9/11 : 17 years. never forget.

It’s 8:45 AM and 8:46 AM the moment of silence at the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC begins.

17 years ago today, everything changed. 2983 people lost their lives.

On February 23, 1993 there was the first attack on the World Trade Center. 25 years ago.

The years move away from the dates, but we never forget. They are literally dates which live in our minds in infamy. To paraphrase FDR, who was in his time, referring to Pearl Harbor.

The photo this post opens with is one I took this summer and it is the controversial 9/11 Memorial in New Jersey. Known as the “teardrop memorial”, it is located in Bayonne. I think it has a kind of strength and beauty to it.

On the anniversary of 9/11 in 2012 I was invited to ride in my friend Barry’s American flag hot air balloon over Chester County. As we left on our hot air balloon flight when I looked down this is what I saw:

This is what they were looking at and what I saw looking up:

I am forever grateful to my friend Barry because this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was deeply meaningful and I shall never forget it.

In the last 17 years our country has gone through crazy times, perhaps none more so than today. But we have to take a moment and pause and remember all those Americans who lost their lives for our freedoms. Because even if they did not die on a battlefield or in combat, they died for all of us.

I will close with a reader’s editorial I wrote for the then editor of Main Line Life, Tom Murray. Folks in Chester County will remember him as the editor of The Daily Local before he passed away.

I wrote this piece in 2006:

Sept. 11, 2006, is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and United Airlines Flight 93’s crash in the field in Shanksville, Somerset County. This date has special significance to every American, and intense personal significance to far too many individuals who lost friends and loved ones.

But September 11, wasn’t the first time terrorists visited the World Trade Center. In truth, Feb. 26, 1993. was the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I worked in New York at that time at an office located downtown in the financial district.

On that day, I had accompanied an office friend to the World Trade Center to grab an early lunch and to check out some stores in the shopping concourse. We were back outside the Trade Center buildings, getting ready to cross the street, when suddenly the ground shook and moved. I remember that we were looking directly across the street at Century 21, a department store in Lower Manhattan. Then something happened that rarely happens in New York: Everything went eerily still and quiet. We looked up at what we first thought were snowflakes beginning to float and fall from the sky. After all, it was February. Then car alarms began to go off one by one like the cacophony of many distorted bells. The snowflakes, we soon discovered, were in reality ashes.

People began yelling and screaming. It became very confusing and chaotic all at once, like someone flipped a switch to “on.” At first, we both felt rooted to the sidewalk, unable to move. I remember feeling a sense of panic at the unknown. We had absolutely no idea what had happened, and hurried back to our office. Reaching it, we were greeted by worried coworkers who told us that someone had set off a bomb underground in the World Trade Center garage.

I will never forget the crazy kaleidoscope of images, throughout that afternoon, of all the people who were related to or knew people in my office who sought refuge in our office after walking down the innumerable flights of steps in the dark to exit the World Trade Center Towers. They arrived with soot all over their faces, hands and clothes. They all wore zombie looks of shock, disbelief and panic.

Of course, the oddest thing about the first terrorist attack on New York City is that I don’t remember much lasting fuss about it. I do remember that President Bill Clinton was newly sworn into office, but I don’t remember him coming to visit New York after the attack. Everything was back to normal in Lower Manhattan in about a month, maybe two. After a while, unless you had worked in New York, or lived in New York, you simply forgot about this “incident.”

So, on the morning of 9/11, as I pulled into my office building’s garage and listened to the breaking news on the radio announcing that a plane had struck the World Trade Center, tears began to run down my face unbidden. I knew in my heart of hearts what happened. I said to myself, “Oh no. They came back.”

I remember picking up my cell phone to call my father, whom I knew to be, at that time, on an Amtrak train bound for New York City. I remember him telling me it was fine and he’d be fine. I wanted him to get off in New Jersey and take a train back to Philadelphia. But the train was already pretty much past all the stations and getting ready to go into the tunnel to New York. That very thought terrified me. To this day, I still do not understand why Amtrak did not stop those last trains from going into New York City as the news of the World Trade Center attacks first broke.

I next remember getting in the elevator and getting off on my office floor to find people clustered around television sets and radios. And the news kept getting worse: first one plane, then a second, then a third, and then a fourth.

The images and news just didn’t stop. Camera cuts from lower Manhattan to Washington to Somerset County. They are images that have to be ingrained in everyone’s mind forever like indelible ink.

It took a couple of days for my father and brother-in-law (who had already been in New York on business) to get out of the city, but eventually they got home safely with many stories to tell of what New York was like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A lot of people weren’t so lucky. They never saw their loved ones again after that fateful morning. Many people in the Philadelphia and greater Main Line area lost friends, coworkers and loved ones.

On September 11, I knew people who were lost, but fortunately I didn’t lose any loved ones. I remember for a brief time it seemed we were all a little nicer to each other, and politicians actually seemed to come together as one and grieve as a nation grieved.

But here we are five short years later. I have only seen the site one time where the World Trade Center once stood proudly. That was about a year after the attacks. I remember a distinct pit in my stomach and looked away from the car window. This past June I was in Washington, and had the same intense, awful feeling in my stomach as we drove on the highway past the Pentagon.

Life must go on and time can’t stand still, but all in all I can’t help but wonder: What have we learned since about our country and about ourselves? Five years after 9/11 what have we learned and what have we forgotten? What do we need to remember?

freedom of speech upheld by superior court

Image result for first amendment

As of a few short days ago, Pennsylvania’s Superior Court dismissed  the SLAPP suit I have been a named resident in for quite some time. It has been over the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland Malvern/Frazer. The original suit was filed June 27, 2017 in the Court of Common Pleas in Chester County by the site developer.

In August of 2017, Judge Sommers, the judge who presided over the case in Chester County dismissed the suit.  After that, an appeal was filed by the developer’s attorneys in Superior Court.

I have no idea if there will be an appeal by the plaintiff up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Almost a year ago the Superior Court appeal was filed.  It was filed right around the time PA State Senator Larry Farnese held a press conference I could not attend on anti-SLAPP legislation. I sent in a statement. Here is part of what I said then (in italics):

As children we are taught how the founding fathers of this great nation fought, bled,
and died for our rights and freedoms. Yet today, in a modern world, it feels like we still
must fight against injustice and for our very freedoms and, in my opinion, freedom of
speech and expression is particularly threatened. As a native of Philadelphia, the
birthplace of our American freedoms, I find that deeply troubling.

As a blogger, I have been aware of SLAPP suits for years. This year, I became embroiled in one, in Chester County, where I live. The suit is over the potential development of an old factory site in Malvern, East Whiteland Township known as Bishop Tube. I am a  resident of East Whiteland Township.

I had written about the Bishop Tube site on my blog. I am not the only one who has
ever written about it or ever has had questions about it. The site has also been written
about in newspaper articles off and on for many years. According to the Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Protection (“PA DEP”), there is TCE contamination on
this site. (Reference the PA DEP website’s Bishop Tube page).

I am a breast cancer survivor who underwent breast cancer treatment and, as a
survivor, a site like this should be a concern in my opinion. As a resident I should also
be able to express my opinions and/or ask questions. SLAPP suits are an invasive, fearsome kind of thing. Finding oneself in the middle of something like this feels like you are being bullied and harassed. It can also be unbearably costly. Frequently the suit bringer hopes this is what will defeat you.

Mostly, it makes you wonder about the good and honor of human kind.

Caring about where you live is not wrong, it is democracy in action. When people take
an interest in where they live, it is a powerful force. It is rarely easy for the residents
involved, and I think it does take great courage.

Our American freedoms are a real thing, not just lofty ideals tucked away in a 200+ year-old vault.  Think about that as we are also on the eve of 9/11.  Never forget September 11, 2001.  This is yet another date in the annals of U.S. history which will live in infamy.  Remember all those souls and first responders who lost their lives. They lost their lives because of our American ideals and freedoms even if they were not lives specifically lost on a battlefield in combat.

I can’t believe tomorrow it is 17 years already since 9/11.

I will close with saying thank you to Maya van Rossum and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and their amazing lawyers, Mark L. Freed and Jordan B. Yeager of Curtin & Heefner LLP. I will also thank my own attorney, Samuel Stretton of West Chester.

Our inalienable rights as Americans exist for good reason.  Hopefully this issue is now at a close, but again, who knows? We live in strange times.

Here is the media coverage thus far along with what the Delaware Riverkeeper has said:

PENNSYLVANIA
State court ruling favors Chesco residents protesting brownfield development
by Vinny Vella, Philadelphia Inquirer

State Impact PA SEPTEMBER 07, 2018 | 05:48 PM
Court rejects developer’s effort to block protest against town homes plan
Delaware Riverkeeper Network says suit tried to silence its right to free speech
by Jon Hurdle

Daily Local News: Lawsuit denied concerning Bishop Tube site
Digital First Media Sep 7, 2018

Law360: Pa. Developer’s Defamation Suit Against Enviros Stays Nixed
By Matt Fair

Delaware Riverkeeper Network: SLAPP Suit Filed By Developer Against Environmental & Community Opposition Struck Down by PA Superior Court

are you ready for the best tredyffrin historic preservation trust house tour yet?

I love old and historic house tours almost as much as I love garden tours. And my friend Pattye Benson, proprietress of the Great Valley House of Valley Forge  is also President of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust.   She also is the woman who makes the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust  Historic House Tour come to life year after year. Every year is better than the year before, and not one year has disappointed.  My husband and I are Patron Sponsors of the tour, and proudly so.

The Jones Log Barn. July, 2018 photo courtesy of Pattye Benson

Travel back in time this year on Saturday September 29, 2018 from 10 AM to 5 PM.  If you love history and architecture, you will not want to miss the much-anticipated 14th Annual Historic House Tour.

‘The Culver House’, c.1860 ~Pattye Benson photo

To celebrate historic preservation, the public is invited to attend ’Jazz it Up’ the 14th Annual Historic House Tour Preview Party on Sunday, September 16, 6 PM – 9 PM  at the historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook.  An evening of fun with live music, food and drinks, join us to celebrate the homeowners and the homes featured on the tour.  Classical jazz music provided by the award-winning ’Jazz Mavericks’ from the Center for Performing & Fine Arts of West Chester. In addition to the historic homeowners, the preview party is a lovely thank you thank the generous individual and corporate sponsors who make the annual tour possible. Attendees also get a sneak preview of the beautiful homes featured on the 14th Annual Historic House Tour!

Wayne Bed & Breakfast, c.1885
~Pattye Benson photo

The annual historic house tour would not be possible without the generosity of individual and corporate sponsors.  Click 2018 House Tour Sponsor Packet for information about how you can be a sponsor and receive complimentary tickets to the house tour and the preview party.

To Purchase Tickets for 14th Annual Historic House Tour & ‘Party for Preservation’ Preview Party CLICK HERE 

NOTE:  Tickets for the Preview Party and/or the 14th Annual Historic House Tour are nonrefundable.

The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is a small nonprofit 501c3 organization and your ticket purchase is tax-deductible as the government allows.

  • You will receive a confirmation (via email) of your house tour ticket(s) purchase prior to the house tour day.
  • The house tour ticket pick-up location for 2017 is Tredyffrin Library, 582 Upper Gulph Road, Strafford, PA, starting at 11 AM on Saturday, Sept. 23.

‘Foxmead’,Strafford, c.1911
~Pattye Benson photo

life in the land of women

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I believe that.

I have been really blessed in my lifetime friends. Some of them go as far back as grade school. (Including teachers!)

I have people who have come into my life for various reasons, and over the last 20 or so years a lot of it has to do with community things I am involved in or have been involved in. Or other commonalities. Or even through mutual friends.

And then there are the people who come into your life for a season. Those of the ones that can be the tough and bitter pill to swallow.

I don’t pretend to be perfect but I am a decent person and a loyal friend. Until you hurt someone I care about whether it’s friends or family…. or even me. I have let people into my life who have talked a good game and then used me. I have had people in my life who were just in the end disappointing.

It has been incredibly hard to learn to just walk away from these types of people. But as I get older, I’m getting better at it. Slowly, I am learning it’s life, stuff happens. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue to put one foot in front of the other.

Sadly, I have experienced some unexpected negativity that I am choosing to work through by writing it out.

I have written over the past few years since my move to Chester County that although living here in this amazing and beautiful county, it has not been without challenges. Moving to a completely new area after living in one area for literally decades is an adjustment. It has had parts that have been hard.

As an individual when you have lived in one area forever, it’s sort of like Cheers. People recognize you on the street and in the grocery store. You’ve known all of your neighbors for years. When you go somewhere completely new, while a whole new adventure, it’s also when you realize things you may have taken for granted. Like the pleasant simplicity of seeing people you know in the grocery store.

When I first moved here I experienced old friend/neighbor drop off. It was like I had moved to Iowa, not Chester County. Some of them just stopped talking to me. Not because of an argument or disagreement, but merely for the fact that I was no longer geographically convenient.

One of the people who did this used to live around the corner from me and I was in her wedding party. That was very hurtful losss and took a couple of years to process because I was literally grieving a loss.

Other people made it easier. We invited them to get togethers in our home, and they just blew them off. No RSVP, just radio silence. Flat out rudeness. They made it easy to walk away.

But slowly I started to meet new people here in Chester County. That has not been without missteps as well, sadly. I kind of took it for granted that it would be easy. I didn’t honestly expect that it wouldn’t be as easy at this stage in my life as it was when I was say, in my 20s.

Over the past few years I have made the acquaintance and friendship of some truly amazing people. I have also met a few that have ended up not so amazing.

I have made the acquaintance of people running for public office that were all smiles towards me and friendly until they got elected. After they got elected, it is often a differentr story. One in particular told me that she couldn’t possibly be real friends with me because I was…. a blogger. I write, therefore I am walking poison ivy was the take away here.

Then there were the people I was warned about by other Chester County friends that there were these types who collected new people in order to use them, basically. I only really fell into this trap once and it was a lesson learned. Because sometimes with people like this when you don’t give them what they want, they can be quite unpleasant. But again their whole attitude, and treatment of fellow human beings makes it easy to walk away. However, it’s still disappointing.

Sprinkled in between were a few people I knew from before, but came to know again out here. Sadly, they weren’t keepers. Sometimes people whom you knew at a different stage in your life who were a lot of fun “back in the day”, but at this stage in my life were not completely palatable. So I chose to let them go. Not easy, yet not hard, and the right decision.

Recently I had another experience I shall not soon forget. Someone I met, thought was so fabulous and bright. I even had them as a guest in my home. Sadly, twists and turns in this person’s life have also resulted in my perceiving this person quite differently. Surprisingly they have ended up in the sad category of an adult petty mean girl. This one shocked me, truthfully.

It is a real grown-up lesson when you realize that although you know realistically that people come in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime that sometimes you end up quite surprised as to which people end up in which category.

Also recently I have experienced some rather odd types taking me to task over my blogging. Again, women.

One woman declared she was no longer following my blog because of my purported agenda of “liberal propaganda.” I am not sure she actually knows what that phrase means and it’s ludicrous. Those who know me well, know I am not necessarily liberal. My politics have actually evolved from being a life long Republican to becoming an Independent. I am beholden to no political parties. I blog about what interests me, and it doesn’t make me necessarily an internet vacation.

Am I supposed to be an internet vacation?

Another woman declared me a bad person because (if I have it right) I have a nerve to post news items, local issues and so forth while including my opinion. Ok do they know what a blog is? Or what blogging is?

A blog is defined as a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites. So yes a blog is something that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer/blogger.

That makes this first and foremost, my space. My blog has a Facebook page. That has similar rules.

Other things I think about?

I am not some bra burning feminist by any stretch of the imagination. What I find astounding at this stage of my life is how awful a lot of women are to one and other. On a regular basis.

Where is the sisterhood? Where is the mutual support? Where is the basic human decency and tolerance of the difference of others?

Ladies we don’t want to be Stepford Wives….or do we?

But I choose to remain open. I appreciate all of you who accept me for who I am.

And for those for whom it is a virtual experience, I appreciate that you are supportive of how I write and what I chose to explore.

As for those who don’t or can’t ? Or those who are either super judegemental or think it is your job to “school” me? Well the practical reality is I can only control me and my behavior. I can’t control you and I am not responsible for your personal happiness, am I?

It’s one of those sorry not sorry moments.

But ladies, really. We can’t teach our children and grandchildren to be kind and to not bully or be mean if we can’t do it ourselves.

We can’t teach tolerance if we can’t be tolerant at least some of the time ourselves.

We can’t teach the value of individuality and independance if we constantly go after those the least bit different from us.

Maybe our current adult society is in part a reaction to the political climate in which we live? I’m not really sure, as I don’t have all of the answers. But it’s what I was thinking about this morning.

Time for me to garden. Enjoy your Sunday.Thanks for stopping by.

s.whitford and clover mill road, exton (again)

I was going by today and decided to take another photo of this old gem. An old gem that just rots day after day.

This house is on S.Whitford and Clover Mill Roads in Exton. The Joseph Price House in West Whiteland Township.

Here is a wonderful little slide show presentation on prezi.

Someone told me that someone might still live there, not sure how that is possible but who knows? I am guessing part of the house still has an apartment someone lives in. I don’t know if it’s a caretaker or whomever owns it.

I was also told in the 1990s it was separate apartments inside and there were also cottages around it which were rented out as well.

In the 1950s and 60s there was a large barn there that was a sale barn for cattle run by Bayard Taylor a blog reader told me recently. He knew because his mother did bookkeeping for that business while she was in college.

Every time I post about this house I get all sorts of comments. I am not the only one that notices this old house.

The house was built in 1878. It was altered in 1894 by its namesake inhabitants. Dr. Price. According to the West Whiteland Historical Society he altered it from a Gothic to a Queen Anne style.

This is just one of those houses that captures the imagination of almost everyone who drives by it. Maybe someday a preservation buyer will drive by it and it will be saved. Until then I just sort of falls apart.

little pink house is coming to town, and why you need to see this movie

Little Pink House is coming to town. I got this e-mail today inviting me to a screening.

April 27 – May 3:  Philadelphia, PA: Landmark Ritz East

Based on a true story, Little Pink House is about a small-town paramedic named Susette Kelo leaves a bad marriage, and starts over in a new town. She buys a rundown cottage with a gorgeous water view. She fixes it up and paints it pink. Then she discovers powerful politicians want to bulldoze her blue-collar neighborhood for the benefit of a multi-billion dollar corporation. 

With the help of a young lawyer named Scott Bullock, Susette emerges as the reluctant leader of her neighbors in an epic battle that goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, inspires a nation, and helps millions of Americans protect their homes.

Most of you probably have no idea what this means. Or care. But I think you should.  It is the movie about the 2005 United States Supreme Court Case Kelo vs. New London, and what Susette Kelo and her Fort Trumbull neighbors endured at the hands of Pfizer and New London, Connecticut.

Susette Kelo taken in front of her little pink house around 2008 (I think) – It has been a long time since I looked at these photos. Scott Mahan photo.

And all of a sudden, I am taken back years.  I see faces I haven’t thought of in years; hear voices and snippets of long gone conversations.  Ardmore, PA to Washington, DC and Virginia.  What a long strange trip it was.

Dick Saha of Coatesville (left), Scott Mahan (center), Nancy Saha of Coatesville (right). I took this photo in June of 2006 down in DC/VA at an Institute for Justice/Castle Coalition conference on Eminent Domain.

My friends and I were ordinary people who became accidental activists via the Save Ardmore Coalition.  I resigned my position at Save Ardmore Coalition (“SAC”) in 2011 when diagnosed with breast cancer. I do not know if the organization still exists at all or not, truthfully. I am not there any more. My friends and I have all moved forward into our lives, and now we are mostly like local folklore.  Normal people who went to Washington to fight eminent domain and hang out with people like Susette Kelo.  But it’s not folklore, or urban legend as we did all that and lived through all of that.

Scott Mahan (left), Susette Kelo (center), Ken Haskin (right). Scott Mahan photo (again circa 2008 or thereabouts)

It was a long road for those of us who were the original SAC and we paid heavy prices for our activism at times (it was not pretty), but I would do it all over again as it was the right thing to do. We were part of the Institute for Justice/Castle Coalition’s eminent domain fighting communities.

My friends from Ardmore and I (the original Save Ardmore Coalition)  went to Washington once upon a time as I mentioned when Susette Kelo and others (like Long Branch NJ and the Sahas of Coatesville, PA and the other New London, CT /Fort Trumbull folks) were fighting eminent domain for private gain. We lived this with the Institute for Justice as we fought (and won) Ardmore’s battle.

They were crazy times and I am proud of what we did in Ardmore back then. I am honored I got to spend time with Susette Kelo and the other amazing folks from other cities and states along with the people from the Institute for Justice.

Here is the Institute for Justice Press Release:

Little Pink House Movie Hits the Big Screen, Seeks to End Eminent Domain Abuse

Biopic on Supreme Court’s Landmark Kelo Ruling Shows How Eminent Domain for Private Gain Destroyed Lives and an Entire Community

  • Eminent domain creates strange political bedfellows: Once-developer and now-President Donald Trump, along with liberal justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, came out against ordinary homeowners and in favor of the government and private developers.
  • But for the government’s use of eminent domain, corporations would be powerless to take someone else’s home.
  • The release of Little Pink House provides a rare opportunity for political unity. It should unite the Left, which wants to limit corporate influence on government, and the Right, which wants to limit government power over property.

Little Pink House is both a major motion picture and a cautionary tale that shows what happens when the government teams up with powerful private interests to take an entire working-class neighborhood for a glitzy development—a project that 13 years later is nothing but barren fields.

Starring two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener and Emmy nominee Jeanne Tripplehorn, Little Pink House opens on April 20 and will be screened in theaters across the nation.  It tells the true story of Susette Kelo (played by Keener), a small-town paramedic from New London, Connecticut, who buys her first home—a cottage—and paints it pink.  When the governor and his allies plan to bulldoze her little pink house to make way for a development benefitting the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Kelo fights back, taking her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although national polls at the time of the Kelo ruling consistently showed that the public overwhelmingly rejects the use of eminent domain for private gain, the issue made for strange political bedfellows.  It was the U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal justices who made up the majority that ruled against Kelo and in favor of the government, and when the Kelo ruling was handed down, developer Trump said, “I happen to agree with it 100%.”  Trump had earlier sought to employ eminent domain to take a widow’s property in Atlantic City for his private use.  After becoming President of the United States, he said, “I think eminent domain is wonderful.”“As the Atlantic City eminent domain battle showed, unless the government abuses its power of eminent domain, private corporations are powerless to take someone’s property; they must negotiate because they cannot use force,” said Institute for Justice Litigation Director Dana Berliner, who successfully represented the widow at the heart of the Atlantic City lawsuit and who argued Kelo’s case before the Connecticut Supreme Court.

As documented in the film, after Kelo lost her U.S. Supreme Court case, her struggle sparked a nationwide backlash against eminent domain abuse that today helps millions of Americans better protect what is rightfully theirs.  The Supreme Court used the Keloruling to radically expand this government power—allowing eminent domain for the mere promise from a developer that it might pay more taxes if given someone else’s land, rather than for an actual public use, as required by the U.S. Constitution.  Because of the grassroots backlash at the state level against eminent domain abuse, however, the Kelo case is justifiably seen as a situation in which the government won the battle, but lost the war.  Still, the Institute for Justice, which represented Kelo, stated that more reforms are still needed if the abuse of this government power is to be ended once and for all.

Little Pink House wonderfully captures what the fight for property rights is all about,” said Institute for Justice President Scott Bullock, who argued the Kelo case before the U.S. Supreme Court.  “A house is typically someone’s most valuable asset, but the value of a home goes well beyond its mere monetary worth.  For so many, it is an extension of who they are and what they value.  It is where a person might raise a family, grow a small business, celebrate, mourn and grow old.  Eminent domain abuse, as depicted in this film, is not only unconstitutional, it is profoundly wrong.  Little Pink House vividly documents the heroic struggle of Susette and her neighbors to not only fight for their homes but for the constitutional rights of millions of others in America and throughout the world.”

Little Pink House should unite those on the Left who want to limit corporate influence on government, and those on the Right, who want to limit government power over property, said Bullock.  Eminent domain abuse disproportionately strikes poor and minority communities, and there is often a giant gap between the promises made by redevelopment supporters and the promises such plans actually deliver.  In just a five-year period, there were more than 10,000 instances nationwide where eminent domain for private development was either used or threatened by the government.

Government officials and the developer promised that the project that replaced Susette Kelo’s tight-knit blue-collar neighborhood would thrive and would make New London tax-rich.  Now, 13 years after the landmark Kelo ruling, all that remains there are barren fields; nothing lives there now but weeds and feral cats.

“It was all for nothing,” said Susette Kelo.  “The government put us through all that torture and now, more than a dozen years later, they have literally nothing to show for it.  But even if they turned what was my home into an emerald city, that still wouldn’t have made it right.  The government and their corporate confidants destroyed our neighborhood and our constitutional rights.  We need to keep fighting this until we end eminent domain abuse once and for all.”

Eminent domain hot spots remain around the country.  For example:
In Garfield, New Jersey, the town’s redevelopment agency is using a bogus blight designation to take a zipper manufacturing warehouse, along with its neighbors’ homes, for a private developer to build private retail and housing.
Cumberland, Maryland, is trying to bulldoze a number of homes to make way for a chain restaurant.
The Bae family left Korea and built a successful dry cleaning business in East Harlem, New York. But city officials want to demolish it so a developer can build an entertainment complex.

Little Pink House has been lauded by The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood, among others.  In addition to attracting stars Keener and Tripplehorn, Little Pink House features the original song “Home Free,” written and performed for the movie by rock legend David Crosby.

The independent film was directed by Courtney Balaker and produced by her husband, Ted Balaker.  It will open on screens across the nation with more screenings being added each week.  In those markets where Little Pink House is not being shown in theaters, the public can follow a simple process to bring the movie to their hometown theater or enter an email address at littlepinkarmy.com and a representative from the film will walk them through the process.

Courtney Balaker said, “Eminent domain abuse is a fancy term for legalized bullying.  It happens when insiders take advantage of outsiders.  Developers and politicians promise more jobs and more tax revenue, so it sounds appealing to lots of people.  But all the high-minded talk obscures what’s really going on—they’re forcing people out of their homes.  If you own your home and you want to keep living in your home, you should be able to stay in your home.  Eminent domain abuse happens far more often than most people realize, and it rarely brings the kind of economic development its supporters promise.  It should come as no surprise that poor and minority communities are especially likely to be targeted.”

Eminent Domain for private gain is legal stealing, economic segregation, and more often than not, class warfare. When you receive a notice of a taking, your world turns inside out, not just upside down. At first you feel like you are in the battle completely and utterly alone. But you aren’t alone. There are a lot of us out there.

I didn’t set out in life to become a grassroots activist on any level, but eminent domain is an issue that, as an American, I found I simply could not ignore. I loved Ardmore, where eminent domain threatened a block of small businesses in a local historic business district. Ardmore to me was a quintessential old fashioned main street-oriented town. It represents the bygone days of small town America.

The township (Lower Merion)  had declared this block “blighted,” and it intended to acquire these properties in a certified historic district for inclusion in a mixed-use development project to be owned by a private party.

One of the first lessons we learned as SAC was that when you are fighting a battle like this, you become an instant pariah. SAC next contacted the Institute for Justice and newly formed Castle Coalition, who gave us a crash course in grassroots activism.

We held rallies, protests and community meetings. We wrote letters to the newspapers until we had writer’s cramp. We took every opportunity to speak at public meetings. We lobbied government officials on a state and national level.

My friend Si Simons with Susette Kelo, June, 2006. My photo.

And we hit roadblocks. Although eminent domain had become a national issue when Susette Kelo took her case to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Philadelphia area we discovered it was hard to get media attention from anyone other than the local papers. Eminent domain wasn’t sexy enough—it was just “a local issue”. We were called NIMBY and castigated publicly by certain local elected officials at public meetings, who referred to us as “a small group of mean spirited individuals.”

When someone told us in a letter if we didn’t like how government was run we should “change the face of who governs us,” our resolve as a group was strengthened. We decided to change literally the faces of those who were governing us. We had an upcoming election. We didn’t back one candidate in particular but decided they should all adopt our position and take IJ’s pledge against the use of eminent domain for private gain.

We were successful. In November 2005, we watched as five new faces against eminent domain were elected to the 14-member Board of Commissioners.

During this whole time before and after the election, we had the good fortune to finally get some national and even international media publicity. We networked further with other eminent domain fighting citizens locally and nationally.  Members also gave testimony before both the Pennsylvania Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. We submitted written testimony to the U.S. Congress and became part of the record on HR 4128.

February, 2006 walking Congressman Sensenbrenner (left) around Ardmore. Scott Mahan (right). I am behind them on the left with then Congressman Jim Gerlach on the right)

In February 2006, then Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner came to town with Congressman Jim Gerlach to discuss eminent domain. In March 2006, the five new commissioners who came to office promising to end the specter of eminent domain did just that: they proposed and passed a resolution to end eminent domain. The businesses were free.

I will not lie. It was an exhausting process fighting eminent domain.  I went to so many municipal and other meetings during this time, that even today I have a hard time going to meetings.

For me, there was also the fact that I hid my activism from my employers.  I was working for then Wachovia Securities (now Wells Fargo), and while not officially forbidden, such outside activities were seriously frowned upon.  We were supposed to be good little examples of Corporate America at all times, no matter what our position.

Susette Kelo is and always will be one of the most courageous people I have ever met. I have been waiting for this movie to be finished. (See Little Pink House Movie website too!!)

This is a story that still resonates.  See:

The Volokh Conspiracy    The story behind Kelo v. City of New London – how an obscure takings case got to the Supreme Court and shocked the nation
By Ilya Somin May 29, 2015

LAWNEWS
Dreams Demolished: 10 Years After the Government Took Their Homes, All That’s Left Is an Empty Field
Alex Anderson / @alexanderJander / Melissa Quinn / @MelissaQuinn97 / June 23, 2015

Eminent domain still under fire

June 23, 2017 by NCC Staff

POWER PLAY
Seized property sits vacant nine years after landmark Kelo eminent domain case
Published March 20, 2014 Fox News

The Kelo House (1890)

March 20th, 2009 Posted in Folk VictorianHousesNew LondonVernacular

Visit The Institute for Justice website. There is a Kelo vs. New London timeline.

Seriously….see this movie.  This can happen to anyone.  It happened to people I know and people I met.  And if you follow the current pipeline debacle, how do you think Sunoco has gotten land from Chester County residents? It certainly wasn’t candy and chocolates, it was the threat of eminent domain, wasn’t it?

And you can try to get Little Pink House played where you live by contacting the filmmakers HERE.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

rally against pipelines – west whiteland- march 10 at 3:30 pm

See below. Sharing what I saw on Facebook. A peaceful rally. #DefendWhatYouLove.

Oh poor Jeff Shields former Inquirer reporter and now Sunoco Logistics’ Communications Manager (a/k/a their talking head.) He was an amazing reporter and now he has been Suessed. No Jeff, I had nothing to do with any of this, just sharing. Dude, hope the jingle in your pocket is worth it, you are on the wrong side of this one.

I would take note Adelphia Gateway and other companies pondering pipelines. We the people are awake. And the people are over pipelines and companies raping the land and destroying where we call home.