is having an opinion social crucifixion?

 

“Be wary because they also say what goes around comes around.”

That is but one of the public comments my blog received yesterday. Other comments included non publicly created gems like “eventually, we’ll get you.”

Remarkably, these were comments from women. Ladies, if you will.

Why?

For having an opinion that differed from the pack and for asking questions.

Sometimes as a blogger, I feel it’s just me that this is happening to me alone and then I hear it from other people.  Just yesterday as a matter fact someone I know was a guest on a nationwide talk show  where one of the hosts remarked  to my friend off stage as they were getting ready something along the lines of some days they didn’t know what they were going to talk about because no matter what they spoke about people were always unhappy, telling them they can’t have an opinion, saying they were horrible, and even issuing threats.

As a blogger and writer, I am not particularly controversial.  As a person I am not particularly controversial or extreme. But I do have opinions that will occasionally differ from the pack and I will ask questions about things that I find curious or which concern me.

And if someone takes issue with an opinion and if I comment back often I get this : “Oh, only you’re allowed to have an opinion?”. No, that is not what I said. It is as if I am supposed to take the keyboard lashings without further comment. Well truthfully sometimes I do, because it’s not worth arguing with someone who only cares about expressing their opinion, not in discussing something where opinions are opposing.

But yesterday I actually took the time to explain my position to a  keyboard critic.  I shouldn’t have bothered. She really wasn’t interested in a reasonable conversation, she was merely a self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner. Ok fine, she expressed her opinion. I have no problem with that. But I did have a problem with her dismissiveness of my taking the time to explain something to her which seemed important to her, followed by a thinly veiled social threat. 

… I am simply stating my OPINION which apparently is reserved only for you and not others!  I absolutely don’t have time to go back and forth with this nonsense!  It seems that your OPINION is the only OPINION that counts and I most definitely don’t have the desire to go around and around with you about this any longer… it’s like they say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results!  That My Dear is not in my wheelhouse so I’m out!  Good luck and be well, but be wary because they also say what goes around, comes around!

Ok eyes rolling? Really? This is what makes them a good person and me bad? 

Take away lesson here is supposed to be I am OK if I am a subservient bobblehead , not if I am expressing an opinion they don’t agree with? And they can talk at me, but we can’t have a conversation about it? And I’m not supposed to respond?

Sad.

I love living in Chester County, but what I’m discovering is there are people of similar vein everywhere: urban, suburban, and country. They  also come from all socioeconomic levels across the board. These are the people that are only comfortable when the opinions are uniform and almost of a single mind as if we are a bunch of Stepford wives. 

I don’t live like that. I have a brain and was raised to use it not hide it.  This nonsense is often all too reminiscent of the middle school and high school lunchroom and the antics we all remember and not always all too fondly.

A few years ago I read this great piece about blogging and having opinions:

Don’t Be Afraid To Have Opinions Or Take Sides

By Adam Singer Future Buzz

What makes blogs special to you?  To me, it is the unique viewpoints of individuals who express their thoughts uninterrupted by editors or restrictions other than the self-imposed variety.

I frequently inject opinion here and take sides.  That’s not really a secret and should be pretty clear if you’ve been reading for awhile.  I would like to think you’re here not necessarily because your agree or disagree with what I write, but that you think it is worth hearing and want to learn, interact and debate with me.

If you agree with everything all bloggers you read are saying, you’re not reading enough blogs.  I don’t think there is any blogger I read who I agree with all their thoughts.  Perhaps most interesting of all are posts I disagree with, as those are the kind that I’ll think deeper about, add my opinion on and back up why I disagree.

If you’re a blogger, don’t ever be afraid to have opinions or take sides, you’ll only succeed in getting in the way of what could potentially be great content.  Don’t second guess yourself….If we want bland content lacking heart, we’re not looking to blogs – it’s that simple.  We want to read sites that touch our emotions.  An easy way to do this is to write something you have a strong opinion on, one way or the other.  Don’t shy away from these types of posts, say what you feel and your audience will be moved.  There are too many people who wring the emotion out of their work, don’t let this happen to you. 

Many bloggers, especially those in business in technology write as if they are afraid to be wrong, and seem to think if they have one misstep they’ll be ruined.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You might as well not even keep a blog if you’re worried about being wrong on something – we’re only human and part of that is making mistakes and being wrong.  Certainly there is no better way to learn than making mistakes, and in fact if you aren’t making any in your blogging, you haven’t been doing it long enough.  No one is gets it right all the time. 

Bloggers like traditional writers have different styles. Do I agree with every blogger I come across? No. Do some of them make me uncomfortable? At times, yes. But they are entitled to their opinions.
Sometimes I find myself  writing about gardening, other times sharing a recipe, or showing you my latest photography or vintage find, or telling you about a restaurant or a shop I stumbled across that I thought was pretty cool.

But sometimes I’m going to have purely opinion driven piece of how I feel about something or something I don’t care for or something I am  questioning. 

Sometimes I even write about politics, religion, social politics, or even parenting topics. However, the  unfortunate thing is in today’s land of political correctness, these non-Suzy homemaker and gardener posts often amount to social crucifixion. 

Sometimes I wonder if sociologically, we are regressing? Are we bringing back the Scarlet letter?  Dunking people to see if they  sink or float, thereby determining if they are a witch or not?

A lot of this phenomenon is determined by keyboard courage. A lot of people feel very free  to express themselves in certain ways that they would never do in person in. Hence the advent in our society of cyber bullying. Some just perform a “bless your heart” on you and think you don’t realize it and keep on moving.

I have friends who have online presences to compliment  their various aspects of business and even they experience these online kerfuffles. One recently described it and pretty simplistic terms. They said you can say the sky is blue, and you will get 50 comments telling you that you’re wrong that is cerulean or aqua. And they will fight you to the death online to make sure their opinion is the only one left standing. And why?  Because you said something wrong or you said something they didn’t want to hear?

George Orwell once wrote “The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.”  

He also said when he was releasing Animal Farm (quite controversial in it’s day)  “The chief danger to freedom of thought and speech at this moment is not the direct interference of  any official body. If publishers and editors exert themselves to keep certain topics out of print, it is not because they are frightened of prosecution but because they are frightened of public opinion…..intellectual cowardice is the worst enemy a writer or journalist has to face.”

I’m not comparing myself to George Orwell, let me be clear, I just found his comments timely in a weird way. Another great writer, E.B. White also touched many times on this topic of censorship. As did Galileo when it came to the Catholic Church centuries earlier.

And again, I am not comparing myself to E.B. White or Galileo. I am doing is pointing out that for a country based on certain freedoms, we certainly can be as backwards as our ancestors some days.

Having an independent thought or an opinion shouldn’t  amount to social crucifixion, but it does. Does that make me a martyr? Certainly not. It’s just another interesting thing to observe sociologically. 

And it all amounts to the more things change, the more things stay the same. Just like it is always easier to tell someone they are crazy, or infer they are a bad person, or berate or threaten them rather than have a conversation or discussion and discover opposing points of view that differ from your own. 

People react differently to things that put them out of their comfort level. Sometimes that is a positive and sometimes not. A lot of people like to live in a predictable little box where they control the universe. And that’s also OK, their universe doesn’t have to be my universe and vice versa.

I am sure this post will spark a conversation and even chiding  directed at yours truly. That’s OK. Thank you to my critics giving me more food for thought.

Thanks for stopping by on a stormy day!

adult summer reading

Yes, gardening magazines are always part of my summer reading and fall reading and my winter reading and my spring reading. But I’m not writing a post to tell you that you should be reading Fine Gardening Magazine, even if I do think it is the best gardening magazine out there today.

I am talking about a novel I just finished called Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

I had heard buzz about it, and a lot of people have been reading it that I know from Shipley because it was written by a Shipley graduate and basically the school at the center of the book is a fictional private school very much like Shipley.  Reese Witherspoon has also optioned the movie rights. (She had Main Line experience when she came to Philadelphia to film a movie a few years ago and if I recall correctly she rented a house somewhere around Gladwyne and Haverford during filming, but I digress.)

If you grew up on the Main Line and/or went to one of the private schools you should really read this book. It’s fascinating, darkly accurate and darn fun to read.

It’s crime fiction but it’s not just that. It also is utterly spot on as to what life in a Main Line private school could be and was like— complete with the different tiers of kids and school social status.

Truthfully, for a debut novel it’s pretty powerful and yes can be quite dark. The depiction of the lunch room is also spot on.

The funny thing is that although I’ve heard a lot of Shipley graduates talking about this book I don’t remember seeing anything that the school put out. Maybe I missed it.

Main Line Today wrote about the book and I read the article after I finished the book. I always felt that the inspiration for the other fictional school in the novel was actually Villa Maria and I think I was right. Of course this makes me wonder that one of the many brief descriptions of teachers at the school is actually a teacher I remember and not particularly fondly. 

The descriptions of the area, down to pizza places are spot on. But I would expect no less of someone who grew up in the area. But what is most fascinating to me is how accurate and unabashed the author is about writing about growing up and going to school on the Main Line. And the types of parents she writes about, we all lived through.  

One of the sub- topics in her book, the reaction to new non-WASP kids at a school, resonated with me because I have a vowel on the end of my name. I also came to Shipley in the Upper School and wasn’t a lifer. Yes, I had some friends there going into the school as a new student,  but I still remember the new girl feeling and the pit in the bottom of my stomach which accompanied it.

The author also depicts the whole working in your twenties and the hoopla around weddings and the crossroads some found themselves in.

The book is a work of fiction but it is one of those books that will resonate with a lot of different people.

I will admit I have a thing about books and movies set in this area. That is what drew me to the book initially. What kept me is the main character. Sort of an anti-heroine but oddly real for a fictional character. I liked her and I loved the novel. Check the book out!

Thanks for stopping by.

in the pocket visits east whiteland

post cover

You have to give East Whiteland Township and Friends of Summer Stage credit. They do summer concerts  right!  Last evening’s concert  courtesy of them, Point Entertainment, and WXPN, was  David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket.

post 1Davis Uosikkinen is with the Hooters. This is his own individual project and he calls it “Essential Songs of Philadelphia”. And it so is. His band is a revolving and evolving cast of the men and woman who give Philadelphia it’s unique musical perspective and sound, and in many cases have for years and years.  The line up depends on the availability of the artist.post 2

Last evening the concert was moved from Valley Creek Park into the conference center at  Penn State Great Valley. The line-up was amazing –

David Uosikkinen – The Hooters, Kenny Aaronson – Bob Dylan / John Eddie,Richard Bush – The A’s,Steve Butler – Smash Palace,Tommy Conwell – The Young Rumblers, Jay Davidson – Steve Winwood / The Funk Brothers,Greg Davis – Beru Revue,Jeffrey Gaines,Jerry Getz – Beru Revue,Cliff Hillis ,Kenn Kweder,Charlie & Richie Ingui – Soul Survivors,Zou Zou Mansour,Wally Smith – Smash Palace / Crosstown Traffic.

I will also note that David’s son Samuel Uosikkinen played with In The Pocket as well last evening. He is a very talented musician in his own right!

post 5

I loved every song. I will admit a Richard Bush /Kinks cover and Punkrock Girl were among my favorites but Zou Zou Mansour killed it with Be My Baby, and Ken Kweeder’s Me and Mrs. Jones was also terrific!

 

The set list was:

Change Reaction – Steve Butler / Cliff Hillis
I’m Not Like Everybody Else – ZouZou Mansour
Be My Baby – ZouZou Mansour
Open My Eyes – Jeffrey Gaines
I Saw The Light – Cliff Hillis
Turn On A Dime – Cliff Hillis
Good To Be The King – Greg Davis
Moon River – Greg Davis
Me and Mrs. Jones – Kenn Kweder
Like A Rolling Stone – Kenn Kweder
Count The Days – Steve Butler
Turn On Your Love Light – Charlie & Richie Ingu (Soul Survivors)
Back Stabbers – Charlie & Richie Ingu (Soul Survivors)
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – Charlie & Richie Ingu (Soul Survivors)
Expressway To Your Heart heart emoticon – Charlie & Richie Ingu (Soul Survivors)
Punk Rock Girl – Richard Bush
You Really Got Me – Richard Bush
Sunny Afternoon – Richard Bush
Woman’s Got The Power – Richard Bush
Can’t Sit Down – Tommy Conwell
Everything They Say Is True – Tommy Conwell
If We Never Meet Again – Tommy Conwell
Workout – Tommy Conwell
I’m Not You’re Man – Tommy Conwell
Beat Up Guitar – Richard Bush w/ In The Pocket band (Everybody else)

post 6

If I really want to date myself I can admit I have been listening to Eric Bazilian and the Hooters since they would perform at places like Harriton High School back in the day.  Music is definitely a thread of continuity in our lives and this concert reminded me of so many points in time. Like in the way back time machine to when summer housemates were Avalon Cabaret girls, so you never knew which members of the bands you would find at our place, often hiding our from the groupies that would hang outside the steps of the band quarters at the Avalon Cabaret.

 

post 7In recent years, I have gotten to know other sounds like Jim Boggia (who wasn’t playing with In the Pocket last evening, but does) and Jeffrey Gaines, who used to be the neighbor of myself and friends of mine. Now Jeffrey is also a very compassionate musician and in 2007 when friends of mine and I planned a fundraiser for a woman named Moira who had been struck with viral encephalitis and needed a lot of medical care, he was among the many talented musicians who donated their time completely to a fundraiser and concert.post 4

All of the musicians who played last night were amazing! I had not seen Tommy Conwell perform in so many years, and  he has not lost a note, step, or guitar lick.

It was a truly magical musical event and if you have the chance to go see David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket perform – run. It is an amazing experience and just an evening of awesome sounds!

guitar

the case for open space

See this photo above? The one I am opening this post with? Gorgeous view and vista, right? That is what conserved and protected open space looks like.  That is part of the 571 gloriously preserved acres on Stroud Preserve, which we all have to visit thanks to the Natural Lands Trust. This is one reason why I am so in awe of this non-profit.  They are amazing.

Now look at the next photo. Also taken by me from the air a couple of years ago and notice the difference:

 
Next is another shot- both of these were taken over Chester County . 

  
Recently we attended a party out near or in West Vincent. We got turned around on the way and ended up in a development I never knew existed.  I think it may have been off Fellowship Road, I am not sure, because it was one of those times where you just get all turned around. 

Anyway, we ended up in this development that had rather large houses so crammed together you felt as if you were in one of the houses and stuck your arm out the window that you could basically touch the neighbor’s house.  Don’t misunderstand me, it was a pretty, well-kept neighborhood but it looked so incredibly phony, almost like a movie set. Or a life sized model. And it was also very odd because it was a neighborhood no one was outside. Not even to walk a dog. It was eerie.

Every day we hear about more and more developments happening. Just this weekend somebody posted the following photo taken  in West Vincent:

  
If I have the location correct it is on Birchrun Road and has passed through a couple of developers’ hands? Like Hankin and now Pulte maybe?  Anyway soon this will be a crop of plastic houses. And it seems like Chester County keeps sprouting  more and more crops of densely placed plastic houses.

You would think that Chester County would have learned from the mistakes of Montgomery and Delaware Counties.

Just look at what once was Foxcatcher Farm or the DuPont estate in Newtown Square at Goshen and 252? How is any of that attractive? And look at the beautiful natural habitat that was literally bulldozed under. I said before I’m a realist, I didn’t expect when an estate like that was broken up it would remain pristine and intact, especially given the history and events of recent years.  However, it still shocks me that none of the land was truly conserved. In my opinion, the only land that has not been built upon is land they couldn’t build upon easily.

   

The two photos you’re looking at above I took this spring. Giant manor sized  houses so close together .  And they are going up lickety-split in all of  their Tyvec glory.

I think it’s horrible. I think it’s horrible especially since I have seen what nonprofits like the Natural Lands Trust are able to accomplish and achieve in land preservation. But did Newtown Township ever wanted to preserve any of it given the projects that have almost but not quite happened on the former  Arco/Ellis school site in recent years? 

However there are many opinions when to comes to development. Recently my blog posts about Foxcatcher, which are in some cases years old, were brought up again on a  Facebook page about Newtown Square.

   

Ok so this Nathan above  is entitled to his opinion even if he is somewhat ignorant in his approach.  I never called Newtown Supervisors  “commissioners” are we will start with that. And if he wants to go pointing fingers, there are several villains in these plays.  At the top of my list are  local municipal elected officials, state elected officials, and developers.

We’ll start with the local elected officials. These are the people that have temporary elected stewardship over our communities. I think they have an obligation to represent us all equally and not just select factions or special interests. But the reality of politics even on the most local level is that is whom they cater to exactly.  Are we talking about real or theoretical payola  here? Doesn’t matter because at the end of the day they get sold a bill of goods and they know better than the rest of us. When you challenge a local municipality on development most of the time they will throw up their hands and say “Wecan’t do anything. All our codes are based on the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.”

Then there are the state elected officials. These are the guys whose  campaigns are supported by not only local elected officials but people with big check books  like developers. Our politicians on the state level could reform and update the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code but they don’t want to deal with it.
 They also don’t want to deal with the building and development lobbyists. And it’s those lobbying groups that killed a very interesting bill that was proposed in Pennsylvania a few years ago.

This was known as HB904 in the seission of 2007:

AN ACT 1 Amending the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), entitled, 2 as amended, “An act to empower cities of the second class A, 3 and third class, boroughs, incorporated towns, townships of 4 the first and second classes including those within a county 5 of the second class and counties of the second through eighth 6 classes, individually or jointly, to plan their development 7 and to govern the same by zoning, subdivision and land 8 development ordinances, planned residential development and 9 other ordinances, by official maps, by the reservation of 10 certain land for future public purpose and by the acquisition 11 of such land; to promote the conservation of energy through 12 the use of planning practices and to promote the effective 13 utilization of renewable energy sources; providing for the 14 establishment of planning commissions, planning departments, 15 planning committees and zoning hearing boards, authorizing 16 them to charge fees, make inspections and hold public 17 hearings; providing for mediation; providing for transferable 18 development rights; providing for appropriations, appeals to 19 courts and penalties for violations; and repealing acts and 20 parts of acts,” adding provisions to authorize temporary 21 development moratorium. 22 The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 23 hereby enacts as follows: 24 Section 1. The act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), known 25 as the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, reenacted and  1 amended December 21, 1988 (P.L.1329, No.170), is amended b.

This act stayed around a couple of years until it was just made to disappear. it was last referenced in a 2009 article:

Philadelphia Inquirer: A home-building ban in an economic crisis? By Diane Mastrull

Amid an economic disaster that has brought the home-building industry to its knees, a Pennsylvania lawmaker intends to resume his push for building moratoriums.
A building ban? When federal-stimulus proponents long for a resumption of the construction cacophony of hammers and electric saws?
The moratorium advocate, State Rep. Robert Freeman (D., Northampton), insists he’s not hard-hearted when it comes to builders.
“It’s important for us to stimulate our economy, so I’d be glad to get the home builders back to work,” Freeman said in a recent interview.
He just wants to ensure that when the orders for new houses start pouring in again, communities have a way to temporarily stop the bulldozers if they do not have adequate growth plans and ordinances in place.
“It gives the opportunity for those folks who have been feeling the pressure from development to take a breather,” Freeman said of moratoriums.
Municipalities currently have the right to reject a development proposal if it does not meet local land-use requirements. But they cannot simply declare that no building can occur if in fact there is room to accommodate it. Freeman wants to give them the temporary right to do so – but only if a town determines that it is overwhelmed by development and that its growth plans, ordinances, and zoning are inadequate to address that crush.

That bill was a great idea. It would’ve allowed communities to hit the pause button for a brief amount of time.

As individuals and residents  in these communities facing wanton development our culpability partially lies in the fact that we keep electing these people to public office. And once these people are in elected office, not many are willing to hold their feet to the proverbial fire are they?

I also do not feel it is as simple as saying people should just put up the money to buy all the open space. 

Ordinary people don’t often have the means to match what developers will pay so they can put up hundreds if not thousands of houses.  Even on small building sites, often regular people cannot match what developers will offer to buy a house as a tear down because the lot or neighborhood is desirable for them to build on . I saw that happen a few years ago when someone was trying to buy a house and they ended up bidding against a developer. They just walked away from it. They couldn’t compete.

But as for people like this Nathan, I am not going to just zip my lip as so eloquently stated. We need to speak out about these monster developments in order to preserve our very way of life. It’s not just open space, it’s more complicated than that. It’s what makes us want to live in a specific area in the first place. We are trying to preserve our communities. Our sense of place.

People who are extraordinarily pro-development for whatever reason will immediately label people like myself as being completely “anti-development”. But that isn’t it .

What we are looking for is yes, preservation and land conservation, but also moderation.  And when is the last time in recent years that you have seen moderation in any kind of development?  The ironic thing is that shortsighted on the part of the developers. If they exercised moderation once in a while they would get a lot farther with their plans.

But it is as if development is revving up to warp speed once again.  It makes me wonder if that is why people in Chester County can’t save their oak tree – seriously, it’s in the Daily Local:

Chester Springs family works to save 270-year-old oak tree 

By Virginia Lindak, For 21st-Century Media

Chester Springs resident Jim Helm has spent the last several weeks trying to save a historical estimated 270-year-old oak tree on his property from being destroyed by utility companies. The tree, which stands on the border of his property, extends into power lines which run along the road, making it vulnerable for unwarranted trimming and cutting by Verizon and PECO…Recently the Helms discovered Verizon crews cutting off branches of the oak tree and halted engineers as best they could, as the police were called in to regulate the situation and ordered the Helms back to their house. West Vincent Township officials have told the Helms they want to help save the tree but progress has been slow. 
Helm noted that between the trimming conducted by Verizon and West Vincent Township, 25 percent of the tree’s canopy is now gone….Perhaps a larger question continues to loom; as modern development continues to grow at a rapid rate in Chester County, who will advocate on behalf of the few, rare old trees left and save them from being cut down?

We need open space. We also need just basic land and community preservation. Every plastic McMansion, “Carriage House” and townhouse development that comes along further detracts from what makes where we live special. It lines the pockets of developers and creates a sea of plastic houses that are ridiculously close together.  Also, what do we as communities really get out of these developments except traffic jams and a change in our overall ecological profile?

From one end of Pennsylvania to the other we need land development reforms. We desperately need to re-define what suburbs and exurbs are. Having the ability for our communities to have temporary moratoriums on development is not a bad thing, either. And in order to get these things we have to put better people in elected office from the most local level through to the Governor’s mansion. 

We also need to better support land conservation groups. If we don’t, open-space will merely become an antiquated term with no practical or real applicability.

Thanks for stopping by.

cyclists need to actually share the road…and obey the laws

 

When people in favor of bicycle lanes get up in public meetings to demand more room on the road, it is scenes like this one above which make me somewhat unsympathetic to their cause.  See, unfortunately the ignorance photographed above this morning in Paoli happens far too often.

This photo came with the following comment:

So, it’s not often that I get on my “soapbox”, but these people are grown men, not boys, and they ride ….and take over the whole road. Not only did they ride in the middle of the road while chatting with each other, but when we got to the red light at Lancaster Ave in Paoli they looked both ways and went through the RED light.

Is it okay to break the law because you are on a bike? I’m happy to share the road with bicyclists, but it would be nice if they would respect the law and the people who have to share the road with them!

Amen. 

To this I add the problems with dealing with these cyclists on the trails out here in Chester County. They often zoom by on a trail with little regard or care for small children with their parents on bicycles or people who are just walking, let alone walking their dogs. 

And these cyclists also often show complete disregard for crossing the road safely when the trails break over busy roads. Three of my favorite examples are where the trail breaks over Ship Road, Phoenixville Pike, and Bacton Hill Road. We all are supposed to slow down for them, but they can just disregard stop signs, traffic lights , and other rules of the road….with great regularity. And if you honk at them they glare at you and can actually be quite nasty.

On the roads, a lot of these inconsiderate cyclists give good cyclists a bad name. Not only do they completely block the road or just entire lanes of traffic, but they are also NOT keeping up with the flow of traffic while they do so, and can be quite aggressive. I have a couple friends who are runners who have actually been run into by cyclists  on the roads then the cyclists yelled at these people basically for having the nerve to be out jogging. And the cyclists are actually running into people because they’re not paying attention

Have you ever been on the road that actually has bike lanes only cyclists ahead of you aren’t using them at all? Why are we putting our taxpayer dollars into these “road improvements” so we can “share the road” when they don’t know the first meaning of what it is to share the road?

When you’re driving and you come across cyclists like the ones photographed above, or the ones who also travel in packs and zigzag in and out of traffic, it is nerve-racking.  If you as a motorist hit someone on a bicycle you know it’s going to be bad, and the problem is it’s someone grossly UNfair because they created the dangerous situation in the first place.

I know a lot of cyclists are going to read this post and be really angry. But the thing is this: they need get the point across to their fellow cyclists that they are sharing the road and trails with other people and  vehicles and that they need to obey the same rules of the road as the rest of us.

that crazy circle of life

  

Life is funny in the way it brings great people back into your life. Some say it is the universe rewarding you, but I think it just fate and dumb luck and a case of you just never know.

So yesterday I found out that a childhood friend and his brothers were making a quick pit stop in Pennsylvania for their little sister’s wedding. Ok first thought is don’t I feel old, I was one of her and her sister’s first babysitters. Yes, I first met her as not much more than a toddler. Then I promptly got all misty eyed.

Then last evening after dinner company had gone home I was cruising through timelines to check out the wedding photos. They were terrific photos and it obviously was such a beautiful day! But then I caught a name I had not heard in over 20 years.

“It couldn’t be”, I thought. But it was. A woman my much younger self had been friends with and known through a roommate long ago. Just one of those people who was so much fun to be around and I always remembered her.   She was one of the first people from Chester County I met as an adult and became friends with as well. We go back so far that we used to meet up at Lion’s Share on 100 when it wasn’t a diner!

Life ended up taking us in different directions, she moved for a few years, and we lost touch. But I always remembered her, and her grandmother used to live not far from where I used to live on the Main Line.

So anyway, this woman I used to know was the Godmother and Aunt of the young man marrying my friend’s baby sister! The world doesn’t get much smaller than that!

Through the blessing in the curse of the social media I was able to contact my old friend, and this morning we sat on the phone for a long time like the 20 somethings we used to be. The years melted away and we played Cliff Notes version of catch-up and it was pretty cool.

As it ends up we have been living not so far away from each other for a few years now.  And we’re going to get together soon and continue the game of catch up as well as getting to know each other in the stage of our lives.

Anyway, it was a cool life comes full circle moment that I thought I would share. 

Have a great Sunday!

life today and our children

  

This photo (which has been shown publicly on NBC10 ) started making the rounds on social media locally almost two days before the Great Valley School  District released the following statement:

(NOTE: This is the text of email  sent out last evening by GVSD and parents are all starting to chatter about how it happened two days ago and GVSD is just sending this out:)

(Below is text of district email)


“This School Messenger is to inform you of an incident that occurred on our campus yesterday. I want to make sure you have accurate information and dispel any rumors you may have heard about the incident.

There was an altercation between two male students in our high school. A single punch was thrown and one of those students was seriously hurt. The student was taken to the hospital by ambulance and was in serious condition. Today, the student’s  condition has improved and he was receptive to a visit by Mr. Flick, our high school principal. Our prayers are with the student and his family.

The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. The proper procedures and protocol were followed as outlined by School Board Policy 218. To dispel some rumors that have emerged, this was not a gang related situation nor was it a group beating of an individual. 

We ask your support in the following ways:

•    Talk frequently with your children about what they are hearing and seeing on the news, at school or on social media. 

•    Discuss with them the seriousness of spreading rumors or false information.

•    Encourage them to report any suspicious activity to a trusted adult at school, or to you. You may call your school administration directly.  

In the true spirit of Great Valley, students and faculty raised $450 today for the family of the student.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call my office or Mr. Flick at the High School. Thank you for your support and assistance in keeping our campus safe for everyone.”
Respectfully,

Dr. Alan J. Lonoconus
Superintendent of Schools
Great Valley School District



Ok. Deep breath.

This poor boy is 16. I am told that he and his family are new to this country? Is this how we, born of the land of the free, welcome new immigrants to our shores? Whose American Dream is this?

I find extraordinarily troublesome that Great Valley went around in circles and didn’t address this within hours of the incident happening. This is something that you need to as a district get out in front of . That gives the appearance of trying to deny this incident even happened for two days and this boy no matter how it happened could have died couldn’t he have?

On other Facebook pages there are parents talking about this quite a bit. Apparently this fight landed this boy into a coma and although he seems to be awake he’s on an oxygen tank and they’re waiting to see if there is brain damage and how would you like to be the mother? Sitting by your child’s bedside new to this country, and wondering what was going to happen?

Here is what NBC10 reported:

Chester County Teen Falls Into Coma After Punch in the Face Over Headphones

By Vince Lattanzio

….Selvin Cartagena was with a cousin and friend inside Great Valley High School around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday when the 17-year-old and his buddy got into an argument over headphones, the teen’s family said. The headphones, which belong to the friend, were supposedly damaged causing the argument.
Cartagena’s mother said the argument escalated to violence with her son being punched in the face. The boy fell unconscious after the assault and could not be waked. He was taken to Paoli Hospital and placed on a ventilator.

The teen, who arrived in the U.S. from Guatemala last year and speaks little English, remained in the coma until Thursday afternoon when he was able to open his eyes and talk some. It’s not clear if he suffered permanent brain damage.



I am hoping that a group like Latino Luncheon which meets in West Chester monthly will start a Go Fund Me page or something to raise funds for the family. This counts as a traumatic brain injury and as I have a friend who’s daughter is still recovering from one, I know that it takes a lot of therapy and a lot of doctors which equals a lot of money.

I think you can safely say that there are a lot of parents out there in the school district who are upset that this was kept from them for two days, then there are the other parents who were upset because they’ve been aware of this along with their children for two days and no action was taken immediately by the district publicly. And then (sadly) there are the parents who said what did eveyone expect from Great Valley School District. I totally understand that it might take a bit to get a proper statement out, but this should have been at least acknowledged to the families of the district more quickly.

Have they offered counseling at the high school? Can you imagine how upsetting this was for any teenager that witnessed it?


So the early media reports and parents say East Whiteland Police are investigating and so on? What does the Chester county District Attorney’s Office have to say about this? See that’s the other thing, there is another child involved – the one who I would say probably accidentally caused this. Unless it is proven that this other child has a history of fighting in school this is a horrible accident and how do we deal with that as a society?

If this was just a horrible accident, then I think we have to look to the mental health of the boy who threw  the punch. I would guess the child is horribly upset and he might be 16 but that  is still a child, so do you treat him like an adult or do you treat him like the kid that is? And how do you treat him? Do you get him into therapy and anger management or do you just lock kids up who do these things and throw away the key?  


I think you have to consider therapy and anger management and compassion all the way around. As a stepparent I can tell you I honestly would struggle with this if this happened to my child on either side of the incident. But as an adult I don’t want the lives of two kids ruined before they have lived their lives do you? 


Undoubtedly this is an isolated incident unless there are histories of fights going on in the high school that no one is aware of.  But that doesn’t mean as a community we shouldn’t discuss this and be proactive so it doesn’t happen again.

I am not a law-enforcement or educational professional so they will have to decide this. But I caution people that the court of public opinion is very important here. And have the responsibility as adults to show our kids the best paths in life possible. After all something like this could spark a stupid and  an ill advised  response from friends of these teens and their families so let’s come together and be proactive as a community, not reactive. Cool and thoughtful heads must prevail. 

So in my humble opinion that means you have to show them there are solutions to things in life other than using your fists or a weapon. And games and materialistic items shouldn’t have such a value that they translate into threatening human life. I don’t know how else to describe it. 

Violence only begets violence and somewhere along the way we have to hit the pause button as a society. And we also have to pay more attention, perhaps better attention to our kids. Being a teen or tween in today’s world is not easy. Emotions run high hormonally to begin with, setting any other influences aside.

I have been thinking about tweens and teens a lot recently. It wasn’t prompted by this incident it was prompted by the untimely death of a young woman who had battled depression and addiction issues. This girl had a family who was totally behind her recovery and supportive and yet the unthinkable happened. Then earlier this year there was the suicide  of the boy named Cayman.

It’s not easy being a kid today. I’m not saying it was all easy and no problems with any of us were growing up, but it seems today it’s a lot more intense for lack of a better description.

I see a lot of programs out there for very little kids to teach them not to bully and how to get along and how to talk to people, but once the kids hit tween and teen years I don’t hear about these things as much.  

Look I have a teenager I know it is like banging your head against the wall some days. They aren’t necessarily communicative and they think they know everything. But they don’t know everything and neither do we.  But we are all on this bus called life together, and I think we all need to make more of an effort to figure it out. 

And I think we need to do a little more than the school district (Great Valley) has done thus far. Like it or not I think there need to be more programs in the schools, and sponsored by school districts, churches, YMCAS and so on.  

Call them teen summits or whatever you want, but the organizations that have the ability to put these programs together with mental health professionals, law-enforcement, and someone need to get on the ball around here. And parents and kids should be required to go.  We need to facilitate more community conversations on this. We need to make sure that our kids have safe places to go to discuss problems. Maybe local PTAs and school booster associations could turn the focus to something like this. To me it has more value than pom-poms and  school spirit buttons.

From fist fights to cyber bullying to depression, additction, abuse, we need to talk about it and deal with it. TOGETHER.

If any go fund me or similar pages pop-up to help this boy and his family with his upcoming medical costs please feel free to leave the link in a comment below this post.

Thanks for stopping by and stay cool today it’s hot out there.