Tag Archive | Columbia 2.0

I Support CA’s Inner Arbor Plan. Do you?

If so, please sign this petition. The goal was to get at least 300 signatures by this Thursday, when the CA Board is scheduled to discuss and vote on the plan. I think there’s something like 226 right now. Please click the link, sign the petition and encourage your friends to do the same. This is too important to our future to delay.


p.s. Here’s what we can continue to expect of Symphony Woods if we don’t act:


A World Class Plan for Symphony Woods

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard about CA’s bold and innovative, “Inner Arbor” plan for Symphony Woods. If not, please read about it here.

First, let me say that I think Michael McCall has hit a home run with this plan, and I hope we can see his vision come to fruition as soon as possible. I’m glad CA realized that this was their chance to give Columbia something truly special, something that could be enjoyed by everyone in our community for generations to come.

The Inner Arbor plan masterfully incorporates art, music, theater, food and culture into the natural setting of the woods. It provides a place where people can gather to enjoy the myriad of events that will take place there. It will not only be a regional and national  attraction, but I predict it will be an international one as well.

I really have a hard time believing anyone could find fault in this plan, but we all know there is a small group of people amongst us who have vowed to do whatever it takes to sabotage real progress in Columbia. Some of them showed up last night and expressed anger at the process and their perceived notion that the plan was hatched in secrecy.

Former Boardmember Russ Swatek even went so far as to submit what has now become known as “The Swatek Memo”, which is a rambling 19 point document, “related to Symphony Woods development spanning the direction of CA, the process being employed, and the plan itself.”

If Russ and Company continue to rally against this plan, they will once again be showing their true no growth colors. Last night I testified in favor of the plan to the CA Board, and I encourage you to do the same. You can write to the entire CA Board here.  Let them know you support moving forward on the Inner Arbor plan!


Oh Yeah!


Whole Foods is coming to town. My commentary? John DeWolf is the man. On behalf of everybody here in Columbia, I say thank you John!


Bigotry Trumps Civility

Last Thursday night, I attended the Zoning Pre-Submission Hearing conducted by the Howard Hughes Corporation. After their presentation, they opened the floor to questions and comments. At one point, Joel Broida, one of the more vocal opponents of the redevelopment grabbed the mic and made a comment that literally left my mouth open wide.

Here’s his quote from The Columbia Patch article: “Renters don’t have pride in the community,” he said. “They aren’t the ones to pick up that piece of paper someone dropped.”

Instead of commenting on just how wrong I believe his statement to be, I will instead ask you to read this post by Bill Santos over at Columbia Compass. He sums it up more succinctly that I could ever hope to.

However, I would like to add one thing. It is obvious that Mr. Broida is so against change that he would violate core values of inclusion and diversity we hold dear here in Columbia, just for the sake of complaining. And that’s just sad.



Getting Closer to Shovels in the Ground

We fought long and hard for the changes that will be coming to Downtown, and now we’ll finally get to see the plans for the first project! Tonight at 6:30, Howard Hughes Corp. will present its plans for 817 residential units and more than 76,000 square feet of retail space. The meeting will be held in room 400 of The Rouse Co. Foundation Student Services Hall at Howard Community College. Hope to see you there!


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 ColumbiaArchives.org, e-mail Columbia.Archives@ColumbiaAssociation.com or call 410-715-3103.

Huge Week Ahead

There is so much going on this week, I don’t even know where to start. Tomorrow, there’s a Blogtale Party at Stanford Grill to celebrate two noteworthy milestones: First, Wordbones/Tales of Two Cities is celebrating his fifth year as a blogger; second, the hyper-local podcast show And Then There’s That … is marking its 50th episode. The show will be recorded during the party and, after the scheduled guests have been interviewed, show hosts Dennis Lane and Paul Skalny will move about, microphone in hand, interviewing people. It should be pretty cool, and if you haven’t attended one of these parties, I encourage you to check it out. I’ll definitely be there!

Then, on Tuesday and Wednesday, CA is hosting their Aquatics Master Plan meetings. Tuesday’s meeting is at Slayton House and Wednesday’s is at the Owen Brown Community Center. If you want a say in the future of one of Columbia’s best amenities, you should attend one of these meetings. Both meetings will start at 7:00pm and will have the same content. Registration is recommended, but not required. For more info on the master plan process, you can contact Scott Templin at 410-715-3166

And what better way to wind down a busy week with some great food, cold drinks and live music this Saturday night at the Second Chance Saloon? New York City’s hottest new band, Kassini is having their CD release party there. The cover is only $5 and with that, you will receive a FREE digital download of their debut full length album, “Immune”. Oh, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale drafts are only $2! I hope to see some of you there!

Here’s a teaser of what you can expect from Kassini:


Profiles in

In a recent post, I wrote about leadership and promised to introduce you to some people in our community who possess the qualities that make a good leader. First up is Anne Brinker, the Kings Contrivance Village Manager.

I’ve gotten to know Anne since I became a Village Board Member last year, and let me tell you, she is definitely a leader. First of all, she’s smart. Notre Dame smart. Ask her a question about any hot topic being discussed here in Columbia and Howard County, and she’ll instantly give you a rundown on all the issues. Not only that, but she also realizes that, no matter what side of the issue you’re on, it’s important to listen to the other side, work out your differences, and move forward for the good of the community.

Secondly, Anne listens. Good leadership calls for thoughtful action, which is not common. At a recent KC Board meeting, a resident spoke out (angrily) at the board’s lack of leadership on environmental issues. She voiced concern about leaves in storm drains and the lack of people planting rain gardens. She came in armed with a pamphlet, and she was looking for a fight.

Now, this resident (God love her) was just trying to do her part to help the environment, and I believe she really did come to us with the best of intentions, but she was clearly ill informed about our environmental efforts. For example, environmental issues are so important to our Village Board that we have a standing Environmental Committee which hosts an annual Open Space and stream clean up twice a year.

So, after quietly listening to all of the residents’ concerns and the perceived lack of environmental activism in KC, Anne calmly addressed her. In a positive tone, she thoroughly explained that our village is one of the few to have a page on our website dedicated just to the Environmental Committee’s activities and related resources. She then pointed out that the latest Architectural Guidelines revision included adding a page dedicated to Green Technology and Sustainability. Anne then went on to explain that the Board also encourages green thinking by sending the village covenant advisor to Howard County’s Greenfest every year so we are able to answer residents’ questions on sustainable technology and the covenants.

It was quite a sight to behold. But Anne did not simply list the Board and association’s accomplishments; she invited the resident to join the Board’s environmental efforts and encouraged her to volunteer on the Environmental Committee. What started as a heated conversation ended with the resident feeling heard by her Board and positively charged to become an active member of her community.

And finally, like any true leader, Anne is humble. She is quick to give credit to others, and never wants or expects any praise for her amazing work. In fact, I had to convince her to let me write about her leadership qualities. But she saw it as an opportunity to reach out to residents in a new and exciting way, so she agreed. She is selfless.

We are lucky to have Anne Brinker on the job in Kings Contrivance. She is a great leader, and one of the main reasons I believe our village is one of Columbia’s best.

-Brian Dunn

Say, “Cheese”

I wish I had written, “I blog, therefore I am,” but I guess my answer to the question, “Why I blog” will do. You see, I really do want to make a difference here in my community. Through this blog, and my involvement on the Kings Contrivance Village Board, I am doing what I can to give back to my hometown, the place that shaped who I am today.

In his blog yesterday, CA Board Member Tom Coale writes, “… there is something undeniably patriotic in the work of these Village Board members.  It is the precise spot where the “rubber meets the road” in terms of our government’s interaction with individual citizens.” I couldn’t agree more, Tom. In fact, it is this aspect that I find most rewarding.

Almost three years ago, on September 9, 2008, we (David Yungmann, my sister Katie, and Mac Cassity) published Columbia 2.0’s first blog following a Columbia Tomorrow press conference at Symphony Woods.  At the time, the plan for downtown was a big question mark in a lot of ways.

What a long way we have come since then.  Since that initial post in 2008, we grew as we continued to blog, speak out at public meetings, and activate other young professionals to speak out about the future of their community.

And during that time, with the active involvement of Columbians and people across Howard County, the plan for downtown was finalized, passed by the County Council, and reaffirmed after the failure of a petition drive that attempted to take it to referendum in Howard County.  Our tradition of bold and comprehensive community planning prevailed, and today, we are on the brink of breaking ground to fulfill that vision.  I like to think Columbia 2.0 played a little part in that.

So, yes, I do blog to make a difference and I sincerely hope that I am.

Where does Columbia 2.0 go next?  I’m not sure yet, but the future always holds change and challenges – or, as I like to call, them: opportunities.  Stay tuned!

Biggest. HoCo BlogTale Party. Ever.

I’ve written about the evolution of the HoCo BlogTale Parties before, and I’m happy to say that tonight’s promises to be the biggest one yet. As of now, over 100 people have registered or the event, which is being co-sponsored by The Baltimore Sun.

These parties are a great way to meet new people and connect with the community. See you there!

-Brian Dunn


Qualities of…..

I am in the second of a 2 year term on The Kings Contrivance Village Board, and I love it. It feels good to know that in a very small way, I am giving back to my community and striving to make it better. In the time I’ve served, we’ve accomplished a lot and I’ve met some amazing people that have given me a new perspective on what it means to lead.

Take my fellow board members, for example. Week after week, they all show up to listen to the concerns of the community and vote on the measures that come before us. If you were to go back and look at the minutes, you’d see that most of the time we had a full board sitting at the table, which is remarkable. Sure, there were times when someone was sick or couldn’t make it for some reason, but that was rare. Most of the time, no matter what else we all had going on in our personal lives, we all made it to the meeting and tackled the issues at hand. Commitment.

Of course, none of our efforts would be possible if not for the wonderful staff we have in Kings Contrivance. They work tirelessly to make our village run smoothly. They are the first contact for our residents when they have a concern, and they always conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner. A lot of what they do is behind the scenes, but somehow I think they are just fine with that. Dedication.

I also have a lot of respect for the residents who come to us to voice their concerns. They care deeply about their community, and without them it would be impossible to address all the important issues we face. Engagement.

And last, but certainly not least, I learned a tremendous amount from our local elected officials, who always make it a point to attend as many of our meetings as they can. When you consider the amount of meetings they have to endure, it’s awesome to know that they stay on top of what’s going on in their village and keep us abreast of the hot topics they are dealing with. Effective Communication.

Yes, this past year has taught me a lot about leadership qualities, and it made me realize that we have many, many great leaders here in Howard County. In fact, we have so many that I plan to write about some of them on this blog in the coming months. So stay tuned for an announcement on our first profile soon!

-Brian Dunn

The Right Side of the Digital Divide

Last week, The Columbia Patch published a letter to the Editor that I wrote regarding the Inter-County Broadband Network. This initiative is a game changer and will ensure that every Maryland jurisdiction is wired with high-speed cables by September 2013.

According to Governor O’Malley, “we’re going to connect 475 schools, 248 police and emergency centers, 52 libraries, 60 community colleges, six universities and countless numbers of businesses.”

It makes me proud to be a resident of this great state when I hear our leaders taking charge and improving the quality of life of all their citizens.

-Brian Dunn