Stewart Bridge Around town

By Aaron Miller

Last month, Business Insider decided that Columbus was the least exciting metropolitan area in Indiana. Many of us probably had the same reaction: Really?

We were pretty quick to defend our fair city. Business Insider’s list is meant to spark conversation and debate. We reminded each other that Columbus is renowned for its modern architecture and public art. We pointed out the vibrant downtown, festivals and shopping. If exploring the outdoors is your cup of tea, state parks are only a short drive.

Our community also features a nonprofit movie theater, an independent bookstore and a public library. And do not forget our local institutions of higher education. I heard these virtues, along with many others, cited by those questioning the ranking.

Maybe “boring” is not all that bad. Superman and Lex Luthor might make Metropolis more exciting, but I am not sure I want to live there. Excitement might bring traffic, parking problems and pollution. An action-packed civic scene might also mean a higher cost of living and a few comic book villains.

Columbus’ desired thrill level will be a great topic of conversation for the second installment of the “Columbus Past, Present, Future” series. The University Library of Columbus, Ivy Tech Community College,and Phi Theta Kappa (Ivy Tech’s honor society) sponsors the series, an ongoing conversation about Columbus.

The “Columbus Present” conversation is 7 p.m. today at the Columbus Learning Center’s Lecture Hall, 4555 Central Ave. Panelists will discuss the current events facing Columbus. Of course, the discussion will include more pressing and serious issues other than an arbitrary rating of excitement in our community.

Just like anyone venturing on a very long road trip, the panel will consider the question “Where are we?” Specifically, the panelists might share their ideas on how Columbus will address its current problems.

I think another important topic for the panel might be what is Columbus’ role in the state, the nation and the world? I would also like to hear panelists’ ideas on how Columbus should navigate the current political tensions rocking the nation. They also might offer a discussion on whether life in the city is what municipal leaders from the past wanted for Columbus. In other words, did the city live up to its potential and promise?

Mayor Jim Lienhoop and Kathy Oren, executive director of the Community Education Coalition, will serve on the “Columbus Present” panel. LaTosha Lafferty, a behavior analyst focused on serving children with autism, and an activist with Black Lives Matter of Columbus will also join the discussion of the issues facing Columbus in 2018. The director of the Columbus Municipal Airport, Brian Payne, will also be a part of the conversation. Rick Scalf, political activist and business owner, is a panelist. This group, although with diverse professional interests and backgrounds, certainly share a passion about making Columbus a greater place to live.

I encourage you to show up and listen to the “Columbus Present” discussion. Bring your questions or comments for the panel. Lucabe Coffee Co. will be providing free refreshments. Then make sure to tell Business Insider that it was pretty exciting.

Aaron Miller is one of The Republic’s community columnists and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. He has a doctorate in history and is an associate professor of history at Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus. Send comments to editorial@therepublic.com.