happy 75th frank ūüėä‚̧ԳŹ

This is the thing about true community that no developer in the world or urban planner can bottle and replicate. It just has to exist. Today is my neighbor Frank’s 75th birthday. His friends got a parade together!

I am deeply honored that I was included as I am a new kid on the block, relatively speaking. I have really great neighbors. These people are good honest folk. Frank keeps chickens and through a lot of this stay at home he has been keeping a lot of us in fresh eggs. Fun fact I learned today was that he used to work for Saint Peter’s School at 4th and Pine in Philadelphia for Miss Seamens who was our head mistress or principal. So I actually could have met him when I was little.

Happy 75th Frank! We love ya!

a look back at another community

I am a big fan of Main Line Parent, Philadelphia Family , Family Focus Media. I love what they do, and actually for a few years I was a freelancer with them. I wrote a couple of articles for them, but mostly I was their calendar girl. That is to say for a few years I hunted down and loaded events into their events calendar. I never talked about it much but it was something that was a lot of fun to do. And the ladies who are Main Line Parent are amazing!

Yesterday one of their folks posted the screen shot above. That mural went up in Ardmore in 2012, after I had moved to Chester County, but had been in the planning stages of a group I belonged to for many years, The Save Ardmore Coalition.

Main Line Media News Ardmore to get new mural

By Cheryl Allison callison@mainlinemedianews.com September 21, 2011

The Save Ardmore Coalition has finally found a location for its long-planned community mural, and the search has brought the group back home.

Lower Merion Township commissioners last week gave the green light to the organization’s application to install a mosaic mural on a wall of the Suburban Office Equipment building at 49 E. Lancaster Ave.

The unanimous vote by the Building and Planning Committee was to be finalized at a board meeting Wednesday night….The Save Ardmore Coalition has been seeking a site for a community artwork in downtown Ardmore for more than two years. In June 2009, the organization received a $20,000 grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development‚Äôs Community Revitalization Program to be used for a mural and other community projects.

A portion of the grant money was used last holiday season to put up advertisements at local train stations to encourage township residents to ‚ÄúDiscover More in Ardmore‚ÄĚ and shop local, said SAC President Sharon Eckstein.

The $15,000 mural project had taken longer to get off the ground, though, because of the difficulty in finding an appropriate location. Eckstein said the group had talked to a number of property owners before focusing on Ardmore’s historic Lancaster Avenue business district.

Main Line Media News: Mural dedication in downtown Ardmore

By Cheryl Allison callison@mainlinemedianews.com Nov 4, 2012

The Save Ardmore Coalition celebrated the completion of its Ardmore Mural Project at 49 Lancaster Ave.in Ardmore Sunday The new mosaic mural depicting a street scene has been taking shape this summer on the side of Suburban Office Equipment, across Lancaster Avenue from Rittenhouse Place.

 Artist Jessica Gorlin Liddell was on hand to talk about her work. Special guests included state Sen. Daylin Leach, through whose office a grant was provided to support this work of public art; Suburban Office owners Scott Mahan and Peggy Savery; SAC Mural Coordinator Sharon Eckstein; and other SAC members.

A Penn Valley resident, Liddell specializes in creating architectural mosaic installations…..The Save Ardmore Coalition formed in early 2005 to fight against Lower Merion Township‚Äôs potential use of its eminent domain powers to take down several buildings, including the Suburban Office building, in a controversial Ardmore Transit Center and downtown development project.

While a later vote by township commissioners officially precluded the use of eminent domain for the redevelopment project, SAC, as the grant recognized, went on to focus efforts on community advancement by organizing community forums and supporting programs like First Friday Main Line.

The years have passed on by and those of us who made up The Save Ardmore Coalition have moved on with our lives, and some like me, literally moved out of the area. By the time the mural was dedicated in 2012 I was living in Chester County, and had not been part of Save Ardmore Coalition for a while. But the people I was in that group with will always be dear to me like family.

We accomplished a great deal. We actually won a whole bunch of awards locally, regionally, and even one nationally. We were apolitical and beholden to neither political party. And yes, one year to stop the craziness in Lower Merion Township we changed the faces of who governed us and flipped half of the board of commissioners, essentially. We walked into a room together once upon a time as all strangers with a common goal to want better for our community. We left those first rooms and meetings as friends.

The mural is kind of the last thing many of us did together. Once in a while some of us get together and a lot of us are in touch with one and other. But seeing that mural pop up in a photo reminded me of the good community can do.

Be kind to one and other today and never be afraid to stand together for the greater good.


A real community is a rare thing indeed in today’s busy world. It’s funny because we are all so connected via social media, yet a lot of times in reality we are very disconnected. So when you have the opportunity to get together with some really amazing people in real time to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company, it is truly terrific.

Politicians and others often underestimate the power or sense of community. That isn’t the point of this post, but it is an observation.

I have only been in Chester County a few years. Today I was invited to a neighborhood block party outside my own neighborhood , and it was wonderful. I had the best time.

A sense of community is a real sense of place. When I first moved to Chester County, it was hard. Yes, I had friends out here, but the place I left was a place where I was really part of the community, as in my immediate community and extended community. Today I felt that sense of community again. I felt the sense of extended community like it was my own neighborhood. (And I love where I live and my neighbors!)

Community bonds for any number of reasons. When it happens, it is in my opinion, a wonderful and positive power for good.

To the people I spent time with today, thank you for inviting me. Thank you for including me as part of your extended community. I think you all are amazing.

progress at ebenezer 

Al Terrell photo

Look…that is Ebenzer on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, yesterday.

Now look at this photo from when they were first starting. This photo is Al and Luke the Willistown scout doing his Eagle Scout project when they started this journey (and the way it was when we took the Philadelphia Inquirer out to the site this summer):

Al Terrell photo

And even better is this next photo.  It is Al’s son Andrew showing Luke the Eagle Scout project he did at Ebenezer 16 years ago!!! How cool is that? 

Al Terrell photo

It got me to thinking. Not only of the generations of the same family interested in preserving Ebenezer for future generations, but how many scouts have actually done service projects here?

It is so obvious the love so many have had for this site. And every day we see more progress.  This is what community is about, people.  From East Whiteland’s township building to the local Boy Scouts from multiple troops over the years, to all the others interested in Ebenezer in the past and present, this is the good community can do simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Here is hoping the AME Church is watching. And anyone else wondering about trying to save history wherever they live.

This is awesome.

Al Terrell photo. This is our soldier , Joshua


lavenderLast evening I went to my first ever municipal meeting in Chester County.  It was the East Whiteland Zoning Hearing Board.  CubeSmart was supposed to be on it, but apparently the applicant continued it until September 23rd.

The meeting started a little late and the room was packed, even for August.¬† I estimate that maybe 100 people can be seated and truthfully it wasn’t far off capacity. The first order of business was they announced the retirement of one of the members – I think it was the guy who fell asleep during the last Zoning Hearing Board Meeting where CubeSmart was discussed.

The most contentious discussion of the evening was the application that requested a single variance.  1535 Morstein Road in Malvern. They needed the variance on the frontage so they can shoehorn in two McMansions on what looks to me to be a flag lot.  They got it.  In a perfect world the variance would have been denied. But just like Lower Merion, Radnor, Tredyffrin, and so on they throw it back to the public that commissioners and supervisors create the zoning. And we all know the zoning and everything else is based on what? The outdated Municipalities Planning Code of Pennsylvania.

Yes it is a cycle, and we elect the people who perpetuate the cycle. So in order to break the cycle we have to change the players enough until we get people willing to enact the changes on a top down basis that better reflects what we want in our communities as residents.

But politics of municipalities is not the conversation I am having today.  The conversation I am having is about community. And I saw it last night and it was terrific. First a little recap and a couple observations.

1535 Morstein

This Morstein application and discussion on the property was interesting.¬† The applicant’s attorney put up several witnesses, including the daughter of the deceased who I presume was the executor of the estate. The guy has been dead a few years so who knows if there were other executors or not, but for someone who wants to sell and move on in my opinion the property has sat a long time in an area where they don’t sit too long.¬† Now this lady grew up there and on some level it must be darn difficult to go through this.¬† Obviously she lives someplace else and needs to settle the estate but I still find it hard to believe some of what she said.

When quizzed about the property by the Zoning Hearing Board and even residents she said that she had tried to interest a realtor in selling the property but couldn’t find one and that no neighbors had ever expressed interest in the property.¬† I find that hard to believe.¬† It is quite a desirable area.

The house itself is a wreck. The property is so overgrown and neglected that you almost expect Charles Dickens’ character Miss Havisham from Great Expectations to come wandering out of the woods. ¬† It did not get that way overnight. That takes years.¬† I am always fascinated when people let a family home sort of crumble year by year.¬† I have seen it out here, have seen it on the Main Line.¬† Saw it some more in and around Berwyn yesterday when I was cruising around photographing historic homes for a fall house tour.

The proposed plan seems as if it has a few more hoops to go through (and wow look at the drawing below Рlight green looks like proposed lawn area and dark green forest. That to me looks like a LOT of trees will go) before it can become reality including things like septic testing, storm water considerations  and so on. It is not a done deal yet.  They have to pay close attention to the septic as apparently back there a lot of septic systems have failed and if the area went to municipal/public sewer well as I understand it the sewage plant or whatever that is closest is at or near capacity and where would they pump to? And the cost of adding public sewer is also quite expensive.

What I saw last evening that I REALLY liked and totally respect was a community which came together to morstein1appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board.  All they want is their way of life and neighborhoods protected.  They were realists.  Many said if you have to build one house we get that, but why do you have to cram two into the space? The other thing I liked is they did this in a respectful manner.  There was some drama but not to the extent you see in similar Main Line meetings I used to attend.

Community that comes together is awesome.¬† I am glad to see a sense of community is alive and well.¬† It is so important. What I also liked is I discovered that a lot of these people had lived around there for decades in some cases.¬† That is a positive sign for any community and what has changed on the Main Line, for example.¬† A lot of areas (the Main Line included) can get quite transient and that is not good for a community necessarily.¬† Not everything can always stay the same but when you check out a community that has lots of comings and goings of residents to me that always makes you wonder what is wrong, doesn’t it?

We don’t need to all be in each other’s pockets and we don’t need local governments that micromanage every little thing. But a sense of community along with a sense of place is so important.¬† It was so very nice to see neighbors who care about each other.¬† That is something I saw less and less of on the Main Line before I moved.

People define community often as “community events”.¬† Events are nice, but they don’t make the community, people do.¬† And when people do embrace a true sense of community it is very cool and I think marvelous. And that is something no developer can replicate. It either just is or isn’t.