01 September 2006


As the new kid on the block (nkotb), I just wanted to say a quick hello to my fellow bloggers in Howard County. At this time, there are already five blogs that I am aware of sharing the Columbia/Ellicott City/Howard County experience. So what can I bring to the table that is unique? Well, I am not sure. I have a long tenure here in Columbia and plan to draw on my personal experiences here. I am also a Columbia fan (Rouseketeer?) and have read plenty of books and articles on this town.

One perspective I bring is that I am a year older than Columbia. If Columbia were a person, it would be (like me) on the leading edge of Generation X. I believe there are some interesting parallels to be explored from this point of view.

Much like I have followed the Baby Boom generation (and you are all great people), Columbia followed what has been termed the “inner suburbs.” These are communities founded just after World War II (and not-so-coincidentally where most of the Baby Boomers grew up.) Much has been written about the inner suburbs and their transformations from bedroom community to “edge” city to urban core suburbs (think Silver Spring, MD). It seems that as the younger community, we never fit well within the descriptions of these communities.

On the other side of the age continuum, my generation is to be succeeded by what is termed Generation Y. These people are just beginning to become adults and demographers and sociologists are starting to try to define them, although I have not been able to comprehend the definition fully. The analogy for Columbia would the New Urban communities (think Kentlands, MD). New Urban communities are definitely different than the inner suburbs and Columbia, but the description of the New Urban communities sounds an awful lot like Columbia.

In summation, this grand (as in wide-sweeping, not regal) analogy, what I bring is an analogous component to the discussion. If I were to show up to an all-night rave, I believe most in the Baby Boom generation would ask “Why would you go to one of those things?” Whereas most of the young people who attend those types of events would say “What is a 40-year old doing here?” In the same vein, if Columbia were to try to directly mimic the Kenlands, Seaside, FL, or Mashpee Commons, MA; most would ask similar questions.

As far as topics and content, I know that I will try to focus on the Columbia Village Boards and the CA Board of Directors. Another focus will be Howard County and the greater issues in our area. I also intend to go a little deeper than the day to day. I do not think this will occur daily, or even weekly, but a broad discussion on Columbia Governance, or good citizenship will be part of the output here, at least on an occasional basis.


Dave Wissing said...

Welcome to the Howard County online community.

FreeMarket said...

Speaking of books on Columbia and Jim Rouse, if you have never read “Better Places, Better Lives: A Biography of James Rouse” I highly recommend it. It gives a good history of Rouse’s childhood growing up in Easton, to founding the Rouse Company, to developing Columbia, and even the formation of what used to be called the Enterprise Foundation. It goes into a fair amount of detail of Rouse Company projects outside of Columbia, which I was not interested in, but all in all the book is excellent.

Good luck with your Blog!

Evan said...

Welcome to the life of a blogger. :) Hope for you and your families sakes you have less late night posts than I. Blogging sadly reduces sleep.

B. Santos said...

Dave and Evan,

Thanks so much for the support! I hope I can keep up with y'all.


I have read Better Places, Better Lives and have met Josh Olsen on two occasions. The first was at a Columbia forum at HCC about four years ago. His book was just released and he gave quite a presentation on the life of Jim Rouse. The second time was about two years ago at the University of Baltimore. It was particularly interesting because Josh shared the stage with Nicholas Bloom, who also wrote a biography of Jim Rouse (Merchant of Illusion). This book was somewhat more critical of Mr. Rouse than Josh's. After the lecture, I had the chance to speak with both authors and talk with other audience members. What I remember most clearly was a woman asking "Why doesn't Columbia have ethnic neighborhoods? Shouldn't the second largest city in Maryland have its own 'Little Italy' or 'Chinatown'?" I was a little shocked that after 90 minutes of two people discussing the Rousian vision of integration that some people just didn't get it.

David W. Keelan said...

Welcome aboard!