Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Free People Read Freely

 Looks cute.

It’s deadly serious. Take a look. 

How LGBTQ Voices are Being Erased in Classrooms, Leslie Rafei, ACLU

How LGBTQIA+ Book Bans Impact Kids and Teens, JoAnn Yao, WNDB

The Impact of Book Bans on LGBTQ Students, Sarah Zhang, Institute for Youth in Policy

When you vote in our upcoming local elections you can do something tangible to ensure that school environments are truly conducive to learning: safe, accepting, and fully prepared to meet student needs.

The responsibility of schools to support all students clearly includes LGBTQ+ students. In fulfilling that responsibility, school must have the freedom to choose materials that are appropriate to meet a variety of student needs. There’s nothing radical about this. 

People who support intellectual freedom in schools, especially in school libraries, are not “radicals.” 

I don’t know if I can make this any plainer: if you live in Howard County the ability of your local schools to fulfill their educational mission is under attack.

Targeting books for removal from school libraries (yes, that is book banning) comes most often at the expense of LGBTQ students. We are encouraged to believe that suppressing such educational materials is an affirmation of overall community values.

It’s not.

While public support for key LGBTQ rights has been steadily increasing - 79% of Americans support laws protecting LGBTQ individuals from discrimination and nearly 70% support same-sex marriage, as found in a 2022 survey - the corresponding growth in anti-LGBTQ bills reflects not general public opinion, but raised levels of lobbying from groups such as MFL, as introduced earlier.  - - Sarah Zhang, The Impact of Book Bans on LGBTQ Students

It is suggested that the mere presence of certain books in school libraries - - the simple availability of them - -  constitutes active harm to students. Of course there is no evidence whatsoever that this is the case. In addition, these conversations rarely address the harm done when suppressing materials relevant to LGTBQ students.

Toni Moore, a high school librarian in Kentucky, said that if teens are struggling with their identity and place in the world, seeing a book about someone like them challenged or outright banned can be very harmful.

“It takes these kids and amplifies every bad feeling they’ve had about their self-worth and how they fit into society,” Moore said. “I think it has a very negative effect on them.”

Amie Jones is the UK-based founder of Kind Kids Book Club, and she said that book bans are also an insult to teens’ intelligence, as it assumes that they can’t make informed, conscientious decisions on their own about what books they want to read. Jones said that the book bans restrict empathy when it comes to how teens think about others, and attack their own views of themselves. - - JoAn Yao, How LGBTQIA+ Book Bans Impact Kids and Teens

Evidence from around the country shows us that the people who get excited about removing books from school libraries are rarely content to stop at that. They’re also taking away access to bathrooms, to sports participation, and the expression of student voice. This is a mindset which easily moves from targeting books with LGBTQIA characters to ones telling the truth about American History, the Civil Rights movement (and even the Holocaust) like an uncontrollable Roomba of school censorship.

Their words and actions stand in opposition to intellectual freedom and democratic principles. Imagine what must motivate people to paint libraries and librarians as figures of malevolence and abuse. 

This is a hunger to control* that cannot be appeased.

Yesterday Board of Education incumbent Jen Mallo posted a statement on this topic on social media. Here’s the essence of it. I’d recommend you read the whole thing if you have time. 

There are a number of qualifications for serving on the school board. This is certainly not the only thing that community members are considering right now. But it should be the most basic and essential qualification. If you cannot trust a candidate on this, then they will in no way be trustworthy on anything else.

Choose carefully. 

Village Green/Town² Comments

*I found the following sentence to be worthy of consideration. Yao’s piece is based on a book ban policy passed in the Central Bucks School District (CBSD), located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Does this sound familiar to you?

It may be important to note that these conservative groups gained prominence during the pandemic in fighting against COVID-19 restrictions; as general interest in the pandemic waned, these organizations shifted focus towards supporting policies such as the pride flag ban and now the book ban.

Monday, April 29, 2024

The Future Can Come at You Fast


Trying something new this morning: 

  • this week 
  • soon 
  • down the road apiece

This week: the Howard County Office of Aging and Independence is hosting a showcase event at the new East Columbia 50+ Center this Thursday, May 2nd, from 2-6 pm.

Join the Howard County Office on Aging and Independence on May 2 at the East Columbia 50+ Center from 2 to 6 p.m. Learn about healthy aging programs and services, connect with neighbors, enjoy fitness demos, crafts, speakers, giveaways and more.

This might be a great introduction to the new space for those of us who couldn’t find parking on the day of their grand opening. In fact, they’ve arranged a shuttle service for this Thursday. Smart thinking. You can learn more about the event (including details about how the shuttle will work) at the following link.

OAI: Creating Community, Cultivating Connections 

One question I’d love to ask is how the 50+ Centers see themselves serving 50+ residents who are still working. It’s entirely possible to be over fifty and have at M-F, 9-5 job. What kinds of programs are in place for them? This is not intended to be a criticism. I honestly don’t know. I do think it’s fair to ask how residents who will be at work this Thursday afternoon would be able to access a similar experience.

I’ll keep you posted.

Soon: Mother’s Day. Well, yes and no. This is not about any specific event, but rather a response to a post I saw from local business Clark’s Ace Hardware in Ellicott City.

Why not surprise mom with something practical this Mother's Day? A colorful Yeti or Stanley tumbler, cooler, or bag could be the perfect gift for the adventurous, outdoorsy mom or the one who simply loves to enjoy her favorite beverages in style!

It occurred to me that you could create an entire party game based on the beginning of that sentence.

Why not surprise mom with…?

I used a random noun generator and so far it has recommended an orange, gold, an assistant, stone, and a university. Results may vary. 

I was not expecting “practical” but maybe that’s the surprise part.

Hot tip: why not surprise Mom by asking her what she’d like for Mother’s Day and then doing it? For many mothers, that might be a welcome surprise.

Down the road apiece: Save the date for the Community Ecology Institute’s Harvest Gala.

If the name Community Ecology Institute doesn’t ring a bell, think: Freetown Farm, the Green Farmacy Garden, Community of Families in Nature, Roots & Wings, Green Seeds Internships, Nourishing Gardens, Make & Repair, and Agroecology in Action. The most visual mental image many of us have for CEI is Freetown Farm, but the range and depth of their year-round programming is astounding. 

This is absolutely a major fundraising event and as such it may not be doable for everyone. That’s okay. There are many small ways to be involved and to support the mission of CEI all throughout the year. But, if you’re the kind of person who can swing a big ticket* event once in a while, put this on your calendar now

Better yet, buy your ticket now. I love that they offer the option of buying a ticket “in spirit” to support the event even if you are not able to attend. (Or maybe you just don’t enjoy large events.)

Whatever you do, don’t circle October 17th and then pencil in something cryptic like, “maybe?”

Ask me how I know. 

Send me your top three if you have any: this week, soon, down the road apiece. Perhaps the calendar challenged among us (like me) will be inspired. 

Village Green/Town² Comments 

*Don’t laugh. For some of us, one hundred dollars still constitutes a big purchase.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Words and Music

To play, or not to play. That is the question.

I showed up at Jazz in the Woods at around 12:30 yesterday, and planted my green (Chrysalis rental) chair up towards the front.

Image from Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods social media 

I was in time to hear the end of the Mount Hebron Jazz Band’s set. Wilde Lake would be up next. The weather was cool and overcast.

In a literal sense, the high school musicians had come to play. Music, that is. It’s interesting that the expression “they came to play” means something more akin to competitive athletes taking the field.

“come to play”

American English, informal:

to be disposed to play or participate in a manner reflecting a determination to win or succeed

But this wasn’t a competition. It was more of a musical love-fest to high school jazz bands. The MHHS musicians finished their set and the Wilde Lake group began to set up. It began to rain. Not heavily, but steadily.

That was when I noticed that many of the adults around me had pulled out ponchos, rain slickers, rain hats. Some even had little roofs built onto their lawn chairs. 

Ahhh…band parents. If you are one of this group of hardy music supporters then you have learned to come prepared for the weather. Even if your kid specializes in jazz, they probably have played a good number of football games in the pep band. Weather is unpredictable. Band parents organize everything, turn out for everything, endure everything. I was never a band parent but my respect for them runs deep.

When I described these folks to my husband later, I said, “they don’t play.” He looked puzzled. “What do you mean, “‘They don’t play’?”


“they don’t play”  

I couldn’t find an internet-approved definition but I’m guessing this has its roots in AAVE, meaning:

taking things seriously, not inclined to fool around

Of course they don’t play, my husband may be thinking. They’re the band parents, not the band! 

Oh, how I love language and all its nuances, not to mention vocal inflection/tone of voice and how it impacts the meaning of the words that are spoken. I hope these examples clear things up:

The high school jazz bands came to play in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods yesterday. 

The high school jazz bands came to play in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods yesterday. 

The band parents show support for student musicians but they don’t play. 

Those band parents - - wowza! - - they don’t play.

What really matters is that these high school students made music, enjoyed themselves, and shared their gifts with the community. Yes, they played. And sang, too. Here’s a brief clip courtesy of IAT:

Wilde Lake High School Jazz Band and Vocalist, “Misty”

One of the things I look forward to every year at the Chrysalis is seeing children dancing on the lawn. This year I caught a new sight that made sitting in the Spring rain worthwhile: two teens dancing under a shared umbrella. 

I didn’t photograph them, obviously, but - - just for a moment- - close your eyes and imagine how lovely that must be.

There’s another concert today in The Park, and the weather is looking good. Schedule your own personal play date on the lawn. 

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Saturday Sampler


Are you ready for some weekend fun? Here goes:

The OMCA annual plant sale in Oakland Mills is this morning from 9 am to 11 am at The Other Barn.

HC Drug Free’s Medication & Sharps Disposal is from 10 am to 2 pm at the Wilde Lake Village Center.

Jazz in the Woods at the Chrysalis, 11 am -  6 pm at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods. 

Little Portion Farm is holding a plant sale from 9 am - 2 pm,  12290 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City

Wilde Lake CARES will be doing cleanup at the Snowy Owl Adopt-a-Spot location from 9 - 11 am.

 Coffee Run & Fun  from 2 - 4 pm at The First Presbyterian Church of Howard County.

This one merits some explanation:  

For the 15th year in a row, we will be holding a fundraiser for the Coffee Microgrants Project, inviting everyone to participate in an afternoon of games, fun, and fellowship - including a chance to try your hand at pickle ball right inside the church!  The event will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County on April 27, 2024, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Everyone is welcome to participate in games, food, and fellowship.

All proceeds from this event go to fund coffee plants, fertilizer, and other essentials that enable members of the Union Boca Costa Maya Quiche Presbytery in Guatemala to cultivate coffee on small plots of land that they own - building assets and creating life-changing economic opportunities in a remote part of Guatemala.

The NAACP of Howard County’s annual Freedom Fund luncheon will be from 1 - 3 pm at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve. 

Clark’s Ace Hardware will be sharing its excitement about the upcoming grilling season at their Columbia location from 11 am - 2 pm.

Book signing event at Second Edition Books on Dobbin Road from 3 - 5 pm with Dana Klosner, author of Beatlemania Lives On: Superfans of the 21st Century.

Of course these are not all the HoCoLocal events happening today, but more of a sampling. If you have one you’d like me to share, let me know. 

And here’s one now, courtesy of Phillip Dodge, Downtown Columbia Partnership:

Rock for a Reason, Color Burst Park, 5:30 - 8:30 pm. 

Village Green/Town² Comments

Friday, April 26, 2024

F ³: Jim Rouse Speaks


Who has the correct ideology to invoke the name of Rouse?

Honestly, I would like to be done with this practice now and forever. I have decided to create a new term for this: “Rouse-signalling”.

My objection is to anyone trotting out Jim Rouse’s name when it serves them - - especially when they want to win something - - as though it’s a celebrity endorsement. 

I do wonder every so often what Rouse would think of various goings-on today. Of course, if it were possible, it would be fascinating to get his take on the here and now.  - - from “The R Word”, Village Green/Town², 8/16/2022

Yesterday these words came back to me as Jim Rouse himself turned up in my inbox and spoke to me. And now he’s going to speak to you.

Jim Rouse Speaks

If you’re an expert in all things Rouse, and you are thinking, “I’ve never heard that audio clip before,” you’re right. It came to me through the technical expertise of long-time Columbian Dave Bittner. Mr. Bittner had noted my frustration earlier in the day with someone who was disparaging a new rental housing community in Wilde Lake by intoning the old local curse.

Rouse is turning over in his grave.

Bittner’s note to me began like this:

Like many who consider Columbia our “home town,” I grow weary of people breathlessly invoking the ghost of Jim Rouse any time anything the least bit controversial is proposed for our community. 

“What would Jim Rouse do?!?”

“Jim Rouse is turning in his grave…”

So, for fun, I asked Chat GPT to imagine, based on its knowledge of Jim, how he might react to current events. 


Are you familiar with James Rouse, developer of Columbia, Maryland?

This was fascinating. Also a little creepy. In all the time I’ve lamented locals dragging poor Mr. Rouse from the grave I’ve never once contemplated the possibility of Artificial Intelligence. And now here it was knocking at my door.

Let me outline the process Bittner used. First, he established that Chat GPT knew enough about Rouse to imagine how he might react to current events. Next, he asked it to turn that knowledge into an editorial describing his point of view on the development of Columbia since his death. Then…insert drumroll here…

Now rewrite it as if James Rouse were presenting his thoughts to an audience of Columbia, Maryland residents.

And it did. It’s uncanny. Here is the opening paragraph of “ChatGPT: James Rouse's Reflections on Columbia, Maryland: A Visionary's Address.” 

My dear friends and residents of Columbia,

As I stand before you today, in spirit and legacy, I am overwhelmed with a profound sense of pride and a slight touch of concern. When we embarked on this grand adventure to create not just a city but a community, our aspirations were as lofty as the ideals we cherished—social equity, environmental stewardship, and a genuine integration of life's facets. Columbia was to be a testament to what could be achieved when we dared to imagine a different kind of urban living, one that nurtured the human spirit and embraced diversity in its warmest embrace.

It’s six paragraphs of an AI-generated Rouse giving a gentle yet astute piece of his mind and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. Here’s the last paragraph.

The journey of Columbia is an ongoing tale of ambition, community, and hope. It is a story that each of you is writing every day through your actions, your beliefs, and your visions for the future. I stand with you, in spirit, cheering you on, as you carry forward the legacy of our shared dream. Together, we have built more than a city; we have cultivated a garden for the human spirit to thrive. Let us continue to nurture this garden, for ourselves and for the generations to come.

With all my heart and hope,

James Rouse

And now for the sprinkling of magic. Bittner explains: 

So, to continue this little technological magic trick, I ran one of Jim’s speeches through a voice cloning system, and fed that the last paragraph of the speech I had ChatGPT generate. The results are not perfect, but it’s spookily good with no tweaking or adjustments. There are systems out there that are capable of much more accurate renditions than this one. This one was free.

That’s what we heard above. Remember?

Today is Rouse’s birthday. (Facebook reminded me.) This image was posted by Barbara Kellner, then the Columbia Archives Director, on the centenerary of Rouse’s birth in 2014.

Who speaks for Jim Rouse today? It’s hard to say. As AI-generated words, images, and sounds wash into our world faster than we can process their value or veracity, will bad actors ever attempt to harness Rouse’s sometimes ‘saintly’ public image for influence or profit? Perhaps I’m a bit cynical after (checks notes) a mere 25 years in the New American City. Haven’t people been doing that all along without benefit of AI?

One thing I noticed both in Mr. Bittner’s notes and in his careful process was a complete lack of cynicism. He shared what he had learned without any dictates of how it should be received or interpreted.

I find it insightful and amusing, but above all a gentle reminder of the kind spirit of Jim. As a kid growing up in Columbia I was lucky enough to have met him several times, and he always left a positive impression. 

My guess is that some will find this exercise creepy, weird, or even downright distasteful. And that’s fine. Those folks aren’t wrong. 

Many thanks to Mr. Bittner for reaching out and for allowing me to share his work. 

Who speaks for Jim Rouse today?

Village Green/Town² Comments


Forgive me, I didn’t have a brief bio of Mr. Bittner at the ready, so I have lifted this directly from LinkedIn.  - - jam

Dave Bittner is Producer and host of The CyberWire Podcast, the top-ranking daily cybersecurity podcast in the world according to iTunes. 

Over twenty years experience in digital media, video and television production and interactive technology. Developed award winning interactive training programs for a variety of industries, and produced countless corporate, industrial and broadcast programs as co-owner of Pixel Workshop. 

A skilled public speaker, voice-over artist, emcee, actor and singer. 

Specialties: video production, editing, camera, director of photography, voice over, creative services, public speaking, writing, Steadicam®, podcasting, social media, marketing, motion graphics, music, theater.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Free Free Free!!!


I’m not waiting until Saturday on this one! It’s the first big concert weekend of the season at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods and I don’t want you to miss it. 

The Big Green Lady is getting ready for her closeup.

Image of the Chrysalis amphitheater from IAT social media 

Saturday it’s Jazz in the Woods from 11:00 am to 6:30 pm at the Chrysalis, featuring students Jazz Bands from HCPSS and The Navy Commodores.

Event Poster, Jazz in the Woods

HCPSS student musicians take center stage to showcase their passion and creativity at the 5th annual Jazz in the Woods, followed by the iconic Navy Commodores!

Student Performances are from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm. Groups participating include Guilford Park, Centennial, Marriotts Ridge, Wilde Lake, Glenelg, and River Hill High Schools, along with the High School GT Jazz Band. 

The Navy Commodores will perform from 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm.

The Navy Commodores, image from Jazz in the Woods event page

U.S. Navy Band Commodores, Navy's premier jazz ensemble, have been performing the very best of big band jazz for the Navy and the nation for 50 years. Formed in 1969, this 18-member group continues the jazz big band legacy with some of the finest musicians in the world. The Commodores' mission includes public concerts, national concert tours, ceremonial support in honoring our veterans, jazz education classes and clinics, and protocol performances for high-level military and civilian government officials.

Image from United States Navy Band Facebook page

This event is not just a celebration of music but also a testament to the creativity, dedication, and passion of our talented student musicians. It's an opportunity to support and encourage the next generation of jazz artists as they pursue their dreams.

Admission to Jazz in the Woods is FREE and open to all! Reserve your free tickets here:

Jazz in the Woods 

Sunday brings the return of the Maryland Winds with Stage and Screen: a John Williams Showcase, beginning at 5 pm.

Event poster, Maryland Winds

Join us for a FREE celebration of the music of John Williams, as performed by the phenomenal Maryland Winds. Maryland Winds is a professional concert band based in Howard County that exists to bring world-class wind band music to the residents of Maryland.

Image from Maryland Winds Facebook page

The iconic scores of your favorite movies come to life on the Chrysalis stage at beautiful Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods for this FREE, family-friendly event!

Register now for your free tickets and join us on April 28! Reserve tickets here:

If you notice all the excitement here around the word “free”, well, this is why:

We often get asked “why free?” Free performances are the most fundamental way in which we can meaningfully bring arts and culture to the entire community we serve. Our mission is “to promote and nurture a park in a unique natural setting for a variety of arts and culture experiences that enrich the entire community.” 

To embrace the entire community we need to make sure there are high quality, inviting performances for no charge. Both to make sure that we embrace everyone across the economic spectrum, but also so we can reduce the barrier to experiencing art, especially something new. 

Free is far more than an obligation created in our founding documents - free is a conscious choice we make to fulfill our mission. - - Inner Arbor Trust

Meet a friend in the Park this summer. Better yet - - start this weekend.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Publicity: The Double Edged Sword

The publicity you want: 

CA Recognized as National and Regional Leader in Sustainability During Earth Month*

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) honored CA with a Goal Achiever award for hitting its 30% energy savings goal as a partner in the Better Buildings Challenge. This significant reduction was achieved due to innovative energy efficiency efforts across CA’s 500,000-square-foot building portfolio.  

In addition, CA earned a Green Community Leadership Award from Howard County’s Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Environmental Services. This award was presented at GreenFest, an annual Earth Month event that was held at Howard Community College on April 13. 


The publicity you get:

Columbia Association has lost its mind!!! - - NextDoor

Supreme Sports Club Getting Rid of Women’s Gym - - Reddit/ColumbiaMD 

I sometimes wonder if our local NextDoor consists of the people who dominated the comments section HoCo Times/Columbia Flier until both papers turned off comments. At any rate, if one imagined these two forums as newspapers, Reddit is the one where you’re more likely to find nuance. Nextdoor is a tabloid.

In neither place are you likely to see the kind of publicity CA would love to see - - its leadership in sustainability, for instance. That’s a larger, overarching commitment that’s probably invisible to the general public. That does not mean it’s unimportant. But it’s hardly going to stir up enthusiasm in an online forum unless people perceive personal impact. 

You know what does get people excited? Do you want to see people spread information like wildfire? Try eliminating gym towels. 

Now, the case of eliminating a space at Supreme Sports Club that has been dedicated for the use of women  is, to me, a much bigger deal than gym towels. And I’m sure that the folks at CA knew they’d be facing some push-back. Someone on staff wrote a tactfully-worded statement here that hits all the right notes, perhaps in hopes of diffusing some of the immediate disappointment from Women’s Gym users.

I don’t know how well that’s working. I do know that I have some questions about the process that was used to make this decision, so I’m going to follow the helpful QR code and see what I can find out. I’ll keep you posted.

Village Green/Town² Comments

*Information from Columbia Association press release 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024


The Tweet:

the reason Koreans don't need 3rd spaces is because there is already a coffee shop optimized around beauty & slowness on every other block. this is prevalent across all of Asia. 

i'm concluding that it's the culture that creates this, not the other way around. it we want more of this in America, it starts at culture. and culture starts with grassroots efforts. it starts with us.

The Quote Tweet:

The reason the US lacks this isn’t “culture” (everyone likes nice coffee shops)…it’s just zoning.

I responded to the QT: 

But where does the impetus for certain types of zoning come from?

No response.

Mr. QT probably didn’t see my question.

There’s something else he didn’t see. Look at the original Tweet.

the reason Koreans don't need 3rd spaces is because there is already a coffee shop optimized around beauty & slowness on every other block. this is prevalent across all of Asia. (Italics mine)

I must admit I missed that the first time around, as well. The response “everyone likes nice like coffee shops” completely misses the essence of the original Tweet. The US may have plenty of coffee shops - - although zoning probably does limit where they are located - -  but what about coffee shops optimized around beauty and slowness? 

As Americans, do we even know what that means?

I think a lot of our coffee shops are focused on productivity. Get caffeine to fuel “getting the work done.” Bring your laptop and get the work done. Have a meeting and get the work done. Reward yourself for getting the work done. Choose your coffee shop based on its proximity to the place where you get the work done.

A coffee shop that optimizes beauty and slowness. 

Have you ever been to one? Do you see those kinds of places as natural expressions of the typical American ethos?

I was pondering this question as I sat at a stoplight on Dobbin Road yesterday. Something caught my eye. A sign. It said, “Pause.” 

Well, not exactly.

I took a deep breath. Exhaled.

I thought of how I’d soon be rewarding myself for running an errand I didn’t feel like doing by grabbing an iced coffee on the way to ticking off other chores on my list. 

  • grabbing 
  • ticking off
  • chores
  • list

What is this place that optimizes beauty and slowness? Is it merely zoning that prevents it?

Village Green/Town² Comments

Monday, April 22, 2024

Earth Day in HoCo: Green and Growing

Seven years ago I was honored to play a small part in a Very Big Thing. Happy Earth Day/Birthday to the Chrysalis in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods! 

I’m also thinking this morning of the late Michael McCall, who wasn’t afraid to dream big and who shepherded this project to its completion. 

The imagination and joy that Michael McCall shared with us will always be present in the park. For me it will be a reminder of how important it is to share your gifts. Share them, believe in them; your community needs you more than you know.  Imagination and Joy, Village Green/Town², 8/3/21

On this Earth Day, seven years later, I want to pause to celebrate the hocolocal individuals and groups who believe in their gifts and are sharing them as they work to care for our planet. We are blessed to have so many:

Columbia Association 

Community Ecology Institute

Harper’s Choice CARES 

Howard County EcoWorks

Howard County Conservancy 

Inner Arbor Trust

Jon Merryman and Sharkey d’Shark

KC CARES (Kings Contrivance)

Live Green Howard County

OMI Green Team

Owen Brown CARES

Planet Aid

Robinson Nature Center


Wilde Lake CARES

Yards Alive!


In general, local Earth Day activities are centered around neighborhood cleanups, removal of invasive species/ planting native ones, and cultivating and celebrating a love of nature. Something I’m not sure that I’ve ever written about is the importance of truly studying both the aspirations and known records of candidates running for public office. All the neighborhood stream cleanups in the world cannot overcome uninformed elected officials and bad environmental policy.

Make sure you take a little time to compare what candidates say to what they have actually done. We can make the mission of Earth Day that much stronger by electing leaders who make it a priority every day, not just on April 22nd. 

If you know of an environmentally-focused group working in Howard County that I haven’t included in my list, let me know. 

Village Green/Town² Comments

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Laser Loons and Loose Ends


CA has a new president: Shawn MacInnes, who will begin in the position on June 17th. I’d love to know more information about the search purely because I’m a naturally curious* person. For instance: how many people applied, how did they winnow them down, how did the finalists differ from one another, and so on. Let’s face it: I want to know if Columbia is still able to draw qualified applicants when our track record with CEOs is…rocky.

CA/Village Elections were yesterday. Bill Santos was re-elected in Wilde Lake, Harper’s Choice did not achieve quorum, and I don’t know what happened in Owen Brown. So, fill me in.

I can tell you that this is not a good day for lil ol’ provincial “New American City” me to be searching “Columbia” on Twitter. If you don’t know why, try it yourself.


 MTA offering free rides by bus, light rail, MARC and subway for Earth Day, Tony Roberts, Baltimore Sun

Would you take a free ride? Do buses in Howard County go where you need/want to go? Do you know how to find that information?

A reminder that this Thursday is the League of Women Voters Annual Meeting at the Miller Branch Library in Ellicott City. Also, I need never have worried. These folks are never, ever going to run out of stock photos. 

Speaking of images, a reminder that HCLS is holding a contest to select images for new library cards. I saw this yesterday and now I’m jazzed up about possibilities for a laser library card. A question I never thought I’d see: what animals with lasers should go on your hometown library card?   

Laser Loon Library Card, Saint Paul Minnesota 

Hip Hop Fish and Chicken will soon be coming to the Oakland Mills Village Center so my husband thought it might be fun to pick up dinner from one of their nearby locations on Route 40. 

Clearly I’m not a professional food photographer. Also, we were too hungry to create a food styling moment. The food was fresh, tasty, plentiful, and reasonably priced. Best of all, the cole slaw was actually edible. 

Speaking of food, we tried out El Gran Sabor in the OM Village Center this week. It’s located in the old Vennari’s** space. It’s a small space where you can eat in or take out. We were happy with the food and the service. (I had chicken tostadas and my husband had beef fajitas.) It’s a great addition to the village center.

On the service counter at El Gran Sabor were promotional postcards for this free event at The Meeting House/Oakland Mills Interfaith Center. It looks like fun.

If you noticed that this post leans heavily OM, take that as a reminder that my invitation is open for Guest Posts from other locations in Howard County. Your part of town could be the focus of the next Traveling Tuesday. But you have to write about it first. 

What’s the buzz where you are? 

Village Green/Town² Comments 

*This kind of information is usually protected and it’s unlikely that my curiosity with be satisfied. I’m aware of this, please don’t lecture me! 

**Amazingly enough, Oakland Mills now has only one food establishment selling pizza. Imagine that.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Feast or Famine? Local Events Positively Pop on Saturdays in April

First order of business. If you live in Harper’s Choice, Owen Brown, Wilde Lake: vote! It’s true that I allowed myself some feelings of apathy/hopelessness about this year’s CA Election. Nevertheless, it does matters who gets elected. I received the following response to my recent blog post:        

Despite the fact that there is widespread apathy towards CA governance, despite pervasive feelings of futility in the community, despite the fact that volunteers for these positions often get personally attacked and have nasty things made up about them… Despite all those things that contribute to this feeling of cynicism, there are still a few people willing to volunteer a big chunk of their time on behalf of the community and deal with the hassle of contested elections. And if they weren’t willing to do that, then people with unethical track records or questionable values would be able to step into these community leadership positions unopposed.

Food for thought. 


Looking for Saturday plans? The weather looks hopeful.

WeatherBug App predictions for Saturday, April 20th, 2024

Yards Alive! Spring Plant Share is part of the Earth Day Celebration in Oakland Mills, 11 am - 2 pm

Patuxent Jazz Band performs at River Hill High School, 3 pm

Earth Day Celebration at Clarksville Commons, 1 - 4 pm

Earthapalooza, Freetown Farm 9 am - 1 pm

Earthday Festival 2024 Wilde Lake including Plant Exchange, 10 am to 1 pm (Includes Unity Reggae Band)

Earth Day Celebration and Service at the Howard County Conservancy, 9 am to noon 

Springfest 2024 Main Street Ellicott City, 12 - 8 pm Check out the dedicated website for more info.

Clarksville Elementary School is having a Spring Fling , 3 - 7 pm

Oakland Mills Middle School is having a Yardsale, 8 am to noon 

The Charm City Chess Club is meeting up at Whole Foods, 11 am - 2 m

There’s a Mommy & Me Meetup at the Miller Branch Library Enchanted Garden, 1 - 3 pm

The Dancel Y in Ellicott City is having a Heathy Kids Day, 10 am - 1 pm

Is this everything? Probably not, but it’s a good start. I don’t imagine you plan to hit all of these (unless you are running for public office.) Recommendations? Let me know.

Village Green/Town² Comments