A BOOK just out, "Bowling Alone," claims that our civic life is in precipitous decline. Author Robert Putnam, a government professor at Harvard University, maintains that more Americans are bowling, but fewer of them are doing it in leagues.
Putnam uses this as a metaphor to describe declines in participation in voting, PTAs, community associations and other institutions that add texture to our social lives.
One local group, Young Friends of the Historic Annapolis Foundation, evaporated in the 1990s when its members, comprised of young Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, got up and disappeared. That age group is frequently criticized for its lack of community spirit.
But hold on, Professor Putnam, Young Friends is making a comeback.
Melissa Gill, director of development at HAF, reports that Young Friends was resuscitated late last year and now is in the early stages of a new life.
"The goal of Young Friends is to get people involved and try to raise awareness of what we're doing here," said Gill.
The mission of HAF is to preserve the history and heritage of the state capital. Young Friends, aimed at people ages 21 to 35, is part of that mission.
Ailsa Foulke, a 32-year-old mom, heard about Young Friends, showed up for one function and now has found herself at the center of efforts to get the group back on its feet.
"As an interior designer, I have an interest in architecture, historic interiors, artifacts - the sorts of things Historic Annapolis is concerned with," she said.
Young Friends held a pub crawl late last year, upscaling it a bit by calling it a "Tavern Traipse," and there was another party in May in the Paca House gardens.
"Some come to drink wine in a beautiful setting," said Gill. "But others are there because they have a genuine interest in history."
"We're really just getting started, getting people involved," Foulke explained.
"As we learn more about the things Historic Annapolis does, I think we'll get more involved in some of its causes."
Notice the word involved, Professor Putnam.
On the waterfront
The arts, we know, can use all the help they can get.
The Cultural Arts Foundation of Anne Arundel County will sponsor the Annapolis Waterfront Festival Friday through Sunday along the shores of College Creek at St. John's College for the benefit of artists and the arts.
Carol Treiber, executive director of the foundation, said potters, woodworkers, metalworkers, painters, food vendors, a carousel, Norwegian huskies (Saturday and Sunday), and jazz, folk and bluegrass musicians will be on hand.
The hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children age 12 and under. Parking is available at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, with a free shuttle to the festival.
"We had about 10,000 people last year over a beautiful weekend," Treiber said.
The fund-raising will get serious at 6:30 p.m. Friday with a "preview party" featuring a silent auction, food and entertainment.
The foundation will introduce its "Annies" awards at the party, recognizing folks who have made contributions to the arts.
Tickets are $40 for foundation members, $50 for nonmembers.