Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King Day

In honor of Martin Luther King Day it might be worth noting how far we have come and how the planning of Columbia moved King’s dream forward. The hardest thing for me to comprehend growing up was that my parents had lived during a time when there was segregation. I grew up in what my peers and I call the “Columbumble”. It is that little utopia of Rouse’s creation that among its features encourages people to interact with people of all backgrounds and by getting to know each other as individuals breakdowns stereotypes. Through all the housing being mixed income and using community design concepts that bring people together Rouse encouraged people to interact with each other. Now we may complain and joke about some of these community design concept, such as not allowing private swimming pools, but how many friendships grew as kids played together at the community pools. And yes, the cluster mailboxes only brought people together when people’s mail ends up in each other boxes and neighbors have to bring the misdirected mail to each other. But other concepts like the fenceless yards encouraged some great neighborhood football games and movement and interaction of people. And of course one of the most successful of concepts of the Interfaith Meeting Houses, that welcomed and encouraged the interaction of people of different faiths. These are all small items, but together Rouse used them to build an experience that encouraged kids to interact and growing up knowing people as individuals and weakening stereotypes.

Yet, how will future development plans affect the further progress of the breaking down of stereotypes? The proposed 22 story condo building for the Lakefront is proposed to have half million to a million dollar condos and a private pool on the top level. Not only is this not mixed income, but by including a private pool it further breaks down one of the traditional mixing devises Rouse used to breakdown stereotypes and build community.

Let us continue to plan our community to reach Martin Luther King’s dream:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ken Stevens said...

Columbia didn't exist when I came to the county in 1961, Evan, and a sickening degree of segregation prevailed. It took a lot of pushing from the county NAACP, which I quickly joined, and not many other groups to accelerate the pace of desegregation of the county's schools.
The coming of Columbia as an intentionally open society was much welcomed by some of us and the original Columbians obviously moved in for a reason. It was a much friendlier place than the world around it.
Nowadays, official discrimination is no more, but there is still a need to provide housing for low-income people.

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