Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Want of Change (Thursday LINKS)

I had a whole post written in my head about the dangers of running government "like a business", but felt compelled to pivot onto a more pressing matter that has the entire Howard County community swooning.

Whole Foods.

Pardon my familiarity but -- I'm psyched.  Without getting too hippie-dippy on you, the entire "whole foods" movement is something I have been interested in from way back, and having a Whole Foods store right down the street is pretty exciting.  Now that we have a Trader Joe's, Harris Teeter, Wegman's, and now a Whole Foods, I think we have exhausted the super-market market.

I'm looking for the parable that explains "First come the yuppie grocery stores, then come the..."

Second tier music venues?
Night clubs?
Independent book stores?

Like it or not, we've become a community of "what's next".  Wegman's pretzels had barely cooled out of the oven before we were clamoring for Whole Foods.  Have no doubt that there will be opposition, but this group gets weaker with every iteration.  There is an inevitability about it all that has reshaped the paradigm.

One thing to keep in mind throughout all this is that Howard Hughes is the farmer and we are the crops.  I'm happy to be a crop, but lets not pretend that Whole Foods is dropping in to give cave-aged blue cheese and dried salami away (Wegman's amazing two months of free giveaways notwithstanding).  This is business with a profit-motive.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the euphoria of having a new place to spend our money seems a bit...odd.  You may also consider that as this kind of development continues, some of us may be priced out of certain vendors.  If you've spent any time in Greenwich, Connecticut or Georgetown, you know exactly how that feels.  "I hope that hot chocolate was good, honey.  Now let's go find a place where one of us can have lunch and the other can eat the pickle."  These new vendors are not just here for "what's here".  They are interested in "what's next" as well.  Think about our new neighbors in their $2,500 a month condominiums.

A rising tide lifts all ships.  This is an time for all of us to enjoy, celebrate, and be grateful that we were here when it started.  But we should also celebrate who we are now and make sure that is preserved.  The enthusiasm for the new will always outstrip the old.  But do what you can to appreciate what's here.  The Columbia Association was one of the first of its kind and, regardless of whatever your thoughts may be of the Board, it is a successful community focused organization.  Old Ellicott City is unique and may never be replicated by anything Columbia has to offer.  Keep First Friday's on your calendar.  Western Howard County provides landscapes, activities, and people that are our history and future.  Don't leave them behind.

So let's be excited about Whole Foods.  But let's also be excited about whatever it was that enticed Whole Foods to come here.  Not just what we're going to be.  What we are now.


Can you believe that someone kidnapped Cal Ripken, Jr.'s mom?!?!  Can you believe that?!?!  I can't really think of a worse crime that you could commit against the State of Maryland.  I am not joking.

A second special session on expanded gambling appears likely.  The more attention you pay to this issue, the more disgusting it gets.  I don't even have to insert my opposition to expanded gambling here.  The revenue shortfall has been addressed.  There is no pressing emergency.  Yet we're holding a session in which fund-raising rules are not applicable to pass a special project for the President of the Senate.  I'll be watching how the Howard Delegation votes.  Regardless of their thoughts on gambling, do they endorse this type of governance?

Gov. O'Malley has established a work group to examine Maryland's power grid and ways to improve its resilliency.  I wish I could attribute the source, but I recall that one commentator has suggested we pair the new Inter-county Broadband Network with underground power lines.  Should that ever come to pass, it would be yet another boost for our County Executive on the state-wide scene.

Speaking of boosts, Howard County was named the 9th "Leading Creative Class County".  Hwhaaaaat?  I have no reason to doubt the methodology, but as someone who grew up here, I was surprised.  I guess it all comes down to the definition of the "creative class".  You and I may be a part of it without even knowing!

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Goes to TJ for having the most non sequitur topic of the day in a field of Whole Food posts -- The Manhattan.  Then again, having once posted about pizza and oysters, I have no room to talk.

That's all for today.  Have a great Thursday doing what you love.  I'm expecting a lively (and late) CA Board of Directors meeting tonight.  Wish me luck.