30 April 2012

Revisiting People Tree 2.0 – Paging the 21st Century Betsy Ross

First, let me say well done to the Columbia Association.  I think the new logo is distinctive and well represents the community.  I am also pleased that CA asked professional designers to do the work rather than relying on public group think.  Truth be told, the public was not involved in the first CA logo, and that worked out pretty well (legal trademark issues aside) for a few decades.  That is not to say I am 100% in love with logo, but I had my reservations about the other CA logos too. 

By comparison, Google “People Tree Logo” or “People Circle”.  (A quick aside to CA’s IT department, the new logo does not show up in image searches on Google, get to work on that please.)  What I am saying is, there are an awful lot of bad people tree logos, and this one works quite well.

Well, the new People Tree logo is now more than a few days old.  Bravo-Zulu to the Columbia Association for a pretty good local rollout.  CA has the new logo on You Tube, It’s on Twitter (and has its own hashtag -  #CAlogo), multiple sightings on Facebook (kudos to County Councilperson Courtney Watson for weighing in on the logo first), and stories have been written on both Columbia Patch and Explore Howard.  Another nice touch is the logo is prominent on the CA Website, which has also been completely redesigned.  The only place that I can think of where the logo has not been seen is in the banner advertisements for Explore Howard, Baltimore Sun – Howard page, and the Washington Post – Local page.

I imagine that the next steps would be the new tote bag showing up at the Member Services Center.  Possibly a new tie is in the works, with “People Leaves” tumbling down the fabric.  However, now is the time to once again think big.  As many know, Columbia also had a flag.  It has not been on display since the bell tower came down on Lake Kitttamaquandi, but I did find a partial photo over on Maryland Daily Photo blog. 

So what would a 21st Century People Tree flag look like?  Well Compass Nation, I’m glad you asked.  I took some time with my rudimentary Photoshop skills and put together some ideas for discussion.  My first thought was to keep it simple, much like the original flag:

I also had a spirited discussion about flag ideas at the Santos Starbucks Sunday Sixty this weekend (by the way, the Sunday Sixty tripled its normal attendance last Sunday!  Thanks to the folks at the Columbia Mall Starbucks for accommodating all of us!); and the idea of a flag based on the United States Flag was discussed (ten stripes – ten villages, etc):

And for those of you of the “Spirit of 1776 1967” persuasion:

Ultimately, I found both of these too busy (just my 2-cents, your opinion may vary).  So I went with the standard flag conventions; first the horizontal bars:

and then the vertical bars:

and lastly, the bars and triangle layout:

My intent here was to hit some of the standard flag conventions to see how a new people tree might look.  What are your ideas?  Should the flag have Charlie Brown T-shirt like zig-zags?  Maybe tie dye?  Let your mind wander…mine sure did.


20 April 2012

Forty-Eight Questions We Should All Answer:

So what is it like to live in Columbia, MD during the 2010’s?  Are we happy? Lazy? Foolish? Engaged?  At this point, I don’t think anyone knows.  I think that forty years ago, it was in many ways easier to figure this out.  Yes, Columbia is known for being the “suddenly diverse” town, but since the 1970’s, Columbia’s diversity has continued to grow; sometimes in ways that were expected and sometimes not.  

What is certain is that Columbia today is not very much like Columbia back then.  One of the areas in which little data exists is how Columbians feel and how they feel about their neighborhoods.  So yes, I think it is high time that we find someone (cough*CA*cough-cough) to conduct a survey of Columbia.

In particular, I encourage everyone to take a look at the New Zealand.  In 2004, New Zealand decided it was in their national interest to measure the quality of life for the residents in its eight largest cities.  Through the Quality of Life Project, they survey residents in each city every two years, and they ask some very interesting questions.  New Zealand then uses these surveys as an input to improve life in these cities.  It seems appropriate that a social welfare organization like CA should be doing the same thing.  I believe we need this kind of survey done for each Village in Columbia.  It certainly would help in describing who (and how) we are.  So take a look:

Health and Wellbeing

1.     How do you rate your quality of life?

2.     How do you rate your overall health?

3.     Have you had the occasion in the last 12-months in which you needed to see a doctor, but was not able to be treated?

4.     How frequently during the week do you undertake physical activity?

5.     How do you rate your emotional wellbeing?

6.     How do you rate your satisfaction with life in general?

7.     How often do you experience stress?

8.     Do you have someone nearby to turn to for help if you were faced with a serious illness or injury, or needed emotional support during a difficult time?

Crime and Safety

1.     Over the last 12-months, do you view vandalism as a problem within your area?

2.     Over the last 12-months, do you view car theft or damage to cars as a problem in your area?

3.     Over the last 12-months, do you view dangerous driving as a problem in your area?

4.     Over the last 12-months, have you perceived the presence of unsafe people in your area?

5.     Do you feel safe in your home during the day?

6.     Do you feel safe in your home after dark?

7.     Do you feel safe walking alone in your neighborhood after dark?

8.     Do you feel safe in your city center during the day?

9.     Do you feel safe in your city center after dark?

10.  Do you feel your local neighborhood is safe for children under 14 years to play in while unsupervised?

Community, Culture and Social Networks

1.     Do you feel it is important to feel a sense of community with the people in your local neighborhood?

2.     Do you feel a sense of community with others in your local neighborhood?

3.     Do you feel that the fact that Columbia is becoming a home for an increasing number of people with different lifestyles and cultures from different countries makes your area a better place to live?

4.     Which of the following social networks do you belong to?
a.     Family
b.     A network of people from work or school
c.     A hobby or interest group
d.     A sports club
e.     Online community or interest group
f.      A church or spiritual group
g.     A community or volunteer group (i.e. Rotary)
h.     Friends
i.      Other social network or group
j.      None of the above

5.     In the last 12-months, have you felt lonely or isolated?

6.     Do you believe people can be trusted?

7.     Do you believe your area has a culturally rich and diverse arts scene?

Council Processes

1.     Rate how much you agree with the following statement: “Overall, I understand how my Council makes decisions”

2.     Would you like to have more say in what the Council does?

3.     Rate your level of confidence that the Council makes decisions in the best interests of their city or district.

4.     Does the public have any influence on the decisions the Council makes?

Built and Natural Environment

1.     Do you feel a sense of pride in the way your city or local area looks and feels?

2.     How easy is it for you to get to a local park or other green space in your city or local area?

3.     Over the last 12-months, has rubbish or litter lying on the streets of your city or local area been a problem?

4.     Over the last 12-months, has graffiti or tagging been a problem in your city or local area?

5.     Over the last 12-months, has air pollution been a problem in your city or local area?

6.     Over the last 12-months, has water pollution (including pollution in streams, rivers, and lakes) been a problem in your city or local area?

7.     Over the last 12-months, has noise pollution been a problem in your city or local area?

Public Transport

1.     How many times per week do you use public transport?

2.     Do you believe public transport is affordable?

3.     Do you believe public transport is safe?

4.     Do you believe public transport is easy to get to?

5.     Do you believe public transport is frequent enough?

6.     Do you believe public transport is reliable?


1.     Are you employed full time?

2.     If you are not employed, are you actively seeking work?

3.     If you are not employed and actively seeking work, could you start work last week?

4.     How do you rate the balance between work and other aspects of life?

5.     How satisfied are you with the quantity and quality of your leisure time?

6.     Do you have enough money to cover the costs of your everyday needs?

I also suggest you take a look at the survey reports on the Quality of Life site.  The answers to these questions are published and then broken down by age, gender, ethnicity, and household income.  Many of the questions have follow-up questions that provide character to the answers the depths of the surveys are incredible.  If you think this is important, please let your CA Board member know.


08 April 2012

Not my usual type blog post...

No charts, no obscure Letter to the Editor from 20-years ago.  Just a simple premise, and a series of short questions that came to mind over this Easter holiday weekend:

If CA had the ability to provide one of the following:

a)  Free before and after school care
b)  Free admission to the outdoor pools

Which would be better for Columbia?
Which would be better for CA?

Which would you choose?

In order for this post to be successful, I need to hear from you!


04 April 2012

If all politics is local, it doesn’t get any more local than this…

For all the good residents of Columbia, it is now time to pivot.  Yes, the ink has hardly dried on the 2012 Maryland Primary elections and all the punditry, pontification and prognostication (postnostication??) is still hanging in the air.  However, the Columbia Village Elections are just a little over two weeks away, April 21, 2012.  In a few Villages, absentee voting is already underway.

Given this short election window, its time to start paying attention.  What’s going on in your neighborhood?  I certainly would like to hear what you think.  From a big picture standpoint, we know that the Columbia Association is planning to remove tot lots around town.  Other CA topics include the proposed legislative changes to the Maryland Homeowners Association Act (CA proposes that this would also change how the Columbia Villages are seen by the state act), Symphony Woods Park, the Connecting Columbia pathways initiative, and lake dredging.

On the local level, I believe almost every Village Board has embarked on a Village Center Community Plan.  How is that going in your Village?

Have I missed something?  I am certain that I have, but now is the time to start thinking.  I have done a little preliminary work on the Village elections, and the election season kicks off tonight, in Wilde Lake.  The Wilde Lake Community Association is having a candidate’s night this evening, starting at 7:30 pm.  On a personal note, for the first time in nine years my name will not be on the Wilde Lake ballot.  Please stop by and meet the people that will serve on the Wilde Lake Village Board and the new Wilde Lake Columbia Council representative.

As far the rest of Columbia, details so far are a bit sketchy.  Now I believe it is a safe bet that a few Villages are coordinating their election launch with the Thursday April 5, 2012 edition of the Columbia Flier; so more information should be forthcoming, and soon.

As of today, the following Village Candidate Nights have been scheduled:

Oakland Mills Candidates Night – April 10, 2012

Hickory Ridge Candidates Night – April 16, 2012

Owen Brown Candidates Night – April 17, 2012

Kings Contrivance Candidates Night – April 18, 2012

As I said before, I hope we hear soon about the Candidate’s Nights in Long Reach, Harper’s Choice, Dorsey’s Search, Town Center, and River Hill.

As far as other election resources, a few Wilde Lake, River Hill, and Long Reach have already posted Candidate statements in their local newsletters.  Also available on the Village Websites is information on the activities surrounding Village Election Day.  Specifically, I would encourage residents of Hickory Ridge to visit their Village Website.

So in closing, now that the primary election is over, let the election season begin!