suicide and depression

I am not even sure where to begin this post, so I am just going to dive in.

Suicide and depression.

NO NOT ME!

It’s the topic swirling in my mind since I was asked if I knew someone who had died over the past few days. Someone who had been clinically depressed and had committed suicide.

She was not someone I knew personally, but she was one of the thousands of members of my gardening group. She loved gardens and gardening. I am so sorry that gardening and other joys in her life like her children couldn’t keep her on earth for the people who loved her.

Suicide is something that touched me for the first time as a teenager and freshman in college. A boy whom I knew (and who was actually a cousin if a high school classmate) jumped out a dorm window a couple of floors above me. I remember it was the night before parents weekend started.

I still can remember waking up in my dorm room on the first floor to all the flashing lights and sirens. He was there, on the grass, outside my window a little bit away from it. The dorm was in like an “L” shape back there, so there was this bit of an open grassy area back there. I remember the student led memorial service with Genesis song Follow You, Follow Me crackling on a stereo in the quad area where the service was. I can even remember where I was standing.

I didn’t understand why then, I don’t understand today. Have I thought about what it would be like to NOT be here? Yes, when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. I was newly diagnosed, not staged, and that combination of emotionally numb mingled with terrified. What I realized that fateful day was how badly I wanted to survive and live. So while I understand why suicide happens, I also don’t understand because I am not made that way.

I think of all of the women I know. Many I have known since early childhood. Some have had amazing and extraordinary lives and careers, others like myself, more regular lives. We have lived our lives. Sure we have all had regrets along the way, it’s what makes us human. Sorrow, joys, life in technicolor sometimes more black and white…but we live on. I am grateful for my friends.

Are our lives what we expected as children? Honestly? I don’t think so because I don’t think life is made that way. We have the paths we thought we would take, and they are often quite different from the paths we end up on. But we are alive and kicking.

As an adult, a friend from growing up lost their younger sister to suicide. It has been just two years since that horrible event. The younger sister left behind her own young family as well as her parents and sister and other relatives. To watch a family grieve like that was raw and awful. It breaks your heart.

So when I heard this recent news I was thinking about this topic no one wants to discuss. I am going to share something written by blogger Lynn Getz who blogs under Be Like a Mother. She also has a talk show type of a program called Mom to Mom on Radnor Studio 21. She had interviewed the person who died recently. Lynn’s words on Facebook this week were so heartfelt and eloquent so I am sharing the message she shared here, in the hopes it can help others to pay this forward:

One of my other projects was a local public television show called Mom to Mom with Lynne Getz, which focused on connecting local moms to local resources. The show gave me a chance to feature many of the wonderful women I met through networking and showcase their businesses in the hope of helping other local mothers connect with them.

On one show I interviewed a local mom, Heidi Diskin, who was finding power in her pain of dealing with depression and bipolar disorder by sharing her experience through her Silent No Longer Foundation. Heidi was passionate about ending the stigma around mental health, advocating for more focus on it as brain health, and giving help and hope to those affected by depression and anxiety.

Yesterday I learned that Heidi lost her battle with this disease.

When I learned of her passing, I went back and watched this episode, listening again to Heidi’s words of advice about being proactive, getting a “check-up from the neck-up”, and knowing the signs of depression in others so that you can reach out and help them.

Heidi’s mission was to #endthestigma and speak openly about mental health. We need to talk about depression, and how it affects brain chemistry, making people believe they are not worthy and not needed. YOU ARE! We need to talk about how it tells you that no one will miss you, or that your kids will be better off without you. IT’S LYING! We need to know that depression and anxiety aren’t character flaws, they are diseases and must be treated as such. We need more people to speak out like Heidi did.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you love is suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

And in honor of Heidi, and all the brave souls who fight so hard against their brain disease, please take the time to watch Heidi’s episode, share her story, and reach out to that friend who has been on your mind that you haven’t heard from in a while. Know the signs of depression, and do not be afraid to ask for help or help someone who may be fighting this battle silently. For Heidi, and the nearly 45,000 other Americans who die by suicide each year, we must be silent no longer. https://youtu.be/OmpnjSbPQHY

Again, I did not know Heidi personally. But I have known women like her. And I know they feel isolated and alone, even if they aren’t. We need to take the stigma out of depression and mental illness. Maybe if we can have more open community conversations about this, we can all be the better for it.

Malvern Library in Malvern Borough on September 24th is having a joint event with Daemion Counseling Center that comes highly recommended . Reservations are required. Here check it out and thanks for stopping by:

we have to be the change we want

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(WHY I won’t be voting Republican in the PA6 Congressional race this fall.)

Until the last Presidential Election, I was a life-long Republican.  I had always been an inveterate ticket splitter, but I remained a Republican…until this last presidential race.

But I couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t pretend this was the political party that once made me believe.  When I was a Media Relations Volunteer at the RNC2000, I never, ever would have thought they would boil down to this hot party mess they have devolved to.

But they have.

I know I am not a true Democrat, anymore than I am a current-style Republican.  So I went Independent. Yes, I lost my primary voting rights because it’s Pennsylvania, but I felt I had taken something back for myself by freeing myself from political rhetoric I could not get behind.

I have never voted Democrat in the PA 6th Congressional District. And I have been in this district seemingly forever.  First in Lower Merion Township, and now even after a couple rounds of redistricting, here in Chester County.  I voted gladly for Jim Gerlach every time he ran, and I also voted for Ryan Costello.

I did not really know who I would vote for until September 1st.  There seemed to be mass confusion for a while, namely with regard to Costello bailing out and the redistricting and the redistricting court battles. Like many, I wasn’t actually sure for a while who would be running.

If we had somehow magically gotten redistricted to the PA 7th Congressional District which now has kind of sort of become the new PA 5th Congressional District, I would have chosen Pearl Kim.  (I do not even know who is running in the now PA 7th at this point.)

To an extent, I am so turned off by American politics and the nouveau Republican party, I kind of just literally closed my ears for months and months.  No easy feat for a political junkie.

I had heard about Greg McCauley and would have actually considered him because of his Philadelphia area familial and legal profession lineage. Until that September 1st tweet. I realize it was probably some campaign minion, but it doesn’t matter.  As a candidate he let it go forward, right?

Chester County needs Republicans they can count on, not #TrumpLite . This is why Chester County continues to veer away from it’s Republican roots and history and will soon be another county in PA with a Democratic majority.

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I found this position VERY interesting. 

Chrissy Houlahan has served her country proudly in the US Armed Forces and deserves what the Brits call worthy opposition. A Republican man demeaning his female opposition is not someone voters today will find worthy.  

This kind of behavior in PA 6 is nothing new, but it IS old and used.

Today as a candidate (in my humble opinion), you  need to run a campaign based on what YOU would bring to the table not tired sexist rhetoric that the “party” wants. We don’t want in PA.  Jim Gerlach was always his own man. McCauley needed to be THAT guy for his own sake as well as voters.

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My Democratic door knocker said to tell all of you he was tall and dashingly handsome. He made me laugh and was super pleasant to deal with.

Today, a little while ago, a very nice man came knocking on my door.  Wanting to speak to my husband.  Poor man he got me.

He was a door knocker for the Democrats.  ( I will admit I handed him back his Tom Wolf palm card and told him why : PIPELINES AND BROKEN PROMISES FROM THE LAST CAMPAIGN. But I digress….)

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Chrissy and her campaign like to tell you what she believes in. She doesn’t waste the voters’ time just slamming and denigrating her opponent, does she?

These days Republicans seem to take a lot of us voters in Chester County for granted.  I have not seen anyone from the Republicans door knock in a couple of years, and even then it was merely committee people, not actual candidates.

So this afternoon this Democratic door knocker told me a little bit more about Chrissy Houlahan, and I in turn told him about what made me look at her again the other day. And decide.

Yes, all it took was one sexist, rude, misogynistic tweet.

He also told me about Kristine Howard who is running against Duane Milne in the PA 167th legislative district. Kristine Howard (according to her Facebook political page biography ):

“is known in suburban Philadelphia as a political activist who spent most of the last decade working for progressive Democratic candidates and serving diligently as a member of the Chester County Democratic Committee from Malvern while balancing the responsibilities of work and single-mother parenting…. After law school she planned to pursue a career in public interest law but her career plans took a detour after getting married and having two babies while in law school. After law school, she spent five years in New Mexico, where she ran a small legal and social services organization while her family grew. When she came back to Pennsylvania, she devoted the next many years focused on raising her three boys and four girls. It was not easy to combine a “real” career with raising a large family but she always found something to do to stay engaged in her civic interests and social activism. She worked for Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and was a child advocate for children in foster care in Philadelphia. Her keen interest in children and child welfare opened the door to her current position, working for the County investigating child abuse cases. As a caseworker, she has come to see a darker side of the wealthy and beautiful Chester County communities where she has raised her family. Her experiences as a social worker, mother and political activist have come together in her decision…”

Honestly, I never heard of her. But that is a lot of the problem about Chester County politics. You do not hear about some candidates at all. Especially, I am learning, if you are an Independent.

But this post is not about THAT race.  This post is about the 6th Congressional District Race.

And something has got to give.

So I am thinking this indeed might be the election that flips the 6th.  John Micek from PennLive.com has been saying so for months.

It’s a relatively simple concept that has more to do with us as Pennsylvanians than anything else.  We need someone with a spine. A backbone. A strong moral compass.  This race, it seems more and more that Chrissie Houlahan is the woman for the job.

Check out this September 2nd piece in the New York Times.

Please note these are only my opinions and I was not asked to write this nor compensated in any way to write this.  I am writing this post because it’s time to say something.  We have to be the change we want. 

I want change. Not more tired rhetoric. It’s time for more women in Congress and I would like to start with my very own district. If that makes me a potential “enemy of the state” by some of my Republican friends, I am sorry you feel that way. I think Chrissy is the best choice for me at this time in my life. If Chrissy Houlahan came knocking on my door personally, I would be very please to chat with her. As a woman, I like what I hear.  Now more than ever, that matters to me.

lower merion school district is having stoneleigh sunshine issues?

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Oh CBS3 I think I love that you love “sunshine”.  What am I talking about? Oh my, check out the CBS3 video about Stoneleigh in Lower Merion.

I am going to let CBS3 tell the story:

CBS3 Emails Reveal Private Tour, Internal School Board Conversations As Stoneleigh Gardens Controversy Continues
By Joe HoldenAugust 1, 2018 at 11:36 pm

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Those set on preserving Stoneleigh Gardens versus the Lower Merion School District: It was a boil over this spring that has since simmered in the quiet summer months. But a final decision has yet to be made on the Main Line property that school officials identified in April for possible seizure under eminent domain. The announcement came at the same time the Gardens opened to the public and whipped up a firestorm.

“The Lower Merion School District still hasn’t taken Stoneleigh off the table and until and unless they do so, it’s still at risk,” said Oliver Bass, who is with Natural Lands, the non-profit organization responsible for preserving Stoneleigh.

On June 18, CBS3 filed an open records request with the Lower Merion School District for all emails about Stoneleigh between the superintendent and school board. A month later, the district responded.

It’s unknown how many emails traveled back and forth, but Lower Merion decided to keep virtually all of the electronic correspondence secret, based on attorney-client privilege and a real estate exemption, the denial read.

“Any time in the USA when we hear of government taking property, it strikes right at the core of our fundamental principles.”

Terry Mutchler, former head of Pennsylvania’s Open Records Office and a national transparency lawyer said Lower Merion has an obligation to be open — especially given the Stoneleigh uproar.

“I would think the district would want to be more in the sunshine than behind the curtain on this,” Mutchler said.

CLICK HERE TO READ EMAILS OBTAINED BY CBS3

Here are the emails released by CBS3:

The released e-mails are naturally not earth shattering (but still interesting) , nor am I shocked that Lower Merion School District finds itself above sunshine. They have always flet themselves collectively superior to everyone.

Soooo, how would more people like to submit Rights to Know on Lower Merion School District? (Follow this LINK to files a right to know on super secret and unpleasant Lower Merion School District.)

Stoneleigh is NOT safe although Lower Merion School District bought or is buying the Clothier Estate. Don’t be lulled into complacency. They are greedy snakes in the grass and until there is a public and irrefutable statement that Stoneleigh is off of the table, it’s just not.

Governor Wolf signed the Stoneleigh eminent domain bill into law because he’s up for re-election , BUT again, Stoneleigh is NOT off the Lower Merion School District dining table.

If you live in Lower Merion Township, it’s time to dump the latest bad school Superintendent (Copeland) and it’s time to dump Dr. Melissa Gilbert and her merry band of Stepford Board Members off of the school board.  Once upon a time I had high hopes for Melissa, but now she just believes her own press.

Support Natural Lands. #SaveStoneleigh

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local business RAVE: design build maintain llc

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I have a lot of shade gardens in the back, and I just can’t do all the mulching and all of the work by myself anymore.  The past few years I have had a couple of surgeries and am recovering still from a nasty sprained ankle after a fall on vacation this summer, so I have needed some help.

We had also pretty much run out of wood chips from spring tree work and all of the recent rain has washed away a lot of mulch. A lot of people like mulch, I prefer hardwood wood chips.  I also love cedar wood chips.

So we hired Design Build Maintain, LLC to bring in the wood chips and spread them. This is the first time in years I have had to buy any, and what they bought me this morning was clean, uniformly sized as far as chips, and as weird as it sounds, smells great.

They did an awesome job, they have terrific crews who are very neat and gentle on your plantings. And they are also incredibly reasonable for as hard as they work and the work they do.

They came in here with 10 yards of woodchips this morning and I have a couple yards left but they spread the rest. What they didn’t use was neatly put onto my existing wood chip pile. They completely cleaned up and weeded before they spread the chips as well.  They were a little luxury I gave my garden, and I am so happy with the result.

They do full-service landscaping and lawns and hardscaping as well.

Just thought I would tell everyone because they did THAT good of a job.  Everyone who knows me will tell you I am very picky when it comes to service providers, so if I tell all of you locally about something and I rave, they are simply that good.

I also mention that I have had fits and starts with a couple of other small local landscapers and I was not happy with them at all.  As a matter of fact, the last company I hired to do wood chips (and all they had to do was spread them as we had the chips ready and waiting) disappeared part way through the job and never came back. So I have been really skeptical of landscaping companies.  With the exception of tree work which I can’t and don’t do (I happily use Treemendous Tree Care if you are interested), I do not ask anyone to do anything that I haven’t done myself.

This review of Design Build Maintain LLC is one of a VERY happy customer.  I was not compensated for my opinion in any way. And they also get props for me having conniptions over all of the rain delays.  Mother Nature has not been cooperating the past few weeks, and the weather caused rescheduling.  I am not a large customer, just a small one, and I got the same kid glove treatment as someone with a sizable estate. I really appreciate that.

Design Build Maintain is based more in the Main Line section of Chester County, but you can call them to see if they can come to you.  I find them via their Facebook page and they respond quickly.  Their phone is (484) 319-5890.

what books are on your coffee table in chester county?

What books are on your coffee table in Chester County?

I can tell you which ones are on mine. Since I moved to Chester County I have added to my library a small Chester County section. And the books on my coffee table specifically are as follows:

100 Artists of The Brandywine Valley by Catherine Quillman.

Speaking for Themselves: The Artists of Southeastern Pennsylvania by Daphne S. Landis.

A Traveler’s Album by Eugene L. DiOrio.

If these books interest you there are a lot of them out there in new/unused and gently used but in very good condition on Amazon and eBay. Also you never know what you will find at Baldwin’s Book Barn 😊

skin in the game of pipelines?

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So I started looking at the interactive pipeline map again along with the pipeline website for Chester County set up by the Chester County Planning Commission. And it prompted an email to pipeline companies and the Chester County Planning Commission to clarify how we would possibly be affected where we live. ( I will note we have neighbors not so far away who have like three pipelines running through their property.)

“When I look at our mapping, which uses the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) that the Federal Government maintains, in conjunction with the pipeline operators, the western edge of your house is roughly 1,030 feet from the closest line, which is Interstate Energy, which is planned to be converted to natural gas.”

~ Carrie from Chester County Planning Commission

Close enough.

Yikes. (and that is the most polite phrase fit to print.)

And for what isn’t planned, possibly planned, maybe planned, who knows what plan exists right through my backyard and/or woods, well I would be close enough to be in a blast zone. Only it is apparently not politically correct to use that phrase, because when I did, I was told:

Regarding your concern about being in a “blast zone,” our office does not define or utilize the phrase “blast zone.” We do use the term Consultation Zone, which is a term used by the federal government and operators to distinguish an area of 1000 feet (in Chester County) on either side of an existing transmission pipeline where coordination between local officials, landowners, and operators are encouraged to consult with each other before land developments are planned for these areas. The US Department of Transportation (which houses the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s Office of Pipeline Safety) sponsored a planning effort known as “Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance” (2010,) which identified the phrase Consultation Zone. They define it as an area extending from each side of a transmission pipeline to describe when a property developer/owner, who is planning a new development in the vicinity of an existing transmission pipeline, should initiate a dialogue with the operator. (see https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/…/pipa-report-final-20101117.p…) These zones are a recommended practice and not something that is required.

As another person pointed out to me:

 …the Blast Zone is something different. PHMSA calls it the “Buffer Zone” but sorry, we and our loved ones are not buffers.

If Adelphia [and others] end up being like Mariner East, at a 1000 ft you will be within the Blast Zone.

 

Whether Buffer Zone, Consultation Zone, or Blast Zone….they are all scary bad zones to me, o.k.?

Well now, apparently I will have skin in the game? That now I can join all of the other Chester County and Delaware County residents worrying about pipelines?

Fabulous. Worry is such a good look on people, right? (Dripping sarcasm, can you feel it?)

What started me like Alice down the proverbial pipeline rabbit hole this week is something I saw posted on Charlestown’s website:

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You see, in neighboring East Whiteland Township where I live, the township doesn’t have much out there yet on the pipelines.    All I found (easily – I say easily because perhaps information is hidden deep down in website ) was the Adelphia Gateway letter from January, which I had already seen.  Here it is:

A lot of townships now have stand alone pages with pipeline information.  Like East Goshen, Uwchlan, and Upper Uwchlan, for example. (CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE) All townships with any pipelines should have these informational pages in my opinion.

I will note that when I sent my email to Chester County Planning about pipelines in my particular neighborhood, while the planning commission was kind and replied to me, only  ONE pipeline company gave me the courtesy of a reply acknowledging my outreach. Ryan Lumbridge from Enbridge. He offered up his phone number if I need to speak with him.  I will call him but I am most concerned with Adelphia Gateway and Interstate Energy. And apparently since now a couple of days has passed without even a simple acknowledgement of contact, Adelphia Gateway and Interstate Energy don’t seem to think they need to communicate with residents.

Wrong.

The pipeline companies need to communicate. To Interstate especially I say if you plan to maybe possibly or maybe definitely plan to do something 1,030 from the edge of our property, you can show a little interest. I am on a well, I have gardens, I have beautiful woods and more.  I want to know exactly what Interstate is planning to do if they do it and when. I am sure I am but one of many emails they get, and I am trying to be calm and rational, except I have seen what is going on in neighboring municipalities with Sunoco, and well, I don’t want my neighborhood to have these problems. 

I reiterate my objections to these pipelines which rape and pillage and destroy so they can ship their good overseas so other companies in Europe and elsewhere can do things like make more plastic.  Our homes are our castles, our American dreams and it is heinous that American companies can just take our land (without even just compensation in my opinion) and trash it for their profit. And put us in danger.

We are also densely populated enough that what if with other pipeline companies wishing to be Sunoco-Mariner East II-Lite something blows up? Collapses? Ruins wells, breaks water mains? Causes sinkholes? Brings down property values? We as residents are NOT protected. Officials can’t say it won’t happen because all the media coverage and whatnot shows it HAS happened.  Are we just to repeat the same darn patterns over and over from pipeline company to pipeline company and municipality to municipality???

I am sure pipeline companies want residents to just go quietly into the night.  We can’t. Our lives and our homes and our properties are at stake.  You can’t bully, harass, or threaten us into submission. We live here and like it or not, we have rights.  We shouldn’t have to be pipeline guinea pigs should we?

And right or wrong, I feel like these pipeline companies, our sitting Governor Tom Wolf, and even municipalities at times want us as residents to know as little as possible.

#DefendWhatYouLove

Here is a round-up of some recent articles I found:

DelCo Times Guest Column: An opposing view to Sunoco’s rosy outlook on pipeline project

Daily Local News: Middletown to Pa.: Stop pipeline construction

Dragonpipe Diary: Here’s how the “worst case” could happen: a dry run

Philadelphia Business Journal: PUC rules to keep Mariner East 2, 2X pipeline construction on hold

Delco Times: Delco moves forward on pipeline risk assessment study

Daily Local News:  Local lawmaker calls on PUC to post pipeline public comments online

State Impact PA:Officials: Water main contractor struck Mariner East 2 in Delaware County

Daily Local: Chesco Commissioners urge PUC to stand against pipeline projects

#savestoneleigh (and photos from the opening)

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On May 8th and May 10th I wrote posts on Stoneleigh in Villanova.  A little far afield from Chester County but so important. I am a supporter and believer in Natural Lands, and then there is a more personal bent.  You see, one of my high school classmates grew up on Stoneleigh. His parents, John and Chara Haas, put the property into a conservation easement in 1996.

The 1996 conservation easement was with Natural Lands. The express wish of Mr. and Mrs. Haas was that the property be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Open space, gardens, and so on.  Now today is Mother’s Day and yesterday at the members preview on Stoneleigh, people were speaking of when Mr. and Mrs. Haas would open up the property on Mother’s Day for people to enjoy.

Here is a photo array to see before continuing with the post here – it takes a while to load – a lot of photos:

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After Mr. and Mrs. Haas passed away, their children decided to donate the property to Natural Lands, and that happened in 2016.  The conservation easement remains very much in place today, but is now under the stewardship of the Lower Merion Conservancy. Lower Merion Conservancy now is responsible for the annual monitoring.

I think Lower Merion School District is already starting damage control with their eminent domain B.S. given this overly verbose don’t hate us because we are big jerks press release currently on their website. I am more than a little disappointed by former 6ABC  reporter Amy Buckman already. Her predecessor’s press releases were much easier to follow and didn’t word wander, but I digress.

With regard to what is on their website, it is the full on poor pitiful Pearl routine where among other things they say that “LMSD is now the fastest-growing District in Pennsylvania by total number of students over the past eight years and enrollment could surpass 9,500 students in the next ten years.

But do they tell you WHY the district is growing so fast? Do they mention all of the development they have never, ever questioned? And yet, they are making a play for Stoneleigh based on future assumptions, or a possibility?  Call me crazy but they seem to want land for a future not a present need? And why are their needs the problem of Natural Lands and Stoneleigh? Just because it is there?

I have permission from Natural Lands to share some of the history of Stoneleigh so here’s an excerpt:

Stoneleigh’s history dates back to 1877 when Edmund Smith, a rising executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, purchased 65 acres of land in Villanova and constructed a residence there. To shape the grounds, Smith hired landscape gardener Charles H. Miller, who trained at Kew Gardens in England and later served as chief gardener for Fairmount Park.

At the turn of the 20th century, Samuel Bodine, head of United Gas Improvement Company, acquired the property. In addition to building the Tudor Revival style building that exists today, Bodine hired New York landscape architecture firm Pentecost and Vitale to radically redesign the gardens in a more formal, or “Beaux Arts,” style.

Evidently, Bodine was not pleased with the results. In 1908, he retained the Olmsted Brothers of Massachusetts—sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, and the most prestigious landscape architecture firm in the country—to “guide him in the gradual transformation of the place.” Over the next 50 years, the Olmsted Brothers firm returned periodically to Stoneleigh to plan vistas and pathways, establish gardens and terraces, reroute points of entry, select plant species, and transplant trees.

Following Samuel Bodine’s death in 1932, Stoneleigh was subdivided and sold. Otto Haas, entrepreneur and co-founder of Rohm and Haas Company, purchased the southwestern portion of the estate, launching a more than 80-year tenure of careful stewardship by the Haas family. Otto and Phoebe’s son, John, and his wife, Chara, acquired the property in 1964 and lived there for the next five decades.

Yesterday, Stoneleigh was packed. Natural Lands members turned out from everywhere to tour the house and the grounds.  It was lovely and bucolic, and I would like to think what the Haas family had hoped for.  Family members were on site yesterday.  I am sure it was also a little bit hard for all of them. This was their home, after all.   Now it’s an achingly beautiful public garden space and although this is the path set forth by their lovely parents, it just has to be bittersweet. And then to learn that Lower Merion School District is seemingly proceeding on a path of land stealing? Well, I can only imagine.

Apparently Lower Merion School District is having a tour on May 18th? Allow me to quote them again:

Due to a need for additional field space, Superintendent Copeland has stated that the District would like to pursue the 6.9 developable acres of Stoneleigh no matter whether or where a new middle school site is acquired. The District is hopeful an amicable accommodation can be reached.
As part of their continuing due diligence, and especially now in light of the possibility of the Class 1 designations on two of the potential sites, District representatives in April requested a walk-through of the entire Stoneleigh property for May 18, 2018.

Amicable is school district speak for give us what we want NOW.

Here is an excerpt of what WHYY wrote in an article May 12th:

WHYY: Conservancy mobilizes as Lower Merion looks to Stoneleigh garden for school use
By Laura Benshoff   May 12, 2018

To combat overcrowding, Lower Merion School District has proposed buying — or seizing through eminent domain — 6.9 acres of the Stoneleigh estate and historic garden in Villanova.

In response, Natural Lands, the conservation trust overseeing the property, has launched a public advocacy campaign called “Save Stoneleigh,” urging the district to drop its bid…

At Stoneleigh, gardeners and conservators have been doing their own planning, preparing the picturesque 42-acre estate that once belonged to the Haas family to open to the public, starting Sunday….

Lower Merion School Board will ultimately weigh every option before deciding whether to invoke eminent domain.

“It’s not the district’s first choice to do that,” said Roos. “But it just can’t be taken off the table as an option.”

Thugs. That is a good descriptive adjective don’t you think?  I am all for what lawyer Arthur Wolk wants at this point: removal of the entire school board. To that I add the removal of autocratic school Superintendent Robert Copeland.  To THAT I add Lower Merion Commissioners and township staff who have been ever so gung ho over development for YEARS and years.  Just clean house.  

Legal battles aside, that is exactly what needs to happen to prevent this B.S. in the future.

Savvy Main Line has a lovely write up about Stoneleigh on their website. Check it out.

And now that Stoneleigh has opened, visit. It will take your breath away. And once you are there and experience the magic of the place, you will understand why oh so many of us are so passionate about it. It is magical. Simply magical.

I hope you have enjoyed the photos I shared.

Please see Save Stoneleigh for more information.  Please consider signing the petition . Please write a letter, speak at upcoming meetings, and keep spreading the word.  Open Space should not be threatened like this. And at the end of the day, if the Lower Merion School District is unwilling and unable to respect the legacy of the Haas family, it is our duty to see that they are taught respect, don’t you think?

#SaveSoneleigh (pass it on.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all.