Roots of Revitalization

Social Change Through Action In Pottstown PA

Springtime Student Open House at Tri-Pac Performing Arts Center of Pottstown, PA March 11, 2012

By, TJS

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The Mission statement of  Village Productions located at 245 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464 (ph. 610.970.1199) is to “seek and strengthen community, inspire creative exploration, educate, and entertain, through the presentation of quality performing arts events and educational opportunities geared toward a diverse audience.” This local theater did just that Sunday, March 11th, 2012 offering free acting workshops for area children during their Springtime Student Open House.

The acting workshops were divided into grade aged groups K-4th, 5th-7th, and 8th-12th grade, and the classes involved theatrical games similar to charades and simple improv scenarios. Mr. Tony Girozzi taught the acting classes, and some of those in attendance were Hannah Paczkowzki, Sebastian Coates, Ben Williams, Erin Miller, and Dane Jensen-Sellers.

Tony G. has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Univesity of The Arts in Philadelphia, PA and has been involved with Tri-Pac since 2008. Tony G has filled many roles at the theater from acting to set and costume design to directing. You may have seen Tony G. perform in “Honk”, “The Frog Prince”, and Peter Pan” which are all past Tri-Pac shows. At 1 pm the community and open house guests were treated to a student performed “Hansel and Gretel”.

Beyond acting classes the Tri-Pac Performing arts center also offers monologue coaching, voice, flute, trumpet, piano, and guitar musical lessons. Acting classes range in prices from $95-$185 for a two month duration, where students have classes weekly. Contact the Tri-Pac for an entire list of class offerings, and financial aid tuition may be available for acting students who qualify.

Please contact Marta Kiesling at Village Productions if you wish to support Tri-Pac through volunteering, monetary donations, and or supplies.

http://www.villageproductions.org/About%20Us.html

 

S H A R E! by tjs March 4, 2012

Each of us “Town Square Bloggers” as part of the Mercury online community are encouraging the greater Pottstown area to drop off non-perishable items for a current food drive. Click the link below for a map that identifies centers where donations are gratefully being accepted until the Easter holiday.

http://www.zeemaps.com/pub?group=325195&legend=1&list=1&shuttered=1&nopdf=1&track=UA-10031827-4
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Times are tough, during what seems like a never ending recession, but as far as I am concerned, if you are able bodied and of sound mind you can devote some of yourself to making Pottstown a better place. Plenty of people are unemployed and discouraged, but volunteering in a town where many complain would be a very positive step forward! A personal hero of mine, Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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A great “take initiative” program through Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is called Self-Help And Resource Exchange or (SHARE)  which fosters community and rewards volunteers with reduced grocery costs.  People who contribute time to their community, neighborhoods and schools can exchange their services for discount food prices. According to the SHARE website,  “Typically, every 2 hours of service will earn 50% off retail prices” Through this food co-op buying service participants can buy $40-$50 dollars worth of fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meats and staples for just $20.  There are various types of packages.  Some are all meat, some all produce and some are a mix.  In the summer there are also locally produced foods sponsored by the Food Trust. There is also an extensive list of foods that can be bought in bulk at wholesale prices.”

 This program is open to everyone who is willing to work towards a better Montgomery County by offering to do something pro-active with their free time.  There are no income requirements or other restrictions.  Some of the “good deeds” that qualify volunteers for the SHARE exchange are helping an elderly neighbor, cleaning up litter in your neighborhood (WHICH POTTSTOWN DESPERATELY NEEDS), serving food at soup kitchens, helping dispense items at food cupboards, and other approved acts of kindness. 

The SHARE website explains, “This program provides a monthly food package for $15 to $20 (valued at $40-50).  The customer will also have completed two hours of good deeds in the proceeding month.  Food package types include: produce, meat specials,holiday specials and seasonal farm fresh fruits and vegetables”.

 THE SHARE PROGRAM ACCEPTS PAYMENTS OF  EBT, MONEY ORDER OR CASH ONLY.  ORDERS MUST BE PLACED  TWO WEEKS BEFORE DESIGNATED PICK-UP DATE. THERE IS NO REFRIGERATION AT SHARE LOCATION SO IF PICK UP TIME FAILS THE PACKAGE  WILL BE DONATED TO A NEEDY FAMILY.

For further information on how to volunteer for reduced food rates call SHARE at: Food Resource Center
610-277-6363 x123

A full program brochure can be downloaded and printed directly from the SHARE website:

http://www.cadcom.org/Programs-Services/Program-Service-Category/Service-Detail/43/catid–20/search–share/serviceid–65/

 Please consider joining the SHARE movement and do so thinking of the words of  Eleanor Roosevelt:

 ” When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”

 

Cowgirls, Cupcakes, & Couscous! by tjs February 7, 2012

Meet and Greet Hostesses, Terrie Uba and Jin Williams

                           

The evening of Monday, February 6th, Jin Williams professional

business networker and fundraiser from The Referralist, along with

Terrie Uba owner and stylist of T&N Hair  Saloon, hosted a meet

and greet at the salon located at 1220 N. Hanover St., Pottstown,

PA 19464. Phone: 610-970-1606 Open Tuesday through Saturday,

call T&N Hair Saloon for an appointment or business hours. 

(http://www.thereferralist.com/www.thereferralist )

(https://www.facebook.com/tn.hairsaloon1 )

Jin Williams with Nor of Bistro 137

Jin Williams with Nor of Bistro 137

This quaint western themed salon is tastefully decorated with

leather couches, complimented with cow hide pillows, and

antiquated cowgirl art. A unisex salon providing services for

cowgirls and cowboys alike! Little cowpoke (child) hair care

services also available.

Stylists of TN Hair Saloon, Terrie Uba pictured at far right.

Stylists of TN Hair Saloon, Terrie Uba pictured at far right.

Terrie Uba stated that at “T&N Hair Saloon we are here to achieve

the highest possible standards in all that we do. To help clients

achieve their most aspiring expectations. We prioritize competitive

pricing,  long term relationships, and total customer satisfaction.”

Meet and Greet Guests

Guests visit at the Meet and Greet

Guests visit at the Meet and Greet

Guests that attended the event were treated to free goody bags

filled with beauty samples, T&N coupons, and pampered with

mini chair massages. The nearly thirty guests in attendance also

had the opportunity to meet with T&N  stylists and discuss hair,

nail, waxing, facial, cosmetic, and product options.

Mediterranean Refreshments provided by Bistro 137

Mediterranean Refreshments provided by Bistro 137

Complimentary wine and Mediterranean cuisine samples were

served by Nor Sacli Basol of  High Street’s, Bistro 137. 

(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bistro137/103280813113148)

Cupcakes provided by Milkman Lunch Company

Cupcakes provided by Milkman Lunch Company

Mini tastings of ‘Jinny Von Cupcakes’ were sold along with raffle

tickets for a free T&N Hair Saloon make over, the proceeds

benefiting the multiple scolerosis foundation.

(https://www.facebook.com/fixmyms?ref=ts&sk=wall ) The “Jinny

Von Cupcakes” were prepared by artisan baker Sam Rhame of

Milkman Lunch Company, another growing Pottstown business

located at 451 North Charlotte Street.

(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Milkman-Lunch-Co-Cake-Shoppe/247142981979590 )

Lisa Futcho-Tucci jewelry merchandiser

Lisa Futcho-Tucci jewelry merchandiser

Lisa Futcho-Tucci an Independent Designer at Origami Owl Living

Lockets was also present, taking necklace orders and showing off

this latest fashionable jewelry trend.

(http://www.facebook.com/OrigamiOwl?sk=info )

This fun event was insight into various culinary, massage

therapy, jewelry, and spa salon services that are available to

residents living in Pottstown. Please click a hyperlink to learn

more about any of these locally owned businesses, and remember

to patronize small town America!

 (http://www.the350project.net/locals_love_valentines_day_home.html)



 

Community Cohesion January 10, 2012

Filed under: Quality of Life Issues — roots of revitalization @ 9:44 am
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By Anya Rhoads -Lafferty

  • We live in America—the land of freedom—the land of opportunity—the land of choices. Many different facets make America the great country it is; however, along with these freedoms and opportunities and choices sometimes comes hardship, tragedy, and poor decision-making, not just on the part of individuals, but also families, businesses, corporations, and government.The current economic strife America is facing is affecting everyone from individuals, families, local businesses, large corporations and, most importantly, our government. Across the board we all have had to make changes and sacrifices in order to survive on a day-to-day basis. No one likes change (good or bad), as we are creatures of habit, but sometimes we are forced to make changes because of outside influences (such as the current economic state of our country).

    Sometimes individuals, corporations, and government make poor choices that only serve to continually affect us negatively. Maybe it is because we just made the wrong choice, or maybe we chose to make the wrong choice. Whatever the situation is, we still have to continue to find a way to survive and stay strong.

    With a town like Pottstown, which continues to struggle financially and cosmetically, drastic change needs to occur. In Pottstown (the 19464 zip code), we have the borough of Pottstown and we have all of the Pottsgrove communities which surround it. On the outskirts of these two towns we have cities to our North—Gilbertsville, Bechtelsville, and Boyertown. These latter three towns most recently merged their fire departments together. Merging of businesses and companies can save one from being shut down completely, can save money, and brings people together. In the aftermath of 9/11, America came together in the wake of tragedy. In the wake of our current economic strife, we need to come together as a community. Pottstown and Pottsgrove need to follow in the footsteps of the fire departments in Gilbertsville, Bechtelsville, and Boyertown and merge to make ONE town.

    I can understand that the citizens residing in the Pottsgrove communities do not want to take on the financial burdens of the Pottstown borough. All towns and cities have their issues—no town or city is immune. As a whole, Pottsgrove appears to have their affairs in order and take care of their communities. Maybe our borough councilmen do not have the proper means to save the borough and maybe they do. If Pottsgrove and Pottstown were to come together and become ONE community—it would save our schools, save jobs, save the town, save money, and bring Pottstown (as a whole) back to life. With the Department of Education cutting funds for students, it only makes sense to merge these two school districts together. Why do we need two school districts in the same zip code anyway? If you look at our neighboring districts—Owen J. Roberts, Boyertown, Springford, Phoenixville, etc.—you see they do not have more than one school district within their towns. The best example is the Gilbertsville, Becthelsville, Boyertown cities (all of which have different zip codes) but they have ONE school district. Those towns are as close together as Pottstown and Pottsgrove. It makes no sense to have two school districts. If the Department of Education continues to reduce funding, they will either force school districts within a specified radius to merge, or we as a community will be forced to merge.

    I think of the powers that be in Pottstown were to enforce laws (i.e. hold slumlords accountable, enforce codes and laws, terminate water service to those who do not pay their bills, and escalate recuperating tax funds that are overdue in a more timely fashion to the extent of the law) that maybe Pottsgrove would be more agreeable to a merger.

    It is very difficult to take steps to make differences when people put up a barrier and don’t think of others. It is time for us as Americans to work together and be there for each other and stop asking “what’s in it for me?” Change is difficult…coming in to help clean up a mess is difficult…these times are difficult, but if we work together as a people, a community, and a country, think of the wonderful changes we can make! Pottstown and Pottsgrove should set the standard and make changes before they are forced upon us. By working together, we could make other communities stand up and say “hey—look how great that town is—how they worked together…we want to be like them!” Think about it…let’s come together and make positive change and make others turn their heads to us in jealousy and see the good we have done and they will follow suit. This can help change the world one town at a time and bring us together. Our children need to learn this valuable lesson and work together as a community. We need to get our kids out of the house, off the couch, out from in front of the television and video games. Third world countries work together each and every day (physical labor) to have the very few means they have, including food. If we get up and get moving, we also would be changing the obesity issue in our country. Let’s make big change together!

    Everyone takes the time to forward e-mails and text messages…let’s take it a step further. Let’s make big change that reverberates across the states. How far can we get our message sent and create change? Are you up for the challenge?


    Anya Rhoads-Lafferty

    Anya Rhoads-Lafferty

    Anya is a life time resident of Pottstown, PA and teacher at Antonelli Medical & Professional Institute . She studied Medical Secretary/Secretarial Sciences at Pennsylvania Business Institute, and is a member of  Phi Theta Kappa through MCCC.

     

 

POTTSTOWN AGENCY REPRESENTS VARIOUS LOCAL TALENTS! January 1, 2012

Filed under: POTTSTOWN BUSINESS — roots of revitalization @ 5:09 pm
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513 ENTERTAINMENT

2228 Welsh Drive, Pottstown, PA
Pottstown, PA 19464
484-624-2835

“Keeping The Tradition of Customer Service Excellence Alive “

If someone had told me that I would start my own business when I turned fifty I would have told them that they were crazy! Striking the balance between being a wife and mother and having two full time careers has its challenges but has proven to be very fulfilling. I have been in the business of event planning for the past 14 years so I have gotten accustomed to shifting gears at a moments notice to meet the needs of my customers”, states Joann Minner.

Joann Minner of 513 Entertainment

The inspiration for professional perfection is driven by the spirit of my parents who were business owners themselves. As owners of Frisco Press Printers of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, my parents instilled a strong work ethic in all of their children. I was able to see first-hand how hard work and exemplary service is the key to customer satisfaction and loyalty. I can still see my parents working side by side, seven days a week to meet their production deadlines. Being part of that environment has taught me valuable lessons about the responsibilities of being a business owner. I named my business 513 Entertainment in their memory. 513 was their lucky number and I’m hoping it will bring that same luck to my business.”

513 Entertainment provides top notch entertainment for all occasions. They offer musical talent including live bands, disc jockey services, solo performers, acoustic performers and harpists. Their entertainers offer a wide variety of genres and performance styles.


Ken and Rick, musicians managed by 513!

Ken and Rick, musicians managed by 513!

513 Entertainment offers a wide variety of performance professionals capable of transforming your social gathering into a delightful experience for guests of any age.  The company enlists the talent of artists such as The Magical Illusions of Kyle and Kelly of Pottstown – strolling or stationary magicians, henna and glitter tattoo artists, face painters, caricature artists, costumed stilt walkers, balloon twisters, 14th generation palm/hair readers, baby bump artists , costumed angels and tarot card readers . Many of their talented professionals have upwards of thirty years experience at their craft.

As a part of their extensive roster of performers, 513 also provides equipment rentals such as photo booths, popcorn carts, fully staffed water ice stations and much more.

Packages can be custom designed to fit your entertainment needs and price range. Allow Joann to assist you in designing a theme for your celebration. Whether you are planning a Backyard BBQ. Super Sweet Sixteen Party, Fundraiser, Township/Municipal event or Corporate Function, her performers will add that special touch to any social gathering.

513 Entertainent has had the pleasure of providing musical talent to many local establishments such as the Elk’s Club, the Quiot Club, The Lower Pottsgrove Sportsman’s Club, Ron’s Crooked Hill Tavern and The Sand Trap just to name a few. Additionally, in the summer of 2011, 513 had the pleasure of providing staffing for The Variety Club of Philadelphia/Campisi Financial annual fundraiser.

513 Entertainment of Pottstown, Pennsylvania is a full service entertainment staffing agency eager to provide it’s customers with only the best performance professionals in the business today.  Joann Minner looks forward to working with you and continuing a family tradition of service excellence.

For further details visit:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/513-Entertainment/150143275067177?sk=wall

http://www.513entertainment.biz/#/about/4554953738

 

Connor Kurtz: Ambitious and Involved Teenager! December 12, 2011

Filed under: Kool Kids,Reflections of Youth — roots of revitalization @ 3:04 am
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Connor Kirtz: High School Senior and School Board Member!

Age? Grade? Hometown?

I turned 18 on September 8th, I am in twelfth grade at Daniel Boone Area High School, and I am from Douglassville, PA.

Your family is from Pottstown and your mom is a teacher in the local schools correct?

My family is from Pottstown. We lived in the East End on Cherry Street until we moved to Amity Township in the mid-90s. Both of my sets of grandparents still live in Pottstown. My grandfather, Ron Downie, previously served as a 5th Ward Councillor and a Pottstown School Board member. He is currently Chairman of the Pottstown Water and Sewer Authority. My mother is a second grade teacher in the Pottstown School District.

Kurtz Family

Connor Kurtz and his family.

When did you become interested in  government?

I became interested in government in late 2006. My interest in local government really only began about two years ago.

Can you explain your political leanings?

I am a registered Republican–both fiscally and socially conservative. I believe that liberty is maximized only when government is limited. The principle of limited government is particularly important now. In these tough economic times, families are forced to cut back–I believe that our elected officials need to do the same. Society cannot afford to keep spending the way our government (at all levels–from school board to Congress) continues to spend.

Do you have a mentor? Whom and why?

When it comes to politics, I consider my Grandfather Downie a mentor. While we may disagree on some issues, he is a wealth of information when it comes to everything political. He truly is a Pottstown legend and his experiences have taught me a lot about public service. (Mr. Ronald Downie, http://thepostedpoet.blogspot.com/2011/07/american-patriots-summer-thermals.html)

When did you decide to run for school board and why? Which school board?

I decided to run for the Daniel Boone School Board in March of 2011. At that time, I had been attending school board meetings for months and I was not happy with the way that some members of the board approached spending. Additionally, I believed that my status as a student would provide the board with unique insight. As someone who had attended Daniel Boone schools since kindergarten, I knew that I would bring a fresh, new perspective to the school board. My message of reduced spending and accountability resonated with a large number of Amity Township residents: last May, both Republicans and Democrats nominated me for a seat on the school board in a four-way primary with over 44% of the vote. In November, I formally won a seat on the Daniel Boone School Board. I was sworn-in last Thursday as one of the youngest school directors in Pennsylvania history.

 

Sites where You Can Sign Petition for Montgomery County to Keep Pottsgrove Manor Open December 6, 2011

Filed under: Family Friendly Activities — roots of revitalization @ 4:14 pm
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Bill Sharon spoke to Pottsgrove Manor about having a petition there for our County Commissioners.  They are 100% for it, but with a problem.  They can’t use their staff.  He came up with the idea of having a table Sunday from 2PM until 8PM or sooner. Looking for people at this late date to help him.  It could be 1 hr shifts, and it should be fun………..Please call Bill Sharon at 610-326-7183 if your interested in helping!

Petition also available to sign at Gallery on High,

Hours Tuesday-Friday 10am-4:30pm and Saturday 10am-3pm Closed Sunday and Monday

Location 254 E. High St. Pottstown, PA 19464

Phone 610.326.2506

Emailinfo@galleryonhigh.com

PLEASE SIGN ONE OF THESE VERY SOON! THIS WEEK ! IT IS IMPERATIVE!

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Meet Julie Tonnessen of The Gallery School of Pottstown December 1, 2011

Julie Tonnessen is the Assistant Director at The Gallery School of Pottstown located at 254 E. High St. Pottstown, PA 19464

Phone 610.326.2506

Hours Tuesday-Friday 10am-4:30pm and

Saturday 10am-3pm

Closed Sunday and Monday

Emailinfo@galleryonhigh.com

http://www.galleryonhigh.com/

“I have always been a crafty person. My mom started me at a young age participating in creative pursuits like dance classes. My educational background is in English and history. I have a BA from Ursinus College and a Masters from Rosemont College. I have worked the retail side of the arts and crafts business and have taught arts and crafts for a very longtime, beginning with a summer playground program when I was still in highschool.”

At the Gallery School, “I teach adult fiber arts (knitting,crochet, felting) and jewelry classes, and recycled art for kids and teens. Ialso teach a fun class called Crafty Kids, where we explore the three-dimensional and crafty arts. I get to pass on all the techniques and projects I most like to do, which makes this class always a lot of fun. We work in all mediums, from glass and mosaic tiles to paper and fabric. I also teach in the Gallery School’s out-of-school-time programs, where thestudents are all ages, from elementary to high school. These programs can be particularly rewarding, when you connect a student with the fun of creating something with their own hands. In an increasingly virtual world, it’s important to give our children an experience of working in the real world. Itis amazing to see a child gain confidence and pride in their work, and perhaps discover that although they may not be a great athlete, or have the best gradesin their class, they have this talent they never knew they possessed.It’s just as important to convey the value in the journey, that havin gfun and stretching themselves in a new way is more important than getting everything “perfect.””

For further information on classes available to the community go to this link: http://www.galleryonhigh.com/allclasses.html

Find The Gallery on High on Facebook as well!

https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Gallery-School-of-Pottstown/208707525132

                                                                

 

2012 Will Be The Year Of The Carousel! November 30, 2011

Filed under: Family Friendly Activities,Quality of Life Issues — roots of revitalization @ 2:14 pm
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Several years ago a group of Pottstown citizens formed a committee with a common goal to revitalize our once-proud downtown area and make it a safe and appealing hub of activity for families to enjoy. We knew that, realistically, we could not revive every building on every street, but we knew from studying other depressed towns whose urban centers had made remarkable comebacks that a single, unique attraction often proved to be the inspiration for a turnaround.
 
 

For a number of cities, the downtown attraction that brought families and businesses back — right along with the pride of community that had been lost — was a carousel. 
We decided that a carousel for Pottstown could be a reality and committed ourselves to achieving this goal for our children, grandchildren and future generations who will call Pottstown “home.”

This initial influx of money has enabled us to purchase a 1905 carousel mechanism made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and to commission animals, which have been carved by world-famous carousel artisan Ed Roth.

This project represents a wonderful opportunity to restore a sense of place to our downtown. Please help us make a huge difference in our town’s society, economy, and the quality of life that we pass to our children.

The Carousel at Pottstown is an official part of the Community and Economic Development Action and Implementation Strategy for Pottstown. Thus far, the project has won support from the Mayor and Borough Council, the Pottstown Historic Society, Preservation Pottstown, the American Carousel Society, the Pottstown Artists Guild, US Congressman James W. Gerlach, State Senator John Rafferty, State Representative Thomas Quigley, and the Tri-County Area Chamber of Commerce.

 
The pictures span over a 4-5 year period.  Each animal on the Carousel has been hand-carved by a Disney Artist in California, shipped to our Work Shop on High St, where volunteers sand, prime and paint each animal.  On average each animal has taken approx 200 hours from start to finish.  We have some amazing artists in Pottstown that have pained these animals, volunteering one night a week for several years.
 
The most recent pictures are of the Carousel after numerous hours of cleaning, painting and erecting the Carousel.  Again this is all volunteers.
 
Website is;  carouselatpottstown.org where there is some more history on the project.
 
The contacts that will be able to answer any and all your questions are the following:
 
Ken Weaver  610-469-6331  or email: barbmgr@aol.com
 
Jim Arms  610-587-1278 or email: jarms@ddsinet.net
 
We have also started a Facebook page.  Carousel at Pottstown
 
We still have some animals available for sponsorship, along with panels.  George Wausnock can give you more details on the sponsorships available.
 
Contact Info:

 
 
We hope to have the Carousel turning by early 2012.  The building will not be completed due to more funds needed, but people will be able to ride the Carousel.  People called it a pipe dream, in 2012 we can call it REALITY!
 
 
 
                                                
 
 
 
 
 

TIME TO BUY POTTSTOWN HOLIDAY BALL TICKETS~DEC 9th is just around the corner! November 23, 2011

Filed under: Family Friendly Activities — roots of revitalization @ 1:56 am
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This years Holiday Costume Ball is themed with artists and creativity in mind! Pottstown is in the middle of a renaissance,  because like

minded artisans, craftspersons, painters, musicians, and community volunteers are taking action towards the revitalization.  This is a

“FUN FUNDRAISER” that will help support the Mosaic Community Land Trust and Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority.

Tickets can be bought online here : (This link also has location and band information!)

http://www.mosaiccommunitylandtrust.org/pottstownball/index.html

Or call Sheila Dugan, PDIDA Chairman, at 610-323-5400. for paper ticket purchases!

http://www.downtownpottstown.org/

 

NUTCRACKER PERFORMANCE AT HILL SCHOOL! November 22, 2011

On Sunday, November 20th at 1pm, the current cast of The Nutcracker of The Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Company of Pottstown,  held a story hour at All That Jazz, a dancing apparel store in Collegeville Station.

http://svrdc.org/

http://www.atjdancewear.com/studios.htm 

 

Before the reading of the classic Christmas time story,which is adapted from ETA Hoffman’s  “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”, children in attendance were able to decorate old ballet shoes for a small donation, and snack on holiday treats. After the book was finished, the dancing characters, including The Sugar Plum Fairy,  Mouse, and Claire, were available for interaction and photos opportunities.

The 40th Anniversary production of the “Nutcracker”
When: Dec. 3, 2011 at 7:30pm and Dec. 4, 2011 at 2:00pm
Where: The Hill School Center for the Arts (Beech and Sheridan Streets, Pottstown, PA 19464)
Tickets: Adults – $20, Seniors/Students – $15, 20% off for groups of 10 or more (Use the discount code “Group” when ordering online.)
Tickets now available online at http://www.upcomingevents.com/tickets/185/r/REFCODE/
More information: www.svrdc.org, thesvrdc@yahoo.com, 484-941-0683

The Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Company will be performing a brand “new to the area” “Nutcracker” this year to celebrate its 40th Anniversary. Two former principal dancers from the Kirov Ballet, Andrei Ustinov and Elena Martinson, will be setting choreography on the Company based on the original work by Marius Petipa (originally performed at the Kirov in 1892).

The performances will take place at the Hill School Center for the Arts in Pottstown on Saturday Dec. 3rd at 7:30pm, as well as on Sunday Dec. 4th at 2pm. Also, there will be specially priced matinee for school and senior citizen groups on Friday, Dec. 2. Artistic Director, Michelle Jones Wurtz, will be assisting the ballet masters and will be joining the cast for a special cameo appearance.

The Company performs a “Nutcracker” annually but this year there will be many changes to what people have become accustomed to in the area.  This is a holiday tradition not to be missed, so support the local arts in Pottstown and attend this performance the first weekend in December!

http://rootsofrevitalizationinpottstownpa.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/schuylkill-valley-regional-dance-company-celebrates-40th-anniversary/

 

FAMILY CENTER COORDINATOR, TALKS ABOUT PEAK! November 10, 2011

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  PEAK stands for Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness, and is an initiative of the Pottstown School District. I am an employee of the Pottstown Family Center, a program of Family Services of Montgomery County. PEAK is a collaboration of the Pottstown School District, community agencies, and the local early learning programs. PEAK works to improve the readiness of children entering kindergarten through community outreach, quality improvement at sites, family engagement, and kindergarten transition. PEAK’s goal is that all children in Pottstown enter kindergarten ready to learn and achieve. My role as the Family Engagement Specialist is to support parents and families as their child’s first teachers. Children learn from those around them, and parents are an important influence in preparing their children for success in school and in life. A big part of my job is providing parents with community resources, and making referrals when necessary. Some of the systems available are difficult to navigate, so I walk through the process together with families. PEAK also provides printed resources and age- appropriate activities in their Parent Resource Boards, located at sites and throughout the community. I organize breakfasts for parents at the early learning sites, to facilitate social connections and to give parents a chance to take a moment out for themselves. I also put together parent-child workshops for the teachers to facilitate, encouraging parent involvement in the classroom and extending learning to the home. I am very proud to be part of such a unique program, and truly recognize the importance of parent involvement in quality early learning experiences. For more information, please contact me (Whitney Leone) wleone@fsmontco.org. For further info on early childhood education in Pottstown visit: http://www.peakblog.org
 

From Pottstown to Carnegie Mellon Dean of Arts! November 3, 2011

Lowry Burgess of Carnegie Mellon

Lowry Burgess of Carnegie Mellon

Lowry Burgess was inducted into the Pottstown High School Hall of Fame on Friday, October 21 during an honorary ceremony at the school auditorium . The program featured a video showcasing the art of Mr. Burgess and some of his lifetime accomplishments which involve his dedicated leadership to revitalizing financially struggling communities through artistic movements.

 

 

“He is a Professor of Art and former Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Distinguished Fellow in the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University. He has founded and administrated many departments and institutions, during his 45 years as an educator in the arts. He has created curricula in the arts and humanities in the US and Europe while serving for twelve years on the National Humanities Faculty.” http://artscool.cfa.cmu.edu/~burgess/

 

 

After Mr. Burgess was presented with his titular award, entertainment was provided for by the PHS jazz band. http://pottstownschools.com/pottstown
His photo will be displayed in the main hallway at PHS until the induction of next year’s members. After graduating  from PHS, Mr. Burgess attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and then the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked and studied at the artist colony of Instituto Allende in San Miguel Mexico. Mr. Burgess is a world-famous artist and educator, who created a sculptor for NASA in 1989, which is floating in outer space, he is among the first in the medium of Space Art works.

To read more about the life of Mr. Burgess follow these links:
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/willow/perspectives/references/lowry_burgess/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowry_Burgess

Lowry Burgess PHS Alumni

Lowry Burgess PHS Alumni

Lowry Burgess with his PSD Honorary Hall of Fame Diploma

After the high school program there was a congratulatory luncheon at Brookside  Country Club for Mr. Burgess and his wife Janet,  who has partnered with him, in much of his art activism. The Pottstown High School, student award presenters, were also in attendance at the luncheon.

Pottstown School District Superintendent, Dr. Reed Lindley, PHS Principal
Stephen Rodriguez, and Pottstown School District Director of
Community Relations, Joel Armato were also lunch guests to visit with the
Burgesses.

PSD Superintendent Dr. Reed Lindley stated “Inductees to the Pottstown Alumni Honor Roll on Friday were focused and highly motivational to any student or adult interested in improving their lot in life. I was greatly motivated and humbled to share the stage with such a group of winners, doers, and givers. Lowry Burgess highlights what can happen when talent is combined with a dream that is addressed with persistent focus. There aren’t too many artists who have their work carried to the moon. With his connections to MIT, Carnegie Mellon, NASA, and the World Bank; we should all seek his guidance as we work to build partnerships and look to enhance the arts community, an important ingredient in the economic development of Pottstown.”

Mr. Joel Armato commented on Mr. Burgess’ induction, “Lowry Burgess is an inspiration to our community, his combination of creativity, willing to take risk and never give up attitude has been his trademark. We look forward to working with him as we continue to grow a new Pottstown with arts and culture at the center of our revitalization efforts!” The honorees, and the day’s events give me more reason to say PROUD TO BE FROM POTTSTOWN

Lowry Burgess at Gallery on High in Pottstown

Following the luncheon Janet and Lowry Burgess were
invited to The Gallery On High, where Erika Hornburg Cooper and Cathy
Paretti hosted a small reception and discussion panel.

http://www.galleryonhigh.com/   http://www.pottstownarts.org/ 

Mr. And Mrs. Burgess spoke to a small group of Pottstown citizens,
including:

Kate Jackson of  Mosaic Community Land Trust (Pottstown)  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mosaic-Community-Land-Trust/143005392432651

Sue Repko, an urban planner from Positively Pottstown,
http://positivelyptown.com/author/positivelypottstown/,

and Teri Jensen-Sellers of Roots of Revitalization in Pottstown, PA
http://rootsofrevitalizationinpottstownpa.wordpress.com/

about how Arts and Cultures movements cannot not only improve business districts in towns like Pottstown, but promote community pride and unity!  He and his wife, Janet are responsible for creating the model for the first night program promoting arts and humanities in Boston, that has become an internationally celebrated festival . http://www.firstnight.org/

 

 

Blighter Fighters! October 28, 2011

Filed under: Quality of Life Issues — roots of revitalization @ 10:13 am
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By TJS

On Thursday October, 27th, Pottstown Borough Manager, Jason Bobst, along with Codes Department Officers, MariaBleile, and Bill Sharon attended a Building One Pennsylvania Meeting in Lancaster, PA.  Also in attendance were Pottstown residents, Teri Jensen-Sellers, Deb Penrod, and Katie Jackson.

The First Suburbs Project meeting was organized by several southeastern public leaders including government officials, clergy, and community activists concerned with economy, blight, and infrastructure problems in small towns in this part of Pennsylvania. There were several hundred people at the conference in downtown Lancaster.

http://sepafsp.org/

Several speakers took to the stage to commiserate the reasons older towns are declining, which include lack of jobs, lack of tax bases, condensed pockets of poverty and middle class families moving on to newer suburbs. Small towns do not have the financial resources to fix, all of these quality of life issues, and the meeting was a plea for federa help!

Community speakers were Marion Milner of Norristown Borough Council, Nathaniel Goodson of Upper Darby Township Council,  and Denise Prowell of  Scranton-Abbington Planning Association.

Bernie McGurl of the Lackawanna River Corrider Association explained the problems associated with antiquated infrastructures.   Betty Wade of  Penn Hills Committee spoke about the poor conditions of bridges and roads, and other transportation difficulties. Paul Abernathy, the Director of Focus Pittsburgh discussed education reform and funding issues for schools in towns like Pottstown.

The main guest speaker was HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan who came down from Washington DC for the day.  Mr. Donovan spoke of the “tyranny of the zip code” which he claims President Obama is very familiar with. This applies to our situation here in Montgomery County and how the majority of voucher housing tenants and social service clients are placed in Pottstown and Norristown. There is a political agenda to evenly redistribute lower socio-economic clients, who receive welfare monies, to more towns within Montgomery County. Mr. Donovan explained that small towns like Pottstown, cannot revitalize without working families and a middle class tax base.

To read more about the Secreatry of HUD’s speech  follow this link:

http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/486673_Words-of-HUD-head-hit-home.html

Joel Johnson, who is the head of the Montgomery County Housing Authority was scheduled to attend, but did not show. Roots of Revitalization had intentions of asking  why HUD funds blighted rental properties in Pottstown  and what he thinks about the tyranny of the zip code.

http://montcoha.org/

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Pottstown Regional Public Library (PRPL) October 26, 2011


Information sent to ROR by Leslie Stillings, Childrens Dept. Librarian!

PrPL smiles for miles and miles and is the place for fun and hands on learning! The Pottstown Regional
Public Library is located at
500 East High Street
Pottstown, Pennsylvania 19464
(610) 970-6551
 Your child learns through play and the youth department understands this, as they offer a
rich environment with plenty of opportunities for social and academic interaction. The library caters to
the needs of infants, toddlers, children, tweens, and teens. Every youth needs a friendly, respectful, and
safe place where they can be themselves and feel comfortable asking questions- and what better place
than the library, where everyone is treated with integrity.

Please visit the youth department and ask abou upcoming events. For infants and toddlers you
can rock out with Mr. Mike’s and Miss Naomi’s guitar filled storytimes or use your hands at Ms. Leslie’s
Song and Sign Language storytime – no experience necessary. Through a generous grant from Target,
the library has partnered with the Gallery on High and High Street Yoga to bring you a phenomenal
combination of yoga, art, and stories. The library takes great pains to create high quality programming
at no cost to our community.

PRPL holds several quality events for children.

Some of their special events coming up for the little ones are a Pinkalicious Party, Mo Willem’s Pigeon
Party, Sleepy Storytime and a very special visit from the famous author/illustrator of “Snow! Snow!
Snow!,  Lee Harper, February 25, from 11-2. You may even get a free copy of the book.

At the end of the month you can go Trick or Treating at the library. Come in anytime on October 31 and
say the secret word, ‘Boooooooks’ and receive a treat. Also don’t forget about the special Halloween
storytime at 10:30 a.m.

If you are already thinking about the winter holidays, be sure to sign up for our Holiday Happening,
Saturday, December 10 from 1-2:30. There will be a kid’s concert, crafts and lots of food.

For the big kids and teenagers there are plenty of opportunities for fun. Come build something with
our endless supply of Legos at the Lego Construction Project, or join in the Video Game Tourneys. Cave
Council is the place to be in order to decide what the library does. In a room all their own (The Cave)
teens plan parties, games, receive first chance to check out new books and more at this important
council. Teens are responsible for making programs such as the ever popular Henna Party, Hip Hop
Dance Performances, and Fear Factor. The special event, Live Action Angry Birds, October 21 at 4pm is
coming very soon, so sign up today.
"Mr. Mike"  Library Director.

"Mr. Mike" Library Director.

 

These are just a sample of the programs at the Pottstown Regional Public Library. There is a
phenomenal list of different activities and experiences offered in the Spring and Summer. Clubs that are
currently forming include Chess Club, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. The library is a community resource and
takes a community to make it relevant. If you have any ideas, questions, or concerns walk right up and
ask a librarian, after all that is what they are there for.

For Further infomation about PRPL or their events visit:

http://ppl.mclinc.org

For people interested in supporting the library, there is an upcoming wine fundraiser call
(610) 970-6551 for further information.
 

MCCC’s Newest Member to Phi Theta Kappa Pottstown Chapter October 25, 2011

Filed under: Adult Students — roots of revitalization @ 4:16 am
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Meet Anya Rhoads Lafferty!

Anya Rhoads Lafferty is a wife and mother of 3, and is currently working two jobs and pursuing a nursing degree at Montgomery County Community College. In addition to all of that, she has been a very active member of the Pottstown community.  Anya told ROR, “I served 10 years as President of Lincoln Elementary School’s parent-teacher group, 2 years as Co-President and/or President of the Pottstown Middle School, and 2 years as the Concessions/Retail Manager of the Tri-County Performing Arts Center. By June of 2011, I gracefully exited those positions to focus on work, school, and family.” Anya stills volunteers at PSD, but in the capacity of chaperone for the Pottstown High School marching band where her daughter is in the color guard.

 

She commented on being an adult learner, “Maintaining good grades is very important to me, as I am my own worst critic. I have an associates degree from the former Pennsylvania Business Institute, formerly located in Pottstown, as a medical secretary. I made the dean’s list once and finished with a B average. At MCCC I was first invited to join the honor society (Phi Theta Kappa) in the spring of 2011, but passed on the invitation. My second invitation came during the fall semester in October 2011. This time I decided to join the fraternity since I had worked hard for my grades and wanted to join an elite group, something I was not able to accomplish in high school and something that was not offered during my first post-secondary education.”  Anya was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa on Friday, October 21 at the Pottstown campus. During the  academic fraternity ceremony, the students were informed by the President of MCCC, Dr. Stout, they were the first group to become members of the West Campus fraternity, as MCCC had just separated their Central and West campuses into two separate Phi Theta Kappa chapters.  Anya said that, “This makes this achievement very  special for me and the other members who were inducted . As the current President and Vice President of our chapter having  been working so diligently to separate our fraternity from the central campus fraternity!  This not only serves to give the West Campus students their own recognition, but continues to bridge the gap to the central campus,  and helps excelling Pottstown college students stand out in the local community.

“I am excited to continue my degree in nursing and one day become a OB/GYN nurse or pediatric nurse. My ultimate goal is to earn a master’s degree in nursing and to become a nurse practitioner in either a OB/GYN office or pediatrician/family practice office. I also hope to continue giving back to my community through volunteer work of some type. Many of my friends and my own students say they do not know how I manage to juggle so much at once. I have a strong will and dedication, and am a firm believer in the fact that a person can do anything if she/he puts their mind to it!  A person is never too old to learn and should never let anyone or anything stand in the way of their dreams. Go for what you want and do not let anyone stop you. With hard work and dedication, a person can go far! ”  Anya told Roots of Revitalization “Thanks for taking an interest in my life and for asking me to share my aspirations with Pottstown!”

 

Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Company Celebrates 40th Anniversary! October 16, 2011

Filed under: Family Friendly Activities — roots of revitalization @ 1:01 am
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The Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Company whose studio is located at 72 W. Main Street in Pottstown,  will perform a “brand new to the community” version of the classic “Nutcracker” to as part of the its 40th Anniversary Season celebration on Dec. 3rd at 7:30pm as well as on Dec. 4th at 2pm.  Both dance performances will be held at the Hill School Center for the Arts located at 860 Beech Street street in Pottstown, and the phone number  for the auditorium is 610-326-1000.
Choreography will be set by former Kirov principals Andrei Ustinov and Elena Martinson, based on the original choreography set by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivonov.  Artistic Director, Michelle Jones Wurtz, will also be assisting with choreographic input, as will alumnus Diane Alex-Brody; and both Diane and Michelle will have a short cameo appearance in the production to enhance the celebration.

This years production will showcase the talents of over 80 dancers; all that live and/or work in the Tri-County Area including guest artist Elrey Belmonti.  Pieces that have been completely altered from previous “SVRDC Nutcracker” performances include “The Waltz of the Snowflakes”, “Arabian
Coffee”, “Chinese Tea”, “Dance of the Reed Pipes” and “Waltz of the Flowers”.  Other sections have been updated to enhance and compliment the new works.  Not one section has been re-mounted without some new updates or creative enhancements.

“The great thing about ‘The Nutcracker’ is you don’t have to be a huge dance enthusiast to enjoy it” said Ms. Wurtz when discussing the production.  “People
view it as part of their family Holiday tradition.” If you’re interested in seeing “The Nutcracker” locally without the trek to Center City, this is the
production to support.  Tickets range in price from $15 to $20 and there are group rates available.  Last year performances almost sold
out in a theater that houses over 700 seats.  For more information,visit the Company website at www.svrdc.org  or call the Company at 484-941-0683.

Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Company was founded in 1971 by Phyllis Dersh Rudzitis and is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting dance in the community, governed by a dedicated Board of Directors and is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, (a state  funded agency) and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federally funded agency).

The SVRDC provides many opportunities to dancers, ages 7 years and older, to experience on-stage shows. Their mission is to foster appreciation for all forms of dance through the joy and beauty of live performances, to give qualified dance students professional performance opportunities and to be a springboard for the highest expectations of dance and choreography.”

Cast from 2010 Performance of The Nutcracker Ballet

 

“Pottstown Is Alive With The Sound of Music” October 8, 2011

Perhaps you have been downtown lately to go shopping or eat at one of the local restaurants and have heard music on High Street? The Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (PDIDA) Board is working with the Mayor, Police and Safety Committee to see what other measures can be taken to make the downtown safer and more appealing to business investors and patrons alike! Unfortunately crime is higher in Pottstown than it should be, especially for a small town of its size.  Blame it on poverty or the recession or whatever, but the delinquency needs to be addressed. Some of the loiterers downtown are mentally ill, and of course are not criminals, and the county has day programs they can attend to get them off of the streets.  People who have money to spend in Pottstowns stores and eateries need to feel safe when they are in the downtown business area.  The technical term is “Crime Prevention through Environmental Design” which is not a new social reform program, but is new to Pottstown.  Progressive agendas like this are necessary to rid the downtown of vagrancy, drug dealing, muggings and panhandling.  The overall plan is once the auditory program develops different musical variations will be played such as jazz.  .

The Seattle Times says: “Businesses and transportation systems use instrumental music as a crime-fighting tool around the globe.Several Canadian cities began pumping classical and opera music from speakers in public places, such as subway platforms, to keep people from loitering. London plays classical music in 65 of its Underground stations, drawing compliments from some commuters and transit workers, according to a Transport for London spokeswoman”.

In Portland, Oregon, Police Lt. John Scruggs brought the concept of playing opera, chamber music, and choral pieces, (music requiring full orchestras), to the attention of his superiors and it has aided in making that city safer. 

Dr. Daniel Levitin, professor of psychology and neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal believes that such “musical mind games”, the use of music as a crime-fighting tool is a simple but ingenious approach.

Sheila Dugan, the PDIDA chairman stated, “There was a decision made to start a progressive movement in town to get rid of some of the vagrancy issues we face daily here in the downtown – with NO COST to taxpayers – studies have shown that classical and opera will drive such away – IT WORKED!  Our fist day we had many loiterers hanging around just  minutes before we put the music on, with in a half hour of putting the music on, the streets began to clear – many merchants were amazed (as were we!) but it did work!  At 5:30 the music was turned off and by 7:15  several of the vagrants had found their way back to the benches in town. Yes, it is just the beginning of many steps necessary to keep our streets free of such activities – yes, there are kinks that we need to fix – Regularly we will be out looking at every speaker, its direction and what we can do to resolve the sound level issues. The equipment is a bit antiquated, but we feel we can resolve these issues quickly and at little to no cost to PDIDA.”

Sheila Dugan- Chairman of PDIDA

To read about the studies that show music can eliminate non-purposeful loitering in business districts go the following links:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/entertainment/2009543344_music27m.html

http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2011/04/oregon_cops_hop.php

There have been many positive comments either called into the PDIDA office or sent by email, and careful notes were taken to document public reaction!

“The music is working. good going”. Warren of Ink & Essence

“Love the music. What time does it end on Saturday night? Came out after rehearsal and people were back to hanging around”. Marta of Tripac Theatre

“Great idea with the music. It even annoyed me crossing High and Hanover to go the bank. I didn’t know the idea behind it until your note. What a wonderful way to discourage the bums and beggars. Keep up the good ideas and good work”.  Bob of Audio Video Junction


” I think its working! Today for the first time I  actually walked out of my restaurant without being asked for change or a cigarette.I’ll call the borough today and express my gratitude!”  Ron from Juan Carlos

“The vagrants seem to be hanging less and less when the music is on at first I thought it was too cold, but after a day of no activity, the music stopped and a bunch of them were back by 7:15pm.”  Gene of Grumpy’s Sandwiches

“LOVE the Music”! Rosie (patron of High Street Yoga)

I just want to drop a note to everybody to say that we at the Farmers’ Market can actually see the music working every time it’s tried. The benches in front of the parking lot adjacent to our building are usually full of people who aren’t shy about making noise, littering, spitting, cussing loudly, etc. I usually don’t get too much grief as I walk by them because I am a man and don’t look like I will put up with it. Some others tell a different tale, however, and it is unacceptable for this behavior from adults to be tolerated. When the music is playing, no problem…..they go away….. I saw it with my own eyes again today”. Ben Moscia of Pottstown Farmers Marker

“I just had to let you know how excited we are here at Lasticks. There were a few of my customers over the weekend who wanted to know where all the “regulars” were. I told them about the music and they were amazed at the results, but very pleased. I thought you might like to know this. Thanks again!” Mary of Lasticks Furniture

 

New Petition That Can Be Signed To Address Slumlords in Pottstown! October 2, 2011

http://www.change.org/petitions/pottstown-judges-and-pottstown-codes-dept-prosecute-slumlords-within-the-pottstown-borough-using-pa-state-law-act-90?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=own_wall

To read about PA Act 90 go here:

http://www.pennsylvaniaworks.org/

Scroll down on the paworks page to read about the importance of PA Act 90 and how it can improve struggling communities such as Pottstown! Also, reread our former blog article “Protester’s Perspective”  to understand how blight negatively influences Pottstown families!

http://rootsofrevitalizationinpottstownpa.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/protesters-perspective-2/

 

Pottsgrove Manor Home School Day AKA Kids Now Have It Much Easier ! September 16, 2011

Filed under: Family Friendly Activities — roots of revitalization @ 4:23 pm
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Today, Pottsgrove Manor, the local history museum at 100 West King Street,in Pottstown held their annual Home School Day event. This gives children who are educated in small private schools or by their parents the opportunity to take a field trip to learn about colonial history and what life was like here before the Revolutionary War. The children who attended were able to make their own candles, learn about colonial chores, and play with historic era games. It is truly one of Pottstown’s greatest cultural treasures, and if you have never taken your family, it is a good weekend outing!

“Pottsgrove Manor was the Colonial home of John Potts; descendant of England, founder of Pottstown, entrepreneur, businessman and perhaps the greatest Iron Master in all the Colonies.

In 1751, Mr. Potts purchased 995 acres of land from a one Mr. Samuel McCall. Mr. McCall had received this land (and much more) from William Penn as an original land grant. Shortly after his purchase, John Potts began construction on his early manor home.

Begun in 1752, the Potts family moved into the residence in 1753, and construction was completed later that year. In 1761, John has the property surveyed, and lays out a grid system of roads and parcels, (similar to Ben Franklins design of Philadelphia), to form the town of ‘Pottsgrove’. (The town is later re-named Pottstown in 1815)

Since 1988, over 3 million dollars has been spent by the County of Montgomery, on the sites restoration, maintenance, and administration and staffing. Public tours are offered year round (closed Mondays and Holidays), and frequent events and exhibits are scheduled regularly on many Colonial era appropriate subjects”

http://www.livingplaces.com/PA/Montgomery_County/Pottstown_Borough/Pottsgrove_Manor.html

 

Angels Among Us! September 7, 2011

By TJS

Robert Mathews Guardian Angel and mentor to Pottstown youth!

Meet Robert Mathews! Also known as the  head of The  Pottstown Guardian Angels and a Karate expert with his own gym at 21  North Hanover Street, called “The Pottstown Karate Club. Mr.  Mathews was born and raised in nearby Phoenixville and has lived in Pottstown since 1994.  He began Karate  training at age 14 in Phoenixville,  after bouncing around with different clubs trying to find a place that taught real Shotokan Karate.  He stated that,  “I finally made Bushi Karate in Hatfield  my home. Bushi being one of a handful of real Shotokan Karate clubs in PA.”

Mr. Matthews offers various programs to Pottstown youth which include the Clean Street Community Service Program, Karate, Boxing,  and Crossfit.  He is  known to be quite generous and often waives tuition fees for serious students who cannot afford his classes. He informed us that his attendance is as follows: “Active this month July 2011- 43. But we lose some in the summer due to vacations and some other sports. Usually we have over 60 through the Fall to Spring months.” For further information on these classes that teach kids fitness and positive self-control visit http://www.pottstownkarate.com/.

Old school Guardian Angels early morning workouts.
Training as an angel group.
Patrolling Philadelphia area.

When asked to discuss his long history with The  Guardian Angels and Curtis Silwa, he responded, “I initially volunteered in 1988, the GA were in Germantown at Germantown pike and Washington Lane in Philadelphia. We would patrol the  neighborhood but mostly we would ride the trolley downtown and ride the subways where we were always greeted warmly by citizens and Septa personnel  alike. In 1989 I moved to Kensington and Somerset.  Wow what a difference, the drugs and crime were unbelievable – with the club house for the Warlocks  Motorcycle a couple blocks over, what a tough neighborhood. We were invited and financed by the local merchants who got a good return on their  investment. Eventually I became the Self Defense Coordinator for the GA and they were training at my club in Phoenixville. Every Saturday morning at 5am, two van loads of Angels would show up in Phoenixville for PT and Self defense training. Over the years I would be involved and “outvolved” in different trainings in many cities in PA. My experiences downtown over the last 3 years are what encouraged me to establish a chapter here in Pottstown.”

The Guardian Angels of Pottstown!
The “youngest” of the local Guardian Angels.

Mr Mathews mentors Pottstown students  both as a Karate Instructor and as a Guardian Angel because he wants to “empower youth against the  life is not always fair reality. Karate builds good character and develops strong self esteem, which enables these kids to overcome any negative adversity  in their lives.” Perhaps you have seen these incredible volunteers walking our neighborhoods in the evenings wearing their red berets keeping us safe?! If you are interested in the serious commitment of becoming a Guardian Angel contact Robert Mathews at phone #610-327-1321

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Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority’s Upcoming Events- September 5, 2011

Filed under: Family Friendly Activities — roots of revitalization @ 9:25 pm
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                                         (http://www.downtownpottstown.org/) 

The Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (PDIDA) has moved in to their new space  at 17 N Hanover St.  Sheila Dugan the PDIDA Director wishes  to “thank the volunteers who helped the office move, we are also on our way to becoming  POTTSTOWNS VISITORS CENTER! As the boxes are unpacked, we are busy planning various events that we hope will bring people into the downtown and recognize the wonderful shop space and events we have here. This season we are working with the school district, other community organizations and merchants for the  OPEN DOORS event on September 10. Stores will be open, fun things will be going on throughout the downtown and at the high school. It is the start of several events, that have many different organizations working together to PROVE Pottstown is a  fun, safe place that many great people call home!

Sheila Dugan Director of PDIDA.

Super Sunday Events:

                                                                               

                                                                    

on September 18th the annual The Carousel of Flavors will return. Local eateries will dish up yummy bites to support the restoration of the Victorian Merry Ground they have been fundraising for, the last several years. (http://www.pottstowncarousel.org/events.htm ) Crafters and cooks alike who are interested in participating in this festival should call Jill Burbank at 610- 970-0624.

On September 24th A Pet Expo is underway for the 24thas well as a community yard sale – The Pottstown Arts Cultural Alliance and Bill Sharon from the Borough Codes Department are working on this great event. (http://www.pottstownarts.org)

On October 23rd the annual Halloween Adventure will be celebrated downtown. We will have Alpacas there for the children to pet, music, scarecrow making, face painting and more at beautiful Riverfront Park. (http://pottstown.org/departments-parks.htm)

November 27th is the kick off date to the Hometown Holidays Season.  All through December family friendly events are being planned, which in years past have included: Christmas Bands and Sleigh Rides. In 2011 a group or an organization that would like to win $500 in the tree
decorating contest should contact the PDIDA Office at 610-323-5400 for details. Mrs. Dugan is also planning a “Vintage Holiday Theme” to help promote the Tri Pac’s December play “A Christmas Story”.  (http://www.villageproductions.org/index.htm)

Mrs. Dugan also stated that as “we roll into December, we will be having Santa arrive on Dec. 2nd (starts at  630) down High Street to his Santa house where you can have photos taken. More activities will be going on throughout the various shops in town. On Saturday the 10th, we will have a spot for your pets to be photographed with Santa, as well as the regular Santa House photo opportunities for your family. Choirs are being scheduled to sing throughout town and other special activities which will be going on from noon to 6pm. We are also planning  the second PDIDA Holiday Ball which was a popular success last year, and the date is Friday December 9th!”  This fundraising event supports many community/family friendly events, the litter clean up program, and the  marketing for our downtown area.

The PDIDA Director Groovin at last years Holiday Ball in Dec. 2010

Want to help PDIDA? VOLUNTEER  at the new Visitors Center/Office at 17 N Hanover St. PDIDA is hoping to have the center open from 10 to 2,  and would love to have enough volunteers to be open every day of the week. The second thing you can do is go to www.fastsigns.com to VOTE for the PDIDA sign to win the $10k make-over. The  entry is number 375. You do have to register, but click the bottom where it says view next 20 then you will get tour no 375. Click on it and press MORPHIT…it can be done once a day everyday by everyone. This would help us tremendously!!! Feel free to contact Sheila Dugan for further details on how you can help make downtown Pottstown a better place!  Call 610-323-5400  to volunteer or buy tickets for upcoming holiday ball!

 

Protester’s Perspective September 1, 2011

                                             The Sociological Perspective

By Teri Jensen-Sellers

Lately, I have been referred to as both radical, brazen, and OUT OF LINE! I  would like to explain why I feel so strongly about local blight and the social ramifications of slumlord property negligence! What is so “radical” about asking a SLUMLORD to maintain his rental property and to pay taxes? When SLUMLORDS avoid both of these acts of decency, they are being criminalistic.  Breaking code violations and tax evasion are illegal, and  this makes SLUMLORDS public enemy’s. So said slumlords are rumored to be telling borough officials and the Historic Area Review Board  that we were blocking traffic on the street while we protested their contributions to local blight on August 26th. I can assure you were we on the sidewalk, and letting traffic through normally, as several police officers who passed us can verify!

I am not sure why people are afraid to stand up for the right thing? Business owners know that nearby blighted properties influence their professional image, and caring residents don’t want the crime or trash associated with these properties. I was hoping for more people to demonstrate these SOCIAL NORMS AND VALUES, as I expected more neighborly solidarity. The slumlord situation here in the borough can be defined as  “Orwellian” a scenario, thought, or societal condition that is identified as being detrimental to the welfare of society. The public apathy to the situation can be defined as “Torporous” as in a state of lethargy and indifference.

“The Broken Window Theory” originated in an 1982 Atlantic Monthly article by sociologists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. The basic outline for this theory reads: “A major factor in determining individual behavior is social norms, internalized rules about the appropriate way to act in a certain situation. Humans constantly monitor other people and their environment in order to determine what the correct norms for the given situation are. A disordered environment which is littered, vandalized and not maintained sends the signal:  this is a place where people do as they please and where they get away with that, without being detected.  As people tend to act the way they think others act, they are more likely to act “disorderly” in the disordered environment.”

Unmanaged rental properties encourage urban blight which evolves into the broken window social phenomena.  Sociologist, Rachel Ranis of Quinnipiac University states that the Broken Window Theory begins “when the little things are neglected – broken windows, graffiti, petty crime – it snowballs into full-blown urban decay quite quickly, and it’s hard to bounce back from that.”

What does this do to family units within the urban environment?  Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay who were part of the Chicago School of Thought in Sociology, and the think-tank behind“The Cultural Transmission Theory”,  foresaw several negative consequences when culture or localities become scourged.  The Cultural transmission Theory predicts that in unmanaged areas such as run down neighborhoods, delinquency becomes accepted, and generational. Worse crime becomes acceptable and so do unsupervised children.  Professor Jennifer Huck of Indiana University of Pennsylvania claims that” “Reduced levels of child supervision will result in poor school achievement, with a consequent reduction in stakes in conformity and an increase in deviant behavior. Poor, dense neighborhoods tend to be mixed-use neighborhoods. Mixed use increases familiarity with and easy access to places offering the opportunity for deviance. Unrepaired buildings leads to greater concerns for personal safety among area residents.These concerns lead to further decreases in maintenance and repair; to increased delinquency, vandalism, and crime; and to even further deterioration in safety and the physical environment—all resulting in offenders from other neighborhoods being increasingly attracted by the area’s perceived vulnerability.”

WOULD YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN LIVING NEAR UNSAFE BUILDING STRUCTURES AND LOCALLY TOLERATED CRIMINAL ACTIVITY?

As the parents of two young sons, my husband and I will do ANYTHING to protect our boys from this kind of social destruction, and that is why we are protesting! SLUMLORDS WILL NOT TAKE AWAY MY FAMILY’S RIGHT TO LIVE IN A SAFE, CLEAN AND DECENT TOWN!

                                              

                                   The Homeowner Perspective

By Katie Jackson

By this time, each summer, I’d usually find myself feeling thread bare, weary and plum exhausted by the chaos and noise of a neighborhood that could be the Poster Child for the Broken Windows Theory.  The relative calm of this early September is almost palpable, a welcome relief for homeowners, conscientious landlords, good tenants and visitors in our downtown neighborhood.  

Law enforcement has stepped up their foot and bike patrols, police supervisors are frequently seen on our streets.  We have a dedicated, hard-working Borough Manager in Jason Bobst, Codes Enforcement is re-tooling for swift action while the new Guardian Angels are a welcome site.  Well rested, re-energize residents are stepping up to the plate to take back their neighborhood, working with each other and with the borough.

Our load lightened, this reprieve has given many of us the opportunity to re-group and connect with one another. We’re not expending all of our energies being watchful of our streets, calling the Police, calling Codes, picking up the trash in our yards, on our sidewalks, streets and alleys.  The Mercury experiment to refrain from reporting on the antics of elected officials, for the month of August, has also contributed to a kinder, gentler sensibility. I feel a renewed spirit among people in my neighborhood and Pottstown in general.

I find myself spending more time in front of my home now, visiting with neighbors, imagining my block in it’s glory days and envisioning the potential.  The predominant, neglected rental properties that scar this once grand old working class neighborhood beckon me to tell their story.  

At one time the homes here were proudly cared for by the people who owned them. They provided the warmth, comfort and nurturing that the word “home” conjures up for me. They were the keepers of the laughter and joy of holidays, new babies, birthday parties…all of  life’s celebrations, as well as the losses and sorrows of those who came before us.   Safe from the elements, solace awaited at the end of a busy day, as residents found peace and comfort within the confines of their homes and their neighborhoods.  The homes near downtown were also the foundation of a community of friends, family, business and industry that once thrived here and completed the circle of “community”.  

Ragged, worn, and often aluminum clad you can still gleen glimpses of the beauty of the rich architecture and craftsmanship that adorn many of the structures that remain. I can see, in my mind’s eye, how some of these homes, (but not all of them to be sure), of could be brought back to respectable service and grace returned to their rightful stature.  Today, these homes tell a story of the more recent indignities they have endured and their tenacious will to hold on in hope of better days to come.  Some will make it and sadly, some will not.

The heart and soul of “my” neighborhood has been broken, but not destroyed, by a system that richly rewards greed.  It is a system whose only sustaining beneficiaries are the negligent absentee property owners who turn a blind eye to the degradation of their rental properties, who blatantly defy the borough, the law, the people they rent to and the taxpaying residents of Pottstown.  We pay, we pay and we pay again for their heartless misdeeds in our neighborhood.

This summer has given me a glimmer of hope, of courage and commitment to our borough. As the old homes continue to tell their recent histories of indifference, neglect and abuse, they are being heard.  The message is resonating with residents and borough officials alike as we begin to work together to reclaim our identity, our homes, our neighborhoods and redefine our values, our sense of belonging and our purpose.

We’re rolling up the welcome mat,  we’re saying “no thanks” to those who are motivated only by the size of their bank accounts and we have the State of Pennsylvania on our team.  The onus is on the slumlords now.

  

                                         

The First Anti-Slumlord Protest. August 2011. courtesy of The Mercury.


 

Community Land Trust to Hold Informational Meetings on Garden Project February 8, 2012

Originally posted on MOSAIC Community Land Trust:

Contact: David Jackson at 484-949-4235

Pottstown, PA— Have you ever wanted to have your own garden, but didn’t have enough room in your yard? Would you like your children to learn how to grow their own fresh vegetables, but don’t know where to begin?

This spring MOSAIC Community Land Trust is building Pottstown’s first community garden at 423 Chestnut Street. They will be holding three information sessions during the month of February to explain what community gardens are all about and to take applications for approximately 40 raised bed garden plots for the 2012 season. In addition to the garden plots, there will be compost bins, rain barrels, pavers, fencing, trellis, perennial gardens, a storage shed, and water service for irrigation.

The MOSAIC Community Garden is being built with a $30,000 grant from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. The property at 423 Chestnut Street was donated by…

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