the case for open space

See this photo above? The one I am opening this post with? Gorgeous view and vista, right? That is what conserved and protected open space looks like.  That is part of the 571 gloriously preserved acres on Stroud Preserve, which we all have to visit thanks to the Natural Lands Trust. This is one reason why I am so in awe of this non-profit.  They are amazing.

Now look at the next photo. Also taken by me from the air a couple of years ago and notice the difference:

 
Next is another shot- both of these were taken over Chester County . 

  
Recently we attended a party out near or in West Vincent. We got turned around on the way and ended up in a development I never knew existed.  I think it may have been off Fellowship Road, I am not sure, because it was one of those times where you just get all turned around. 

Anyway, we ended up in this development that had rather large houses so crammed together you felt as if you were in one of the houses and stuck your arm out the window that you could basically touch the neighbor’s house.  Don’t misunderstand me, it was a pretty, well-kept neighborhood but it looked so incredibly phony, almost like a movie set. Or a life sized model. And it was also very odd because it was a neighborhood no one was outside. Not even to walk a dog. It was eerie.

Every day we hear about more and more developments happening. Just this weekend somebody posted the following photo taken  in West Vincent:

  
If I have the location correct it is on Birchrun Road and has passed through a couple of developers’ hands? Like Hankin and now Pulte maybe?  Anyway soon this will be a crop of plastic houses. And it seems like Chester County keeps sprouting  more and more crops of densely placed plastic houses.

You would think that Chester County would have learned from the mistakes of Montgomery and Delaware Counties.

Just look at what once was Foxcatcher Farm or the DuPont estate in Newtown Square at Goshen and 252? How is any of that attractive? And look at the beautiful natural habitat that was literally bulldozed under. I said before I’m a realist, I didn’t expect when an estate like that was broken up it would remain pristine and intact, especially given the history and events of recent years.  However, it still shocks me that none of the land was truly conserved. In my opinion, the only land that has not been built upon is land they couldn’t build upon easily.

   

The two photos you’re looking at above I took this spring. Giant manor sized  houses so close together .  And they are going up lickety-split in all of  their Tyvec glory.

I think it’s horrible. I think it’s horrible especially since I have seen what nonprofits like the Natural Lands Trust are able to accomplish and achieve in land preservation. But did Newtown Township ever wanted to preserve any of it given the projects that have almost but not quite happened on the former  Arco/Ellis school site in recent years? 

However there are many opinions when to comes to development. Recently my blog posts about Foxcatcher, which are in some cases years old, were brought up again on a  Facebook page about Newtown Square.

   

Ok so this Nathan above  is entitled to his opinion even if he is somewhat ignorant in his approach.  I never called Newtown Supervisors  “commissioners” are we will start with that. And if he wants to go pointing fingers, there are several villains in these plays.  At the top of my list are  local municipal elected officials, state elected officials, and developers.

We’ll start with the local elected officials. These are the people that have temporary elected stewardship over our communities. I think they have an obligation to represent us all equally and not just select factions or special interests. But the reality of politics even on the most local level is that is whom they cater to exactly.  Are we talking about real or theoretical payola  here? Doesn’t matter because at the end of the day they get sold a bill of goods and they know better than the rest of us. When you challenge a local municipality on development most of the time they will throw up their hands and say “Wecan’t do anything. All our codes are based on the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.”

Then there are the state elected officials. These are the guys whose  campaigns are supported by not only local elected officials but people with big check books  like developers. Our politicians on the state level could reform and update the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code but they don’t want to deal with it.
 They also don’t want to deal with the building and development lobbyists. And it’s those lobbying groups that killed a very interesting bill that was proposed in Pennsylvania a few years ago.

This was known as HB904 in the seission of 2007:

AN ACT 1 Amending the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), entitled, 2 as amended, “An act to empower cities of the second class A, 3 and third class, boroughs, incorporated towns, townships of 4 the first and second classes including those within a county 5 of the second class and counties of the second through eighth 6 classes, individually or jointly, to plan their development 7 and to govern the same by zoning, subdivision and land 8 development ordinances, planned residential development and 9 other ordinances, by official maps, by the reservation of 10 certain land for future public purpose and by the acquisition 11 of such land; to promote the conservation of energy through 12 the use of planning practices and to promote the effective 13 utilization of renewable energy sources; providing for the 14 establishment of planning commissions, planning departments, 15 planning committees and zoning hearing boards, authorizing 16 them to charge fees, make inspections and hold public 17 hearings; providing for mediation; providing for transferable 18 development rights; providing for appropriations, appeals to 19 courts and penalties for violations; and repealing acts and 20 parts of acts,” adding provisions to authorize temporary 21 development moratorium. 22 The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 23 hereby enacts as follows: 24 Section 1. The act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), known 25 as the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, reenacted and  1 amended December 21, 1988 (P.L.1329, No.170), is amended b.

This act stayed around a couple of years until it was just made to disappear. it was last referenced in a 2009 article:

Philadelphia Inquirer: A home-building ban in an economic crisis? By Diane Mastrull

Amid an economic disaster that has brought the home-building industry to its knees, a Pennsylvania lawmaker intends to resume his push for building moratoriums.
A building ban? When federal-stimulus proponents long for a resumption of the construction cacophony of hammers and electric saws?
The moratorium advocate, State Rep. Robert Freeman (D., Northampton), insists he’s not hard-hearted when it comes to builders.
“It’s important for us to stimulate our economy, so I’d be glad to get the home builders back to work,” Freeman said in a recent interview.
He just wants to ensure that when the orders for new houses start pouring in again, communities have a way to temporarily stop the bulldozers if they do not have adequate growth plans and ordinances in place.
“It gives the opportunity for those folks who have been feeling the pressure from development to take a breather,” Freeman said of moratoriums.
Municipalities currently have the right to reject a development proposal if it does not meet local land-use requirements. But they cannot simply declare that no building can occur if in fact there is room to accommodate it. Freeman wants to give them the temporary right to do so – but only if a town determines that it is overwhelmed by development and that its growth plans, ordinances, and zoning are inadequate to address that crush.

That bill was a great idea. It would’ve allowed communities to hit the pause button for a brief amount of time.

As individuals and residents  in these communities facing wanton development our culpability partially lies in the fact that we keep electing these people to public office. And once these people are in elected office, not many are willing to hold their feet to the proverbial fire are they?

I also do not feel it is as simple as saying people should just put up the money to buy all the open space. 

Ordinary people don’t often have the means to match what developers will pay so they can put up hundreds if not thousands of houses.  Even on small building sites, often regular people cannot match what developers will offer to buy a house as a tear down because the lot or neighborhood is desirable for them to build on . I saw that happen a few years ago when someone was trying to buy a house and they ended up bidding against a developer. They just walked away from it. They couldn’t compete.

But as for people like this Nathan, I am not going to just zip my lip as so eloquently stated. We need to speak out about these monster developments in order to preserve our very way of life. It’s not just open space, it’s more complicated than that. It’s what makes us want to live in a specific area in the first place. We are trying to preserve our communities. Our sense of place.

People who are extraordinarily pro-development for whatever reason will immediately label people like myself as being completely “anti-development”. But that isn’t it .

What we are looking for is yes, preservation and land conservation, but also moderation.  And when is the last time in recent years that you have seen moderation in any kind of development?  The ironic thing is that shortsighted on the part of the developers. If they exercised moderation once in a while they would get a lot farther with their plans.

But it is as if development is revving up to warp speed once again.  It makes me wonder if that is why people in Chester County can’t save their oak tree – seriously, it’s in the Daily Local:

Chester Springs family works to save 270-year-old oak tree 

By Virginia Lindak, For 21st-Century Media

Chester Springs resident Jim Helm has spent the last several weeks trying to save a historical estimated 270-year-old oak tree on his property from being destroyed by utility companies. The tree, which stands on the border of his property, extends into power lines which run along the road, making it vulnerable for unwarranted trimming and cutting by Verizon and PECO…Recently the Helms discovered Verizon crews cutting off branches of the oak tree and halted engineers as best they could, as the police were called in to regulate the situation and ordered the Helms back to their house. West Vincent Township officials have told the Helms they want to help save the tree but progress has been slow. 
Helm noted that between the trimming conducted by Verizon and West Vincent Township, 25 percent of the tree’s canopy is now gone….Perhaps a larger question continues to loom; as modern development continues to grow at a rapid rate in Chester County, who will advocate on behalf of the few, rare old trees left and save them from being cut down?

We need open space. We also need just basic land and community preservation. Every plastic McMansion, “Carriage House” and townhouse development that comes along further detracts from what makes where we live special. It lines the pockets of developers and creates a sea of plastic houses that are ridiculously close together.  Also, what do we as communities really get out of these developments except traffic jams and a change in our overall ecological profile?

From one end of Pennsylvania to the other we need land development reforms. We desperately need to re-define what suburbs and exurbs are. Having the ability for our communities to have temporary moratoriums on development is not a bad thing, either. And in order to get these things we have to put better people in elected office from the most local level through to the Governor’s mansion. 

We also need to better support land conservation groups. If we don’t, open-space will merely become an antiquated term with no practical or real applicability.

Thanks for stopping by.

misplaced christmas spirit: save the righteous indignation

DSC_0048Lordy,  my eyes are rolling this morning.   A few days ago, I wrote a post titled “in bad taste” in response to something a magazine writer Victor Fiorillo had covered about what a fauxblicist named Sarah Lockard had sent out.

Victor Fiorillo’s article now has over 200 comments, and there are more blogs covering this topic than I have seen on anything else social media related for quite a while.

One of the things that came out was something new on JimRomenesko.com, a blog and writer who is basically mainstream, generally  fair, and widely read.

Romenesko: Sarah Lockard – the blogger who’s seeking a free Christmas Eve dinner – charges $75 for any contact

Sarah-Lockard

Sarah Lockard, the AroundMainLine.com proprietor who is trying to get a Philadelphia-area restaurant to feed her family of five for free on Christmas Eve, has let people know that she’s now charging $75 for any contact. “Every text, email and biz correspondence with AroundMainLine.com is billable,” she says. The screenshot below – grabbed about a week ago – was sent to me by a Lockard acquaintance.

Some of the blog posts have been , and some quite funny.  Bloggers for the most part have been somewhat disgusted.

I was disgusted although not surprised.  I have first hand knowledge of her “business practices” as a non-profit I was very much a part of until a few months ago when my time constraints changed due to distance, experienced the “Lockard touch” in 2008.

First Friday Main Line is a small arts-based non-profit based in Ardmore, PA that has been in existence since 2006.  They are in fact a begathon, and if it was not for donations and the kindness of artists and musicians who believe in art reaching every day people along with the tireless dedication of Executive Director Sherry Tillman, this event and small non-profit would not exist.  Sherry also has a family and runs the amazing craft store in Ardmore called Past*Present*Future.

I used to do the PR for First Friday Main Line.  Sherry can show you binders full of actual placement I did in print media alone, let along the connection to television media as well. I even received a Congressional Commendation for something I did for First Friday Main Line in 2010. I am not tooting my own horn, merely setting the stage.

I have also been a blogger since long before many picked up a keyboard.  I started because my friends’ businesses in Ardmore, PA were being subjected to eminent domain for private gain. With the encouragement and shepherding of the Institute for Justice and their Castle Coalition arm, I began to hone the craft of blogging. The citizens group I was part of did not have money for a PR campaign, so we learned to do it on our own.  But it came at a personal cost.  When you are an activism-based blogger you really open yourself up to things. I learned to have a tough skin.

Anyway, back to First Friday Main Line.  What is one of the keys to the success of small arts-based non-profits with not much extra money? Exposure.  So we worked hard to establish this non-profit, which was modeled after the First Friday celebration in places like the Old City section of Philadelphia.

Somewhere in the early fall of 2008 we were approached by a website called aroundmainline.com and they offered to list the non-profit First Friday Main Line on their events calendar or something like that.  So Sherry, the Executive Director said “why not?” After all, even if we had no clue who this Sarah Lockard person was or what her website did, placement is the key for exposure and we considered it another local website.  At that time we were not aware of the expensive strings attached.

All aroundmainline.com ever did (we think) was maybe list us on an events page, but we are not sure because the only First Friday thing we ever saw listed was in 2008 and it was for the now defunct Wayne First Friday, which was one of the many suburban off-shoots of the First Friday Main Line model.

So Sarah was on the press release list for First Friday Main Line and in October 2008 we received this e-mail:

Subject: Your link is expiring
Date: 10/21/2008 8:19:45 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: slockard@aroundmainline.com

HI !
Thank you very much for this email
Your line link for First
Fridays on the Main Line will expire Thurs Oct 23rd
If you do want to renew
this each month, it is $500/month.
Please let  me know as this is
deadlining.

Sincerely,
Sarah Lockard

PS I am glad we were
able to give you such fantastic free promotion these last three weeks!!!

Ok not to be rude, but what did she do? I remember at the time going over this with everyone working on First Friday Main Line and everything that had been done in those last three weeks, as in actual media placement had been done with Sherry and myself!

I sent her a reply to which I do not recall receiving a reply:

Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 9:16 AM

To: slockard@aroundmainline.com

Subject: Re: Your link is expiring

Dear Sarah,
I hadn’t been aware you were running anything to be honest, so I apologize for overlooking it.  I  also just did a search and all I found was Wayne First Friday:
Anyway, thank you.
As for essentially running a link for $500 month, you would need to speak with the Executive Director Sherry Tillman, as I do publicity.  But, as someone who is on the committee of a very small no profit that is essentially a beg-a-thon, while your web site is lovely, when several other high-profile sites and magazines will run us for free because we are non profit, and write stories about First Friday Main Line….well $500 a month is too rich for our blood.  That is $6000 a year.
We are a non-profit. I just can’t see how we can justify that kind of money.  Also, on your web site, you mentioned a launch party recently.  In this economy, being that new, how can you justify the costs basically being charged by print magazines to get new business?
It’s not that I do not wish you well, but $500 a month?   I have cc’d Sherry in the event this interests her, but have you considered a swap?  Say our committee took a vote and agreed to link your site to ours, would you provide a prominent link to our site on your site?
Mind you, I am NOT speaking for the committee as a whole, I am just throwing an idea out there.
I also notice that you list the business associations including the Ardmore Initiative on your site.  Are they being charged as well? They are non-profits as well.
Anyway, if you can find a way or propose a solution as to what we can do that is mutually agreeable, Sherry will tell me.
If not, know that I do find your site interesting .

Since that time, I know many people and many businesses who have had Sarah Lockard interactions that were less than stellar.  And I have to ask because I have never seen, has she actually ever placed any of her “clients” in the traditional media and elsewhere? After all it’s not like her website is internationally famous, is it?

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that she wanted to charge a start-up non-profit this amount of money to be listed.  And for all the people who said all she was looking for was a swap of services with the free Christmas Eve dinner, I point out, that in my opinion, that was not merely what she was about.

So now a few days have gone by and there has been nothing out of Ms. Lockard about either her “Generous Monday” post or her free Christmas Eve feed me e-mail.  But what is popping up is this from some female bloggers:
blog1
blog2
blog3

Not to be rude, but I hope they got their five free Instagrams out of the deal.

Open Letter to Sarah Lockard of AroundMainLine

| December 16, 2013 | 3 Comments

Dear Sarah:

I know we don’t know each other, but I’ve been following the fallout fiasco from your restaurant email that was leaked and I want to say

I’M SORRY.

I’m sorry that there was someone who you reached out to for business who decided that sharing a private email (and your information) was OK.

I’m sorry that the blogging industry is filled with some vultures who wait for something to feed on because they don’t want to reflect on their own lives.

I’m sorry that a business contact was not professional enough to react in a responsible way.

I’m sorry that this was blown out of proportion and reduced to petty bullying by people who hide behind computer screens.

It goes on from there, but you get the gist of it. I applaud this fellow female blogger for writing about this and sharing her opinion but  I am sorry that this woman expended so much energy being sorry for a woman who has reaped what she has sewn. She should save the sympathy and empathy for someone who deserves it.

Sarah Lockard is not being bullied. She sent out an e-mail from her “corporate” branded  e-mail account to a bunch of restaurants and who knows who else.  She put this out there in the public when she hit “send”.

What happened was indeed you reap what you sew.  There was nothing private about an e-mail that promised some odd sort of very public display in return for feeding her entire family on Christmas Eve for   in essence more publicity for herself! It was a gamble, and she rolled the dice badly, and this is not bullying it is backlash.

And then there is this from another blog I had never heard of called What’s Up Fagans:

The Scary Side of Blogging

Katelyn Fagan  December 16, 2013

In one of my of blogging Facebook groups, someone shared a post about a blogger who made a bad PR choice, I guess you could say…. All of this represents to me . . .The scary side of blogging…I try to present my REAL life, my real home, my real self…..

Now thousands of other have mocked not only her business idea, but her, as a person, calling her horrible names, mocking her haircut, fashion, and looks. They have flooded her blog and email with hate comments and mail. They have put her entire family in a negative spotlight.

And my heart aches for her!

Because I never, ever, want something like that to happen to me! But it could. . . 

I could, because of my little bit of cyberspace, hurt not only myself and my business, but my family and loved ones. And that is scary. That is horrifying!  And the worst part? She didn’t even choose to share this publicly on her blog; someone else decided to share her email. Someone else threw her into the news….Because, for every self-conceited, self-righteous, know-it-all, holier-than-thou person who bashes, hates, criticizes, judges, condemns, and laughs at another without much of a second thought, thanks to the faceless internet, there is a real person on the other end being very really affected by those words….Don’t be the jerk. Be the good.

Now I agree with a lot of what this blogger has written about.  Just not applying it to whom she is writing about.  And while the reset of the world might view aroundmainline as a blog, and it’s owner/publisher a blogger, a very important distinction is she does not put it out there that she perceives it that way:
Welcome to AroundMainLine.com, the Philadelphia region’s first online magazine covering the Main Line and beyond. AML is privileged to welcome you to a reliable, socially responsible and culturally rich online magazine that speaks to the Philadelphia region. That’s right, we don’t believe in wasting paper and your valuable money to bring you the best of Philadelphia’s Main Line region, the surrounding areas and vibrant western suburbs. So, we are publishing our magazine digitally respective of the earth’s resources and your valuable resources.

I have no problems with e-commerce, but this whole thing is about making money and exposure for Sarah Lockard. So that doesn’t make her some mom blogger writing late at night in her PJ’s while waiting for the laundry to finish. She’s not that gal in my humble opinion.

These two blogs I have cited aren’t from these parts, either.  They are part of a group called Project Purse Club which is out of Indianapolis, Indiana. The Midwest is a whole different world and a world away.

I would love to be able to support every female blogger, but I am a realist. And there are a lot I simply don’t agree with. I do believe in realism, but my reality is not pink and cotton candy.  It’s the real world, and there are real issues. I do not take paid advertising on my blog, and what I write is my opinion.

I see both sides.  I was a purely activism-based blogger for many years.  I had something to say, and when I was finished, I changed my course.  I became a parent later than most and am a SAHM in training.  Some days I think that being a mostly SAHM (stay at home mom) is harder  than when I was a 9 to 5 person solely.

I also write about breast cancer because I am a breast cancer survivor.  Never thought I would do that, but then again I never thought I would have breast cancer either.

Now I took some criticism on my first post on the Free Christmas Eve Dinner Debacle, which should simply be known as Lockardgate

I am sorry, but I found what she did appalling.  But the simple truth of it all is if this woman made an honest mistake, she would not ignore what is going on around her, she would woman up like a professional and apologize or clarify what she wrote in that e-mail.

But she hasn’t.  And to all of those judging all of those other people commenting and writing who have had experiences with this person that weren’t positive? They are entitled to their opinion.

I think obviously that Sarah Lockard is bright.  And at times I have marveled at her knack for shameless self-promotion, free photography portraits that include hair/make-up/wardrobe. But asking restaurants to feed a family on Christmas Eve who can buy their own dinner is showing a lack of respect for the small businesses she is supposedly representing.  It also shows a lack of integrity.

If Sarah Lockard had sent out the e-mail asking to do this free Christmas Eve dinner for a family down on their luck or homeless or something I would feel quite differently.  But this is not what this is about.  This is and always has been about self-promotion.  And to me that is not a Christmas spirit I choose to embrace.

So while I appreciate the musings of some mom bloggers from the Midwest on the topic, they really don’t get it. But I hope they keep on blogging anyway.

this and that

DSC_0071The nature of humans and writing is a weird and complicated process, often because of what the reader expects from the writer.

Some posts write themselves in the middle of the night.  That is the genesis of this post.

Sometimes I do not sleep well.  I am on a drug for the treatment of breast cancer called Tamoxifen.  I have three years to go and one of its side effects is it can affect your sleep.  I don’t often talk about the whole breast cancer thing here, I have a dedicated (and well-respected blog for that.)

On this blog, I have had people who have taken issue with me speaking about my breast cancer. But  it is part of me and like it or not, and it has shaped my life experience.

Ironically, having had breast cancer has taught me many positive things including the value of life and living life well and being happy.  It gave me the courage to pursue my dreams, yes, like writing.DSC_0140

A lot of what annoys people about my discussing my breast cancer is when I measure it against other experiences. As it is the hardest and most difficult thing I ever experienced personally, heck yes I measure other experiences against it if the spirit moves me.

I have learned in life that often if your opinion differs from the comfort zone of others that can prove problematic.  Especially when you write.  You can verbally state your opinion more easily than if you write it down.  But the thing at the end of the day that people don’t get is I write for me.  Writing is first and foremost something I do for myself.  And I do actually do research things which I am curious about.

Maybe someday I will have a book in me and not just a blog or occasional byline. Maybe I will write the memoirs of a female blogger.  I will say I do have self-published photography books that I have done, and that was quite an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

DSC_0109As I make my way through this writing experience, I am often amused at what strikes a nerve. One of the first nerves was writing about West Vincent Township.  Then came horse rescue. Wow horse rescue is still one of the largest read topics on this blog with a close second to Justice for Argus and Fiona. And then there is of course my asking if a favorite restaurant would survive because of listings in both sheriff’s and tax sales lists coupled with an additional land purchase for another restaurant in another county.  Chicken little you would think the world was ending for verbalizing what quite a lot of people are still talking about.

Also amazing to me is how many people like my recipes and photography. I am so pleased about that.  Recipes and photos are something really personal to me, so I really am happy that people are receptive to both.

Not all, however, have been receptive to my photos.  Take for example the odd responses from the woman who grew up with the Women’s Lib Barn (yes I did do some research to ascertain it was a woman writing to me.)  To this day I shake my head at that – I loved that barn for so many different reasons and my photographing it was like paying homage to it.  But she so soured me on it, that now I just drive by….I don’t even look at it.

That was my favorite barn in Chester County.  It is the first one I really noticed when I moved here.  It spoke to me.  As a woman I find myself often torn between the old and new, and the old roles of women versus the women of today. It also speaks to me because to me it also represents the uniqueness, individuality, and independence of the people of Chester County – traits I admire and respect.

I also write about parenting on occasion, collecting (as in antiques and collectibles) and gardening. At my core, I am part Domestic Diva or Suzy Homemaker.  I love that for the first time in my life I actually have time for all of this, and can experience it without guilt or reserve.  I love sharing those experiences with people. I even write about childhood recollections.

I used to focus more on activism based blogging. That was what I did then, and while it still has a role in my writing, it is not the main focus. I will write about things that I find curious. Or strange. Now, I write about whatever strikes my fancy, and share fun things I discover along the way.

DSC_0096Recently I have written a couple of things that are in the category of religion and beliefs.  We should be able to talk about this stuff.  I have in the past too.  As a Catholic and as a human being I have expressed my disgust over pedophile priests.   I have also  touched on born again Christian stuff.  No one had a problem with that or pedophile priest discussions.  But when I touched on Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy, holy tomato Batman! It is like I personally corrupted the Holy Grail.

To me Anthroposophy represents communes and cult-like behavior. (Communes are intentional communities and intentional communities are communes, right?)  Oh my!  I have had people rear up….all associated with Waldorf or Steiner Schools.  Am I the first to question Anthroposophy or Steiner? No.  Go ahead, read THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS and THISWaldorf Watch a site devoted to this.  And then there is Waldorf Straight Talk and a lot of things submitted by former teachers to different sites. I am sure some can say they are all disgruntled employees or residents, but are they? I know one story personally.  It is not mine to share, but suffice it to say it was a former Kimberton Waldorf teacher and the person is hardly an axe grinder.

If you look at the comments regarding this touchy  topic I have this man who has popped up who told me I was “afraid of my neighbors” and that I had a “fear piñata” I swung wildly at. He is in addition to the woman who just seems angry in general that I have expressed an opinion on this.

The man wants to help me “confront” my fear and that by my opinion which as an individual I am entitled to have that I have instead performed an ad hominum  attack by “labeling” them. Oh and that I write in order to sound clever. And that I am not real.

Ah yes, the most devastating comment: because I don’t agree with what he is indeed trying to sell me, I am, therefore,  not “real”.

Am I a fan of CSAs, organic farming, taking care of the mentally and physically challenged in our community, and Kimberton Whole Foods? Yes to all of the above. Except when I measure saints among us, my definition of saints and Godly people are derived from a more traditional religious beliefs and practices. And yes I am aware that CampHill has done some truly nice things.  After all was it not CampHill Special School that took in the family of one of the defendant’s in the Milton Street trial a few years ago? That was very generous of them and honestly a good deed.

DSC_0247I am quite real, and I am clever, but not in the derogatory way the commenter intended.  And I am not fearful.  I merely stated my opinion based upon the research that I did.

It is always funny to me that people will feel free to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be writing about.  I have to ask why they aren’t writing if they feel so strongly about certain things?

Some accused me of perpetuating “hearsay” while stating my opinion.  I have to ask is the renowned publication The Atlantic “hearsay”? Is it only “hearsay” because they don’t want to believe people are writing about how they feel about Waldorf, Steiner, and Anthroposophy?

The Atlantic: Is This Grade School a ‘Cult’? (And Do Parents Care?)

 Nov 30 2012, 1:39 PM ET
Waldorf schools are popular with progressives. But how do you feel about a dose of spiritualism with your child’s reading and math?
Would you send your kid to a school where faceless dolls and pine-cones are the toys of choice? A school where kids don’t read proficiently until age 9 or 10 — and where time spared goes to knitting and playing the recorder? A school where students sing hymns to “spirit” every day?
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I am a fairly simple person with a complicated brain . I think about a lot of different things.

Things like why people abandon their homes, factories, churches, and farms and so on fascinate me.  You know I love to photograph the old and abandoned and there seems to be a lot of that in Chester County, unfortunately.  I believe it goes with areas that still have a rural component.

abandoned

Abandoned and desolate, this house suffers from not only overt neglect, but a dispute to its historical net worth. A friend was kind enough to share this photo. The location is (if I have it straight) is slightly west of Valley Forge Park , sort of behind VF Baptist Church.

Some days I write about things that make me go HMMMM and other days I also write about things I cook.  Other days I write about both. It’s just the way it is.

Like take this weekend for example – I made a tortellini saladtortellini salad with cucumber, shallots, string beans, tomato, tossed with fresh basil and Italian flat leaf parsley and rest with a homemade lemon tarragon mustard caper vinaigrette -The dressing ispeach pie homemade and came out of my head as I was preparing peach pie filling. Yes, I also made a double crust peach pie with the delicious peaches from Northstar Orchards whom I visit at The East Goshen Farmers Market.

And if Sears would ever come fix my oven, (even Whirlpool/Maytag is upset with Sears) I might roast tomatoes and write about it.  Roasted tomatoes make for awesome gazpacho as well as being delicious on their own as just a vegetable.

I also  write about simple fun things for my home when the spirit moves me.  I love the Smithfield Barn and Resellers Consignment for that reason.  This weekend at Smithfield Barn I got the vintage pie plate in which I baked that pie photo captioned above.

Some of the things I write about are things that I grew up with.  Like lamps.  My mother had these two lamps in our home growing up.  She hasn’t used them for years in her current home and had put them in a closet.  Over the weekend she passed them along to me along with for a lack of a better description, lamp parts.  You would be amazed how much better a lamp can look with a harp that gives a shade a different height.

The lamps are totally “me”.  The shades I plunked on them I had in the attic.  They came from a lady who used to be at Black Angus or Stoudt’s Antiques in Adamstown – she made these amazing pierced lampshades. I don’t even know if she is there any longer.  My friend Anna’s mother got me hooked on these lampshades as well as my mother – they both had this style of shade on lamps in their homes.

See the lamps – they are so fun:

lamp 1lamp 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lamps are in different parts of the house and I am so enjoying them! But as my mother said I like quirky lamps.  I think these are very cool!

I love old stuff. Not necessarily antiques, but vintage.  Setting my table with funky old dishes and vintage linens is total fun to me.

I actually organized my old linens yesterday.  I have accumulated them in essence for pennies on the dollar because I get them at thrift shops, tag sales, church sales – wherever I see them that I like them.  But I refuse to pay oodles of money for them. I love vintage linens basically because the quality is so much better than a lot of what you see today.  Also a lot of times it is just that much more fun.  I have a few kitschy 1950s and 1960s tablecloths for example – totally fun.

Also in the textile area are vintage and handmade quilts.  Again, I look at church sales, farm/barn and even on eBay.  I only buy what I can use and I am limited on what I am willing to pay.

Not one of mine. Made by a friend of mine for her granddaughter. A modern quilt that captured the vintage essence I love.

Not one of mine. Made by a friend of mine for her granddaughter. A modern quilt that captured the vintage essence I love.

What else is on my mind today?  Something troubling my friends who live in Schuylkill Township.  They are facing quite the unsavory and dense development more suitable for urban living on a parcel of land that makes some refer to it as Groundhog Day – apparently it is a bad repeating nightmare for residents in a particular spot where they have bog turtles, rare bats, serpentine asters, bald eagles roosting and the DEP, US Fish and Game, have all been involved in the past.  There are apparently steep slopes, egress and traffic issues.  It feels like an uphill battle to these folks where the developer always wins.  Who even cares about environmental and social degradation anymore is the last thing one friend said to me.

I know nothing except there is a public hearing TONIGHT.

Schuylkill Township

I know nothing much about  Schuylkill Township.  I think this is what has residents upset (click LINK). Here is their agenda.

I will fully admit that this whole create zoning to satisfy a particular developer or a slew of developers is problematic.  One needs to look no farther than Lower Merion Township in the heart of the Main Line.  When I tell you I spent years at meetings on similar development nightmares, I kid you not.  They have these zoning overlays that were in essence designed for specific developers so they could build (one developer who is familiar to Chester County even referred to one overlay as “his zoning” and a meeting.)  Another thing?  When new developers appear on the scene, they then append the original zoning to satisfy even more developers.

Now Schuylkill Township says (and I quote):

“Planned Residential  Developments” which are designed to afford flexibility to respond to growing demand  for housing of all types and design.  The  proposed Planned Residential Development Ordinance will allow mixed residential  uses on properties of at least 60 acres in Schuylkill Township.

The thing is this – I keep waiting for any of this zoning in any municipality to actually be about the residents with the best interest of the residents born in mind. I hate to sound jaded but it never is.  These weird zoning things are for the lining of the township ratables pockets and the developers.  The most bang for the buck on the profit margin side. If the zoning doesn’t fit the plans politicians want, they change the zoning. The flip side is when you try to get them to change the zoning to protect residents, environment, open space, you choose, it never seems “doable” does it? Or if they do regurgitate changes they are insufficient or weak enough that what people were trying to avoid happens anyway.

Zoning boards blame planning and commissioners/supervisors.  Supervisors/Commissioners/Planning Commissions blame the Municipalities Planning Code

Yes, community planning is a passion.  Where you live is a big deal.  And I hate to sound like a Myna bird but once open space is gone, it’s gone.  Once historic and older homes are gone, they are gone.  You can’t save everything, but communities should plan better to save some things.

I will also repeat my assertion that The Municipalities Planning Code is incredibly outdated and needs an overhaul.  How they looked at suburbs and exurbs and rural areas in 1968 is different from today. And the part of the code that Schuylkill Township is claiming like the divine right of kings has to do with Article VII of the  Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Act of 1968, P.L. 805, No. 247, as  reenacted and amended. Now this portion was last updated in 1988.  Don’t you think a few more things have changed since 1988?

What does this portion cover? Here:

AN ACT

To empower cities of the second class A, and third class, boroughs, incorporated towns, townships of the first and second classes including those within a county of the second class and counties of the second through eighth classes, individually or jointly, to plan their development and to govern the same by zoning, subdivision and land development ordinances, planned residential development and other ordinances, by official maps, by the reservation of certain land for future public purpose and by the acquisition of such land; to promote the conservation of energy through the use of planning practices and to promote the effective utilization of renewable energy sources; providing for the establishment of planning commissions, planning departments, planning committees and zoning hearing boards, authorizing them to charge fees, make inspections and hold public hearings; providing for mediation; providing for transferable development rights; providing for appropriations, appeals to courts and penalties for violations; and repealing acts and parts of acts. (Title amended Dec. 14, 1992, P.L.815, No.131)

Note this covers Transferable Development Rights?  That is what many residents in West Vincent are fighting as they also fight to keep their tiny, rural community from being overdeveloped.

You know, to control things like this from happening:

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Having nothing to do with Chester County, I also have the Syria of it all on my busy brain.  I guess I just have an Obamariffic problem with a purportedly peace-loving president who pulls troops out of places like Iraq and Afghanistan to send them to Syria. So yes, I am thinking in this case a little isolationism might be good for the United States. 

We can’t be everyone’s champion and big brother world-wide if we can’t fix issues on the home front.  We have people starving and dying every day in the United States.  We also have a crappy economy that could deal with a little love not a few more smoke screens to divert away the attention of the average American.

Anyway. That is it for the day.  Love me or hate me, this is my blog.  If you do not like what I am writing about, I will miss you, but will completely understand if you go find other blogs to read. But the reality of life is we can all have different opinions.