The next Howard County Blog Party is in two days! Between the Facebook event page and the Eventbrite page, we have a lot of RSVPs. But we can always use more! It's a free event, 5:30-8:00 at the Second Chance Saloon in Oakland Mills. Meet all the local bloggers and talk with them, as well as local elected officials, candidates and activists about the issues of the day! And if civic stuff isn't your cup of tea, then talk about schools, food, attractions, or the arts in Howard County. If it's an interest of yours, Howard County has a blogger for it who you can meet at the party. Who knows, you may want to start writing a blog yourself!
So one of my favorite all time novels is "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury. For me the book is a parable about how human beings, often because they can't help themselves, destroy the things, people and institutions closest to them. In the book, literally, two entire planets' societies are destroyed.
But there remains hope. Always hope. In the final chapter of the book, a family is visiting some of the ruins of the Martian landscape, and the son of the family keeps asking to see the Martians. He moved to Mars, he was promised he'd see Martians, and where are the Martians? And eventually they do find Martians.
And that brings me to HoCoRising's post today which is here. Tom puts his finger squarely on the problems that all of us who work really hard to make Columbia current with a look toward recapturing its cutting-edge character face. One, there is no one best person (or entity) with whom the buck stops for Columbia. Is it the CA Board? Is it the CA President? Is it Howard Hughes? Is it Howard County Government? And that's not even speaking to very important support organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, HCEDA, Board of Education, etc. Therefore the solutions to many civic problems negotiate a byzantine path of people and organizations which can take many years before coming to light. And unfortunately the world doesn't work that way anymore.
The second problem are active Columbians ourselves. Some of us are very provincial and very NIMBY. Some of us are our own worst enemy and the reason we can't have good things.
I hold as exhibit to this my own experiences regarding the Verona apartment sale. At the October 22 meeting of the Oakland Mills Village Board, for a full 20 minutes we were subjected to community comments centered around what did we know, when did we know it, why did the board go into cahoots with the county on the purchase, why no public process, etc. One resident, a former local and state elected official who I know knows better, went so far as to call us "undemocratic" and suggested the community's First Amendment rights were trampled.
All of the above were patently untrue. And these things were explained and everyone was on the same page again. But the suspicion existed and that in itself is a huge problem.
Last night I spoke with a friend and current OM activist with whom I formerly served on the board. We had a great conversation about the Verona and I think I pointed out some very important facets of this proposed purchase that have not yet been fully considered or put out there. That's how community discourse should happen. From a shared sense of purpose and realization that there's a common problem, and putting our heads together, we can come up with better solutions than we can as individuals.
But too often here, that first thing happens. And, gosh darn it, some of these longtime Columbians just can't help themselves. It's in their nature to question and accuse and grandstand. Rather than say, "what happened and how can we solve the problem?" And I know this goes on everywhere, but in a community which was founded on tolerance and respect of others, it's sad. And this is why people stop being active in the community and stop caring and why they just go on with the important work of tending to their families and their careers. Who needs the nonsense? It's the tendency of people to believe the evil. We need to be better than believe the evil.
So back to "Martian Chronicles". The family did find their Martians. They pulled up to the side of a stream, and dad asked mom and the kiddies to step of to the side of the stream and look down into the water. And they saw the Martians looking up at them. Mom and dad and sister and brother. They were the Martians.
And that's where we are here in the New City. We are responsible for our own destiny. No one is coming in to lead us. So we have to be responsible for ourselves. What's our choice going to be? To believe the evil, or to find shared purpose and work from there? Because together we can be so much better than our individual efforts. Because we are the Columbians.
Happy National Chicken Lady Day! Let's be careful out there.