Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Changing Face of Howard County and its impact on services

Having attended the Association of Community Services of Howard County meeting on Wednesday it became clear that Howard County is not the County of the 1970's and 1980's. As with much of the State of Maryland we are becoming much more ethnically diverse. I guess one way you can see this change is to notice the number of ethnic restaurants and markets we now have in the County. Thirty years ago your ethnic selections were fairly limited to Chinese and Italian. Now we have a number of Korean, Mexican, Indian, Thai and now even Ethiopian. The Lotta Plaza has provided us with a place to buy any ingredient needed in cooking Chinese or Korean dishes.

The ethnic population that has exploded in the County is the Asian population. This population has increased by 116% from 2000 to 2010. This is matched by a 123% increase in the Hispanic population growth and 39% growth in the African American population. This has lowered the White non Hispanic population from 72% in 2000 to 59% in 2010. The minority population in the County will soon be the majority. Not sure what you call minorities when they are the majority.

With the growth of the Asian and Hispanic populations you have cultural and language issues that impact service providers in the County. We have been fortunate to have an organization such as FIRN the in the County for the past 30 years that has been a resource for foreign born residents. Now with the growth of these populations the school system, police and fire services have to be able to interact with foreign speaking residents.

The other large population growth is with the age 65+ population. This population has more than quadrupled since 1970 to over 30,000 in 2010. This population is projected to grow by another 119% in the next 30 years as the population of Baby Boomers reach this age. For Howard County the Baby Boomers have been an especially large part of our population because of the rapid population growth in the 1970's and 80's that was mostly young families moving into the County. Those parents in those families are now reaching retirement age. As I blogged last week about the Columbia Association eliminating 4 Tot Lots the number of children in many of our more mature neighborhoods is declining. Will CA be looking to develop these spaces to reflect the use by a more mature population? Maybe some focus groups with seniors on how these spaces could be utilized by seniors would be a good idea. A senior park with gardens, both flower and vegetable, and wild life sanctuaries might be of interest to this population.

You can access the powerpoint presentation of these changes at

I will be blogging more about the changing face of Howard County over the next couple of days.


I have added photos on the blog that I took going around Lake Elkhorn today on my annual "Spring is here!" run. As someone who usually runs early in the dark it is always fun to do this annual run in the daylight.


Jessie "The Engager" X said...

Hi Duane, I saw you at today's meeting but when I turned back around to say "hi" to you, alas, you'd left. I'm thrilled to see you blogging and becoming an active voice in the local conversation!

I'm on ACS's board, so I'm happy you came to today's event and wrote some thought-provoking observations and ideas. I also work at CA now (it's a contract position doing community engagement strategy). I'd love to see you at the upcoming Aquatics Master Plan meetings coming up. I think the questions you're bringing up about demographic changes, facilities, programs, and so forth are part and parcel of the Aquatics Master Plan development. The conversation is just starting and community input is muy importante!

For deets -

Unknown said...

Hi, Duane! Glad to see you blogging! I met you a few years ago when I did a presentation to your Grandparents as Parents group - when I was with HC DrugFree. Now I'm with The Columbia Association in charge of international exchange and multicultural programs. I was not able to make the ACS meeting as I was sick, so was very interested in the statistics in your blog as well as the link to the presentation. I am always looking for ideas for multicultural programs that CA can organize in collaboration with other community organizations and community members.

Most recently CA collaborated with The Council of Elders and the African Art Museum of Howard County to offer an Africa Culture Cafe at the Hawthorn Center on March 6th. My International & Multicultural Advisory Committee is looking to do an Asia Culture Cafe in the fall, bringing together Chinese, Korean, Burmese, Vietnamese, and other Asian countries so each culture has a chance to share whatever they' like to share. When we plan Culture Cafes we like to bring together people from the community to plan and promote the event!

I also run an international/multicultural book club which is open to anyone in the community. Books are pulled from various Library branches and can be picked up at the East Columbia Library.

For more info on any of these things, contact me, Laura Smit at

duanestclair said...

Sounds like some very interesting activities. Let me know as they develop and I will be glad to promote the activities. I will email you to discuss further.