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Birds, bands and bikes: 3 things with Columbia’s head of arts and culture commission

Executive Director of Downtown Columbia Art & Culture Commission Ian Kennedy stands in a VIP section at Merriweather Post Pavilion called Skylawn.
Executive Director of Downtown Columbia Art & Culture Commission Ian Kennedy stands in a VIP section at Merriweather Post Pavilion called Skylawn. (Xavier Plater / Baltimore Sun)

Years ago, Ian Kennedy, 42, co-founded a grassroots group to save Merriweather Post Pavilion from closure or redesign. Coming full circle, the longtime musician now heads the Downtown Columbia Art & Culture Commission, which owns (but does not manage) the music venue.

Kennedy, whose organization brings art, cultural and community programs to downtown Columbia, lives in Oakland Mills with his wife, Lena, and their two daughters.

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Here, he shares a few interesting facts about his life.

He was in a band for 10 years. Kennedy started a rock band in 1993 with four friends at Hammond High School. They randomly chose the name “Pinfold” from a dictionary. (It means “a place to house wild animals.”) Fans of Phish and Pink Floyd, the all-male group landed gigs and toured on the East Coast, performing such original songs as “Sad,” “Fade,” and “Two Steps into Georgia,” before disbanding in 2003. Kennedy, who sang harmony and played acoustic guitar, points out he has longer hair today than he did then.

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He’s a self-described “bird nerd.” Kennedy can identify most of the area’s native birds. But when he glimpses a hawk or other bird of prey, he stops to take a photo. “These are big, symbolic birds and top-order predators,” he says admiringly. “Did you know peregrine falcons are the fastest birds on earth?” They can reach a top flying speed of 240 miles per hour.

He races all kinds of bikes. What began on Columbia’s pathways as a weekend pastime in the late 1990s quickly became an obsession. He rides mountain, cyclocross and road bikes and has raced in amateur 100-mile competitions for such prizes as beer and pizza. “Racing gives a purpose to staying in shape,” Kennedy says. He also frequently bikes the three-mile round-trip to his office.

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