Elevated Voices – The Suburban Delusion, August 2, 2020

Honoring Black Philanthropy Month with the Women’s Giving Circle

August is Black Philanthropy Month. In this episode, Candace and Tom interview Malynda Madzel and Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz about the Women’s Giving Circle and the importance of philanthropic inclusion.

Listen here.

We’re trying a new approach with Elevated Voices this week. From Tom:

This think-piece from Intelligencer received a lot of attention on Friday, which is great. The President’s tweet should inspire, if not demand, a deep self-evaluation for every suburbanite. But not just liberals or progressives. All of us. Is the quality of life that we celebrate, and often relish in, something that we are protecting at the expense of all others? Is “quality of life” a pie that once consumed by one is less for everyone else?

I don’t think it is and I wish this were the grounds for debate instead of whether DeVeLoPeRs hated children or trees more. I wish our conversation could be about the tremendous opportunity for inclusion that is created by “world-class” schools and ballyhooed magazine rankings. Why isn’t the premise that we all have a moral imperative to share this as opposed to tired troupes about “paving paradise to put up a parking lot”?

Howard County residents would do well not to look directly into the eyes of the linked piece for fear of turning to stone. We rely on planning artifices like historic districts, scenic roads, and forest conservation to maintain our moat and drawbridge. What’s more historic that New York City? Where do we locate the growth that is displaced by preservation of view sheds and trees? We don’t, because view sheds are trees are secondary to the ultimate purpose of stopping development.

Schools and traffic? If any one of Howard County’s most over-capacity schools became selective with admissions criteria, you can be assured there would be just as many filled seats. Our school board repeatedly looks gift horses in the mouth whenever a school site is proposed because it’s not about the schools. It’s about stopping development. And traffic? Who has a worse commute – the person riding Routes 70, 29, or 32? Or the 30% of us who live and work in Howard County? It’s the former because those are people who can’t afford to live closer to their work and are driving through a place that could be lined with billboards saying “If you lived here, you’d be home by now.” It’s never about traffic. It’s about stopping development.

Affordable housing! We all love affordable housing…so long as it is a cudgel to attack market rate housing. When we have actual Low Income Housing Tax Credit deals that are competitively bid across the state and somehow land in Howard County, they’re too close to our streams, don’t have mass transit, or require the incorporation of an abandoned right-of-way that didn’t have any value until it was a way to stop development. We are not going to close a 5,500 unit gap of housing insecure Howard Countians via inclusive zoning alone. We need more and we need champions in government to do so.

I don’t see how anyone could read this article and believe that Howard County has a healthy relationship with growth and inclusive housing. We have elected leaders, current and past, who get away with repeatedly professing their undying dedication to affordable housing while being committed antagonists once it is proposed. But yet, I am more hopeful now than I’ve ever been. The tide is turning. With articles like this, there is room to change your mind.

This Week’s Birthdays:

  • August 3rd – Dario Broccolino, Barb Nicklas
  • August 4th – Tom O’Connor, Duane Carey, Kathy Barnett
  • August 6th – Laura Wetherald, Vic Broccolino, Kristen Neville
  • August 7th – Harry Schwartz, Keith Ohlinger, Jay Parekh, Dick Story
  • August 9th – Kirill Reznik

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