You've probably already settled on a location - but I wanted to add my vote. Given what you have said, I personally think Silver Spring is your best bet. Columbia is really pretty but can have a very suburban vibe. Silver Spring, especially closer to downtown has a much crunchier vibe. Takoma Park too, but that is a slightly more annoying commute.
I live in Old Greenbelt which offers fewer "amenities" but has a fairly crunchy and very community-oriented vibe. Also the commute to Ft Meade is 10-15 minutes.