downingtown

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too young to die:chester county native was beautiful with whole life ahead of her

 Have you ever read something from a complete stranger in a group you belong to and just started to cry because it just gets you right through the heart?  As in immediately at the time of reading? Well I have, and I am writing about it because my heart is so sad for this lady I don’t know, who just lost her daughter to some tragedy across the county. And the mom is a recent breast cancer survivor. So it hits me in more than one way.

In my few years living in Chester County, I have discovered this is a place with a huge heart and in Chester County we take care of our own. So at the end of this I am going to put in a couple of things on how we can help this family. Not through any non-profit, we will help because we care, deal?

So I read this post this morning from Jennifer Lynch that said:

It has been 4 days, now, since our youngest daughter was identified as the Eugene Oregon Jane Doe. Every day is different, but equally horrifying. I finally got a call, from the detective working her case. He is in the violent crime division. There has been some “creative storytelling” from the parties we believe to be involved in the circumstances surrounding the death of a beautiful, vulnerable 24 year old girl, but we are no closer to real answers, as of yet.

Sometimes, I border on ok, sometimes I am out of my mind. Other times, I am just standing in the shower, when I suddenly realize that I am putting out more water than the shower head, and I have no idea how long I’ve been in there. Time has no meaning. I have a constant flow of still frames, in my mind. How could I have stopped this? What could I have done or said differently, to convince her to come home?

I don’t know.

She was stubborn, and willful, and there were times that we went at it like two Billy goats on a log. God, what I wouldn’t do, to be able to have another argument, another hug just one more moment, frozen in time.

Hug your children, even if they think they are too old, for hugs. You never know if it could be the last time.

 

So I went scrolling through the group looking for more information and I found this article:

THE REGISTER GUARD EUGENE POLICE

“She wasn’t a Jane Doe. She had family and friends who loved her and were looking for her.”

Body found Feb. 20 near Eugene bike path identified as Rachel Lee Lynch

She was like a sparkle — burning bright, hot and fast.

And in an instant, she was gone.

That’s how the family of Rachel Lee Lynch described the vivacious 24-year-old who was found dead near the bike path along the west bank of the Willamette River in Eugene on Feb. 20.

It would be nearly a week before her identity would be known — police initially identified her as Jane Doe and learned of her identity only after circulating surveillance images from the Safeway store on Coburg Road, where she had shopped on Feb. 16……Most of her family, including stepmother Jennifer Lynch, lives in Chester County, Pa. They said they had no idea Rachel Lynch was even in Oregon. But they did know, they say, that she was in trouble and had hoped it wouldn’t come to this.

“She was a cheerleader, an honor student,” Jennifer Lynch said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “She made one bad decision, she trusted the wrong person and it took her across the country. It took her life.”….“It’s just been incredibly hard,” Jennifer Lynch said on behalf of the family. “She was a good kid. But she’s like any young girl. They think they are in love, and they just can’t see the danger that they’re in. Guys like that, they work these girls. And like any woman, you see what he can be and not what he is. He played her like a violin.”

According to Jennifer Lynch, Rachel Lynch graduated from high school in 2009, and attended Temple University in Philadelphia for two years before she met a slightly older and charming boyfriend.

Almost immediately, the two were inseparable, Jennifer Lynch said. Her stepdaughter quit school and began following her new boyfriend’s wishes, she said.

“He was isolating her and it just kept getting tighter,” Jennifer Lynch said. “He was controlling her. And we saw her less and less and less.”

….Rachel Lynch loved music, movies and art. Her laugh was contagious, and her family is “gutted” by their loss, her stepmother said.

“She wasn’t a Jane Doe,” Jennifer Lynch said tearfully. “She had a family and friends who loved her and were looking for her. Right now, we just want to get her home.”

I. Can’t.Even.  Then I read this:

Ladies..it is with a very heavy heart that I once again am reaching out for one of our own today. As many of you read last night about the loss of Jennifer’s daughter Rachel.
Rachel’s body was found on a bike trail in Eugene Oregon on Saturday. She was only 24 yrs old.
Jennifer is currently waiting on details from the coroner as I spoke with her thismorning. At this point she is more than appreciative of all the offers of help but their priority is to get their daughter HOME.
With Jennifer’s recent battle with Breast Cancer taking a major financial toll on them they desperately need the power of our group right now.
To lose a child at any age is a parents worst pain. We are praying for you Jen

Ladies our PayPal is open for donations which I will get directly to Jen for her to use for arrangements ASAP!

PLEASE PLEASE…use friends and family when donating AND put JENNIFER in the notes as we also have another fundraiser going

 

2help.momadvice@gmail.com

 

*ANYONE NOT HAVING PAYPAL CAN PM ME FOR MY ADDRESS

4000 women can make a difference together! Thank you Ladies.😢

 

Tomorrow, a dear friend’s daughter who is a varsity cheerleader at another Chester County high school has a birthday. And seeing Jennifer’s Rachel’s photo really hit that home for me. And I am also a step-parent and a breast cancer survivor, so on so many levels I get this. And most importantly as a human being I get this.

The newspaper article which I thought had great heart thanks to the reporter makes me think back to when I was the age of Rachel Lynch.  When you are that young, remember how easy it was to get stars in your eyes over the wrong person? If we are honest we all had those experiences, or a lot of us did.

As an adult we read about domestic violence all of the time. We all say “it could never happen to us” but it happens to many of us, male and female.  Sometimes it is brutal and physical, sometimes it is sneaky and subversive, almost subtle as it is all about control and the bruises from emotional and mental warfare you can’t see. I think those situations are even worse than physical abuse.

When you are in an abusive relationship it’s not necessarily so easy to get out. Sometimes you do not recognize (or want to recognize) how toxic a relationship is even if friends and family express concern. That sounds almost silly to people, but if you have ever witnessed anyone go through this you know that it is true.

I don’t know Jennifer, and I never knew Rachel.  But I have known women like Rachel and by the grace of God they are still alive.

Here is the information again regarding sending donations via MomAdvice founder Kelly Lammey. Donations are NOT tax deductible. They will go towards the family’s expenses and to help out with bills post breast cancer. I am still paying off breast cancer treatment bills almost five years later, so I get how this is.

Here is the information:

Use PayPal and put “JENNIFER” in the notes as the group is involved in  another fundraiser

 

2help.momadvice@gmail.com is the email address. 

 

If you do NOT use PayPal e-mail KINGMOM123@AOL.com 

 

DO NOT GET THE E-MAIL ADDRESSES MIXED UP! AND ALL CHECKS WILL BE MADE PAYABLE TO JENNIFER LYNCH .

 

If you can contribute goods or services towards the family holding a memorial service for their daughter or know someone willing to donate a hall  somewhere in the Downingtown or Kennett Square area that would also be appreciated. AND AGAIN FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN A PAYPAL DONATION E-MAIL KINGMOM123@aol.COM

Remember Rachel and her family in your prayers. And hug your kids. This can happen to anyone.  A young girl smiling at us now forever a moment in time in her Downingtown East cheerleading uniform. It isn’t supposed to be like this. She is supposed to grow old, fall in love, raise her own family.

Thank you for reading this.

too young

rotting in downingtown

  These photos were sent to me by a reader named Kathy. They came with this message:

“This eyesore in Downingtown at Boot Rd & 322 lingers on. Will it ever be cleaned up and developed or is it forever stuck in the cycle of red tape and paperwork? I thought the bicycle trail was supposed to continue on through this area but who knows if it will happen. All of the first floor windows and doors of these homes have been boarded up and an endless number of No Trespassing/Danger signs have been posted.”

So when we last spoke of the Borough of Downingtown, the rather young mayor was all gung ho over a giant development project where an RFP was put out for a garage on borough owned land, correct? Does he not see these rotting houses? And developer Eli Kahn bought HOW many acres in Downingtown from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?

  So, I have to ask: if they did not let homes like pictured in this post rot, maybe a lot of country towns would have housing that more fit the history and flavor of the area?

  This is yet another reason why people in Chester County need to hold local governments and state level elected officials accountable for all the crazy development carving up communities one land parcel at a time.

  

contrasts

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Yesterday was a study in contrasts. Started out my morning in Chester County, and headed up to New York City for the day.

New York City in October is very alive and bustling. A cacophony of sights and sounds and smells. I worked in New York for a few years when I was younger and fall and spring were my favorite seasons. It is such a contrast now to go from the quiet of Chester County to the very definition of urban.

From the east side to the west side, New York City is a sea of constant motion…and taxi cabs. It’s beeping and honking and massive waves of people bustling across giant intersections.

It is one of my favorite places to take photos, but yesterday there wasn’t time for that. I appreciate the beauty and the urban canyons of Manhattan, but I truly am a Chester County person now….I love getting back to the trees and fields.

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From New York City it was back to Ardmore for the last First Friday Main Line. The event was the Happy Howl O’Ween dress up your dog contest.

Since 2006 First Friday Main Line has been there to bring art and music to every day life ; bringing local artists, musicians, and small businesses together. Inspired by the Old City (Philadelphia) First Friday, First Friday Main Line has had people discovering art in unexpected places.

Because Ardmore doesn’t really have gallery spaces, the art and music were tucked in alleys, store fronts, restaurants and on the street. All of this was done by Executive Director and Ardmore business owner and resident, Sherry Tillman. These were never Lower Merion Township as in municipal sponsored events. Many municipalities are deeply involved in the First Friday celebrations of their communities, but the extent of Lower Merion’s involvement was basically collecting permit fees.

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First Friday Main Line was something I was deeply involved in until the spring of 2013. I did the publicity and event photography and it was an amazing ride, including a Congressional Commendation in 2010 for our Operation Angel Wings initiative.

But change is inevitable. Sherry called me a couple of months ago to let me know she was putting First Friday on hiatus. I had stopped actively participating because of my move to Chester County and new life here. I was sad to hear her news, but understood. She wanted to focus on different kinds of art events and get back to creating on her own. Sherry is an artist in her own right.

Coming back to the last First Friday Main Line was a bittersweet, yet sentimental journey. I had spent so much time in Ardmore between First Friday Main Line and the community activism I was part of a few years ago. (Lower Merion Township had once to seize part of the historic business district via eminent domain for private gain.)

Coming back to the area I once called home is now like being a stranger in a strange land. What once was home, is now just a place I used to live. The contrast was very pronounced to me this visit. I loved seeing all the old and in many cases beloved familiar faces, but I see everything now through different eyes in a thanks for the memories kind of way. I no longer belong to these old places, I belong to Chester County.

Part of the contrast which was sad to see is just well, how grungy and almost worn around the edges Lower Merion Township seems to look. And that isn’t just the business districts. When I was a kid Lower Merion really was a beautiful place to live. Now it is just an expensive place to live, which is not the same thing.

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What I observed was a lot of the sense of community and neighborliness no longer seems to be self evident. A lot of strangers bustling by, and I wonder are there still people stepping up to foster a true sense of community? Or maybe it’s no longer that kind of place?

I have to be honest I do not miss the congestion and traffic of the Main Line nor do I miss the constant development. I felt really old passing by locations where I remember the house and the people who lived there, only now planted on those spots were condos and McMansions and such. All of what replaced what was in these spots are built out to the last possible inch with no real attempt at human scale let alone compatible style. In fact, no real style at all, these projects between Wayne and Ardmore scream nothing more than “new”. Sad.

Down the street from where my parents used to live, I read recently about a house which has a property which is now the subject of potential development. I knew it as the Woodruff House.. The super family which once lived there is long gone and sadly mostly passed away. Realistically, the development will probably happen. There is no zoning and planning to prevent it even if it is a ridiculous and vastly inappropriate spot for infill development.

But it has been almost 40 years at this point since Lower Merion Township had a comprehensive plan update, and the lack of planning is showing. What worries me about what is happening on the Main Line is the same developers snapping up whatever they can there are also in Chester County.

Take Downingtown, as in the borough. If they don’t watch it, they will make the same mistake that Malvern Borough did with Eli Kahn and Eastside Flats, which should really be seen from the rear too. An article appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer recently:

Archdiocese sells Delco property, 2 others for $56.2M By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: October 04, 2014

…..In addition ……..the archdiocese said that it had an agreement to sell a 454-acre property in Northampton County for $5.5 million, and that it had sold 55 acres in Chester County for $3.7 million.

The $3.7 million from the sale of excess land at the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, a behavioral-health center for clergy and women religious, was deposited into the archdiocesan priests’ pension fund. That fund previously had a $76.3 million deficit.

The buyer was Woodbine Partners L.P., a partnership of Chester County developers E. Kahn Development and J. Lowe & Associates.

Stephen Sullins, Downingtown’s borough manager, said the expected mixed-use development was significant for the town, which covers just two square miles.

“It looks like it is going to expand our tax base somewhat. We’re looking forward to some new jobs,” Sullins said.

Yep, Eli Kahn.again….Eastside Flats which still look vastly out of place in Malvern and unfinished although they are finished and the project is for sale (See Philadelphia Business Journal, July 2, 2014) .

And remember that very telling Patch article a couple years ago that told a very different tale of how much money Malvern Borough would actually make off of this project?

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$60,000: East King Revitalization’s Impact on the Borough The new apartments and businesses won’t be a windfall for the borough. By Pete Kennedy (Open Post) Updated June 29, 2012 at 1:38 am

During a discussion…at….Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:

“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.

“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said, citing a financial feasibility study done before the project was approved.

“That’s it?” Yeager replied, expecting a bigger payoff from the several new businesses and hundreds of new residents that will be moving to the east end of the borough.

Downingtown can afford a development misstep even less than Malvern Borough. And I love Malvern, but if there is some benefit to having that Christ awful development once you get beyond having Christopher’s there and Kimberton Whole Foods moving in, I haven’t seen it. And the development looks like giant Lego buildings (with about as much finesse) plunked down in Lilliput.

There are a lot of empty store fronts in Eastside Flats and the borough itself, and last time I was there to have lunch at Christopher’s there were cigarette butts all over the sidewalk in front of the nail salon. Of course I also wondered why such “high end” and new real estate could only get a nail salon? And have you ever see Eastside Flats from the rear? It shows it’s backside to a lot of Malvern residents over the tracks and wow, a little landscaping might help. But do developers like this care about the existing residents?

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My travels yesterday merely reaffirmed the true contrast between urban, suburban, and Chester County. And suburban doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be the mini-me to urban, and well for us out here in Chester County, we shouldn’t want developers to spin their tales of the Emperor’s New Clothes out here and give us the awkward new urbanism fairy tale or hybrid cross of what they are shoe horning in everywhere else. Maybe that is NIMBY (not in my back yard) of me, but heck I have lived with bad projects and bad planning in my back yard–it’s one of the things I was happy to leave behind on the Main Line when I moved to Chester County.

I still believe Chester County is incredibly vulnerable to these projects, and these tiny towns and boroughs need to think carefully before jumping to the extremes of these very dense developments. Places grow and evolve and not all development is bad, but there is just way too much of it. The pace needs to slow.

The open space and gracious rolling farm lands,fields, and forests which make up Chester County are worth preserving. So is the way of life which accompanies it. Thanks for stopping by today. I know this post has rambled along, and when I started out with my original thought of contrast I wasn’t quite sure where this post would lead me.

Enjoy the beautiful day!

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home eclective is open in downingtown

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They are open! Vintage fun and
imaginative repurposing ! If you love Garage Sale Chic Chester County and fun new businesses like Vintage Chicken this is a business you are going to want to get to know!

This group of local artisans travel around Chester County looking for treasures to reimagine, repurpose, and gussy up for your home!

It’s so much fun!

And…even better is they will be doing demonstrations and little “how to” classes too!

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If you like vintage fun like you can find at Brooklyn Flea or Clover Market, you will enjoy this business tremendously!

Home Eclective
236 J Brandywine Ave
Downingtown, PA

484-888-5460

They are open until 6 pm today! Contact them directly for hours and other information – and you can “like” them on Facebook!

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the death of traditions in chester county

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One of the things I have always loved about Chester County are the traditions. Things like the horse shows and horses, the farms, the carriaging, the crafters and artists, barn sales, flea markets and church sales, ballooning, and the independent spirits.

But today I mourn the loss of those things. They haven’t all disappeared over night, but if we as residents don’t start standing up in our communities and telling municipal governments to pay attention to us and not just the developers, we will lose what helps make Chester County so special.

I am going to re-visit the case of Upper Uwchlan and the Smithfield Barn. I will note in case Upper Uwchlan’s manager is feeling vindictive after this post that I have NOT spoken to the Smith family about this situation in a while, it is merely that people are TALKING.

I have been told that the manager (who came from Coatesville and why do I point that out? Well Coatesville always ends up in the news for not so nice things, don’t they?), met with the Smith family finally after the media picked up on the story at the start of the new year? I had heard that and was hopeful, and well what did I hear recently? That the manager had not seemed to follow through on what they had discussed? What do kids still call someone like that? A welcher? Do I have that right? Or is this just a rumor and he really likes the Smithfiled Barn and acknowledges how much his township folks go there and to places like that Carmine’s , right? Maybe they will have a new rule against pizza and wings down the road too?

So what does this manager named Cary Vargos, get out of this? Is he doing this doing this for the developer coming back to his township which shall remain nameless? The developer who will share borders with the Smithfield Barn Farm? How are those bog turtles and percing stuff going?

Of course then there are the rumors bandying about concerning municipalities that want to tell people how, when, and what time they can hold the humble garage sale and isn’t that just crazy here in the land of the free?

So I have to ask who would be hurt by allowing Smithfield Barn to have a set number of barn sales a year? Is it possible that this township manager doesn’t know barn sales are rural America’s garage sale and a deep rooted tradition? Is Upper Uwchlan going to morph into one of those individual freedoms stomping municipalities that next puts a million rules on garage sales? Auctions?

I mean obviously Upper Uwchlan government has some sort of identity crisis because they allowed the crossroads village of Eagle to grow up to be Barbie’s Lego dream village didn’t they? This is their jurisdiction right? I mean it is good to know CVS can do other architecture, but still.

When you go through there you are also reminded of the development when you look at Upper Uwchlan’s shiny newish township building. It is not as grandiose as some I have seen, but it is a testament to the present and all that developments have built isn’t it?

I hate to pick on this township manager, but I just don’t get why he wants to be the squasher of local traditions do you?

The reality is Smithfield Barn is beloved by locals and those farther afield. Barn sales are a real part of country history and tradition. That makes them a positive ambassador for their municipality. Townships can’t buy the good publicity and PR generated by happy people and goodwill towards neighbors, can they?

But the country isn’t so country any longer is it? The country has been taken over by developers who don’t plant crops in the beautiful farm fields of Chester County, just plastic mushroom houses that give off the smell of hot plastic in the summer.

Take for example another sad thing: has anyone been by what was that huge empty former working farm on White Horse Road in Charlestown Township I guess it is?

I was a passenger in a car going past that last Saturday and it made me want to cry. It is slated to be a new development and it looked like a battlefield. Demolition equipment on site and they had just basically raped the landscape and all you saw were felled trees lined up like dead soldiers from a Civil War battlefield reenactment. It was shocking and sad.

The pace of development in Chester County is somewhat terrifying at times. Nothing ever seems to be a restrained size or scope. These projects are huge and homes squished so city close together that you know residents will live crammed in like lemmings. And the crime of it is, these people don’t seem to know any better.

Then there are the things that amuse me. Like for example when people in developments in Upper Uwchlan refer to themselves as living “on the Main Line” or being from the Main Line. Uhhh no, I actually grew up on the Main Line and these people are actually living in Downingtown. And it is o.k. to say you live in Downingtown. These are like the people who say they live in Chester Springs because that is how the developer marketed certain developments, only are they Chester Springs? Not so much.

Developments change the landscape and the attitudes. Do any of these people really know the satisfaction and joy of planting their own gardens? Or do they in fact live in Stepford where all geraniums must match and grass must be “just so”? Do these people know the joy of standing outside and watching the hawks circle and cry out to one and other? And they all say they love horses, but then they don’t want to live near barns, stables, and local horse show grounds do they? And don’t get me started on traditions like skeet shooting, trap shooting, and sporting clays shooting. And hunting and fox hunting is best kept to those countrified wallpapers, right?

I love what makes Chester County just what she is. I am sad that traditions seem as if they are disappearing one by one.

I really hope people wake up before it is too late. Once the woods and fields and farms are gone, they aren’t coming back. Same with barn sales, country auctions, and honor stands at the edge of your local farm.

As good weather seems to finally be here, I encourage all of you to let people know about fun things happening in Chester County. Traditional things.

One thing I will not be encouraging people to be part of or attend is Upper Uwchlan’s “block party” on June 14th. Why support their efforts when all they do is kowtow to developers and sanitize communities against country traditions like barn picking and barn sales? Sounds mean to some, but I think they are being mean spirited to tradition.

But please if you have something fun you want to tell people about, let this blog know. Things I love are farm events, art shows, flea markets, First Fridays, barn sales, even swap meets and garage sales. Other things like strawberry and similar festivals, farmers markets, small businesses celebrating something.

Enjoy the day. It is simply beautiful out. Find your magic in everyday life.

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