to the class of 2018

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Photo from my own high school graduation, 1981.   

The other day Spotify popped up with Don Henley’s The End of the Innocence in the song rotation.  Now it’s like an earworm.  The opening lyrics were playing in my head when I woke up:

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standing by

The song was written in 1989 by Don Henley and Bruce Hornsby.  Bruce Hornsby has been one of my favorite musicians since forever, and I liked this independent phase of Don Henley, so I have always loved this song.

I wonder if it is on my mind because this is the last week of high school for our son, my stepson?

I know that as a teenager about to graduate high school we are all annoying parental units, but where has the time gone?

GraduationI remember with great love the 10 year old with big eyes who loved hot chocolate and who used to make me apple slices with peanut butter on them.

Mind you I  love my 18 year old very much, but well…teenagers don’t make you apple slices with peanut butter or want to sit and drink cocoa with you.  They are here, and then they are out with their friends. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.

Our son has done tremendously well in high school and we are SO proud of him.  He was accepted early decision to a truly remarkable school.  He is poised for success for the rest of his life.

And one of the best things I can say about our son, is that he is very much his father’s son in so many ways.  He is kind and loving and has a true generosity of spirit and loyalty to all in his world.  He has wonderful friends.

Time has flown.

In a sense, he (my son/stepson) and I have grown up together since as a stepparent I was late to this parenting game.

Sometimes it was very hard for me, I won’t lie.  Not because of our son, but the whole getting used to being a parent.  And being a stepparent is vastly different a role from being a parent.   It’s more of a supporting role.  And sometimes you have to keep your mouth shut, even when you don’t want to. (And well ME not having an opinion sometimes is torture!)

When he was in 8th grade I did not know if I could do it.  First of all, they all started dating then.  Dating in 8th grade is not something I did – probably because I was a year plus ahead in school, so I know back then, my emotional levels were completely different from my classmates. But it’s a different time and you do your best to adapt.

My growing up as a stepparent has not been without odd experiences.  Like the first dance.

I remember the first dance, the spring formal for our son in 8th grade like it was yesterday.  I was so incredibly nervous.    It was my first social function for the school as a stepparent.  They needed someone to photograph the group of kids going together to the dance, so I volunteered.  It is something I already do, and having a camera in my hands in new situations is very calming.

We were going to the house of the girl our son was dating for pre-dance photos.  First girlfriend, first dance, official stepparent debut.  And no one spoke to me while I was there. Seriously.  I walked in and no one said hello, no one spoke to me the entire time.  Not even our son’s date’s parents at whose home the photos took place. It was like one of those dreams where you are speaking to people, but you are invisible, so they glide on by, not hearing or seeing you.

I was ready to hang up the stepparent dress right then and there.  It was awful.  Almost as bad as my first experience in the car rider line when I accidentally got into the wrong line and people surrounded my car and started yelling at me like I was an ax murderer. But then it all changed. Then I met the parents that helped me grow and get through high school as a learning stepparent.

These were the parents who welcomed me before the 9th grade dance.  Parents of boys and girls in his class, and I am appreciative of all of them.  I love the time spent with them. They welcomed me to their circle. And from there, we watched our kids grow.  I no longer felt such the outsider.  I felt I had a place among them.

I just spent time with a few of them over Memorial Day Weekend as a matter of fact. We laughed and talked about high school with the kids. It was wonderful.  And every single kid has a  bright future ahead of them.

In a way this is also like my graduation as a stepparent.  Sounds weird but it’s true. I survived and he survived me surviving.  We survived him learning how to drive and me being nervous, SATs/ACTs, girlfriends I didn’t like, and generally growing up.

And that growing up is both of us. My son deserves a medal for surviving me learning how to be a parent and stepparent.  It’s hard.  And some days I swear I still stink at it. But again, I love this kid.  To the moon and back.  I did not give birth to him, but he is firmly and forever etched in my heart.

His father and I love him so much and are  so very proud of him. (And he will tell you I had the total meltdown complete with tears this morning when I told him how proud we were of him.)

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Back in the Dark Ages before social media and cell phones when we graduated

I have many friends with graduating seniors this year.  Some of whom are close friends I have known since we were basically the age of our kids.

To my friends: I have loved every prom photo, travel photo, dance recital , sports event, travails of boyfriends and girlfriends and swearing we of course did NOT drive our parents as crazy, every everything.  You guys have been my rocks, my teachers on the learning curve of not losing your mind on dumb stuff. It is somewhat surreal to think our kids are graduating as I remember graduation with some of you.  Lined up in our white dresses, with our flowers.

To my friends with all of this ahead of them, get out your tissues…it’s emotional parental puddle time. And take time to smell the roses.

Where has the time gone???  It feels like yesterday I was in his place, getting ready to graduate.

(And yes, I am passing along my earworm)

Thanks for stopping by.

 

marshallton/marshallton… in negatives

So a friend of a mutual friend bought a box of stuff somewhere at a sale a while back.

They wanted this cool wooden box, and they really had no idea that within the box was a treasure. Or in my opinion a treasure.

Part of what was in the box were negatives of older Marshallton, PA….1966.

What is really exciting is who is attributed to these negatives. And that would be George Albert Mershon, Jr. – as in the man who created the Marshalton Inn, Oyster Bar, and Bar & Restaurant in West Chester. He was also one of the creators of the Marshallton Triathlon.

Apparently there are a whole bunch of Marshallton area photos. The person lending me these images put them on a light box and sent them to me.

The Marshalton Inn under Mr. Mershon, was a favorite of my late father’s. I remember special dinners there.

My friends and I loved the Oyster Bar and we had several totally fun nights before Thanksgiving at the Bar & Restaurant. The Gobble Off was SO fun!

Still today, I love the Four Dogs Tavern.

And for those who wonder about the Marshallton/ Marshalton of it all refer to the current website:

Some may notice that the name of the village (Marshallton) and the name of the restaurant (Marshalton) are spelled differently. During a property transfer, “Marshalton” was misspelled on a deed. The error was never corrected.

I love when I have the opportunity to share cool stuff like this with my readers. Especially given all the development over near the village of Marshallton. It’s important for people to remember the “good old days”

Happy Memorial Day. Remember those who served — like George Albert Mershon, Jr. He flew planes in the Navy during the Korean War.

mob mentality

“Herd mentality and mob mentality, also lesser known as gang mentality, describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational, basis.”

Mob mentality is actually a real thing. And I think social media takes it to new and even more unpleasant levels.

I read the other day a most interesting piece from 2015:

What is mob mentality? Also known as herd mentality, it “describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items… Social psychologists study the related topics of group intelligence, crowd wisdom, and decentralized decision making” …..What are some of the best ways to combat mob mentality? Forbes.com has come out with a well-written article on how one should combat mob mentality. They suggest the following: 1. Stop being on autopilot. 2. Make a conscious effort to form your own opinion. 3. Take time to make decisions. 4. Be aware in which way stress affects your decisions making. 5. Be willing to stand out. All of these steps require the individual to forsake being lazy with ones own character. It requires self-evaluation and time to make decisions in ones own life. It requires self-fortitude in ones own opinions, and accepting the fact that, while some birds may chirp louder than the others, that doesn’t mean that they are good leaders.

It really makes you think about social media doesn’t it? It’s not merely political operatives from wherever influencing U.S. elections, it influences how we think it is o.k. to behave in a more localized manner.

(And yes, please DO read the Forbes.com article.)

We all look at Facebook from time to time and marvel at what people will post on their own pages, and in community groups. A woman posting a screen shot of a car title was a recent shake your head moment. We live in an age of identity theft, so why would you post things that would give hackers an edge?

Facebook community groups are one of the best places to see what mob mentality can do. Especially in the “closed” groups. People think they can say what they want, behave how they want. In this virtual setting of life they often say things and behave in ways you would never see in person, in real human time.

In these groups, in theory, you should be able to form an individual thought or perspective. But most of the time you can’t. Vox populi aren’t really comfortable. Safe topics are like what’s on sale at Target, sadly. Other safe topics include crowdsourcing what you are going to wear somewhere or where the best mani-pedi is.

It is utterly astounding to me the long list of often quite ordinary and mundane things you can’t discuss. And like Alice down the rabbit hole I discovered that this week and it was “off with her head” for me.

I posted about the cause and effect of too much development. I prefaced my comments with the fact that I was not targeting any new development in particular, these were generalist comments. About the process, or should I say what I feel to be a lack of equatable process involving and incorporating how the existing residents of an area feel.

Too much development affects school districts. School districts and municipalities are autonomous from each other, yet they are interconnected because development that municipalities approve has a direct impact on school districts.

In Lower Merion Township this week, residents of that township and supporters of open space, land conservation, Stoneleigh a Natural Lands property as well as the non-profit Natural Lands attended a school board meeting en masse. Why? Because Lower Merion School District seems to think that protected, conserved, and preserved land should be theirs like a plumb for the picking via eminent domain or other intimidation measures (listen here on YouTube.)

This school district has never opened its mouth to at home township expressing any kind of even concern over development and how it affects their school district. But now they think the former Haas property Stoneleigh should be theirs for the taking so instead of finding solutions on property they already own to address enrollment, they think it’s ok to just steal land and build more.

The outcome of this scenario will have a ripple effect in a lot of places. It will make people think twice before they donate land to land conservancies and I think that’s criminal.

So what is going on in Lower Merion should be a cautionary tale to those of us in Chester County because we are dealing with so much development from municipality to municipality and school district to school district…. especially those of us who are in either Great Valley or Tredyffrin Easttown or Downingtown as far as a school districts go.

I am not being mean, I am not singling out individual development dwellers, it is the cause and effect of development. It is my opinion, and it happens to be the truth.

Long after developers have built their projects, made their money, and walked away there are things to be considered, that are not necessarily positive. Municipalities care about the short time high of ratables filling their coffers. In my opinion the majority of development today in reality has very little to do with the surrounding community, and existing community members. Especially in process.

The planning process in my opinion is tragically flawed. We go to meetings and we look at plans for new development. They are never in real time they are always shown on these big boards with lots of green space around them, like they are placed in the middle of fields. Only for the most part it’s infill development these days and there is nothing in true context of what’s surrounding it. And that includes proximity and style. And when they’re building big tall buildings, human scale is thrown out the window.

Seemingly gone are the days of thoughtful planned developments. Those are the developments that have nice lots including trees. These developments meld with their surroundings and not every square inch of the building envelopes are crammed with structures. Planned developments take into consideration the affects a development will have on the infrastructure, first responders, township services where they are being built, and most importantly won’t overwhelm school districts.

Where I posted this then erupted like a volcano of indignation. It started with people living in some of these new developments I am not particularly fond of rolling up and saying how I had insulted them personally and they had hurt feelings and they felt unwelcome in their community. (Somewhere Joan Rivers is saying “oh grow up.)

I tried at first and explain to them it wasn’t about them, it’s not about them as individuals. It’s about the process and what our local municipalities are allowing to happen to where we call home.

I am not anti-progress. But the process is flawed and there is no moderation seemingly ever when it comes to development. It’s all about how much you can shove into every square inch and that’s not even attractive in other than a truly urban setting. I am completely unapologetic that I have this opinion. Chester county is been ransacked by development. And we have to stop and think about it sorry not sorry.

Realizing that mob mentality was revving up, I turned off the comments on my post and walked away from the group where it was posted. I thought maybe it would calm down. Instead, the following morning I am receiving messages, texts and even phone calls from people asking me if I saw what was being said.

I went back to look and was somewhat shocked. First of all the comments on the post I wrote were no longer turned off. Then the comments had moved from essentially a difference of opinion for me, to flat out maligning and tar and feathering. I was now wearing a virtual scarlet letter.

Related imageThere were a couple of comments in particular, I felt crossed the line. But I did not respond. Instead I went to report the comments to the group admins. (that is theoretically what you are supposed to do instead of turning it into a flame war.) I was unable to report the comments because my membership had been frozen for lack of a better description. All I could do was watch the comments mount.

Off with her head!

This one man in particular was awful. I have ZERO clue who he even is.  He couldn’t just have an opinion, he had to verbally try to beat me into submission on some level. I found it to be akin to slut shaming. Because this is something he would never say to another man because another man would probably deck him.

The action of slut-shaming can be considered to be a form of social punishment and is an aspect of sexism. THAT is why I chose the term. (You see, my use of the term in particular, started a whole other realm of comments.) Experts say slut- shaming which has occurred on Facebook occurs in controversial exchanges between users that have resulted in convictions to menace, harass and cause offense.

So while I am not literally being a slut shamed in a sexual sense, I am in a philosophical sense for my opinions.

Image result for scarlet letterBack to the page where I was being virtually tarred and feathered on.  As I could not simply report the comments of this man I had never met whose job as an engineer at a local company should have meant he did not have time for social media at work, I contacted the page owner and creator (who is also an admin.)  This was someone who is no stranger to me, has known me a few years, and who has been a guest in my home.

In my opinion, sadly, the conversation wasn’t rational.  It ended in she decided instead of removing comments or essentially telling people mob mentality wasn’t a path to success, she decided to remove me.  She also told me she was unfriending me personally but we could still be regular friends.  Truthfully, this all hurt me so much, I don’t know that it’s possible.  I do not want to be that person, truly I don’t, but trust and faith in people are a big thing to me.

The point of this post is NOT to deride this woman for her decision.  Being an admin of one of these community groups is a combination of adult baby sitting and policing.  A lot of the time, it is NOT fun because of….wait for it….mob mentality.

This woman in order to keep things above board and open (which I respect), posted her decision.  She asked people to be respectful.  But what happened next was a pile on to rock the ages. Dozens of comments, a lot of them truly malicious. Towards me.  It was somewhat incredulous.  Especially since most of them do not know me at all.  But there is that age old and tired mentality of women should be seen and not heard, much like children, right? And I know I am not quiet. But does that make the behavior right?

There was another comment from the guy who started it all about her “making his week.”  That comment was liked by people who were actually Facebook friends of mine and they left comments of their own.  While I respect their need for their opinion, did they really think I would not see their comments or hear about them?  I have decided to let them go.  Life is short, so fill it with people who are fair to you, not those who will smile to your face and be a bit different behind your back. A true lesson about who you let into even your virtual world. Sadly.

Another long and overly verbose comment came from a woman who runs another community group and works now for a financial services giant.  She also holds an appointed slot in a municipality on a committee.  I have always wondered if it was a conflict to hold an appointed position in a municipality and run a large community group, but even more glaring to me is she is employed by a financial services company so is she aware how they are about employees behaving in a certain manner on social media? Seriously.  When you work in a regulated space, they actually keep an eye on that because regulators do.

These comments went on and on and on.  Other comments included someone I vaguely knew from high school and was friends with for a few years as an adult.  I chose to let her go about a year ago because she just wasn’t my cup of tea.  So up she rolled to comment and try to spill the tea.  A real “people in glass houses” scenario, but it makes her feel better about herself and as a perennial outsider, she feels included. Even with strangers.

ha

Found this on Twitter on the feed of Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Erika Jane and it made me giggle…because it’s true

This is the mob mentality effect on social media.  The irony is that these are people who will rail against bullying in schools, bullying against children, and more.  Yet they do not see the problem with their own behavior. They don’t see this is what kids will often emulate.

It’s not just opinion. They take to being keyboard tigers.  Another example recently was on a community page where they were discussing a tragic murder suicide which happened recently on the Main Line.

The comments were going back and forth.  All of a sudden pops up this woman saying if the murdered woman hadn’t started seeing the suicide victim’s estranged husband, nothing would have happened.  Ok look, we have zero clue about their marriages, and more importantly, the punishment should be murdering a romantic rival? How is that ok? Sure you might say “I want to kill her” but normal people don’t act on impulses like that, do they???

Or in parenting forums.  That is another best place for mob mentality.  The admins of those groups must need a stiff drink some days.  You have never seen people turn on one and other until you have seen a bunch of parents turn on other parents because maybe their opinion is different.  Not bad. Not illegal. Not immoral. Just different.  And they rise up over the dumbest topics possible.

It seems on social media, in groups, individuality terrifies people. If your opinion deviates from even what the pack is comfortable with, it is a very bad thing.  Is it just an extension of the dumbing down of America, I wonder?

Image result for sheepleSometimes I think it is. I also think it is ridiculous.  You can disagree with someone and have a different opinion.  It’s not illegal.  But a lot of these folks are what a friend of mine refers to as “sheeple.”

Sheeple are incapable of their own thoughts. They follow along and do as they are told. Now if that is how they live, how they choose to live, that is fine.  But please leave the knives and pitchforks at home. Sheep are supposed to be peaceful creatures, after all.

None of us are perfect. I certainly don’t pretend to be.  Social media is a weird place to be sure at times. It can do so much good, but it can also cause harm.

I will close with an excerpt of an article from 2012 and Northwestern University’s Helix magazine:

THE DEVIL IN ALL OF US: MOB MENTALITY
By: Sarah Moore
Jun 25, 2012

No one’s about to claim that the Holocaust was a good idea. Or that gang rapes are advisable. Or even that bar fights are predicated on anything but group idiocy. Trampling people in evacuations and running them over in Wal-Mart sprees just isn’t cool, no matter what. Yet this stuff happens more often than it should…We most commonly associate mob mentality, or herd mentality as it is sometimes called, with violence and assault. But for some reason I really didn’t think that could be the whole story; after all, behaviors that pervade entire species are rarely maladaptive.

So I did some research, and found that herd mentality is hardwired into all of us. One study, conducted by Professor Jens Krause at the University of Leeds, found that it only takes 5 percent of a crowd to influence the other 95 percent in a specific direction. More specifically, researchers asked 200 people to mill around in a hall, then gave 10 of them directions on where to walk. The rest eventually fell into line.

Sociologically and psychologically, mob or herd mentality is a fascinating topic. And it has traveled through the annals of time and history. Like the Salem Witch Trials in Puritan New England.

Life is meant to be lived and celebrated.  I would have thought we were beyond this mentality, but social media just brings it out, apparently.

Enjoy the sunshine, people. Life is short.  In 8 days I celebrate 7 years of being breast cancer free.  To me, that is important.

Thanks for stopping by today and for considering what I have said.

#savestoneleigh : the school board meeting and more questions

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As I mentioned last evening, hundreds showed up for Stoneleigh last evening at Lower Merion School District.

Now is it just ME or are others in the know wondering why Lower Merion School District shoved people into small rooms with crappy air-conditioning instead of the auditorium? Was the auditorium actually booked for the same time frame? People I know who were there found that information confusing since all they saw was the auditorium was locked up and dark and that is not very hospitable if true, is it?

It is my opinion, if this is true, that the Lower Merion School Board and Lower Merion School District wanted to make supporters of Stoneleigh as uncomfortable as possible. After all people do all sorts of nasty tricks to psych out people on the other side of an issue, right?

We all know where I stand on Stoneleigh and yes that was my column in the Sunday Inquirer and running  in the Delco Times.

As I said in my editorial, and have said many times before, eminent domain is an ugly business. It is defined as the right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction.

As a community activist, I was one of many who successfully stopped an attempted eminent domain for private gain taking in Ardmore years ago.  This would not be eminent domain for private gain at Stoneleigh; it would be eminent domain for public purpose, except Stoneleigh already has a public purpose.

Stoneleigh’s public purpose is preserved open space.

My next question may seem strange but  is the Democratic party of Lower Merion and Democratic Party of Montgomery County FOR eminent domain here? I have not fallen and hit my head, the question is prompted by an on camera interview given to 6ABC and reporter Annie McCormick last night:

marie beresford“While I appreciate how precious Stoneleigh is, I believe really strongly in a public education and that we provide the kids with the facilities they need,” said Lower Merion Parent Marie Beresford.

So, the reason I am confused is was Ms. Beresford speaking solely for herself, or in her positions (plural) within the Democratic party? Yes, she holds a position on the Lower Merion Democratic Party as Regional Vice Chair – Central Region (Wards 3, 4, 5, 8 and Narberth) and as First Vice Chair of said aforementioned party in Montgomery County?

Now  I knew Ms. Beresford back in the day (and she and Dr. Gilbert were always tight as ticks, weren’t they?), and liked her immensely…enough even to give (not sell) her furniture (including an antique 3/4 bed) when one of her kids needed a bed and they had just moved into a new house in Ardmore. (But I digress)

But sadly, I guess I do  NOT really know either her or Dr. Melissa Gilbert any longer, and check this out from the Inquirer in the letters to the editor:

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dialogue 1

Now Dr. Gilbert has risen in her world. (Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities at Temple University no less?) She was just starting out when I met her years ago, and again, I liked her very much.  Sadly, I liked her enough to try to help get her elected to the Lower Merion School Board in the first place. Her letter co-scribbled with Dr. Robert Copeland the Autocrat in Chief of Lower Merion School District just doesn’t sit right, does it?

Dare I say it that they sound like communists here?  Why does it also sound like they are shaming the memory of Mr. Haas because he was successful in business? Are they even aware of all of the philanthropic deeds he and his wife performed? That their children continue to perform? So their pretzel logic is such that because Mr. Haas did well and had a large property, it should just be available to Lower Merion School District for the taking? I swear that sounds like communist and “take for the state” doesn’t it???

And they refer to being “rebuffed” at their attempt in the fall of 2017 to steal Ashbridge Park? It is a park. A park with deed restrictions and oh yeah some other generous person’s final wishes that went along with it too, right? Ashbridge Park wasn’t Lower Merion School District’s to take, was it???? Allow me to quote an article written by a friend of mine, Cheryl Allison in 2014 for Main Line Media News:

The 29-acre Ashbridge Memorial Park, including the 1769 stone farmhouse, was left to Lower Merion Township by Emily Ashbridge on her death in 1940 to be dedicated for passive recreation. The grounds include a number of specimen trees that the Ashbridge family intended to serve as living memorials to World War I soldiers from the community. Later, the Rosemont-Villanova Civic Association installed the first walking trail as a tribute to those who served in World War II.

Is this to be a recurring theme? Someone dies in Lower Merion Township and the Lower Merion School District thinks they can just take land? The precedence this would set would be dangerous.  People would cease all land and historic preservation efforts and land conservation efforts in my humble opinion because why donate, why preserve if some greedy school district or other entity wants to take it?

And let’s talk about the private school property, shall we? As in Friends Central on 228 Old Gulph Road in Wynnewood? They do not wish to sell to Lower Merion School District and well one educational institution cannot take another educational institution via eminent domain, can they?

Seriously, this whole thing gives me a headache.  The meeting went until nearly midnight and supposedly Lower Merion School District has not announced eminent domain as in starting  a formal taking yet.  But can it be said many of us still believe it is in the offing?

The Lower Merion School District is out of control.  And must be stopped legally.  I think lawyer Arthur Wolk is right. Lower Merion School Board should be removed. And Dr. Robert Copeland.

Sign me disgusted with these people.