While it is difficult to compare one year to the next, it can easily be argued that 2014 was one of the most transformative years Howard County has seen in the past decade. If 2013 was a year of anticipation, 2014 was a year of execution and acceptance. In looking back, I realized just how much I had taken for granted and/or become accustomed to with the brief passage of time. Distance has also allowed me to find significance in people or events that I had not seen as they occurred. Here's what I found:
New Openings - It seems hard to believe that Whole Foods only opened four months ago. Maybe that is the thing about grocery stores - they become ordinary quickly. Nevertheless, my appreciation of where I live has been enhanced by this new venue, even if I rarely spend more than $20 per visit. We also saw the openings of Sonic, Haven on the Lake, Greenrow Books, White Oak Tavern (officially opened Dec 2013), the loop around Lake Kitt, and the 3D Printing Lab at MCE. These are places meant to be "institutions" for years to come, yet they've all passed over our vision without much notice (and while you are welcome to laugh at me about calling Sonic an "institution", tell any 18-30 year old male that there is a Sonic in Howard County and they will ask "how far from your house?").
Closings - We also saw the repurposing of the Flier building and the closure of institutions like The Crab Shanty (i.e., The Shanty Grille) and Don Pablo's (get's "institution" billing by sheer persistence). For me personally, I was sad to see Garbanzo go, although my wife and I knew that immediate service upon walking through the door is a bad sign for fast food.
New Politics - In 2014, Howard County learned that we're still a swing jurisdiction in state elections, something professed religiously by Republicans and denied with the same fervor by those on the left. The result of that is yet to be seen. While many will say that Howard County has had a Republican County Executive before and knows what this looks like, I would respond that Ken Ulman's eight years worked to expand the position and we do not know what a Republican leader will do with that space. Over the next four months, hagiographies will fall away and we'll get back to the steady plow of governing. You can be sure that I am interested to see how that plays out.
On the Democratic side, there has been a wholesale changing of the guard with the Democratic Central Committee. Despite a full General Election cycle, this group has yet to define itself in vision or purpose, but you can be sure that things will be different. From my perspective, that is a very good thing and just at the right time.
Youth Movement - Both Republicans and Democrats showed off their farm teams in this year's election. I can't recall the last time we had so many candidates under 40 share the same ballot. I am confident that over the next ten years we will hear much more about Rich Gibson, Maureen Evans Arthurs, Nick Stewart, Jimmy Williams, and Danny Eaton, along with those young leaders we have already become accustomed to seeing in action. This is a good thing, but it is up to our entire community to make sure these young leaders know they are wanted and appreciated.
Blogosphere - We've seen the addition of many new blogs, but the two I am most interested in following are Spartan Considerations and Is This Thing On?. It is very easy to start a blog. It is very difficult to sustain one, particularly through those moments when you wonder whether anyone is reading. The most important realization I've had about my own writing is that I don't write for other people to read. I write to know what I think.
Me - 2014 will always have a big room in my heart. The greatest gifts life can offer are the ability to learn more about yourself and love more of the world around you. I will enter 2015 with a depth of knowledge and love that could not have been anticipated at this time last year.
Despite all of this text, I am sure I left something out. Please comment below or over on the Facebook page with your favorite or most memorable recollection of 2014. And as always...
Have a great Tuesday doing what you love!