Wednesday, May 28, 2008

OT: Urban Development


What could increased connectivity between Town Center and the Village of Oakland Mills mean? A new blog, "53 beers on tap," presents a neutral perspective of a meeting in which this topic was touched.

Columbia, Maryland, is a planned city sitting between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The city is, for the most part, a collection of villages, each with its own character as well as a physical village center, generally with a meeting hall, a grocery store, pizza and Chinese joints, a laundromat, a barber, and so forth. The area is highly desirable and growing. At just over 40 years old, though, the limits of the original plan are being tested.

As Columbia developers consider further Town Center development, including the areas of Merriweather Post Pavilion and Lake Kittamaqundi, it is easy to imagine these same developers eyeing the territory just beyond the lake and the pavilion....

It may be argued that Maryland's Route 29 (Columbia Pike) is the very thin barrier that allows the Village of Oakland Mills to maintain a separate identity. Consider this Google map of the area. The Other Barn, the meeting place and headquarters for the Village of Oakland Mills, is a bit over one mile due east of the southeast corner of the mall complex. For scale, consider the area covered by the mall complex itself bounded by Little Patuxent Parkway and Gov. Warfield Parkway; one could easily imagine lifting that space and dropping it into the area roughly bounded by Stevens Forest Road, Kilimanjaro Road, and Whiteacre Road. This area of Town Center would cover the Oakland Mills Village Center, the ice rink, the middle school, the high school, the athletic fields, and more.

Oakland Mills as a village is almost as old as Columbia itself with houses approaching 40-years-old. Many first generation settlers are moving along. Prices for land have skyrocketed, leaving all but apartment living out of reach for many recent arrivals in the government and service sectors. There appears to be some self-segregation into ethnic / racial pockets. Crime, including two very recent shooting deaths, are always in the news. The Food Lion, a relatively new arrival to the village center after doing without a grocery store for so many years, employs a armed guard; this complements the police substation housed in a trailer at the end of the parking lot.

As Columbia is a growing city, the trends toward increased density and urbanization may be inevitable. At some point, the economics of this trend will likely dictate a repurposing of the Village of Oakland Mills. Change is inevitable, yes; but, the outstanding question will be to what degree the Village of Oakland Mills has a say in riding through this change.

Will "increased connection" with Town Center have benefit for Oakland Mills, or will it simply lay the foundation for the absorption of Oakland Mills by Town Center?

Oakland Mills is currently actively planning the revitalization of its own identity. I hope they are considering such matters...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Seeing Fault in People and Institutions

Faced with a decision to spend time with his dying father during his last days or attending a conference of a religious organization, the man says his final good-byes and leaves for the conference. We know this because the organization published this man's story in their own bulletin summarizing the meeting, and in my own case because I read Brad Warner's post containing his own commentary, HARDCORE ZEN: Fuck Institutionalized Zen.

What more is there to say about this matter? Nothing---unless you are prone to see things that may or may not be there. Tell me, when reading this account, did you wonder:
  • Why did this man choose to attend the conference over sitting with his dying father?
  • Why did he chose to write about his choice and submit it to the organization?
  • Why did the organization publish the story so prominently?
Did you pass judgment on the man? Did you pass judgment on the organization? Why?

I know a particular Korean Buddhist monk and Zen master who enjoys viewing the Bible with an eye toward what he sees as the koans within. Experience suggests that this is one of his most favored passages:
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:57-62 (NIV)

I once sent an email after the fact apologizing that I could not attend a class because something came up---my family needed me. Truth be told, the odds are that the monk would have cited this passage at least once during that class! Regardless, the Zen master responded:
Harmony comes from centering wisdom.
Twilight comes from old man's worry.

How can this be? Tell me, do you see a contradiction? I assert that there is none...

Organizations. Causes. Decisions. What are these things anyway?

Whatever
your circumstances, see clearly and be free.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Writing, "There is nothing to write about writing."

The Meta-Services: Rehashing and repackaging what is known and offering it to you again and again.
  • The Writers write about How To Write.
  • The Bloggers blog about How To Blog.
  • The Self-Help books help you Help Yourself.
  • The Businesses sell How to Do Business.
  • The Rich tell you how easy it is to become Rich.
  • ...

Every day, the "Top Ten Ways to This or That"... "Visit my site to learn the top ten ways to drive traffic to your site" --- how can you not laugh?

They stand in stark contrast to those people and organizations that actually create or actually serve. Does it seem that the ratio of repackagers-to-creators is dramatically on the rise?

Is there really nothing left? Where is the Human Spirit? Have we truly lost our Purpose?

Why are you here, now? Who are you?

Alas, even this post is a sin: What new things have I written here that cannot be found in Ecclesiastes and elsewhere? But if we are to sin, then---whatever your role in this world---go about your business and sin skillfully with the mindful purpose of pointing others toward the Truth.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Travel

Seeing differences or seeing sameness,
Seeing deficiencies or seeing superiority,
Seeing right way or seeing wrong way---
We can fill our days like this here or there.

Time to Leave

Raindrops, cold and wet
Westerly wind will not cease.
High tide. Paradise.

Waves are not Cold, 2

I had asked the wave
Whether or not it was cold.
It did not answer.

Waves are not Cold

Standing in the sun,
Mothers say that it's too cold;
Children ride the waves!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

R.L. Stevenson's Requiem, Revised

I was that sailor on the shore.
I was that hunter at the store.
You gave me form, expected more...
And that is how you killed me.

The body here, the mind was there,
Rarely a moment did they share.
Come together, unite the pair,
Resurrect the corpse---see clearly!