Monthly Archives: June 2015

Speak Out On the Future of Local Transportation

trucks2If you care about the future of transportation in the Lehigh Valley, clear your calendars for Thursday afternoon.

That’s when the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission will host a public meeting on its draft transportation plan, allowing people to hear about the plan, ask questions and make comments.

The meeting is scheduled for noon on June 18 at the LVPC offices, 965 Marcon Blvd. in Allentown. It will focus on MOVELV, the region’s $3.9 billion transportation funding strategy.

Who should attend? Municipal officials and citizens concerned about regional growth and transportation issues.

If you can’t make it Thursday, the LVPC will hold a second meeting Wednesday, June 24 at 6 p.m. at its offices.

On a related note, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual transportation forum on June 30, 2015 at the Mack Trucks Customer Service Center, 2402 Lehigh Parkway South, Allentown.

The forum will include featured speaker Leslie Richards who is Pennsylvania’s first female transportation secretary. Becky Bradley, AICP, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and Secretary of Lehigh Valley Transportation Study will follow with a presentation of the release of MOVELV: Lehigh Valley Long Range Transportation Plan 2015-2040.

After that, the forum will move to a panel discussion featuring representatives from The Traffic Club of Lehigh Valley, LANta, Lehigh Valley International Airport, Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, and LVPC.

It’s $50 to attend the forum — $25 if you’re a chamber member — which kicks off at 10:30 a.m. and goes to 1:30 p.m.

The draft plan can also be found on the LVPC’s website at www.lvpc.org.

You can access a hard copy from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (at the above address), PennDOT District 5 Offices (1002 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA), LANta offices (1060 Lehigh Street, Allentown, PA), Allentown Public Library (1210 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA), Bethlehem Area Public Library (11 West Church Street, Bethlehem, PA), and the Easton Area Public Library (6th and Church Streets, Easton, PA).

Comments on the plan may be submitted electronically from the website, via phone at (610) 264-4544, or via fax at (610) 264-2616.

On July 9th, LVTS will adopt MoveLV. LVTS is committed to compliance with the nondiscrimination requirements of applicable civil rights statutes, executive orders, regulations and policies. The meeting location is accessible to persons with disabilities. With advance notification, accommodations may be provided for those with special needs related to language, sight or hearing. If you have a request for a special need, wish to file a complaint, or desire additional information, please contact 610-264-4544.

Smart transportation is important to us. It’s the idea that communities should embrace all forms of transit, what’s commonly referred to as “multi-modal”: motorists, bikes, pedestrians, public transportation, light rail and passanger rail. It means considering solutions beyond just widening and repaving roads. It considers the importance of the interconnectivity of transportation choices.

If this issue matters to you too, you may want to consider serving on our smart transportation committee. Let us know at smartgrowth@renewlv.org.

Thank you, and we hope you’ll take the chance to speak out.

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FoodPolicyCouncilMembers

Friends,

The Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council, together with RenewLV has held three community events on growing the region’s food economy this year. They have each felt like a booming success.

But recently we decided to measure that success, taking a survey of what attendees thought of our last event, a lunch/discussion that focused on urban agriculture and “joining the Lehigh Valley’s new food revolution” on May 29.

And the results look good. You like us!

Nearly everyone who responded to the survey, 95 percent to be exact — rated their experience as “good” or “very good.”

People sometimes ask, what are the actual outcomes from these events? We learned, quite a bit: 87.5 percent of the respondents said they had either met someone or learned something to help them move forward on a project, program or initiative.

Among those programs: the Rodale Institute’s Organic Allentown, the urban agriculture efforts at the Children’s Home of Easton, and the possibilities behind SPIN farming, as brought to life by one of the event’s panelists, the dynamic Linda Borghi.  If you came to the event and something great transpired, but you haven’t told us about it, please do let us know.

The people who took our survey also expressed satisfaction that through the discussion portion of these events, organizations and citizens in the Lehigh Valley are actively working together, collaborating to improve the region’s health, economy and access to food.

The only downside: most of the people felt that there wasn’t enough time at the event for table discussions. That confirms what we’ve been hearing anecdotally from attendees since we began these events earlier this year. It’s reassuring to hear that folks value the collaborative time and have more ideas to discuss than time to discuss them as we move “from ideas to actions” in implementing the ideas in Buy Fresh Buy Local’s Assessment Report: Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy.

Knowing that 8.5 million people live in that big city 90 miles east of us (NYC), we can’t understand why the Lehigh Valley can’t do a better job of feeding and profiting from feeding some of those 8.5 million mouths. It is curious to us that food products that come from as far away as California and as close as Lancaster County drive by the Lehigh Valley on the way to large markets. We believe that we can be smarter about keeping our farmland as productive farmland.

Our next event will be a lunch/discussion on Thursday, October 29th, “Making Connections.” We’ll be taking a look at another facet of supporting food and beverage entrepreneurship and the ways that area farmers, food and beverage entrepreneurs and local producers can scale up their businesses by understanding the perspectives of distributors and institutional buyers. Judging from our survey, the idea of making connections is something that resonates with many of you. If you want to reserve your spot, (and space at these events is becoming more and more precious), please click here.

Thank you to everyone who has attended our events, everyone who took the survey, and all of our dynamic partners on the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Founders Team (logos listed above), and especially, our sponsor, Samuel Adams, Brewing the American Dream.

We encourage you to support the work of the food policy council by finding the organization and the projects they are working on that resonate with you — and then supporting them with volunteer hours and donations. And if you’re a fan of the work RenewLV has been doing of convening stakeholders and hosting these high energy events to discuss matters of regional importance — whether it’s on food sustainability, farmland perservation, smart growth or smart transportation — please support us with a donation. Click here to make a contribution online, or send a check to RenewLV at 1337 E. Fifth St., Bethlehem, PA 18015.

Thank you,

Joyce Marin

Executive Director, RenewLV

Spread the Word About Summer Meals

kidseatWhen school is session, more than 21 million children across the country take part in the federal government’s free and reduced lunch program.

But when summer break comes, only 3.8 million kids take advantage of the USDA’s Summer Meals program, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

School may be out, but that doesn’t mean kids need to go hungry.

Visit the USDA to find Summer Meals sites near you. (There are at least three in the Lehigh Valley.) And share this post to spread the word about this program.

Most Likely to Succeed? New Film Challenges The Way We Think of School

MLTS-Event-24june2015-Flyer-165 percent of today’s grade school students will go on to work in jobs that haven’t yet been invented.

That’s according to Most Likely To Succeed, a new documentary designed to challenge the way we think about education.

It argues that the American education system is preparing students for jobs in an economy that no longer exists, and that by focusing so heavily on testing, we’re leaving our children uninspired and unprepared for life after school.

The documentary, which was screened at Sundance this year, will be the centerpiece of “Changing Our Schools for a New Age,” a community forum June 24 in Allentown.

Hosted by The Allentown Center City Educational Subcommittee, the forum is aimed at getting people talking about a number of questions:

  • In today’s talent-driven economy, where can a truly effective education system take us?
  • What would it look like?
  • What goals must education satisfy to achieve that vision?
  • Who can help us get there?

The quality of local schools can determine where people decide to live. At RenewLV, we’re committed to preserving our core communities, which means attracting people to urban centers with good schools.

But this isn’t just a topic for politicians and educators. Parents, students, business owners and community members all need to take part in this discussion.

Let your voice be heard at the forum, scheduled for Wednesday, June 24 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Hospital conference center, 421 W. Chew St. in Allentown.

If you can’t make it Jun. 24, you can catch a screening of the film today at 5:20 p.m. at the Victory Firehouse at 205 Webster St. in Bethlehem, part of the South Side Film Festival.

See What’s Growing in Easton This Saturday

carrotsOne of the many inspiring, exciting things about our lunch/discussion last week was hearing from Sophia Feller of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership in Easton*, about the boom in community gardens/urban farming in the city.

You’ll have a chance to see some of this work for yourself Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. when the WWNP hosts its community garden fair at Paxinosa Elementary in Easton.

The fair will include a plant exchange — you bring one, you take one — along with a plant giveaway (donations please).

There’s a chance to weave on the community loom, as well as the opportunity to meet Boomer, an Easton canine celebrity.

You can find the garden along North 12th Street in Easton, near 12th and Northmapton streets.

The event coincides with Bike Smart Easton’s Paxinosa Bike Day, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the elementary. Bike Smart Easton is designed to encourage kids to be active bike riders. It connects kids with professional bike instructors who teach them to treat bicycle riding with respect.

*We should note that the WWNP is, like RenewLV, a program of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley.

Help The Environment and the Community at the Great South Side Sale

southsidesaleAt RenewLV, we value environmental stewardship and community building.

The Great South Side Sale, happening this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Fourth and Buchanan streets in south Bethlehem, is an example of both these things.

And its organizers need your help.

The sale needs people to act as greeters at its tent Saturday, and to fold clothing, straighten up tables, and set up/clean up at the beginning and end of the event.

If you’ve never heard of the Great South Side Sale, it works like this: Every year, when students move out of Lehigh University, they leave things behind — clothing, desks, tables, mini-fridges, books, curtains, rugs, etc.

The school puts all those items up for sale. The proceeds fund children’s education programs in south Bethlehem. Last year, the sale raised close to $20,000.

So by volunteering at the event, or spending money there, you’re helping build the community. By giving the Lehigh students’ stuff a second life, you’re helping the environment.

If you’re interested in volunteering, visit this link. You can call the Lehigh University Community Service Office at 610 758-6674 if you have any questions.

Speak Out For Farmland and Open Space Preservation in Lower Milford

bogturtle“Not in my backyard.”

It’s a saying that has its own acronym (“NIMBY”), and one that’s often used to signify a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of something new being built in your corner of the world.

It’s not really used as a compliment. We equate NIMBYism with the idea that these folks don’t care where something disruptive goes, as long as it’s not near them.

What do we call it when we see something that’s not in our backyard, but still affects us?

Take the Geryville Materials quarry project in Lower Milford Township. If you live in, say, Bethlehem or Bangor or Emmaus, it may not mean much to you.

But it should, especially if you care about things like preserving farmland and open space.

For as far back as anyone can remember, Lower Milford Township supervisors have made a commitment to preserving farmland.

For more than a decade, Lower Milford and the quarry project have been locked in a legal battle over the company’s plans to mine rock at the property.

Tonight, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will hold a hearing on the 127 acre project from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the township headquarters, 7607 Chestnut Hill Church Road in Coopersburg.

To speak at the hearing, contact DEP Community Relations Coordinator Colleen Connolly, at DEP’s Northeastern Regional Office, coconnolly@pa.gov or at 570-826-2035. You’ll also be able to register on the day of the hearing.

If you can’t attend the hearing, you can share your comments in writing. Send them to:

Mike Kutney, P.G.

Pottsville District Mining Office

5 West Laurel Blvd., Pottsville, PA 17901

No matter where you live, if you are a supporter of farmland preservation or preserving the environmental integrity of region, we recommend that you mark your calendars and plan on attending this meeting or write a letter.

Why is it important for you to go to give the DEP your input?

First, the quarry site is at the top of Mill Hill, one of Lehigh County’s last highland nodes, with over 600 acres of contiguous woodlands and wetlands.

According to a Morning Call article from June 2005, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has said the quarry site is close to an area called Big Beaches that is considered a region of ecological importance statewide. Citizens of Lower Milford Township have been organizing against the quarry and for the preservation of this land.

The Appalachian Mountain Club lists the region as one of Pennsylvania’s “critical treasures.” Bog turtles —  considered threatened by development by the federal Endangered Species Act — and a number of kinds of breeding trout have been found on or near the site.

The township has more than 3,000 acres of preserved farmland, hundreds of which are adjacent to the proposed quarry. It’s also next to a working farm.

For all these reasons, this project affects more than just Lower Milford Township.

Attend the hearing. Speak out. Talk to your elected and appointed leadership about your support of farmland preservation.

It’s not a matter of “my backyard.” It’s OUR backyard.