Wednesday, January 31, 2024

High and Dry

This post is not about pancakes.

Fuel up for tomorrow's big game. Stop here for an incredible brunch first before heading to the stadium.... or stay and watch the game here. Either way, these Bananas Foster Pancakes won't eat themselves.

Image from Mutiny Facebook page

This post is not about football.

It's GAME DAY! We'll have the big game on all our TVs with the SOUND ON so you won't miss a minute of the action! Plus, our Game Day Sampler Platter is back! Available starting at 2pm.

Image from Mutiny Facebook page

This post is about a community of workers who went to bed Sunday night after long shifts and woke up unemployed.

It has been a honor to serve you.  From the bottom of our hearts... thank you.

Image from Mutiny Facebook page

People who work in restaurants are no different than the rest of us. They need to eat, pay rent, care for their kids, pay for doctor bills and medication. Just because we as patrons see restaurants as places for recreation doesn’t mean that the employees work there for fun. It’s hard work, often hard physical labor. The hours can be grueling as well. Twelve-hour shifts are not uncommon.

Closing a restaurant without giving your employees advance notice prevents them from doing the kind of thinking and decision-making that will be necessary for them to take care of themselves in a financial crisis. I do not know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is what happened at Mutiny. I’m worried that it may have. I would love to learn that employees there had adequate notice and were perhaps offered positions elsewhere. If I learn more I will definitely let you know.

But learning about their (seemingly) sudden closing made me think. 

Imagine that you got up and went to work on Monday morning and your job didn’t exist anymore. What would you do? How would you feel? Do you think it would make a difference if your place of employment gave you advance warning? I do. It takes time to file unemployment and have it go through, for instance. 

Mutiny Scratch Kitchen and Fresh Bar was opened in 2018 by area restauranteur Bob Wecker.

Rob Wecker is the owner of Bushel and a Peck Kitchen & Bar, The Iron Bridge Wine Company and Mutiny Scratch Kitchen & Fresh Bar.  He scratched and clawed his way out of the upper middle-class town of Eldersburg, MD to become the restaurant Jedi he is today. - - Bushel and a Peck Website

Photo from Bushel and a Peck website

Mr. Wecker is well known in Columbia/HoCo for his work in the restaurant business. In 2017 he and his brother Steve were awarded the corporate Philanthropist of the Year award by the Community Foundation of Howard County for their donations of meals and fundraising efforts for Howard County nonprofits and charitable organizations. You really can’t think about the local restaurant business without the Wecker name coming up at least once, if not more. And in a good way.

Having to close a business is troubling and sad and I don’t think for one minute that anyone is happy about it. It is much harder to keep a restaurant going since COVID came on the scene and has basically stayed put. People go out less often. Food service workers are exposed and reinfected at an alarming rate. Some have become unable to work. Some leave the field for safer employment.

All that being said, I do hope that the staff of Mutiny was not left high and dry. 

High and dry: 

- - out of the water, especially the sea as it retreats.

"when the tide goes out, a lot of boats are left high and dry"

- - in a difficult position, especially without resources.

"when the plant shut down, hundreds of workers found themselves high and dry"

That’s a scary place to be. 

Village Green/Town² Comments

Tuesday, January 30, 2024


Limiting the amount of driving that you do is good for the environment. Alas, it is bad for your car battery. Here is the battery in question, after having been removed from my sadly de-energized car. 

Three cheers for the friendly AAA guys who came and fixed me up with a new battery. My car is a Mazda 5, almost fourteen years old. I’d like to keep it going for as long as possible.

The Triple A technicians explained how the few, short trips I have been taking per week are hard on my battery, especially in very cold weather. Well, phooey. Here I was, so proud of how little gas I was using. Now I guess I should take up a new career as a traveling salesman. 

If you have ever been through this experience then you’ll know that the next step after getting your new battery is driving your car around for about forty-five minutes. So I did. The problem was that I had no particular place to go. Any errands I might have wanted to run involved stopping the car to run in. That was a no-no.

So I decided to drive around Long Reach aimlessly until I found Jackson Pond. No GPS, no stopping to ask for directions. Hopefully no one reported me as a suspicious, unfamiliar vehicle as I noodled around from street to street. As per usual, no Jackson Pond. 

I drove through the Village Center and wondered how DoodleHatch is doing. I had a little twinge as I passed the new location of Little Caesar’s Pizza - - they used to be in Oakland Mills. I noticed the entrance to the Bauder Child Care Center and remembered what it was like to work with young children every day. 

I can’t explain why Long Reach fascinates me so much. I guess it is because it’s the first of the older Columbia Villages that I took an interest in aside from my own. There’s an interesting variety of housing styles and neighborhood arrangements. And there are some great examples of homes with a very retro feel. 

I looked down one road that seemed to go on quite a ways (no cul de sac) and decided to indulge my curiosity.

Well! There it was: Jackson Pond. I wanted to get out and taken a look around but I was on a mission to drive for forty-five minutes without stopping. So, on I went, feeling rather pleased with myself.


I decided to stay on Tamar and cross 175 to explore Jeffers Hill. I’ve never really continued on in that direction before. I was truly surprised by how much neighborhood is back there. I was puzzled by a road where houses appeared to be much more like new construction than what I had been seeing and so I turned off in that direction. It definitely looked less like “Old Columbia.” And then…

Sewell’s Orchard? I knew there was a pond in there - - somewhere - - but I had no idea that one could get into Sewell’s Orchard from Jeffers Hill. Why?  Probably because I had never looked at a map. Useful things, maps. My perception of Sewell’s Orchard was that it was approachable only from Oakland Mills Road. I felt head-smackingly stupid at this point. 

On the other hand, I had found another pond.

A few thoughts from my journey:

  • Why haven’t they invented houses that don’t need to be power washed?
  • Traditional architectural features reproduced on the cheap don’t necessary age well. 
  • I wish I knew what it felt like to live in those neighborhoods when they were brand new.
  • Geography and map skills were on the wane when I was in school and now I wish they hadn’t been.
Have you ever been tasked with driving forty-five minutes with no particular place to go? What did you do? Did you learn anything?

On the other hand, if you’d really like to be driving less and supporting public transportation instead, there’s a Transportation Open House tonight from 4:30 to 7:30 pm in Gateway. Try not to get lost. 

From Commute Howard: Please join us, other County departments & offices, state & local agencies, & our partners to learn more about the planning, design, operations, and maintenance of the County's transportation systems on Tuesday, January 30th from 4:30-7:30PM for our new Transportation Open House.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Have You Ever Wondered?


Have you heard people talking about Restorative Justice and wondered what that meant? Or have you done some reading on the subject but still wondered how it would work in real-life situations?

This weekend you have an opportunity to gain some first hand knowledge and broaden your perspective on Restorative Justice at The People’s Conference: a Relational Approach to Community. It’s a two-day mini-conference presented by the Restorative Justice Partnership, taking place at the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center.

Here’s the agenda:

The Invitation: Friday, February 2, 2024

5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Please join us for a cocktail hour from 5-6pm, followed by a panel of local educators, families, students, and community members sharing their personal insights, stories, and paths of implementing restorative justice. Panelists include Julia Tarawali, Student (Wilde Lake High School); Kori Jones, Director (Harriet Tubman Cultural Center); Lizz Hammon, Parent (Swansfield Elementary School); Monica Stevens, College and Career Readiness Advisor (Hammond High School and Patuxent Valley Middle School); Nikia Darden, Reading Specialist (Guilford Elementary School); and Richard Smart, Principal (Patuxent Valley Middle School)

The Occasion: Saturday, February 3, 2024

8:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Join us for a full day of communal learning with keynote addresses from Dr. Kathy Evans, author of The Little Book of Restorative Justice in Education; and Dr. Cierra Kaler-Jones, Executive Director of Rethinking Schools. Morning and afternoon session topics include Balancing Learning Objectives and Student Needs, Building Relationships with Young People, Engaging Families in Healthy School-Based Interactions, Evaluating Power Dynamics In Relationships, Mutual Aid as a Foundational to Addressing Inequity, the Power of Community, the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and an opportunity to participate in a peace circle. Breakfast and lunch are provided. 

The admission fee for all of this to participants?  Nothing. The Partnership is underwriting all costs in order to remove any barriers to access. Pretty cool, huh? You must sign up to reserve your spot, though. Click here to learn more and reserve your ticket.

I’ve seen some negative dismissals of restorative justice online from people who clearly knew nothing about it and had never taken the time to do the necessary learning to form an educated opinion. These folks appear to be wedded to the concept of good kids/bad kids, where being good means being compliant and being bad should mean punishment. Restorative justice practices truly transform that mindset and are a long-term investment in the lives of our students.

It’s not just about school behavior. Restorative justice focuses on building community, fostering relationships, taking responsibility, and making reparations for harm. Those are skills we all can use throughout our lives.

Check out the event page on Facebook. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Overhead Views

I have a Gateway problem.  

I’ve been seeing lots of overhead Gateway views this week. 

The next one is from COPT Defense properties:

And here’s an announcement from the County about the Gateway Master Plan Open House that was held this week:

ICYMI #HoCoMD, @HoCoGov DPZ & its consultant team to host Gateway Master Plan Open House event tomorrow, 1/25, to learn more about the Gateway Master Plan process & to offer feedback on Gateway's future as an innovation district. 

Did you go? Did you learn anything interesting? If I had even made an attempt to go I would’ve gotten lost. As I said, I have a Gateway problem.

Looking at all these overhead views has been rather mind-blowing to me. They all look so green and pleasant and almost benign. They give no indication of the wrong turns and the recurring intersections that all look alike. Gateway is practically Columbia’s Hotel California. You can check in but you can never leave. Sometimes you can’t even arrive.

Honestly, I think all maps and overhead views of Gateway should clearly identify all the common hazards, magically-tinged awkward places and downright cursed cul de sacs. Perhaps I should submit this idea as a part of the official feedback process. 

Help Shape the the future of Gateway, the Bermuda Triangle of the New America City!

What do you think?

Village Green/Town² Comments

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Slurp and Savour

That Friday evening news dump that has tongues wagging is, of course, the opening of El Gran Sabor in Oakland Mills. I should say “at long last” since we’ve been waiting since November of 2022. 

You can check out their menu here. I can’t see days/hours of operation but I will add them in when I find them.

In other Oakland Mills-centric news, Althea Hanson of Althea’s Almost Famous has been nominated for Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Maryland. Voting begin January 29th.

I’ll post a link when voting goes live. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling Ms. Hanson’s delicious Jamaican cuisine, I hope you’ll cast a vote in support! If you haven’t, come by her food truck in Oakland Mills sometime soon. Right now she’s there on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from twelve noon until six pm.

Next up, the only thing about the Super Bowl that I will be celebrating: The Common Kitchen is hosting a Souper Bowl Weekend.

Three days only. Eleven international soups. Eat soup, win prizes!

Readers of this blog know my deep love of soup as well as my fantasies that Columbia/HoCo will someday have a magical soup company. I will be indulging in that fantasy at the Common Kitchen next weekend. I wonder what kind of prizes they will be awarding?

I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about the new pizza place at the Mall. Have you tried it? Or are there any other new places you’d like to recommend? Let me know.

Village Green/Town² Comments 

Friday, January 26, 2024

F ³: Soft-Spoken and Charming

I’ve been hanging on to this tweet from NPR’s Steve Inskeep because something about it bothered me.

Steve Inskeep: This conversation with Michele Norris on her book Our Hidden Conversations carried me away when I listened back to it. She is soft-spoken in real life—never needs to raise her voice because she chooses words that carry. 

Can you guess what it was? I’ll give you a hint. This is how I responded:

Great conversation. I’d like to add that, should she decide to raise her voice, I would have every bit as much respect for her as when she speaks quietly. 

I’m a big fan of public radio. I think Steve Inskeep does good work and takes the responsibility of his role as a journalist seriously. Yet here he is, a white man, praising colleague Michele Norris, a Black woman, for being soft-spoken. “Never needs to raise her voice.” 

That just doesn’t sit right with me. The dominant culture in the U.S. is driven by the power, money, and attitudes of whites, who gatekeep the behavior of nonwhites in more ways than I can count, both big and small. One of those ways is rejecting the message of non-whites because they are too loud. “Too loud, too aggressive, too angry, too threatening…” the list goes on and on.

Inskeep, who very likely has the best intentions, is nevertheless reinforcing those attitudes. I wonder if he has any coworkers who feel close enough to him to say, “Hey, Steve, you may not realize this, but…” Possibly he does not. In almost every newsroom in the U.S. there are woefully few journalists who don’t look like Steve Inskeep. When you aren’t exposed to other people’s views and lived experiences day after day - - in situations where the expectation is that you are peers, colleagues, and equals - - then you aren’t challenged to see beyond your own limited worldview.

No matter how smart or well-intentioned you are, you may still be missing out.

I’d been sitting on this quote for a while when an article about Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (of “Finding Your Roots”) brought it to mind.

Some public intellectuals win their places in society through fierce debate, showing off the sharpness of their minds during verbal attacks. But Henry Louis Gates Jr. took a slightly different path. He did it by being charming. - - Joel Stein, for AARP

There it is again. Just as Inskeep rewards Norris for being soft-spoken, Joel Stein (also white, like Inskeep) lauds Gates for being “charming.” Notice how the writer sets up the concept of being charming against the alternative:

  • Not fierce
  • Not a debater
  • Not sharp
  • Not an attacker
In short, Gates is being held up for praise because he is deemed to be a “likeable Black” He is to be admired not for his intellect, skills, experience, or persistence, but for his charm. 

That just galls me.

On July 16, 2009, Gates was accosted and harrassed by the police while in the act of entering his own home. Under these circumstances one wonders how much charm Gates was able to muster, or whether he even wanted to. Why would it be necessary to play the ever-smiling, accommodating Black man in order to justify one’s own existence in one’s own neighborhood?

He was arrested.  

Maybe he wasn’t charming enough. Maybe he wasn’t soft-spoken enough.

This week has brought a lot of layoffs in the world of journalism. Many of them were people of color, disproportionately so. Every time those voices are diminished we all lose opportunities to see better and understand more about people and communities different from the ones we know best.  If you have wondered why I am so adamant about supporting Baltimore Beat, this is why. White gatekeeping does not nor never will produce entirely truthful and balanced news coverage. 

Every time we reinforce the notion that what we want from the non-white people around us is their soft-spoken voices and their charm, we are strengthening that age-old gatekeeping attitude that maintains our power and weakens theirs. To be blunt: it is demeaning to them. It is demeaning even if we are nice people and have good intentions and think we don’t have a racist bone in our bodies. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Too Early for Birds?


What would you get up early for? Perhaps to pick up someone at the airport? Drive a kid to the drop-off for a school field trip? A royal wedding? Or maybe a sport that is played in a different time zone? Now, imagine this: the Orioles Caravan is coming to town. In fact, it’s here right now at Banditos in the Merriweather District. 

That’s right, the kick-off event for the Orioles Caravan is in Columbia from 5:30 am to 10 am in the morning. In a place that does not serve breakfast. Belly up to the Banditos bar with the Birds, boys.

Kickoff Caravan with Justin, Scott & Spiegel Live from Banditos, presented by Corona

Live Justin, Scott & Spiegel 98 Rock Morning Show with in-person interviews and photos with players + raffle prizes and giveaways

Time: 5:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Location: Banditos Tacos & Tequila in Columbia

Address: 6000 Merriweather Dr, Columbia, MD 21044

Admission: No ticket required, limited capacity, open to all fans

Featuring: Danny Coulombe, Colton Cowser, EVP/GM Mike Elias, Manager Brandon Hyde, John Means, Ryan Mountcastle, Grayson Rodriguez, Jacob Webb

Participating Sponsor: The Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling

The crew from 98 Rock is on hand with a few familiar faces.

Honestly, this is the only face that I would be interested in.

Photo from Birdland Caravan 

If you’re interested in the origins of the Caravan, here’s some background information. It’s a fairly recent phenomenon.

I may be rolling my eyes over here at the thought of getting somewhere by 5:30 am for the Orioles, but - - who am I kidding? I get up at 5:00 am on most days to write a blog. 

Here’s the full list of the upcoming Birdland Caravan Events. Not all of them are at ungodly hours of the morning. 

Birdland Caravan 2024

What gets you up early?

Village Green/Town² Comments

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Parkway Points of Interest

Snowden River Parkway runs from Route 100 on the one end to - -  essentially - - Broken Land Parkway on the other. Its name was “inspired by the original name of the Patuxent River's Little Branch, Snowden's River of Patuxent, as shown on the original land grant to Richard Snowden in 1736.” (See Autumn Walk.)

You can probably learn more in the following article, but, I’m no longer a Sun subscriber.

Columbia has Snowden River Parkway. Where is Snowden River?” Community Q, Baltimore Sun, 2005

Today I have three things for you from Snowden River Parkway.

1. Did you know that Columbia has a squash academy? We do. It’s located at 9315 Snowden River Parkway. I didn’t know squash was all that popular here. If squash isn’t your thing, they also have badminton.

2. Lincoln Tech (9325 Snowden River Parkway) now trains students on Teslas. In December they celebrated their inaugural class of Tesla technicians wth a speech from Tony Bridges, the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Equity and Engagement at the Maryland Department of Transportation.

3. Local folks online are concerned about poor lighting after dark at Snowden Square Shopping Center. That’s the one with DSW, Home Goods, etc. I can’t remember the last time I was over there after dark so I don’t have an educated opinion. Some folks maintain it has been rather dark over there for quite some time. It was hard for me to tell if the commenters were trying to convey a feeling that poor lighting made it less safe or if they already felt it was an unsafe area and therefore ought to be more brightly lit.

What do you think? Snowden Square Shopping Center is managed by the Segall Group. Should someone reach out to them with concerns?

Do you have any other current events concerning Snowden River Parkway?

Village Green/Town² Comments

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Local Heroes to the Rescue


Did you know that Howard County has a bird club? I came across that fact when reading this heartwarming story about a local bird rescue:

Lucky loon saved from frozen pond by Howard Co. couple, Michelle Murillo, WTOP News

This post contains suspense, drama, and quotes from the Vice President of the Howard County Bird Club, whose last name just happens to be Swan. (I kid you not.) Born to birding, I suppose. Best of all, the entire narrative leads to a pun that I should have anticipated but absolutely did not.

The story of Howard County’s endangered loon has all the makings of a major motion picture or at least a highly-charged episode on a nature/wild life program. Read the article. Best of all, watch the video release of the loon into safer waters. 

Did you watch it? Good. Now you know what a loon sounds like.

You can find out more about the Howard County Bird Club at their website, on Facebook, and on YouTube. If you’re excited about local bird sightings, you can subscribe to Howard County Rare Bird Alert. Just for fun, here are some local loons.

The Howard County Bird Club, organized in 1972, is one of 15 Maryland Ornithological Society chapters. It is dedicated to the enjoyment, appreciation, protection, and conservation of birds and other natural resources. The club holds monthly meetings from September through May, sponsors three seasonal bird counts as well as dozens of field trips, and provides references and support for birders OF ALL LEVELS - - Maryland Ornithological Society

Since I’m already talking about birds, a reminder that local photographer Michael Oberman has been taking amazingly good pictures of HoCoLocal wildlife for quite some time - - especially birds. His work is gorgeous and available for purchase at his photography website.  I’ve written about Mr. Oberman here before - - he has participated in some bird rescues of his own, over the years.

Are you a bird lover? Do you have a particular favorite? Let me know.

Village Green/Town² Comments

Monday, January 22, 2024

Top Stories?

Yesterday’s question: What do you think are the top stories in Columbia/HoCo right now?

Nobody chimed in on this one. That’s okay. It was Sunday. Maybe you weren’t in the mood for heavy thoughts. 

Let me give you mine:

  • The HCPSS Budget woes, of which there are many.
  • Why did the HOME plan (housing opportunity meant for everyone) meet such a curious end before the County Council? It appears to have just…fizzled.
  • The Ellicott City Safe and Sound Plan. It seems to me that every concrete step taken has been met with responses of “nothing is being done.” Am I missing something?
  • Heartbreak over recent local shootings and traffic fatalities.
  • COVID cases are astoundingly high again, so let’s…all go out to eat?
  • The 50 plus center in East Columbia is close to opening - - how will that impact community connection for Seniors on my side of town?
  • What the purchase of the Baltimore Sun by Sinclair’s David Smith will mean to Columbia/HoCo news coverage, if anything. 
  • Israel and Gaza. Terrorism and genocide. As far away as this is geographically, it is striking at the heart of many of our friends and neighbors. What does remaining silent say to those around us who are hurting?
  • Is anybody worrying about the hiring of a new Columbia Association President?
Sorry this is so late. Just got back from a toasty warm overnight at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve. It looks like we will have heat by Thursday. Perhaps I will use these days to dwell on some hot topics to keep me warm. 

What are your hot topics?

Sunday, January 21, 2024

It’s Cold

We’ve been without heat over here for over twenty-four hours. I’d like to thank Environmental Systems for coming out on a Saturday and diagnosing our problem. It’s not their fault that we need a part that has to be ordered on Monday and that we probably won’t have heat until midweek. I’d like to thank my husband for remembering that we had two space heaters and actually knowing where we put them, and for going out and buying each of us furry heated blankets. Big thanks to all the folks who offered to put us up during our time of coldness. So far my desire to be in my own home is outweighing any discomfort from the low temperatures. 

Possibly because of all of this, the filter I have that keeps me from saying exactly what I am thinking is malfunctioning. You may think that having my own blog means getting to say what ever I feel like saying whenever I feel like it. Maybe some folks do that. I have a lot of internal battles. Sometimes I feel that letting it all hang out will do more harm than good. Or that, frankly, nobody wants to hear all that.

But, just for today…

Nah. Can’t do it. 

I’d like to point out that I correctly predicted that there would be an enormous snow storm and absolutely no one would say that “the children should be in school.” I don’t anticipate that any of my other predictions will pan out, though. 

I’ll be back tomorrow, hopefully with filter in place. In the mean time, what do you think are the top stories in Columbia/HoCo right now?

Village Green/Town² Comments

Friday, January 19, 2024

F ³: Snow Day Food

Some folks run out to the store to stock up before a big thump of snow.  The oft-repeated trinity of bread, milk, and toilet paper notwithstanding, there are certain foods we tend to turn to when the white stuff takes over our plans and everything shuts down. Many folks make a big pot of soup, or chili with cornbread. Others are bread bakers and pancake makers. Grilled cheese and tomato soup, or hot chocolate with marshmallows are great post-sledding fuel.

Not all of our snow day hankerings are sensible, however. There are always those few who will brave the snow and trudge through the drifts to the village center for pizza or Chinese carry out.

In Leslie Gray Streeter’s recent column for the Baltimore Banner she reminisces about childhood snow days in Baltimore. Her food memories? Pizza and fries with gravy. There’s something about a snow day that brings out a desire to roll out a slumber party sort of menu: things you might not normally allow yourself to indulge in. For me that’s definitely donuts, Entenmann’s, especially.

My husband stopped at the Giant on the way from bell choir rehearsal last night. He asked if we needed anything and I admitted that we didn’t have any bread in case he anticipated wanting any. I basically told him to get the kind of foods he though he might be hungry for while we were snowed in. His haul included two bags of flavored chips, some kind of cheese spread, a loaf of croissant style bread, a big box of assorted doughnuts (hooray!)  and a box of frozen sausage sandwiches. 

There’s something about impending snow that causes us to throw common sense to the winds.

Years ago my older daughter and I, on our own, made a few fun purchases before a big snow. She picked sour cream and onion potato chips and I picked those vanilla waffle/wafer cookies with frosting. If we had known how long we would be stuck in our apartment, before kind folks helped us dig out my little Honda Civic, we might have tried to punctuate the junk food with some more wholesome choices. It was a long time before I ever wanted to see either one of those items again, much less eat them.

What’s your idea of snowed-in cuisine? Do you lean towards slow-cooked home cooking? Party food? Breakfast all day? I’m curious. 

In closing, a very different kind of snow food. I saw the following for sale on Facebook Marketplace yesterday. “Ooh, a cute little handmade mouse figure,” I thought. “I wonder if it’s by a local crafter.”

Then I read the ad.

Does a snow day make you want to clean out your freezer? Let me know. In the meantime, I’m headed to the kitchen to make peanut butter sandwiches. For our local squirrels. 

Village Green/Town² Comments

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Feeling Sorry


This morning I am feeling sorry for the Children’s Manor Montessori School in Ellicott City. 

Man found shot outside Montessori School in Howard County, Bryna Zumer, WBAL TV

I’m also kind of sorry for this sentence which leads off the article.

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — A man was critically injured after being found shot in the parking lot of a Montessori school in Ellicott City this morning.

I am sorry for WBAL journalist Bryna Zumer because a website called Otto News is running her story as its own without attribution.

Of course I am mostly sorry that a man was shot and critically injured. But let’s back up the truck here and look at all this.

I feel sorry for the Children’s Manor Montessori School in Ellicott City because they will now be forever known as “the place with the shooting.” It’s very likely that this violent event had absolutely nothing to do with them, but the pall of it will hang over them nonetheless. I’m familiar with this phenomenon because I have seen it happen in Oakland Mills. It will dissipate over time. But it is an especially heavy weight for a school to bear. (You’ll note that the police description lists only the adress and not the name of the school.)

I feel sorry for the sentence because it appears to be telling us that the man was critically injured after he was found. So the shooting wasn’t the problem? Should we be looking for the finders? I think something went amiss here.

And what do we make of Otto News, a website which posts on TwitterX, carrying her story as though it belonged to them? 

Welcome to OttoNews, your trusted source for the latest news and updates on Baltimore, Maryland, and national events. We strive to provide comprehensive coverage and timely articles to keep you informed.

Our dedicated team of journalists and editors works tirelessly to deliver accurate and engaging news content. We aim to be your go-to platform for staying up-to-date with the latest happenings in various domains, including news, sports, entertainment, and business.

At OttoNews, we believe in the power of information and its ability to empower individuals. Our mission is to deliver news that matters, while upholding journalistic integrity and ethical standards.

Thank you for choosing OttoNews as your trusted news source. We appreciate your support and look forward to serving you with the latest news and insights.

Stealing someone else’s work without attribution is hardly “upholding journalistic integrity and ethical standards.” Something is very wrong here. While we are at it, do we believe they have “a dedicated team of journalists and editors?” 

Not everything on the internet that calls itself “news” can be trusted. Let the buyer beware.

And, finally, although we don’t know his name, a man is in critical condition after being shot. We may never learn much more about his story. Many folks will fixate more on talking about the incident as a symbol of “crime” and “the wrong sort of people” in Howard County. Perhaps we could take a moment to think of him as a human being first, rather than as a talking point or an indicator of impending doom.

Imagine he’s your neighbor. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The Best Place


Did you notice the sunset last night? 

I just happened to look out the window at just the right time. I do love the aspect of social media which allows folks to share photos of glorious sunsets, rainbows, snowy days and other exceptional moments in nature. Columbia/HoCo provides so many beautiful vistas for us to experience and be nourished by.

Several days ago a new local resident asked the following in the Columbia MD Reddit:

What are the best places to watch the sunset? Maybe the highest point? Bonus points if it’s accessible by bike and/or accessible to the public.

The question received some interesting responses, including: the second floor parking lot at Wegmans, Fairway Hills Golf Club at the 10th hole, the roof of Howard High School, and Jackson Pond. You might have some suggestions of your own. I enjoyed the conversation, especially since the topic was new to me. I’ve seen many conversations over the years about the best places to watch fireworks, for instance, but not sunsets. 

About Jackson Pond. I have an odd relationship with it. I’ve often heard locals speak positively about it. But I’ve never been able to find it. On purpose, I mean. I once found it by accident when I was picking up something from my Buy Nothing group. For some reason it remains elusive otherwise. There’s also a pond in Sewell’s Orchard, I hear. Are people who don’t live in Sewell’s Orchard welcome, or is it purely for residents?

I may be wandering into a different blog post: local ponds I haven’t visited or just plain can’t find.

In the meantime, where do you think the best HoCoLocal place is to see a sunset? Did you get a good photo last night? 


A request: if you didn’t have a chance to read yesterday's post about the sale of the Baltimore Sun newspapers, take a moment today to take a look at it. If you think you have friends who’d be interested, share it. The paper’s new ownership could have a strong impact on what local communities outside of Baltimore are reading in their newspapers. With elections looming, that’s important to understand. - - jam

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Monday Night Monopoly Games

Snow was falling on Monday at the end of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The talk of the evening was expected to be about the Iowa caucuses, the Emmys, and football. At around six pm local news went sideways with the following announcement:

The Baltimore Sun purchased by Sinclair’s David D. Smith, Lorraine Mirabella, Baltimore Sun

Smith is the Executive Chair of Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which includes Baltimore’s Fox 45 channel.

A spokesman for Sinclair said Monday that Smith made the acquisition with his personal assets and that “Sinclair Inc. has no involvement with the transaction. Mr. Smith will continue to be our executive chairman and chairman of the board.”

There was a time when ownership of a major newspaper and a television station in one market would have been blocked by the FCC, under a law passed in 1975.* (See explanation below.) Since 1996, however, the FCC’s commitment to preserving a significant variety of voices in local media has wavered, if not crumbled. Sinclair is the second-largest television station operator in the United States. Now Smith, the Chair of Sinclair, owns the largest print newspaper in the Baltimore area. The purchase includes the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Carroll County Times, Towson Times, and others, expanding his reach throughout the state. 

Sinclair made waves in the news world in 2018 when they required that local anchors read a prepared text that warned of “fake news” from its competitors. 

Sinclair Broadcast Group Forces Nearly 200 Station Anchors To Read Same Script, David Folkenflik, NPR

More recently, this involvement in Baltimore City politics caused concern:

Ads in Baltimore states attorney race were funded by family of Sinclair broadcast group chairman” Sam Janesch, Baltimore Sun

You can learn more about Smith in this article from the Baltimore Banner:

The Baltimore Sun Media Group sold to local businessman David Smith, Liz Bowie, Emily Sullivan, Cody Boteler 

My biggest concern about Smith’s ownership of the Sun is the continued consolidation of local news by one media conglomerate. It’s more than any disagreement with Smith’s politics. For journalism to truly serve a free and democratic nation it must be able to represent a variety of voices. Some days it will comfort the afflicted. Other days it will afflict the comfortable. On all days it will present facts that its readers need to navigate community life.

Allowing one person who represents one point of view to control such a large chunk of Baltimore news media - - especially given that person’s record - - is foolhardy and dangerous. The more that independent voices are extinguished, the weaker our democracy.

There are wonderful people working for the Sun and its associated papers and my heart goes out to them. They had no choice in this matter. These local journalists deserve to be able to do the kind of reporting that has continued the make the Sun noteworthy year after year. Right now their future is unknown.

Today I’m going to cancel my subscription to the Sun. It was on my list anyway, as they had raised the subscription rate twice in the last six weeks. I already subscribe to the Baltimore Banner, which looks to be committing more resources to covering Howard County. I’m going to take the money I will be saving and start sending it to Baltimore Beat.  

Baltimore Beat is a Black-led, Black-controlled nonprofit newspaper and media outlet. Our mission is to honor the tradition of the Black press and the spirit of alt-weekly journalism with reporting that focuses on community, questions power structures, and prioritizes thoughtful engagement with our readers.

We aim to serve all of Baltimore City, including those with limited internet access and those who are a part of underrepresented communities.

Our organization aspires toward a more equitable, accountable, and rigorous future for journalism that fully represents the stories of all our neighbors. - - Baltimore Beat

Under the leadership of Editor in Chief Lisa Snowden, the Beat is already doing things no other Baltimore news organization is doing: amplifying independent voices and reaching Baltimoreans who have been traditionally ignored by local media outlets. That mission is even more crucial now with the Sun’s new ownership.

Go read the most recent issue of the Beat. It’s free. Then think about a Baltimore where those voices are drowned out or forgotten. 

Believing in a healthy democracy means supporting a free and independent press. If one player owns most of the marbles, how free can it be?

Village Green/Town² Comments 

*In 1975, the FCC passed the newspaper and broadcast cross-ownership rule.This ban prohibited the ownership of a daily newspaper and any "full-power broadcast station that serviced the same community". This rule emphasized the need to ensure that a broad number of voices were given the opportunity to communicate via different outlets in each market. Newspapers, explicitly prohibited from federal regulation because of the guarantee of freedom of the press in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, were out of the FCC's jurisdiction, but the FCC could use the ownership of a newspaper as a preclusion against owning radio or television licenses, which the FCC could and did regulate.

The FCC designed rules to make sure that there is a diversity of voices and opinions on the airwaves. "Beginning in 1975, FCC rules banned cross-ownership by a single entity of a daily newspaper and television or radio broadcast station operating in the same local market." The ruling was put in place to limit media concentration in TV and radio markets, because they use public airwaves, which is a valuable, and now limited, resource. - - “Media cross-ownership in the United States”, Wikipedia

Monday, January 15, 2024

Two Things


I overslept, I woke up during REM sleep, and I was stunned by the view outside my window. I’m still not entirely convinced that I’m awake. 

Two things for your day:

1. The MLK Holiday Commission is holding a non-perishable food drive today at a variety of locations. You can read the details below. 

2. The Anti-Racist Education Alliance has created a survey focused on the impact of the Israel-Gaza War on school students and staff. Here is their press release:

Here is the link to the survey itself: AREA School Staff and Student Support Survey  It’s not long. Even though I don’t fall in either category I was interested to read the survey and learn what it was all about. I’ve been following the world of AREA since its inception and I have a lot of respect for them.

The words I shared yesterday from Dr. King’s daughter come to mind once more:

When you evoke my father this #MLKDay, remember that he was resolute about eradicating racism, poverty, and militarism. And about corrective justice work.

Don’t just quote him.

Encourage and enact policies that reflect his teachings. - - Bernice King 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

MLK Day 2024


Today is the annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Howard Community College admission is free but you need to sign up through Eventbrite.  Tomorrow is the MLK Day of Service which will be held at the Harriet Tubman Center. You can learn more here. 

HopeWorks of Howard County is holding a Teen Listening Session from 12-1 on Monday, also at the Harriet Tubman Center.

In addition, they will be collecting what they are calling a Special Item Pantry Drive on Monday from 9-12 at the Non Profit Collaborative location on Patuxent Woods Drive. 

Many of our clients are in crisis, suddenly away from home and without bare essentials. You can help.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day of Service, HopeWorks will be holding a Special Item Pantry Drive on Monday, January 15, 2024, from 9am-12pm. Donate an Essentials Tote or a Fresh Start Basket that we can provide to our clients and help them start down the road to healing.

Interested in group donations? Email us at for details.

GlenMar United Methodist Church is hosting MLK Day of Service activities as well, in collaboration with Ames Memorial UMC and St. John Baptist Church.

You can learn more and sign up for a morning session or an afternoon session through their event page on Facebook.  

Whatever you choose to do, these words from Dr. King’s daughter Bernice King are good for all of us to remember:

Dear politicians/political influencers:

When you evoke my father this #MLKDay, remember that he was resolute about eradicating racism, poverty, and militarism. And about corrective justice work.

Don’t just quote him.

Encourage and enact policies that reflect his teachings.

If you know of more local events for MLKDAY2024, please let me know in the comments section. 

Village Green/Town² Comments