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2 Hours to go

Late notice, but if you’re from around here, you probably already know that there’s a blog party at Union Jacks tonight from 5:30 to 7:30. Click here for more info. See ya’ll there.



The Next Step

Tonight’s a big night for Wilde Lake, as the drawings of the proposed residential properties in the WLVC will be presented to the Wilde Lake Village Board. The meeting is open to the public, so I encourage you all to attend. There will be a three week comment period following the meeting on the residential design. Hope to see you there!


Ignite Columbia


On Wednesday night, I moderated a panel discussion sponsored by CA that addressed the question of how to get younger and more diverse people interested in serving on the Village and CA Boards. The panel consisted of, Regina Clay (current Wilde Lake Village Board member) Candace Dodsen Reed (Director of Constituent and Community Affairs for Howard County Executive Ken Ulman), Sean Harbaugh (Assistant Director of the Columbia Association’s Open Space Management Division) Summer Romack (former Owen Brown Village Board 2003 through 2011) and Kecia Rome (Vice-Chair of the Owen Brown Village Board).

Fist, I asked them why they serve. I wanted to get a sense of what drove each of them to take that first step to volunteer their time. Each gave their reasons, but the prevailing sense was that we all love this community and want to see it thrive for many generations to come.

Then I wanted to know what they thought CA and the Villages can do to make governance participation and community leadership more attractive to younger and more diverse residents? That really stimulated the discussion and they came up with some great suggestions such as utilizing technology to make it easier for young families to know what’s going on around here, getting to know your neighbors better, and for CA to take their message directly to residents through a, “road show” type campaign.

We only scratched the surface in the 45 minutes we were allotted, but it was really cool to be a part of such a stimulating discussion. Thank you to CA for inviting me. This panel came up with some excellent suggestions that I hope we can implement sooner rather than later.



Tonight: A Vintage Affair

Blogger, CA Boardmember and all around nice guy, Tom Coale writes about a cool event taking place tonight. It’s called, “A Vintage Affair”, and it benefits Voices for Children, Howard County’s CASA Program serving abused and neglected children.

So if you’re not doing anything tonight, head on down to The Howard Hughes building at 7 PM to enjoy some fine wines, microbrews, and hors d’oeuvres and participate in a Silent Auction for a a great cause.

Tickets can be purchased at


This Wednesday

As I hit publish on the last post, I knew I had forgotten to mention something else that’s going on this week. This Wednesday, the Columbia Archives will host a discussion entitled Communication: Then & Now which will examine the challenges, opportunities and importance of context in getting out the news in today’s world of instant messaging and sound bites.

As a blogger who grew up and currently lives in Columbia, this topic fascinates me. I remember the early advertisements and marketing efforts for Columbia. I remember the exhibit center and loved seeing my name in The Flier when I would score a goal in SAC soccer or if I had a good game in CBA basketball. Yes, even in the early days of Columbia, communication was important and innovative.

These days, communication is instant. I get news from facebook and twitter more often than I do from television or print and I love the fact that I can engage the community through this blog. I believe the way we communicate defines us. That’s why, as a member of the Kings Contrivance Village Board, I spearheaded the Board’s effort to communicate with our residents through social media.

This one is not to be missed. It’s THIS WEDNESDAY October 12 at 7 p.m. at CA Headquarters. David Greisman, Columbia Flier/Howard County Times; Lisa Kawata, freelance feature writer; Lisa Rossi, Columbia Patch; and Duane St. Clair, HoCo Connect; will be on the panel.

The exhibit is open to the public and will be up October 10 through December 30. For more information, visit, e-mail or call 410-715-3103.

It Is Happening Here

On September 26, 1963, Jim Rouse gave a speech entitled, “It Can Happen Here” in which he outlined the goals he had for Columbia. Monday night at The Columbia Art Center, Barbara Kellner spoke about how his speeches moved people to act.

His ideas were, without a doubt, ahead of their time. Note the passage where he says, “that the ultimate test of civilization is whether or not it contributes to the growth— improvement of mankind. Does it uplift, inspire, stimulate, and develop the best in man? There really can be no other right purpose of community except to provide an environment and an opportunity to develop better people.”

That’s some heavy stuff for the early 60’s. So are we there? I’ll leave that up to you to discuss, but I think we’re a lot closer than most. Just look at all the good stuff happening all around us.

It hasn’t always been easy. Just like any community, Columbia has had her ups and downs. But I am very optimistic about where we are today. We continue to move forward armed with with the confidence Rouse had in us. In our ability to live the Columbia Dream of developing better people.

We’re still here and still going strong, 47 and a half years after he gave this timeless speech:

-Brian Dunn


“If you don’t create change, change will create you”


Yesterday, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman gave his annual State of the County speech.  He talked about managing well, partnering well, and investing well – the “principles that have guided this administration from Day One.”

The two things that stood out to us were his comments on downtown (of course!):

I am extremely proud of the community effort that we went through for downtown Columbia. The master plan we passed last year embodies the vision and values of the community, respects our history and establishes downtown Columbia as a dynamic, attractive place to live, work and play.

And his emphasis on the impact from the coming expansions at Fort Meade (BRAC and Cyber Command):

… after talking about base realignment for years and seeing jobs trickle in, we’re now poised to see the flood of jobs we’ve heard so much about. Already, 500 positions have been moved on base, and by September, that number will grow to 5,800– over 5,000 new jobs in 9 months. That’s staggering.

And by the end of 2012, we are expecting an additional 15,000 private sector jobs to have accompanied this expansion….

Wow.  There is no question: Columbia and Howard County will see some stunning changes in the next few years and decades.  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we can look at change as a problem or as an opportunity – but either way, it’s coming.

We choose to embrace change proactively, and we believe Columbia, with our tradition of “creative, forward thinking community planning,” is a great place to do that.


If you’re interested in more of what the county executive had to say, you can read the full text here or watch it on video on Comcast Ch. 99/Verizon Ch. 44:

January 25 – 7 p.m.
January 26 – 1:30 p.m.
January 27 – 11:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.
January 28 – 1:30 p.m.
January 29 – 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
January 30 – 1:30 p.m.

Cultural Diversity in Columbia: It’s A Good Thing!

Next up on the agenda for the Downtown Plan?  The drafting of a Cultural Master Plan for Downtown, as required in the legislation.  Hired for this purpose at the developer’s expense is Lord Cultural Resources, the largest cultural planning firm in the world, with an impressive resume that includes The World Trade Center Memorial Museum in New York, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

As part of the process, a Cultural Advisory Committee has been meeting extensively with the community to get their ideas on what that plan should look like.  Since September, there have been two large community-wide public meetings and four focus groups (one each for teens, young professionals, parents of young children, and older adults).  Following that, a survey went out via e-mail so that anyone who is interested can participate.

The survey is here, and the message that went out with it reads:

It is important that your voice be included to ensure that a wide range of ideas and perspectives are shared with the Advisory Committee.  Please share this link with your organization’s database as well as family, friends and others who might be interested in providing their input.

For me and Columbia 2.0, it is truly exciting to see the nuts and bolts of the plan coming together.  But, it seems not everybody views this as an opportunity for inclusion.

Recently, I witnessed an individual from the Columbia Association camp dismiss the Cultural Advisory Committee’s efforts to reach out to the community as disingenuous, after a community member had expressed excitement about receiving the survey to participate.

This attitude is really disheartening.  We should be encouraging community participation, not repressing it. Can’t we expect someone associated with CA to promote involvement and diversity in a public plan?

There’s something very wrong when the people who represent our community question the value of participating in it.

– Brian Dunn

Edward Norton on the Legacy of His Grandfather, James Rouse

Yesterday, Columbia’s own Edward Norton spoke at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design on “Social Entrepreneurship and the Built Environment – James Rouse and His Legacy.”  Norton has been involved with Rouse’s Enterprise Community Partners for over 20 years.  Jonathon Rose, an urban planner from Boston whose firm emphasizes affordable green solutions, also spoke.

The event description includes this great, succinct summary of Jim Rouse’s work in Columbia:

Few individuals have played such an important role in shaping urban America, as James Rouse. In the 1950’s, Rouse was a pioneering developer of indoor shopping malls. In the 1960’s, he created the planned community of Columbia, Maryland as a collection of socially progressive, self-contained villages. Today Columbia is home to more than 100,000 people. Frank Gehry did some of his early work in Columbia, having been commissioned by Rouse to design Columbia’s exhibit center and firehouse, as well as the Rouse Company headquarters.

From the Harvard Crimson this morning:

“He was very ahead of his time in social ethics,” Norton said of his grandfather.

Rose added that Rouse’s greatest strength was that “he had a holistic view of developing…he could see the whole.”

This “holistic view” was presented as the need to consider all aspects of the urban society, including education, infrastructure and the environment when developing a city.

“A city isn’t just a dense bunch of buildings,” Rose said. “[They] will not work unless people have a connection with nature.” …

Norton himself said he still feels the influence of Rouse.

“He remains a very active presence and inspiration,” Norton said.

Edward Norton and Jonathon Rose at Harvard forum

Excerpt from Event Description


HocoBlogs Party Next Tuesday

My friend Jessie Newburn and her friend Robin Abello created the website HocoBlogs a few years back, and it has has quickly become a major player in local news.

HocoBlogs “aggregates the blogs of people, organizations and businesses in Howard County” and if you’re a blogger in the HoCo, you really should be listed here. It is a great way to keep tabs of everything that’s going on, and it drives traffic to your blog. In fact, we’ve been listed on HocoBlogs since we started this blog, and it is consistantly one of our top referrers. Thanks Jessie and Robin!

Next Tuesday, they are having a party at Pure Wine Cafe in Ellicott City, with Matt Kircher from Vino Trip and everybody is invited! Click the link to RSVP. Good wine and lively conversation will be flowing. See you there!


HoCo Teams in the Regional Finals

Three Howard County Schools try to keep their season alive in the Regional Finals tonight.

In a Class 3A East matchup, River Hill takes on Wilde Lake at 7:00 p.m at River Hill HS. The teams played each other last month in a close game, with River Hill sealing it with a late pick. This should be one heck of a game.

And Hammond, fresh off their first playoff win in school history takes on McDonough in a 2A South clash, also tonight at 7:00 at McDonough.

Good luck to all!


Welcome to Columbia

We already blogged about the formation of The Howard Hughes Corporation, but we haven’t formally welcomed them. So, on behalf of Columbia 2.0 and all of our members, we would like to welcome our new partners to town. Just as we did with GGP, we expect to work with them and hold them accountable to the community as the downtown plan moves forward.

And speaking of GGP, we would like to thank them for all the amazing work they did for us over the past 5 years. They went through some hard times, but never wavered in their support for Columbia. Thank you and good luck as you continue your mission.

And in the “good first move” category, they’re keeping Greg Hamm at the helm. Here’s to a successful partnership with THHC, as we continue to build upon the vision of Columbia.