It seems like the whole of Columbia has been lamenting, pondering, or (in some cases) celebrating this past month's Village Elections. Most Villages had low turnout and some did not even have enough candidates to fill their Board. For many, the consensus on "why" has to do with whether the race was contested. Admittedly, there was a contested race that did not make a quorum, but comparatively, that Village still had a significant number of people come out to vote.
I'm not interested in Monday Morning Quarterbacking today, but I do have an idea for increasing involvement. It is very simple. Just ask people. We live in an information deluge where everyone is presumed to know what is going on, how to get involved, and what is expected of them. "Of course I know it is your birthday, I saw it on Facebook." (Query: Has Facebook diluted the value of someone remembering your birthday?) This is paired with the idea that "if you post it, they will come." Community meeting? Put it in the newsletter. Zoning change? Put up a sign and get a notice in the paper. School event? Send something home with the kids. But how much have we lost the simple, basic, easy "ask"?
We are not going to raise the profile of Village Board member. That is a simple truth that I don't think we can get around. The job is just not glamorous enough and does not have the same weight as County Council-person (for which most people still do not know exactly what they do) or Board of Education member (ditto last parenthetical, except add that most presume they regulate classroom sizes and school lunches). What we can affect is interest. Have an annual meeting? Ask your social-butterfly neighbor whether they would like to help plan it. Neighborhood clean-up? Ask your morning walker whether they could identify trash hot spots that they've seen in their travels. With so much "stuff" in our inboxes, mailboxes, and Facebook pages, it is no longer enough just to "post" things. You absolutely must ask.
Why do I say this? Well I am proud to say that I have recruited an tremendously smart, well-qualified, young resident to serve on our Village Board. She has not been voted on yet, but after receiving her letter of interest, I think the Board would be hard pressed to say no. I am so excited about what she will bring to the Board and all it took was "I really think you would be a tremendous asset to our community and was hoping you would consider applying to our Village Board."
My generation, for good or for bad, would like to know that you're interested in us. It is the whole "Harry Potter" complex mentioned in that TED video. All of our heroes growing up have been "Chosen Ones." As those who have "chosen" to be involved, we then have an obligation to go out and find more.
Healthy Howard has gained Courtney Watson's support and may have even turned the heart of Greg Fox, who is quoted as saying something nice to Dr. Beilenson (!!). I think what this article makes clear is that the days of calling HHAP an "ineffective program" are over. If you still have objections, they will most likely have to relate to whether this is something the government should be doing or whether there is a better use for County funds. Personally, I am most impressed with the "Door to Health" interface and am wondering whether HHAP, as a non-profit, will be able to market this program to other municipalities. I will never be sold on the health coaches, but also understand that many of the health care providers that have signed on to this program have required this element of preventative care before they would be willing to offer discount services.
Despite predictions of doom, gloom, and brake lights, Howard County development is slow going and mimics the rate of growth from 2009.
UMD students are working on a human powered helicopter. That is pretty darn cool.
Earlier this week, the Sun featured Baltimore City food trucks and everyone said "yum." Then the Baltimore City food department shut down the food trucks because they didn't have proper permits, and everyone said "come on dude." Last night, Mayor SRB's office decided that the food trucks can operate on the $25 permitting fee required of hot dog trucks. Everyone is saying "yum" again.
Julia (aka macsmom) has another great blog post, this one noting the importance of connecting with one other and its influence on community involvement. As you can tell from the beginning of this post, I certainly agree and think Julia is a very important community voice that we should be paying attention to. (If only I could find a way to make my Blog-roll accept her page!)
In a day of fantastic posts, TJ offers his "directors cut" of a piece he did for Patch regarding his time in the Navy. TJ's posts are must-reads for me, so I highly recommend you spend the approximately 12 minutes necessary to read his long form Patch post.
WB is excited about the new Well & Wise blog and will be making it out for the next HoCo Blogger party. Seeing as this party is at Union Jacks and I have a meeting across the street later that night, I too will be attending.
Sarah gets as close to angry as I've ever seen her get regarding Howard County transportation funding and the vanilla statements made by our delegation in Annapolis.
I had a great breakfast with Phil Nelson yesterday and am very excited to work with him. Tonight is my first official meeting (wherein I expect to be voted from the Columbia Council to the Columbia Association Board of Directors, which I expect to be a wholly transformative experience). The big vote of the evening appears to be Board Chair and I will admit to being very much torn. I will be sure to give you an update tomorrow, but for now, have a great Thursday doing what you love.