still, it would be nice to see someone win who writes with respect for the community and their readers.

Just a thought, not a sermon.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

On with the Show


Last Saturday evening found me making my way via GPS to Marriotts Ridge High School to see Howard County Summer Theater’s production of  Hello, Dolly! My journey provided a needed reminder that there are parts of Howard County I rarely visit and that, frankly, feel like the middle of nowhere to me, especially after dark.  I certainly could do a better job at exploring the unfamiliar. 

This year marks Howard County Summer Theater’s 47th season as a summer theater group in the Columbia/HoCo community.I have been to see their shows exactly twice: both times to see friend Dave Bittner in a leading role. This time he’s playing Horace Vandergelder in the musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker. I’m a big fan of Wilder’s original play and tend to think it didn’t need a musical version. But clearly Hello, Dolly!  has been making its way in the world successfully for quite some time without benefit of my opinion.

If you like musical theater and have a soft spot in your heart for amateur productions you shouldn’t miss this opportunity to see everything that community theater does best. Tickets are 22 dollars for adults and 18 dollars for children and seniors over 60. Visit the Howard County Summer Theater website to learn more and to buy tickets for this weekends three performances: 6/30, 6/31, and 7/1. 

Vying with the delicious, over-the-top nature of the evening’s entertainment is the fact that proceeds from all shows benefit two local nonprofits: Grassroots and Prepare for Success. If you’re feeling particularly generous there’s a big glass jar on the ticket table where you can throw in some extra cash to support these two excellent initiatives.

I’m going to pause here to make a pitch for Prepare for Success. I’ve written about them before. When I received a letter from Susan and Roy Appletree last week, reminding me that this year’s campaign was about to begin, I smiled. For one thing, I already had a ticket to Hello, Dolly! which would help support their mission and two, they clearly know I’m a sucker for a pitch letter with an additional handwritten message. 

Its mission is simple. Prepare for Success works to provide school supplies, including backpacks, to students whose families don’t have the resources to purchase them. Their goal is to remove that obstacle to learning and to help start each of their school years on a positive note. 

So, if you already love musical theatre, this is a win/win situation for you. Buy a ticket, see the show, support area nonprofits. If for some reason you are allergic to musicals (I’m not judging you!) feel free to click on over and give to the initiatives themselves:
If you’re all in when it comes to musicals, you might enjoy this episode of the Razzle Dazzle podcast on Dragon Digital Radio from HCC “Catching up with Summer Theater and Lake Front Live” on Podbean.

One last thought:

“Hello, Dolly’s” most prominent theme: the effects of living in wealth vs. poverty, is conveyed most clearly through the protagonist, Dolly Levi’s pursuit of marriage. A quest motivated not by love, but by money. Make no mistake though, Dolly Levi is no gold digger. She’s extremely skilled, ambitious, and generous. Such assets, however, were marked as valueless for women in this era. Dolly’s experience in living hand-to-mouth motivates her to seek out a wealthy husband to increase the standard of her life, and the life of anyone in need.

This lovable, multi-faceted character’s perspective on wealth is the obvious intended take away of this musical: “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure,” says Dolly, quoting her late husband Ephraim. “It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”- - Halimah Budeir, VOX ATL

Village Green/Town² Comments

Wednesday, June 28, 2023



Annapolis to host wreath-laying to honor five-year remembrance of Capital Gazette shooting victims, Brooks DuBose, Capital Gazette

As mass shootings continue, more than 150 since Capital Gazette attack, victims’ families see deaths as call for action, Luke Parker, Capital Gazette

Five years after the Capital Gazette murders, we’ve scattered. Remembering brings us together. Rick Hutzell, Baltimore Banner

5 years after Capital Gazette shooting, survivors and families begin to heal, but scars remain: ‘Moving with the pain’, Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun

Journalists Matter: Faces of the Capital Gazette, a Photo Exhibit of the Lives Impacted, Paul Gillespie

Today there will be a ceremony in Annapolis to mark the fifth anniversary of the slaughter of five journalists at The Capital Gazette. The ceremony will take place at the memorial erected by the city after the mass shooting that took the lives of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters. There will be a wreath-laying, speakers, poetry reading, and music. And there will be silence - - to remember and reflect.

 Photo credit Brian Witte, AP

The name of this memorial is Guardians of the First Amendment. I think that’s important. The monument honors not only the people who were lost but the mission that they served: a Free Press to support the functioning of Democracy. One way to honor them is to support local journalism. Read the above articles if you can. Pay for newspaper subscriptions if you can afford to.

The First Amendment provides that Congress make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise. It protects freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - -

My perspective on the Capital shooting has been shaped largely by one man: Paul Gillespie, Capital photographer and survivor of the shooting. His Twitter account over the last five years has detailed a journey of grief, survival, recovery, and insight. Newspaper turnover these days is so high that Gillespie is the only member of the staff that existed five years ago who is still working at the Capital today.

Gillespie created his own sort of memorial, a series of photographs entitled Journalists Matter: Faces of the Capital Gazette, A Photo Exhibit of the Lives Impacted. It has been on display in various locations in the area but as of yet has no permanent home. (It is available to view online at the link shared above.) The impact of his photos is every bit as holy as the monument in Annapolis. 

If grief were a sacrament, this collection could be its church. 

Gillespie, a 22 year veteran of the Capital Gazette and his wife, writer for the Maryland State Comptroller and former journalist Jennifer Donatelli, share snippets of their day-to-day lives on Twitter. Over time I have come to look forward to their posts. A running feature is Ms. Donatelli’s weekly visit to church and Mr. Gillespie’s reliable follow-up.

How was church?


Was it about constancy?

Usually it isn’t about constancy but he always asks. Just in case. 

After a few of these I looked up constancy to make sure it meant what I thought it did. 

Constancy: steadfastness of mind under duress : fortitude

Fidelity, loyalty

Today I will be thinking about Paul Gillespie and all the survivors of the Capital Gazette shooting. I will be mourning the loss of five innocent people whose dedication to local journalism put them in the line of fire of a hateful gunman. Most of all I will be thinking of constancy: the steadfastness of mind under duress that travels with all of the survivors, each in their own way.

And like Paul Gillespie, who signs off on many of his tweets this way, I ask: be kind.

Village Green/Town² Comments 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

New Streets in the New American City


Have you seen the news?

The Howard Hughes Corporation has announced the names of three new streets for the Lakefront neighborhood, referred to as Lakefront North, in Downtown Columbia. The names are inspired by the work of the late Lucille Clifton, who was Maryland Poet Laureate from 1979-1985 and a Columbia resident.

Lucille Clifton, photo credit Mark Lennihan/AP

The announcement was made at an event last week at The 3rd, which I was sadly unable to attend. (Really. I had an actual prior commitment - - rare, I know.) The new streets names will be: Rustling Sky Way, Singing Stone Terrace and Distant Star Lane, which come from Clifton’s poetry. They certainly have that authentic Columbia street name feel, don’t they? I do hope no one ever gets lost looking for Rustling Sky and ends up on Rustling Leaf. 

If they do if will be the most Columbia thing ever.

I have a confession to make. I was not aware that Lucille Clifton was a poet. As a teacher of young children, this is the Lucille Clifton I know: 

The Everett Anderson series, featured on the Fantastic Fiction website

Clifton wrote a series of children’s books about a little boy named Everett Anderson. These books, the first of which was published in 1970, were some of the first picture books I read that did not center around white people. The characters were authentically Black, not just white people with white facial features that had been painted over in various shades of brown and tan. There were enough of those sorts of books that encountering Everett Anderson and his world was a revelation.

Cover of Everett Anderson’s 1*2*3, 1977

“Mom wrote children’s books to fill an obvious void,” wrote her daughters Sidney, Gillian and Alexia Clifton. “Prior to the publishing of Some of the Days of Everett Anderson, there were very few children’s books depicting the lives of black and other children of color.  And of those few; even fewer were written by black or ethnic authors. Creating characters whose lives, language and experience were a mirror to the lives, languages and experiences of thousands of underserved children across the country was important to her, and her pioneering contributions lit the way for the many prolific authors and illustrators of color whose works endure in the marketplace today.” - - from a piece on Lucille Clifton by Kelly Starling Lyons on The Brown Bookshelf website 

Now that I know that Clifton was also a poet - - better late than never - - I have the joy of all that reading reading ahead of me. The Howard County Library System is a good place to start.  In addition, the book Generations, A Memoir, first published in 1976, is a part of the Equity Resource Center collection at Central Branch. Generations, re-released in 2021, is the only other narrative prose work by Clifton aside from her children books. It traces the story of her family back through time, all the way to the Dahomey women of Africa.

I was interested to find this reference to a A Tribute to Lucille Clifton by the (Columbia local)  Little Patuxent Review. The event took place at the 2012 Baltimore Book Festival and was a part of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change initiative.  One fun thing about the above-mentioned link is that includes a video clip of Clifton reading one of her own poems.

I learned from this piece on Ellicott City Patch that:

Clifton first visited Columbia in 1974 for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society’s (HoCoPoLitSo) inaugural reading, and continued appearing for the society over the years, eventually moving to Columbia in 1991. - - Jean Moon, “ Lakefront Neighborhood Street Names Inspired by Poet Lucille Clifton” for Ellicott City Patch

You’ll also want to take a look at Moon’s piece to learn more about the re-development of what Howard Hughes folks are calling Lakefront North. I’m rather amazed at what they are planning for an area which is now a surface parking lot. Is it possible to take a parking lot and turn it into paradise? We shall see. 

If they do, I just might write a song about it. Or maybe a poem.

Monday, June 26, 2023

HoCo Pride Braves the Heat


June 26, 2015. Eight years ago. The Supreme Court handed down the decision which would make same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States. It was a day to celebrate and it’s still worth celebrating. It’s also true (and alarming) that this decision wouldn’t happen today under the current Supreme Court. 

Last night I went with my family to a HoCo Pride event held at Color Burst Park in the Merriweather District. It was the first time we had been there and I ought to be able to give you some kind of decent description but I can’t.  It was so, so hot that my brain went into survival mode. My apologies. I can say that drinking fountains or those cool, newfangled contraptions that allow one to refill their water bottles would have been welcome. 

HoCo Pride is the group which organizes and puts on Howard County’s LGBTQ+ celebration in October at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods. Yes, Pride is usually celebrated in June but, as someone who loathes the heat, I am grateful that HoCoPride holds our local event to coincide with LGBTQ+ History Month.  Why? Because it’s so much cooler then!


Back to last night. There were lawn games brought along by Karen Ehler of the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, a tie-dye activity station and all the sidewalk chalk your heart could desire. There was music playing and there were families and kids enjoying the fun.

The evening’s festivities were emceed by this year’s Pride co-chairs: Bella N. and Alisha T. They made sure to thank all the partners who made the event possible, including the folks at Howard Hughes for their use of the space and Rashida George, Community and Government Relations Manager for HHC. 

State Senator Clarence Lam read a proclamation and there were gratifying number of “electeds” on hand in support.

Part of the purpose of the event was to announce the winner of an art contest to design this year’s HoCo Pride T-shirt. 

The contest was a collaboration with the Howard County School System and the Howard County Libraries. The subject of the art work was the theme of this year’s HoCo Pride: Our Time to Thrive. Each submission had been blown up into a full-scale poster for last night’s event and they were all very cool. If I had been thinking I would have made sure to photograph each one to share, but: overheated brain was in charge last night. My apologies. 

Update: images courtesy of HoCo Pride.

Contest entries 

Winning T-shirt design

In addition, HoCo Pride presented three community engagement awards: Danielle DuPuis, Director of LGBTQ+ initiatives for the Howard County Schools, Lance Sovine and Douglas Yeakey of EC Pops, and Richard McCready, teacher at River Hill High School and Faculty Advisor for their Gender and Sexuality Alliance, a student identity group for LGBTQ+ students and allies.

Each recipient expressed their thanks with words that spoke to the continued importance of community engagement. DuPuis offered gentle and thoughtful advice that reaching out to help others inevitably makes you feel better, yourself. The spokesman from EC Pops invoked memories of all the people and activism that led to the rights that the LGBTQ+ community enjoys today and the importance of continued activism to protect and expand those rights. McCready talked about the importance of creating spaces for young people where they can safely be themselves, grow, and thrive.

Yes, that last fellow - - he’s my husband. I couldn’t be more proud.

Photo credit: Lura Groen

HoCo Pride will be held in early October. As emcee Alisha said last night, the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t exist merely during Pride Month or LGBTQ+ History Month, but every day of the year. And their lives should mean more than mere existence: every day should be an opportunity to thrive. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Suburban Fears

Call the police. 

If you want to know when to call the police, you should definitely go to NextDoor. They will tell you to call the police for any old thing. Correction: if you want justification for calling the police, that is. 

Someone’s walking down the street who looks odd to you? Call the police. 

Neighbor’s party too loud? Call the police. 

Someone’s dog pees on your flower pots? Call the police.

So, what is it this time, you ask?

Kids shouldn't be out after 9 p.m. Call the police. 


Here’s the context: a post expressing frustration and annoyance:

Kid decided to bang on my garage or the next door neighbors door at 9:45 pm last night…

Okay, that’s annoying - - and possibly frightening? - - but is that a good reason to call the police? How did we get from a personal experience related by a frustrated neighbor to this response to her complaint?

Kids shouldn't be out after 9 p.m. Call the police. 

Another poster took issue with this, saying:

School is out. Kids can be out as late as their parents permit. Banging on garage doors is not okay. Being out certainly is.

You’d be amazed to learn how many people were shocked to learn that. It’s not what they wanted to believe. Because it’s a whole lot easier if you criminalize the very act of being out after 9 pm. Then you can feel justified in calling the police.

One of the recurring themes on NextDoor about situations like this is “where are the parents?” People go on and on about the nameless, faceless parents who are simply not raising their kids right. I often wonder why we don’t know our neighbors well enough to go outside and talk to the annoying kids. When did the accepted norm for non-violent suburban disturbances become an automatic call to the police?

I know I am inviting the exception that proves the rule, but - - I don’t think I’ve ever seen a police report in Columbia/HoCo where an adult went out to talk to unruly kids and came to an untimely end. Is that what people think - - that our community is full of armed teenaged gangs who will kill you if you leave your fortress house to converse with them about banging on your garage door?

If we knew our neighbors better and felt a sense that we were all “in community” with one another, would we handle situations like this differently? 

Okay, at nine forty five pm I would probably be in my nightclothes already and I would feel dopey putting on a bathrobe and slippers to handle an awkward situation. I get that. But is that a good reason to call the police? Once you call the police all kinds of things are set in motion. Nationwide the outcomes to such calls are often unwarranted violence against Black and Brown community members, and those with developmental disabilities or experiencing a mental health crisis.

I wrote about this last year when I looked at the move away from National Night Out in some communities across the US. 

What Makes Us Safer? August 22, 2022

“Recently retired Ravens football player Torrey Smith, a Howard County resident, related the following experience on Twitter:

Nothing like a casual encounter with Karen walking the dog smh

Update: She called the cops 😑

The lady told me last night “You don’t live here, I live here” as I’m 40 yards from my property and half a mile from hers 😑

This is definitely a case where knowing one’s neighbors would be a vast improvement over the white, affluent fall-back position: the police are here to protect me. Just call them; they’ll handle it.”

Calling the police can have life or death consequences. Why are so many people willing to pick up that phone? 

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Errata All Around

Some corrections today.

In HoCo Holler: CARY HoCo and the Pride Prom” I gave credit to CARY HoCo for the County’s first ever Pride Prom.

Today’s HoCo Holler! goes out to CARY HoCo for advocating for, organizing, planning, and putting on Howard County’s first ever Pride Prom for LGBTQ+ youth in the Howard County schools.

Upon reading the Sun’s coverage of the event I realized I had gotten it wrong. I thought I was right, and I was kinda, sorta right. But I was wrong nonetheless.

‘I can look around and see kids like me’: Howard County school system hosts inaugural ‘Pride Prom’, Ethan Ehrenhaft, Baltimore Sun

The Pride Prom was an initiative of the Howard County School System, under the leadership of Danielle DuPuis, HCPSS’s first LGBTQIA+ initiatives specialist. DuPuis worked with CARY HoCo and the Howard County Office of Human Rights and Equity to make the Pride Prom happen. 

My apologies to DuPuis for not completing the kind of double-checking I should have done to get my story right. I spend plenty of time every day researching things that are new to me for the blog but I didn’t take that extra step here because “I thought I knew.”

It’s important to give credit where it is due. A personal HoCo Holler! to Danielle DuPuis. Belated, but heartfelt.

Speaking of double checking, I’ve noticed a couple of similar errors around town recently, probably a result of the “I thought I knew” syndrome.

Take a look at this post from Downtown Columbia Partnership. 

Downtown Columbia hosts many great events throughout the year!
Wine in the Woods will be held this weekend at Merriweather Post
Pavilion's Symphony Woods.

Oops. Symphony Woods does not belong to Merriweather Post Pavilion. You knew that, right?

Wine in the Woods is an initiative of Howard County’s Department of Recreation and Parks. It takes place in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, which operates under the auspices of the Inner Arbor Trust. You know, the place with the Chrysalis. 

Photo credit Village Green/Town², taken at Jazz in the Woods, 2023

I’m not quite sure how that post happened but thankfully Philip Dodge corrected it once I brought it to his attention. 

Alas, here we go again. This one appeared on Instagram from the account of Visit Howard County.

Gather your crew for the perfect girls’ day out at Merriweather Post Pavilion!

Friends, this picture was not taken at Merriweather Post Pavillion. It was take in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods. The place with the Chrysalis. The event was “Celebrez en Rosé” on Sunday, May 28th, 2023. Take a look.

I can’t explain why two organizations whose sole purpose is to promote Columbia and Howard County, respectively, got the same thing wrong. But I do know what it’s like to publish something without double-checking because “you think you know.” (Let he who is without sin, as they say.)

Nina Basu and the staff at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods worked very hard with leadership for each of these events to make sure everything ran safely and smoothly. Large events like these require an immense amount of planning and coordination. 

Rather like the Pride Prom, eh, Village Green/Town²? 

It’s important to give credit where it is due. It’s also important to admit when you are wrong and correct your errors.

Friday, June 23, 2023

F ³: Sweet and Sour Storytime


Welcome to this week’s Free Form Friday!

Let’s talk about shrubs. No, not this.

Photo from Wiktionary 


Photo from Wikipedia

I recently attended a social event where someone ordered a mocktail which contained, amongst its ingredients, a peach shrub. Or some kind of shrub, I can’t remember. This revelation caused immediate hilarity around the table. 

“Shrub? A shrub is a bush!”

I didn’t laugh, mind you. I knew what a shrub was from reading old cookbooks. I tried to explain but that made people laugh even more. People took out their phones to look it up, of course. This was Google’s immediate response to me:

Odd - - poetic even - - but not too helpful.

You’ll find a quick explanation of the basics here:

What is a Shrub? (The Drinks, Not The Plant) Taylor Sacco, Mad River Distillers

Before refrigeration, people relied on differing ways of preserving fruits and vegetables so they would keep, especially over the winter non-growing season. A shrub was produced by pouring vineagar over fruit and sugar and allowing it to sit. The resulting syrup (once strained) could be used to make drinks by adding water or spirits. It concentrated the fresh fruit flavors and kept them fresh far longer because of the vinegar component.

This is why I knew about shrubs from reading 1920’s era cookbooks:

In America, during prohibition, there was an increase in shrubs being used as thirst-quenching liquor alternatives—drinks that could “cheer, but not inebriate.” In fact, because vinegar promotes salivation, shrubs are particularly hydrating and thirst-quenching, which led to widespread consumption across the United States during our hot summer months. 

With the advent of refrigeration concoctions based on vinegar passed from popularity. In fact, they have been out of sight for so long that the mention of them at the dinner table was deemed to be a joke. But (don’t laugh) the shrub is now having a moment due to the recent surge of interest in mocktails and other nonalcoholic beverages.

A relative of the shrub is switchel, which relies on ginger rather than fruit for flavor. Big surprise: I know about switchel from reading the Laurel Ingalls Wilder books. It’s said to be a great drink for hot summer days. Maybe you’d like to try making some yourself.

How to make ginger switchel, Summer Miller, Simply Recipes

If you’re ever at a quiz night and the words shrub or switchel come up, you’ll be able to impress your teammates. Fair warning: they may laugh at you first.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

WOCAX is Back!


This weekend marks the return of WOCAX: Women of Color Art Expo at The 3rd. I went last year, mostly to see photographs by Candace Dodson Reed, but found myself lingering over all kinds of art on display there. It was definitely worth the trip. I’m happy to see they intend to make it an annual event.

The weekend begins with a VIP Reception. It looks like tickets are still available for this fundraising event. 

From the Facebook event page:

Join us for an invite-only, first look at our Women of Color Art Expo featuring curated art from local women of color artists.

Attendees will be treated to music from the Walker Redds Project as well as sumptuous bites from The 3rd's in-house chef, Chef Jamila and wine tasting from Boyd Cru Wines, the first Black family owned winery in Maryland.

Whether you are an art lover or novice, our VIP reception is an opportunity to meet local creators and celebrate the power of art and art entrepreners in our community.

Tickets: $100/pp

Here’s the schedule for the entire weekend. Saturday from 9-5 and Sunday from 1:00 - 5 are free and open to the public. They are asking you to register through Eventbrite so they will know how many people to expect. 

Join us for a weekend of live painting, activities for the kids, live music, food, vendors and more!

@The3rdinc and are partnering to launch the 2nd annual WOCAX (Women of Color Art Expo) at The 3rd in Downtown Columbia lakefront.

Throughout this 3-day expo, we're bringing together WOC artists from across the DMV to display and sell their work. It will be an immersive experience for the entire community that you don't want to miss!

Attend the Expo FREE on Saturday (9am-5pm) and Sunday (1pm - 5pm) and enjoy poetry, vendors, tunes from DJ Keebee!

(Note: The 2 day expo is fee, our 6/23 VIP Reception and 6/25 artist panel are paid events)

Raffle drawing grand prize - win the completed live painting!

Sunday morning there’s a ticketed event featuring an artist panel discussing Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Art, along with time for networking and food and drink by Chef Jamila. Tickets are $35 and available for purchase here.

Melanie Royster (melroyart) - - whose gorgeous murals already adorn The 3rd - - will be on hand for the weekend. And you should definitely keep an eye out for the photography of Candace Dodson Reed (CDRPhotography). She specializes in architectural subjects. 

To learn more of this weekend’s activities at The 3rd, visit the WOCAX section of their website. There are some great photos of last year’s event, too.

Come on down to enjoy the art and some fun activities. You just may find something you like so much that you want to bring it home with you.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Everyday Battles With Stupidity


I’m going to be honest with you. I woke up this morning feeling stupid.  I suppose I should be grateful that I don’t wake up like this every morning. 

To clarify: there are so many things I should be writing about that feel like they are beyond my scope. I feel as though I should be smarter to do them justice. I hate that. I need three of me: one for ideas, one for research, and one to convince myself I can really do it. That last one is probably a full time job. 

Today I’m going to give you a sampling of the stories that have been piling up in my “to do file.” See anything you like? Let me know. 

I ran into someone at a party the other evening who shook hands with me, smiled, and said, “I don’t read your blog anymore.” I couldn’t tell if it was an apology or a jab. I laughed and said it wasn’t a requirement. Just because I was committed to writing every day didn’t mean they had to read it.

And then they said something like, “but you keep writing?” with a lift at the end which made me wonder if they didn’t see the point of that. It was a brief, but odd, conversation. 

Recently I wondered if my obituary would someday note that “she wrote a blog for eleventy-million years largely because she did not know how to quit.” 

This is not a request for moral support or a ploy for praise. Think of it as an honest admission. When you get up to write every day, some of those days are really, really, crummy.

I ran into this quote somewhere and it sits in my Notes section for days like this: 

Just because we’ve done it once doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Everyday the dust comes back. Everyday we must sweep. - - Daniele Bolelli

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

A Different Neighborhood


So your kid goes away to college and learns things. Better than that, they want to share what they’ve learned. That’s how my husband and I ended up at a place on Route 40 called The Hub last summer. And yesterday brought a text to meet up at another place we had never been: Opie’s.

Opie’s is on Edmondson Avenue in Catonsville and their website proudly proclaims that they were established in 1984. For those of us who feel that 1984 was just yesterday (wasn’t it?) it may take a moment to appreciate how long ago that was. Opies Soft Serve & Snowballs is widely known in the area and you may very well have been there already.

It was an entirely new experience for me but it felt like a bit of time travel, too. I could have been back in my own childhood as I enjoyed an icy cold treat while sitting at a shaded table on the generous lawn behind Opie’s. At the table next to ours a very happy dog was enjoying a small cup of something cool and delicious.

I had a root beer snowball with vanilla ice cream, in honor of the first snowball I had when I came to Baltimore in…1985. (Ooh.) At Opie’s this is called a Snowcream. It was exactly what I was hoping it would be. 

The part of Edmondson Avenue where Opie’s is located is a pocket of commercial properties surrounded by what we in Columbia would call “old houses.” It was the old houses combined with the ice cream place just a short walk away that reminded me of my childhood. Oh, what a dream it would be to live in the house that sits behind Opie’s and have all that ice cream joy in your front yard. 

The history of Opie’s describes how it all came to be:

John Corbitt – aka Opie – who was 20 at the time, decided to start selling snowballs from an 8 ft x 8 ft “shack” that he built in a weekend with his ole friend Beansie, who lived in the house behind the stand.

So many questions are running through my mind. What did Beansie’s parents think of all this? Did they have to get planning/zoning permission? Were there multiple hearings? Did people turn out to protest the change to the quiet neighborhood character? Did he have to pay rent to Beansie’s folks? They make it all sound so simple. 

Of course, this isn’t Columbia/HoCo. Not everyone gets worked up over things like this.

My recommendation: if you pop on over to Catonsville to Opie’s this summer, spend some time really looking at and enjoying that neighborhood and its combination of gorgeous old houses and modest small businesses. (Yes, one of them is a 7-11 but there’s a very cool mural painted on the back.) You will definitely know you are out of The Bubble and you might even feel like you’re on vacation in a place near a beach or some other vacation locale.

It’s so different from what we are used to. I’d love to know the history of that particular part of Catonsville. How did it come to be the way it is today?

Finish your trip by driving back through Old Ellicott City and just drink it in. That’s what we did yesterday. Main Street was just so beautiful and welcoming decorated for Pride. People were out and about and it gave me such a happy feeling to see how alive it was. I wish I had taken some pictures to share here but you will just have to go and see for yourself. 

Monday, June 19, 2023



Everybody’s talking about it. Or, at least, everyone who heard it. Last night there was a loud BOOM heard by folks in the Harpers Choice area. Some reported it came from near the hospital. 

Did you hear it?

You can see discussion about this on Facebook, NextDoor, and Reddit. I spotted a mention on Twitter, as well. Apparently this was not the first occurrence of the Late Night BOOM. There has been at least one other. Naturally it has been suggested that this might be fireworks but the witnesses who have heard it seem unconvinced. 

It’s one deep, loud, single BOOM. “Like a transformer exploding,” mentioned one person. 

Yes, this has been reported to the police and no, they haven’t provided an answer as of yet.

If you hear it, what did it sound like to you?

In 2015 an explosion caused by a gas leak in a Columbia neighborhood created the kind of BOOM that alarms neighbors, and in 2017 a BOOM turned out to be an earthquake in Sykesville. More recently, in early June, a sonic boom caused by fighter jets alarmed some Columbia/HoCo residents.

To my knowledge, one single, solitary BOOM has never turned out to be good news. I could be wrong, however. If you have any inside info or plausible explanations I’d love to hear. 

Village Green/Town² Comments

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Columbia’s New Reality Show?


Which one of these contestants will be the Next Town Center Board Member?

The post from Columbia Town Center Community Association is serious. My question is not. Something about the photo put me in mind of a promotional advert for a television reality show. 

On the surface, they’re all about Rouse’s vision for the New American City, but once we get them behind closed doors…

You get the picture. 

I’m going out on a limb here (not really) and assuming this is not a photo of people who live in Town Center. It’s a stock photo. There are plenty of reasons to choose to pick out a stock photo and you can learn about that by pursuing a basic Google search. Basically, you can pay to use stock photos from a large and varied collection, invest in custom photography, or use something you already have on file. 

Why use a photo at all? Is it necessary for communicating the message? Technically, no. But a photograph catches the eye. It makes you look. Social media sites like Facebook are predominantly photo-driven these days. So many users include photos to get more eyes on what they post. 

Before I go any further: I completely support seriving on a Village Board. (I’ve done it myself.) I support Town Center’s reaching out to the community on social media to recruit additional board members. I’m not criticizing or ridiculing them. 


It’s just the photo. It makes me giggle. If any Village Board in Columbia looks like this I will eat my hat. On the other hand, would I want to have been the person in charge of picking an appropriate photo? No, no, no. Not me.

What is this photo saying?

  • We hope this photo will get you to read our text.
  • This is what our Board looks like. Join us!
  • This is what we wish our Board looked like. Join us!
  • We are cool and hip. You can be, too.
Am I overthinking this? Of course I am. Is this an issue that you should get terribly worked up about? Not really.

I just find it fascinating how the use of a stock photo can tip a perfectly normal message into something that feels less credible or even silly. Why is that? It’s as though something in our brains is activated in an itchy sort of way that tells us that something is off. And that feeling then colors how we feel about the content. Even more complicated: not every consumer of social media will have the same response. There’s no one size fits all.

Sheesh. I am glad this is not my job.

Just for fun, do a Google search for stock photos that make no sense. 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Freedom Day Meets Columbia/HoCo


I realized last night that I haven’t said a thing about Lakefest, which is going on this weekend. I guess I feel that Lakefest, put on by the Columbia Festival of the Arts, has a pretty good publicity network getting the word around without my help. Still, it’s a really wonderful, quintessentially Columbia weekend and if you have a desire to have that old-time Columbia experience you should definitely check it out.

I do want to draw your attention to what’s happening on Sunday for Juneteenth. The 3rd, in collaboration with Columbia Festival of the Arts and The Howard County Library System, has a whole day of Juneteenth Freedom Day activities planned. From the event page:

Come and celebrate Juneteenth with The 3rd! It's Lakefest weekend down at the lakefront so we're doing what we do best...collaborating! So here's what you can expect:

- Pop Up Cookout (featuring vegan options) by Chef Jamila from 12pm-5pm. Know what you want?Go ahead and pre-order here:

- Live entertainment on the mainstage from 12pm-7pm to include: The WLHS Step Team, The JoGo Project, Delfayo Marsalis and more!

- Kids activities galore! Local puppeteer, Father's day crafts, and the Howard County Library STEAM mobile!

Saturday evening, at the Smith Theatre at Howard Community College:

Join our partners at the Howard County Center of African American Culture for an inspirational Juneteenth program in Smith Theatre on Sunday, June 18 at 7 p.m. The evening features performances by Savoy Mcliwain, Duane Moody, and Everette Williams in a concert of spirituals, arts songs, and opera by Black composers. This program is FREE and open to the public.

And on Sunday, at Saint John Baptist Church, “Black History 365: A Truthcentric View of History.” The program begins at 1:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall and features Dr. Walter Milton, Jr. and Dr. Joel A. Freeman. To learn more about “Black History 365”, take a look at this article from News One.

Did you know that June is African American Music History Month? It was created in 1979 as National Black Music Month by President Jimmy Carter. Take a look at the Smithsonian’s website from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture for more background on Black Music Month.

Columbia’s big celebration of Black Music Month is the Capital Jazz Fest. I’m embarrassed to admit I never knew that connection until I started researching this piece. 

Held each year during Black Music Month since 1993, the Capital Jazz Fest is one of the premier black music events in the country, featuring over 30 acts over three days. The Pavilion Stage features live contemporary jazz, while the Chrysalis Symphony Woods Stage (dark on Friday) features live R&B/soul music from the old-school and the new! (Capital Jazz Fest Website)

Update: This just in from a helpful reader!

My apologies for the omission. Things that have to do with running somehow never manage to penetrate my consciousness. Register as a race participant or volunteer.

Have a wonderful weekend! Don’t forget the local Farmers’ Markets, and enjoy the weather - - the forecast looks good!

Friday, June 16, 2023

F ³: TV Dad


What does a Father look like?

When I was little and kids got together to play House, no one wanted to be The Dad because all he did was go to work and then come back later. That was all their life experience allowed. When I was very little, I remember being angry with my father for going to work in the summer.   I thought, if it was summer vacation, everyone would stay home.  I thought he must actively not want to be with us. 

I guess I honestly didn’t know what a dad was for. He went to work, sometimes for several days at a time. He came home, he ate, he slept, he read detective novels. Occasionally he drove the car on family vacations. If he was taking a nap you did not wake him up. How different that was from the life of Mother.

A father was a thing apart.

There weren’t a lot of involved or fully fleshed-out fathers on cartoon shows or television shows that we watched back in the day. George Jetson? Fred Flintstone? Popular culture reflected the attitude that the home was the mother’s domain. Perhaps dad taught his son how to play catch or go fishing. I can’t remember ever seeing anything on television or in a movie that made me wish I had a dad like that, different than the one I had.

I don’t mean to suggest that children learn what parents are by watching television. But I do think television reflects the current views. Compare The Jetsons and The Flintstones to Peppa Pig’s family, or Bluey’s. Much of the better children’s programming of today has evolved through a greater understanding of early childhood development. 

Some of the worst shows still dole out the same tired old tropes: dad can’t cook or take care of babies, mother is vain or worried about what the neighbors think. Parents are too self-absorbed to pay attention to the antics of their offspring. Children think parents are likeable fools to be gotten around.

Can you think of better examples of fatherhood on television and in movies geared towards children today?  I think there are more than there used to be. What about when you were growing up? Were there tv or cartoon dads that appealed to you? Did you ever see your kind of family dynamics reflected in television or movies? 

Did you even want to? Or was television the escape from your kind of family that you found restful, even a relief?

What does a Father look like? 

Village Green/Town² Comments

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Getting There


What’s one thing missing from Columbia?

I looked at the question on a local Facebook page and did not hesitate.

Appealing, convenient, effective public transit!

And then, a sadly typical response: as long as it stays within the county.

I pressed on.

I say the more connected we are, the better!

The response was even more clear than the first time: not Baltimore, not DC. You know - - crime.

What do you say to that?

Nah, completely disagree.

Columbia/HoCo is far from the only affluent place in the US where you will find whites adamantly opposing public transit that would connect cities with suburbs. Take a look at this piece about Atlanta:

What does a traffic jam in Atlanta have to do with segregation? Quite a lot.”, Kevin M. Cruse, New York Times, The 1619 Project

As the new suburbs ballooned in size, traffic along the poorly placed highways became worse and worse. The obvious solution was mass transit — buses, light rail and trains that would more efficiently link the suburbs and the city — but that, too, faced opposition, largely for racial reasons. The white suburbanites had purposefully left the problems of the central city behind and worried that mass transit would bring them back.

“The problems of the central city.” What kind of problems?

  • The policy of Redlining which reserved the best housing and the best neighborhoods for whites and kept Black residents in the worst areas.
  • The process of “Urban Renewal” which destroyed poor Black neighborhoods.
  • Interstate Highways plowing through and decimating Black communities, and serving as physical barriers to keep races apart. 

These actions and their subsequent consequences were taken by white people and and harmed Black people. Yet it’s the white suburbanites who “purposefully left the problems of the central city behind”? They had options. They had the all-white suburbs beckoning. They were not the wounded parties here by any means. 

Why does this look like fleeing the scene of the crime to me?

And now let’s put up a fence around Howard County to protect what’s ours. Maybe we should put security guards at the county line to screen visitors like they do these days at The Mall in Columbia. Sure, let’s have better transit but just for us. Let’s have desirable housing and beautiful neighborhoods just for us. Let’s have excellent schools but just for us.

“Just for us” is not Justice. It is, as a friend so deftly put it, the “Me, Me, Me!” of Howard County. It is Sally Brown asking Santa to just bring cash, preferably tens and twenties.

“All I want is what’s coming to me. All I want is my fair share.”

Appealing, convenient, effective - - and affordable - - public transit can be life changing. It can connect people to jobs, better food options, healthier neighborhoods, exposure to the arts and public parks, even much needed health care and education opportunities. Do those things belong to us merely because we are already here? Do we have the right to shut others out?

From the National Campaign for Transit Justice:

Abundant transit unlocks freedom of movement. When people can count on the bus or train to get where they need to go, they can easily access jobs, education, medical care, culture, goods and services, and the daily life of their communities. They benefit from greater economic mobility and lower household costs. Transportation systems that maximize people’s access to good transit are necessarily inclusive, without barriers linked to race, income, age, or ability. And because transit is resource-efficient and supports low-emissions neighborhoods, it’s also an indispensable tool to prevent climate change, clean our air, and protect public health.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore will be making an announcement about transit in Baltimore today. I’m looking forward to it. Many hope it will be to restart the process of the cancelled Red Line, which would have created much-needed connections for Baltimore’s Black residents and which white Republican Governor Larry Hogan called a waste of money.

Perhaps as you follow this on the news you will notice who sees the benefits of making transit connections and who just doesn’t see the point.