What Can You Do With Two Weeks of Quarantine?

 

This past few weeks have brought events that have not occurred in our lifetime in America. We are seeing panic buying that is unprecedented. It is suddenly like a zombie apocalypse out there. No toilet paper, no water, no SPAM. If your area hasn’t shut down schools and churches and public gatherings to “flatten the curve”, I’m sure your time is coming. The governor closed our county earlier this week. All schools, non-essential retail, gyms, daycare, etc. closed for two weeks. I think it’s the right move, and I applaud the governor for taking that bold step before things get out of hand.

So now many of us are faced with two weeks of quarantine. Given that we have been encouraged to limit social interactions to help slow the spread of the COVID- 19 virus, it will be novel for a few days, but then I think it might start to wear on us. Just because we need to practice some social isolation doesn’t mean we can’t get out a bit and even do some good in the world. So what can we do with two weeks at our disposal that won’t contribute to the global pandemic?

  • Go for a hike: In most places around here, Spring is well under way. Take the people you live with or already see every day and take a walk in a state park or on the Schuylkill River Trail. The weather has been lovely lately, so get out there and enjoy it. Besides, there is some evidence that viruses don’t thrive in fresh air and sunshine, so get as much as you can.
  • Do a one-person or one-family block clean-up: Grab some gloves and a trash bag and loop your block or walk your street picking up trash along the way. Make a call to a friend, and you clean one side of the street while they clean the other. You can share news back and forth while maintaining a healthy distance!
  • Read a book out loud as a family: When our kids were young, we read many books out loud together. I still remember our family gathering together to finish the last few pages of the final Harry Potter book before we could begin family vacation one year. Reading a great book out loud together is such a bonding experience. If you haven’t done it in a while, take this chance. Even if your kids are older, or if you don’t have kids, (reading aloud as a couple is wonderfully romantic) this is an activity you won’t regret.
  • Start a garden: With Spring coming so early this year, now is a good time to dig a bed and start a vegetable or flower garden (or both!). It isn’t too early to sow rows of lettuce and peas and other early crops. It’s not too late to begin seeds inside for plants like tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and cabbage for transplant into the garden in May. Get online and watch or read a tutorial and give it a try this year. Don’t have a yard? Garden in a pot!
  • Write a letter: Many others either are or will be doing the same thing as you are, and may be feeling the effects of social isolation soon. E-mail and social media are great for keeping us connected, but few things are more pleasurable than getting a letter in the mail. Think of someone you haven’t connected with in a while: a cousin, a friend you grew up with, an old army buddy, a teacher you liked. Take 30 minutes now, while you have it, and write them a letter. You will happy you did it, I promise.
  • Pick a spot in your home and do a deep clean: Do you have some bins in the basement you have been meaning to sort through? How about that closet in the back bedroom that just keeps getting things stuffed into it? Have you put on a little weight and need to purge your wardrobe? Set aside a day and tackle that deep-cleaning project you have been avoiding. Open your windows, put on some great music, grab a cold drink, roll up those sleeves and get to work!

Things are a little tense right now, but we can make the best of it by looking for positive ways to use our time during the crisis. Remember to eat healthy food, get plenty of rest, turn off the news, and tell the people you care about that you love them. What other suggestions can you come with?

God bless, everybody!

Paper Airplane

Unhappy in Pottstown? Maybe You Should Get Out.

After working with Mosaic Community Land Trust in the borough for several years, my family and I decided to sell our home in Schwenksville and move to Pottstown. Not only did we buy a home, but we are also starting a business. I love this town! I have met so many wonderful people in my work here, and now so many neighbors have become friends. I have deep friendships with the people I have met through Mosaic and my church, located in Pottstown, in which I have been active since moving to Pennsylvania 11 years ago. This beautiful old town has captured my heart. The architecture here is unique, genuine, and lovely, whether it’s a twin on Queen Street, a row home on Chestnut, or a 19th century mansion on Hanover or High. I like that I can walk to everything in town, and yes, I love the bike lanes that run right in front of my house. It makes me sad and a bit puzzled when I hear people disparage our town.

Pottstown isn’t perfect. I’m not a Pollyanna. Well, okay, maybe I am, but I’m not ignorant. I know there is crime here, and I know there is a drug problem. But those things do not define this town. I know these problems aren’t easily fixed, but if you aren’t happy with the way things are in Pottstown, then you should get out.

But not in the way you’re thinking.

First: Get out of your mindset. Part of place (or a person) becoming better is to start by believing that it is. Look for the positive around town. See the things that are good about this place and the people that live here. If you are having trouble doing that, talk to someone who likes it here about what they like. Focus on the good things rather than the bad, and then we can all come together and continue to work on making necessary improvements. And when you talk about the town to others, before you launch into the problems, mention the positives. (Can’t think of any? How about the many kind and committed people who live here? We have beautiful architecture and large, lovely street trees. You can walk from one end of town to the other in under an hour, and therefore almost the entire town is walkable. There are some good restaurants here, a top-notch theater, and a scenic river.)

Second: Get out of your house. Get out into the town. If you haven’t been downtown or to the river or Memorial Park in a while, go do it. Things are changing. There are new businesses downtown, and a lot of new ideas coming to fruition. Did you know that Pottstown has one of the only indoor Dragon Boat practice facilities in North America? There is a bead store downtown where you can learn to make jewelry yourself, and they teach classes there all the time. There is an indoor food court that has opened in the old Farmers Market building at the corner of Charlotte and High that has a great taco stand and a vodka bar, and soon a coffee shop and vegan place. And speaking of tacos, we seem to have an excessive number of good places to get them all up and down town. Three Brothers is great, Juan Carlos, The Pub, Los Aztecas and now Aye Caramba…it’s taco heaven! Did you know that a mural is about to be painted on the trail along the river? There’s a new Asian fusion restaurant opening where Brick House used to be, a delicious new doughnut shop near the bus station, a beer garden going in on High Street, and a Bed and Breakfast opening near Jack Cassidy’s Irish Pub. We have a gorgeous restored carousel, an indoor badminton facility, multiple breweries, and even an axe throwing place! There is a lot happening, so get outside and check it out!

Third: Get out of your comfort zone. Join a group, volunteer, get involved. Every person has something to gain and something to give when they involve themselves in their community. Find a church you like and start going. Join your school’s Home and School association and participate in meetings and events. Find a nonprofit or other community group that is doing work you find important and volunteer with them. Come to borough council or school board meetings. Walk next door with a plate of cookies and meet your neighbor. I work in community development, and I am a firm believer that the most effective way to develop a community is to strengthen interpersonal connections within the community. In return for stepping out of your comfort zone, you will find satisfaction in building community, contribute to problem solving, and probably even make a friend.

Things are beginning to change. We need our community members to think positively. Get out of the mindset that may have you thinking the problems are too big to solve or that things can’t get better. Get out of your house, office or car and have a walk around town and look and see what is new, and what’s there that has always been great. And get out of your comfort zone and get involved. We need YOU! We should care about each other, work together to problem solve, and look around and see the good that’s happening all around us. If you have lived here a long time, or used to live here and have moved away, it’s time to look at Pottstown with new eyes. Get out and do it!

FARM

Photo courtesy of Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation

Vote NOW for Pottstown native & gospel-singing star Candace Benson

Photo Credit: Twitter
Photo Credit: Twitter

NOTE: Links in previous post may not have worked. These links should be good!

Online voting for Pottstown gospel-singing sensation Candace Benson will end tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 30 at noon. Go here to vote as many times as you can to give our hometown girl a chance to become the next Sunday Best winner!

Candace is one of two finalists. The winner will be announced on BET network this Sunday night, Aug. 31, at 8 pm. You can also call in up to 15 more votes during the show, but there is no limit to the number of online votes you can register.

So get on over to this web page – no registration required! – to click away for this amazing talent with a heaven-sent voice!

 

 

Pow Wow on Mantawny Creek Celebrates Pottstown’s Native American Heritage

This comes to us from ArtFusion 19464. For quite some time I have been curious about what we know about the Lenni-Lenape in Pottstown. This looks to be an informative, fun, and fascinating way to re-connect with the Native Americans who lived upon and walked this land before us. 

 

Native American Memorial
Native American Memorial

In 1859, workers clearing a mound in an area on the south side of the borough unearthed skeletal remains and artifacts of an ancestor of the Lenni-Lenape people.  Over the next twelve years many more remains and artifacts were unearthed in this area.  Many of the remains and items were initially exhibited locally, but over time they have been lost.

In 2000, then mayor Anne Jones headed up a campaign that resulted in the Memorial currently located at the intersection of South Franklin Street and Industrial Highway. The site sits on land generously donated by the family of Mr. Tim O’Conner, owner of Humphrey Flag Company.

The memorial, which was originally dedicated on May 5, 2000, is an acknowledgement and a recognition of the people whose spirits inhabit those grounds.  Unfortunately, in recent years, the memorial has been neglected. In an effort to bring new life and attention to this memorial, Ron Williams and Clanmother Star Harbach have organized a re-dedication of the memorial on May 3 and a pow wow on May 3 and 4. Williams says: “The Memorial is my primary objective.  The Pow Wow is a way of creating interest. I am hopeful that in time we can do more to make this memorial a local landmark that we can be proud of. It should be a place of cultural awareness.  Future plans will include warm weather monthly story-telling circles, new plants representing the indigenous  features of the pre-colonial period, a medicine wheel, lighting and a sculpture representing the culture of the Native Americans, for starters.”

The rededication ceremony will begin at 9am on Saturday, May 3 at the site, which is at the corner of Franklin St. and Industrial Highway near the river. Frankie and Johnnie’s has generously offered the use of their parking lot for those who want to attend. Afterwards the festivities will switch to Memorial Park.

The pow wow will take place from 10am-6pm on Saturday and from 10am-5pm on Sunday at the Veteran’s Memorial in Memorial Park. Visitors will be treated to dances from many different tribes. In between the dances, a storyteller will entertain and educate with traditional tales. Guests will be able to shop at different Native American vendors, who will be selling leather crafts, jewelry, beadwork, instruments, wood sculptures, herbal teas and more. Author Gretchen Hardy will be selling signed copies of her book. Buttons& Beads: Lenape Princess Wynonah and the Future President, an historical fiction book illustrated by Zoungy Kligge, takes what is known of these intrepid ancestors and weaves them into one Lenape woman, Wynonah, who becomes their collective voice. A portion of the sales of her book will be donated to the Memorial fundraiser.  There will also be an interactive education tent run by Laura and Ron Buckwalterwhere visitors can learn more about the Lenape people. Outside of the main pow wow site, other local groups including ArtFusion 19464 will be set up.

The event will begin with a Grand Entrance and opening ceremony at 12pm on Saturday. Following the opening ceremony, there will be a Veteran’s Dance, where military veterans and those currently serving are invited to participate to honor their service. The dancing will continue until 6pm. At 7pm, group Spirit Wing entertain the community with a free concert open to the public. The pow wow on Sunday will also begin with a Grand Entrance at 12pm. The events that day will end at 5pm.

Clanmother Star will MC the event and Joe Camaho will be whip man for the event, a ceremonial position responsible for lining up the dancers for the Grand Entrance. Medicine Horse Singers will drum for the dancers.

The entrance fee for the pow wow is $5, cash only. Children 6 and under are free. Visitors can park in the Memorial Park lot and at the lot by the Carousel building on King Street. There will be a free trolley running from the Carousel parking lot up to Pottsgrove Manor, where the annual May Day festivities will also be taking place on Saturday.

Please note that the back gate at the Veteran’s Memorial in the park will be closed to the public. All events will run rain or shine.

The organizers and dancers ask that visitors only take pictures when they are told it is allowed, as a matter of respect. Those who do not follow these rules will be escorted from the event. This is a pet friendly event. Well-behaved pets on a leash are welcome, and owners are asked to be courteous and clean up after their pets.

All funds raised during this weekend will go toward establishing an annual celebration and the maintenance and improvement of the monument. The site will be updated to make it a place of learning, with a regular schedule of storytelling and other events that will take place on site. The pow wow will be an annual event, in an effort to continue the recognition of what was lost.

In conjunction with this effort to create the awareness of the Native American contribution to the history of this nation, Representative Mark Painter will also be presenting a resolution in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on June 2, to recognize this year as the 90th anniversary since Native Americans were granted full United States citizenship.  Until 1924, Native Americans were not citizens of the United States, but on June 2, 1924 Congress granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S. under the Indian Citizenship Act.

Pottstown MLK Day observance at Hill School today at 4 pm

This comes from Rev. Vernon Ross, Jr., Pastor of Bethel AME Community Church.

You are invited to attend and to encourage your congregation, family, friends, and others to attend the Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration on Sunday, January 19, 2014 at 4:00 PM.

The Celebration will take place at The Hill School Center for the Arts, and the Pottstown Community Martin Luther King Choir will be singing.  Our special guest will be Mr. David Carlisle, Director of Music, Ms. Melanie R. Hill, Violinist, and Minister Adrien Gale, Soloist.

The proceeds of a free will offering will be given to the Pottstown School District to support their Math/STEM Programs.  This is a wonderful opportunity to help our youth in the Pottstown Community!   We hope to see you!

The Hill School Center for the Arts is located at 860 Beech Street, Pottstown, PA 19464.

Upcoming events for Legendary Locals of Pottstown

JOIN US FOR A BOOK TALK AND SIGNING!

There are a couple of book talks/signings coming up in the next week for the Legendary Locals of Pottstown book, co-authored by photographer Ed Berger and me. Come out to meet some Legendary Locals, learn more about the history of Pottstown through its legends, and how we put this book together. BOOKS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ($21.99) Look forward to seeing you!

The first event is at the Pottstown Regional Public Library at 500 E. High Street this Sunday, from 1-3 pm. The library is opening just for us!

Then, next Wednesday, November 6th at 7 pm, there is a talk/signing at the Schuylkill River Greenway Association at 140 College Drive in Pottstown. This is a really cool former PECO substation that is used by the Greenway and owned by Montgomery County Community College, and they’ve got a fabulous permanent exhibit about the history of the Schuylkill River. You can learn about Pottstown’s people and the river all in one fell swoop.

Finally, thank you to Joe Zlomek of The Sanatoga Post and The Pottstown Post for publicizing the latter event!

Sue Repko

Pottstown CARES initiative to be underway shortly…

Pottstown CARES: Part Two

 The second part of the CARES project will be a clean-up day TODAY, Friday, October 25 in a targeted area of Pottstown, from High Street north to Beech Street, and Hanover Street east to Edgewood Street.  All 505 Hill School students as well as Hill faculty and staff; 50 Pottstown High School students and numerous faculty members; and many Borough workers and officials will be dispersed to weed, pick up trash, and complete other “spruce up” tasks in public spaces in the core downtown area during this day of service that precedes National Make a Difference Day (October 26).  A team of volunteers also will work to beautify Edgewood Cemetery.

The CARES organizers estimate that a total of 700 students and adults will be contributing to the clean-up during the morning of October 25.

Last summer Borough residents were encouraged through a Mercury article and the Borough website to shares suggestions and requests for specific homeowner projects that might be tackled by the volunteers, in addition to general street and sidewalk clean-up.

The massive volunteer crew will assemble under Hill’s former hockey rink roof at 8:30 a.m. to receive instructions. Pre-organized teams then will disperse to their designated project areas until about 12:30 p.m., when they will return to Hill for a picnic lunch prepared by Sodexo, Hill’s food service provider.  Sodexo is generously donating the meals for all school district and borough volunteers as well as Hill students and personnel.

 After lunch, a celebratory group photo of all participants will be taken on Hill’s campus. 

 In addition, as part of the October 25 clean-up day, the Pottstown School District is running a blood drive from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the high school. Individuals interested in making a donation at the Pottstown High School on October 25 may send an email to Pottstown faculty member Mark Agnew at magnew@pottstownsd.org or call him at 610-970-6707.

Hill’s fine woodworking class students are painting new planks for a park bench to donate for one of the MOSAIC community gardens. A team of volunteers is expected to help build new compost bins for the garden at 423 Chestnut Street. Also, Hill School art students and faculty will be canvassing neighbors to ask for input on the design of a public, downtown Pottstown mural they would like to create in partnership with Pottstown High School art students.

Numerous organizations have contributed funding, tools, supplies, or other support to the CARES project.  In addition to equipment being shared by each of the three entities involved – from rakes to a public address system – the United Way has generously donated $1,000 toward tool procurement in addition to loaning tools through their tool share program.  Home Depot made a greatly appreciated cash donation to the project as well. CARES project organizers wish to give special thanks to the Pottstown Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department for their support.

Individuals who would like to donate work gloves, trash or leaf bags, or tools for this and future projects may take their items to Borough Hall at 100 E. High Street.

 Borough Manager Mark Flanders emphasized that Pottstown CARES is not intended to be a once and done affair, but a starting point that builds momentum for additional efforts that increase residents’ pride in Pottstown.

“It is my hope that this is the beginning of something bigger, and that, as time goes on, Pottstown CARES is a way of life for the residents of Pottstown – rather than a scheduled event,” Flanders noted.

Hill Headmaster Zack Lehman arranged for all 505 Hill students as well as faculty and staff to participate in the October 25 clean-up day.  He said he is excited about the synergy occurring between Hill, the Pottstown School District, and the Borough – and he is passionate about Hill’s involvement in the community.

“Hill was happy to provide the space for the community education event and to serve as the rallying point for the clean-up project,” Lehman said. “I see these CARES initiatives as the first of many cooperative projects.  Hill contributes to Pottstown in many ways, from our existing, highly engaged student community service program, to enthusiastic support of local businesses. We are eager to demonstrate our commitment to the town that has been Hill’s home for 163 years, and very happy to do so with our CARES partners.”

“Pottstown CARES provides community stakeholders with the opportunity to send the clear and inspirational message that, when working together, we are more effective in our actions,” said Dr. Jeff Sparagana, Pottstown superintendent.

“Together, we are Pottstown,” Sparagana said.

Legendary Locals Launch Party Set for Tomorrow

The Legendary Locals book launch party will take place Sunday, October 20th from 1-4 pm at Grumpy’s Sandwiches (137 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464).

Come on out, meet authors Sue Repko and Ed Berger, and get a copy of the book! Legendary Locals of Pottstown features the people who have contributed – and continue to contribute – to the life of our community in ways large and small.

Book talks and signings are also scheduled for:

Sunday, Nov. 3rd, 1-3 pm, Pottstown Regional Public Library, 500 E. High Street, Pottstown.

Wednesday, Nov. 6th, 7 pm, Schuylkill River Greenway Association, 140 College Drive, Pottstown.

The book costs $21.99 and is also available at these local retailers: Grumpy’s Sandwiches, Coles Tobacco, Pottstown Roller Mills, and Professional Pharmacy

Check out Legendary Locals of Pottstown on Facebook for updates.

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