Look Around You

Take a moment to look around you. If you like what you see, it’s likely that the people charged with the development of your community understand and care about issues that contribute to making it livable. “Good” planning is an issue that’s gotten a lot of attention over the years as people have striven to reverse suburban sprawl and make cities more robust.

We’re lucky that in Union County, forward-thinking planners like Shawn McLaughlin have taken the time to infuse their already-evolved thinking with input from visionaries like Thomas Hylton about what our communities can and should look like. The result is comprehensive plans that really do plan for the future–in a humanistic, positive, recreation-oriented, smart-growth kind of way.

Communities planned in this way are infused with attributes that make them more user-friendly. They include trees, sidewalks, playgrounds and parks welcoming recreators, and rail-trails with protected spaces for jogging, bicycling and strolling, as well as the re-use of existing structures. But beyond that, such communities have worked to prevent or at least minimize the paving over and obliteration of open spaces.

This crusade for good planning was taken on by Pennsylvania newsman Tom Hylton in the mid 1980s, as he watched his small town decline while the surrounding countryside was paved over for a jumble of roads, stores, parking lots, and tract housing.

This crusade led to a Pulitzer Prize, his influential book, Save Our Land, Save Our Towns, the charitable corporation with the same name and a public television documentary.

I remember feeling uplifted and hopeful while reading the book, and hearing Hylton speak in Sept. 2007 when he was invited to Lewisburg to kick off “Cultivating Community,” the Union County Comprehensive Plan.

You have the opportunity to hear Hylton speak when he leads off the “Green it Up Harrisburg” Leadership Training series with a presentation on October 8th.

His presentation will center on the major issues confronting communities, the root causes, and what can be done to improve our communities and our environment. A focus of the discussion will be on the community benefits of
– green infrastructure, like trees
– and the positive impact trees can have on local water quality.

The event is being held at the Civic Club of Harrisburg and is open to the general public as well as program
participants. For more information on the event and the training, contact Andrew Bliss, Grassroots Coordinator, The
Chesapeake Bay Foundation, abliss@cbf.org. To RSVP to the Thomas Hylton presentation only, contact PAOutreach@cbf.org.IMG_9311

Did You Know?

Susquehanna Life Magazine’s office in Lewisburg is also a gallery where Photographic Images of Lewisburg and Beyond is an ongoing exhibit of high quality photographs of Bucknell, downtown Lewisburg, Selinsgrove and Sunbury and across the USA. The photographs are both printed on canvas and on glossy foamboard suitable for framing. Come in to browse! Also at the office you can subscribe to the magazine, purchase a current copy and view past magazine covers on display as part of Susquehanna Life Magazine’s 20th Anniversary celebration.  Gallery hours are Tues., Wed., Thurs, 10 am to 2 pm, and office hours are 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. Call first, just to be sure we haven’t run out to the post office or to grab something to eat! (800) 232-1670Image

What’s Going On?

One of the many activities we like to profile in Susquehanna Life magazine is hiking opportunities throughout the state. We are lucky to have access to public lands through which many challenging hikes are blazed and maintained.

Due to my mother’s illness, and her passing in July, and my youngest son leaving for college in August, I spent a lot of time close to home this summer.

But every weekend, throughout the spring, summer and fall, the Otzinachson Lewisburg branch of the Sierra Club (and Sierra Clubs throughout the state) offer group hiking opportunities that offer a safe way to navigate through woods sometimes populated by poisonous snakes and wild animals (!) with a genuinely nice group of people.

Hiking through the beautiful state parks and forests, where trails abound, allows an appreciation for the natural beauty, open spaces and the pristine land and water formations Pennsylvania offers us. Plans to frack within these lands frightens and saddens many of us who enjoy and treasure what were once thought of as protected vestiges of woodlands.

On Sunday, Aug. 25, Joe Rebar will lead a 16.3 mile hike, rated moderate to strenuous, throughout RB Winter State Park, in Mifflinburg. There is, he assures us, only one tough climb. We’ll burn off hundreds of calories and get some much-needed aerobic exercise.

Joe will meet hikers at the breast of the dam, on Route 192, just outside the park entrance, at 8:30 a.m. Bring lunch and water, and plan to spend about 8 hours on this hike. A map is below. If you need more information, you can call Joe at (570) 259-0134. Join us!

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