All Things Great and Small

I’ve written before about how much I appreciate the regular newsletters from my county council representative, Calvin Ball. The combination of frequent communication from his office plus the high level of constituent service has served to keep me engaged with the important goings-on in my community.

Well, sitting in my email inbox right now is the pièce de resistance of newsletters. It is the annual, back to school edition.

The Calvin Ball Bulletin, Back to School Edition

All the schools. All the things you need to know in one place. And it even includes information about Howard Community College!

A few things you’ll find:
School suppliesPTA infoSchool closing links BOE cluster assignmentsKindergarten registration Redistricting updatesBut, as they say in the infomercials, that’s not all! Wait, there’s more! 
Take a look for yourself. These annual education-focused newsletters go back to 2013, lest you think this is an election-year gambit. If you want to be really impressed, take a look at …

Music to my Ears

Anyone who knows me well is aware that I’ve long been promoting a certain idea for a local playground: musical play equipment. The idea first came to me when the Columbia Association was looking at possible plans to revitalize Symphony Woods.

Facebook memories reminded me that on this date in 2011 I suggested this for the park that was being planned in Symphony Woods: a musical playground. I still want this!

My interest in musical play equipment was sparked when my sister used a company called Freenotes Harmony Park to provide a piece for a garden in memory of our mother at a new preschool started by her church. As a musician and an early childhood teacher I loved the idea of adding a musical component to outdoor play.

From that moment on I have been harping on adding pieces from Freenotes to anyone who would listen. Many’s the social media post or email from me that contained the link to Freenotes. 

Last week I read the article in the Howard County Times on groundbreaking for the latest …

It’s Broke, Part Two

Like many privileged white Americans, I started looking at police violence against people of color only very recently, probably during the summer of Ferguson. And then came the Baltimore uprising in response to the death of Freddie Gray. Once I saw it I couldn’t unsee it.

While I have never liked football, and it was easy for me to see beyond the hype, I had been raised to believe that police were good and fair and there to protect me. And to protect everyone, I thought. It has been more difficult for me to overcome that mindset and see beyond it.

The story of a football player dying because of heatstroke caused by a conditioning drill is the story of a system that failed to protect its most vulnerable. The story of a man viciously beaten by a police officer while his partner failed to intervene is the same. The abuse is not in the hands of one person, but rather is perpetuated by the system as a whole.

In the case of Baltimore, the locations where people live and how they are treated by…

Not Helping

From former police officer Larry Smith @kid_lawrence :
Arresting addicts doesn’t help address addiction. Arresting drug dealers doesn’t either. Sending an armed cop, or several, to deal with someone having a mental health crisis isn’t an answer to anything. The cops shouldn’t be involved.
Baltimore needs ACTUAL social services. It needs to address homelessness and unemployment. It needs to provide children with hope and opportunity. Or we could start small and heat and air condition the schools
All of these things cost money. HOW ARE WE GOING TO PAY FOR ALL THAT??  Oh.... look at this 500 million dollar police budget. 
We (the USA) incarcerate people for petty nonsense. Jails are full of people who are addicted to drugs, are too poor to pay some arbitrary fine, who committed non-violent drug offenses. Oh, not to mention the scores of people wrongfully convicted or talked into a plea.
People need to think outside of the box. Police departments in so many cities operate like an occupying for…

Judge Not

Apologies to my readers. I’m still working on Part Two of “It’s Broke”. Look for that tomorrow,

Something to think about today: this response from writer Melinda D. Anderson:

This data refutes a widespread (and ignorant) belief in schooling that Black families “don’t value education.” Instead, what most educators value (signing forms, checking homework, room parents, etc.) is not a valid measure of importance of education for Black parents & families.
Black parents are out here taking their children to plays, visiting museums, going to the zoo, and engaged in all kinds of education-related activities. Yet y’all will still say “They don’t care about education” because a Black parent missed teacher conf. held during the workday.
Here’s the data, a report released by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics.

Here’s more about Ms. Anderson:

Why am I sharing this? As we head into back to school mode, I think it’s important to make sure we examine our attit…

It’s Broke, Part One

Two separate stories are vying for attention in my brain. And it seems to me that they are the same story.

Story number one: the death of a college football player from the University of Maryland and the subsequent focus on the toxic culture of football in College Park. The coach has been placed on administrative leave. A member of the training staff has been fired.

Story number two: the video of a Baltimore Police Officer viciously beating a man on a Baltimore street while his partner does little to intervene. The officer was suspended with pay. (He has since resigned and been criminally charged.)

The world of football at UMD and that of policing in Baltimore are steeped in a culture of violence. The particulars are not exactly the same, but the sickness goes deep, to its core. I don’t believe, in either case, that it’s a few bad apples that ruin it for everyone else. Both are deeply and thoroughly infected by destructive attitudes. It’s not a bug in the system, as they say. It is the s…

Getting Lucky With Dinner

We couldn’t figure out what to do about dinner last night. So we fell back on our old standby: Lucky’s China Inn, located in the nearby Oakland Mills Village Center. It’s possible I was influenced in this choice by reading this comprehensive piece by The Unmanly Chef.

Inside Your Local Chinese Restaurant - Hunan Legend

It’s well worth the read.

Do you have a favorite local Chinese restaurant? Who are they, and why do you like them? Is it proximity to your home or a particular dish they do well? It seems that, at least in Columbia, the purpose of Village Centers was to give everyone their own Chinese take out place. How does that work beyond the Columbia bubble?

My apologies for over-sleeping this morning. I’ll set an alarm tomorrow!