This summer, I’m mindful of numerous transitions that I’m witnessing around me.
My youngest child, who was a toddler when we began attending UUCC, will start high school in less than two months.
My oldest child, who just returned from spending a month(!) in San Francisco, will soon begin her last year of high school.
My niece, who in my eyes will always be the sweet seven year old flower girl at my wedding (21 years ago today, actually!) is now a new mother.
(Of course, my spouse and I haven’t aged or changed a bit!)
Looking at my world through a slightly wider lens, Columbia celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It’s hard to believe that I have called Columbia home for 20 of those years. Bill and I moved here soon after we got married, knowing that our future children would grow up with lots of other kids who looked like them. We hoped they be a little less exposed to the “What are you?” and “Where are you from?” kinds of questions that multiracial individuals often face.
And they have. And for that, I’m grateful. And yet, I am aware that even in the “Columbubble” at age 50, we still have work to do. Two facets of that work are energizing me right now. The Undesign the Redline exhibit, which many of you experienced with Tina Horn’s guidance at Enterprise Community Partners, is coming to the Owen Brown Interfaith Center. It will be installed at the end of next week and we expect it to stay for several months. The exhibit traces the history of housing segregation from Reconstruction to redlining to our present racial justice issues, and includes Columbia’s unique history and current efforts to ensure that Columbia remains integrated.
Yes, even in Columbia—the product of James Rouse’s vision of a racially and economically integrated community in which individuals would mingle at the mailboxes, the village centers, the interfaith centers, and more—we are beginning to see pockets of segregation. That’s why I’m working with a diverse group of county leaders to create a Housing Center modeled after one in Oak Park, Illinois. There, Housing Center staff helps renters narrow down the list of available apartments according to their needs and then encourages them to consider apartments in neighborhoods that will lead to the greatest racial and ethnic diversity. We also envision working with realtors to help guide homebuyers to make similar kinds of well-informed decisions that will sustain Columbia’s intentional integration and carry Rouse’s vision into the next 50 years.
May it be so.
In (ever-changing) community,