Monday, January 28, 2013

Let Them Eat Cheesecake

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend, and long-time Columbia advocate, about Symphony Woods when he mentioned, "The last big thing to happen in Downtown Columbia was a Cheesecake Factory."

I laughed.  Then I thought "That was 2005."  November 21, 2005, to be exact.  We've had nearly eight years of cheesecake representing the high water mark of Columbia redevelopment.

Amidst all of this talk of change, we haven't really seen much of it.  While that may be ok for some other places, Columbia seems premised on growth.  Growth of people.  Growth of community.  Growth of business.  Growth of the City.

All of us remember the first time we heard the Columbia story.  We remember how exciting it was.  This guy turned nothing into something and now that something is a place that nearly 100,000 people call home.  Rather than the organic growth from piers and railroads of so many other great cities, Columbia was planned with theory, sociology, and commercial foresight.  From this foundation, the City would grow and be different than any other place that had ever existed.

But similar to a hand grasped by our idol that we refuse to wash, we've left this foundation undisturbed.  "That is how 'HE' left it, don't touch it please."  Those individuals who push for change are drowned out by the voices that say "We're not against progress.  We're just against THIS progress."

Meanwhile, we eat cheesecake and wait.

Columbia is one ball of pent up energy.  How appropriate is it that the first real formative action since "Cheesecake Aught Five" has been watching our elected and community leaders take a sledge-hammer to a wall? This community is tired of waiting and they are tired of being teased.  They would tear down every wall between where we are now and the future of Columbia if it were that easy.

But now, we're close to something great.  A new Plan for Symphony Woods that harkens back to those same exciting ideas that made Columbia happen in the first place.  When you talk to people about it, everybody, opponent or proponent a like, they all have the same question in their eyes "Is this really happening?"  They've been sold so many moments of change that there is "change fatigue."  Charettes, Downtown Plan, design drawings, pathways, fountains, hearings, bills, zoning, signage, elections, Warfield, "open air shopping", testimony, TREES, "meandering paths", and now This.

If the Columbia Association passes the Inner Arbor Plan and Trust next month, we will begin celebrating the new Columbia in the woods this summer.  We need to.  It's just time. 

And I, for one, will be doing so with a big piece of cheesecake. 

Have a great Monday doing what you love!