Reason #6 to Attend the Summit for Smart Growth on 12/9: Fresh Ideas

There are lots of great reasons to attend the Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities next Friday, December 9th at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown.  I’ve assembled six to share with you over the next few days.  smart-growth-poster-vertical-1-jmIdea #6:  Fresh Ideas

People say that our events are high energy, full of fresh ideas on how to get from ideas to actions, to realize more sustainability and smart growth in our region. 

This year the two big themes we’ll be exploring at the Summit will be Social Entrepreneurship:  “Doing Well by Doing Good” (the intersection of money and meaning) and “Making Sustainability Legal.”  Each of these ideas on their own is hotter than a pistol.

The first, Social Entrepreneurship, has the potential to literally transform our regional economy from the ground up — and in ways that we can all feel good about.  The second, “Making Sustainability Legal,” will discuss what kind of communities we will leave for our children and the road blocks local municipalities often find in preserving their communities and quality of life.  We’ll be exploring some somewhat revolutionary ideas on how some municipalities are handling those challenges.  

We’ve got exciting speakers, dynamic panelists, and great opportunities to network and collaborate at our break out sessions, (this is where people find the real opportunities to make a difference can happen.)  

As an added bonus this year, through the magic of technology, Vince Smith, the Borough of Catasauqua’s Borough Council President will taking us on a magic carpet ride of their new mixed-use, walkable, bikeable neighborhood in the planning stages:  the Iron Works.  You won’t want to miss this!

For only $70 you get a full-day conference with inspiring and informative programming, collaborative networking opportunities (and two great meals.)  

So mark your calendars for next Friday, December 9th at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown and plan to see us at the Summit.

Seating is limited, so sign up now by sending me an email, calling our offices at 484-893-1060 or online at:



Join Us for Launch of Farmland Preservation Flash Mob/Photo Op



Please join us with your fabulous smile and show up for farmland preservation this Thursday (September 29th) at our inaugural RenewLV Farmland Preservation Flashmob/Photo Op!

This will be fun…and easy.

You will arrive by 5:30 p.m. at 4813 Meadowview Terrace in Zionsville (Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County.)

You will hold up or stand near the “Save It – Don’t Pave It” banners.

You will flash that smile of yours for the camera. We will post the photo to social media.  Easy-peasy, right?

And, if that doesn’t sound like enough fun, there’s a rumor that someone will be bringing a guitar and leading us in a chorus of “Big Yellow Taxi.”  You know the words:  “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…do-wa, do-wa, do-wa!”

Please, invite your kids, friends and neighbors to join us. You don’t have to be a resident of Upper Milford Township to be in the photo. Everyone is invited. We consistently see that when we show up in support of smart growth ideas, change happens.

Maybe afterwards, we’ll all go out together for a bite to eat.

By the way, Upper Milford wins kudos for putting farmland preservation on the ballot in November. Voters will be voting on whether they want a local EIT (Earned Income Tax) to direct toward openspace preservation, including farmland preservation. This is the type of local strategy for which RenewLV advocates. When local dollars are pooled with county dollars, they can be leveraged against state farmland preservation dollars, mobilizing the maximum resources to save our precious farmland.

If you have a farm field in Northampton or Lehigh Counties and would like to schedule a future Farmland Preservation Flash Mob/Photo Op, please let us know.  Shoot us an email at
Does it make you happy that we are doing this?  Would you like to support us, whether or not you can show up on Thursday?  We appreciate financial support in any denomination.  To make a donation in support of RenewLV or the Farmland Preservation Campaign, please go  Thank you SO much!

PA farmland

We know that this is very last minute, but if you consider yourself a Lehigh Valley farmland preservation supporter, here’s something you can do tonight before the sun sets over the cornfields (9.14.16)… come out to learn more about what’s happening at the local municipal and regional levels and to show your support of farmland preservation at Upper Milford Township in Lehigh County tonight at 7:30 p.m.

RenewLV has been invited by the township attend their Open Space Committee and to extend the offer to you.  We’ll update the committee on RenewLV’s farmland preservation campaign, following Diane Matthews-Gehringer on the agenda.  Diane is Lehigh County’s recently hired Director of Farmland Preservation. RenewLV board member and Farmland Preservation Committee Chair, Julie Thomases, will be joining me for our presentation.

We’d love to see you, too.  We consistently see that when you show up for meetings like this, change happens.

In January of this year RenewLV held a “Save It Or Pave It” event where approximately 125 appointed and elected officials and interested citizens gathered.  It was a high-energy event.  There, we explored various strategies of the 15 outlined in our RenewLV Farmland Preservation Toolbox, including raising dollars locally to match with county and state dollars.

Representatives of Upper Milford Township were at that meeting and are now moving toward a referendum in November to have an EIT (earned income tax) raise money locally for farmland preservation and open space. (More information below.)

RenewLV believes that the leverage of local, county and state dollars will mobilize the greatest amount of funding for the county easement programs.

We are thrilled to hear of Upper Milford’s efforts.

If you are able to join us tonight, the meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at the Upper Milford Township building at 5671 Chestnut Street, Old Zionsville, PA  18068 (the former Kings Highway School Building.)

What’s going to happen there?  After Diane speaks Julie and I will be reviewing the RenewLV Farmland Preservation Snapshot that summarizes how each county is doing toward meeting the farmland preservation goal.  This goal is stated on page 35 of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s regional comprehensive plan:

“to preserve approximately 25% of the land in Lehigh and Northampton counties for agriculture.”


To urgently work toward meeting this goal, RenewLV has recommended the restoration of funding to both county farmland preservation programs ($2 million per year for Lehigh County and $1 million per year for Northampton County) for ten years.

We will be updating everyone on recent progress made in Lehigh County toward funding their program (Lehigh County Executive, Tom Muller has proposed a budget that restores funding of $2 million for three years for Lehigh County.)


Also tonight, we will be bringing along and displaying our new SAVE IT – DON’T PAVE IT banners as seen in the photo above.

We need you!  We are inviting interested citizens to help us with our new photography/social media project in which people hold these banners up in a rural vista or farmfield in your community – perhaps a farm you own or to which you have access.  Preservation advocates will assemble with these banners for photos that RenewLV will widely distribute on Facebook, Twitter and through emails like this one.

Let us know if you’d like us to put a spotlight on the support for farmland preservation in your community.  We’ll happily schedule a day and time to come to you.

Some friends of mine helped me to create these banners which we just finished last Sunday night — so we are just NOW rolling out this project.  With your help, we can show our elected leadership the grassroots support for farmland preservation in the Lehigh Valley.

Here’s a brief summary of Upper Milford’s referendum from Tim Haas, their Assistant Manager/Secretary:

The Board of Supervisors deem it to be in the best interest and general welfare of Upper Milford Township to acquire interest in open space for the purposes of protecting, conserving,  and preserving undeveloped open spaces; forests and farmland; natural and scenic resources; and recreational and historical land. There will be a ballot question before the voters of Upper Milford Township at the general election of November 8, 2016, asking if they favor the imposition of an additional Earned Income Tax to finance the acquisition of interests in real property.

The ballot question to be asked is:

“Do you favor the imposition by Upper Milford Township of an additional Earned Income Tax at the rate of 0.1385 (%) percent on an annual basis beginning January 1, 2017, to be used for the purposes of financing the acquisition, protection, conservation or preservation of undeveloped open spaces or areas; forests and farmlands; natural and scenic resources; and recreational or historic lands; and payment of the attendant costs associated with such actions? YES or NO”

If the referendum passes, there will be an additional Earned Income Tax increase of thirteen and 85/100 ($13.85) dollars per ten thousand ($10,000.00) dollars of earned income beginning in 2017. All revenue raised by the additional Earned Income Tax will be used to acquire agricultural conservation easements, finance the acquisition of open space, finance the protection of recreational or historical lands, and to pay the costs associated with such actions. The additional Earned Income Tax will remain in effect for at least five (5) years, at which time a new question can be placed on the ballot asking the voters whether they wish to rescind the additional tax.

We hope to see you tonight.  If you are an ardent farmland preservation supporter but cannot attend, please let us know by email at or phone call at 484-893-1060.  We’ll put you on the list to be invited to show up for future photos!  Also, if you like the work we’re doing and want to keep the drum beat going for farmland preservation, please make a donation to RenewLV at this link.


Joining us for Lunch at The Easton Experience?

tomatoes-in-basketMany of you have signed up for The Easton Experience tomorrow, an exploration of how Easton, PA used local food as a focus of its economic development strategy.  For those that have not signed up, there is still an opportunity for you attend, if you act fast!

You will not want to miss this event! The Easton experience will provide the opportunity to hear from the people who made it happen!  We’ll start with Mayor Sal Panto and PA State Representative (and RenewLV Board Member) Bob Freeman telling us a little history of what it was like and how Easton’s amazing turn-around happened.

Dundore and Heister, the top shelf butcher at the Easton Public Market will be catering lunch for us, with five kinds of fabulous meat dishes and some vegan options, too.  Chef Mike Schnaulzer will be preparing the lunch at 11 a.m. in the demonstration kitchen designed and installed by Morris Black & Sons.

After the Mayor and Bob Freeman speak, a who’s who of Easton movers and shakers will tell us how they did it, followed by breakouts to explore the finer details.  During the panel discussion moderated by Dawn Hart, the Director of Community and Economic Development at the City of Easton, we’ll hear from Jared Mast of GEDP, Megan McBride of the Easton Public Market and the Easton Farmers Market, Kim Kmetz of Easton Main Street, Tod Auman of Dundore & Heister, Ben Scholl of Scholl’s Orchard, Jo Moranville of the Garlic Fest, Troy Reynard of Cosmic Cup and Two Rivers Brewing Company and Allison Czapp of Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

This event provides a GREAT opportunity to become inspired by the excellent work done in Easton, and hopefully take those lessons into your community.

Because The Easton Experience is so robust with lessons learned and networking and mentoring opportunities, the program will run from noon to 4 p.m.  We understand that this is a time commitment, but this is also a great opportunity to become inspired and connect with like-minded people.   If you cannot stay for the entire program, we encourage you to stop by for the lunch, and the Mayor’s presentation.

There is no cost to attend this event thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream.

Seating is limited, so please register today at:  http://tinyurl.comj6er2xf

Learn how one communitycreated economic prosperity from Focusing on Local Food

The Easton Experience – 9/13

Learn how one communitycreated economic prosperity from Focusing on Local FoodIf you have been to Easton in the last six months, you can feel that it’s a happening place. You know that they are up to something good.

Are you scratching your head wondering, “How did they do it?”  The restaurants keep getting better.  Small food and beverage businesses keep popping up.  The excitement keeps growing.  We have heard people talking about moving to downtown Easton.  What is going on there?

So much about their economic resurgence centers on local food.

We know that they have the longest-running continuously operating outdoor farmers market in the country, but the truth is, there is so much more happening.

Have you been intrigued by the “Easton Experience,”and want to learn more about what they did and how they did it?Join us for “The Easton Experience,” next Tuesday, September 13th at the Easton Public Market and learn what is in Easton’s “special sauce” from some of the people that were key to making it happen, including:

  • Mayor Sal Panto
  • State Representative Robert Freeman on the History of the Farmers Market
  • Jared Mast, Ambassador Program and the role of GDEP
  • Megan McBride, Easton Farmers Market
  • Kim Kmetz, Easton Main Street
  • Tod Auman from Dundore & Heister, “Why I came to Easton”
  • Ben Scholl of Scholl’s Orchard, The Farm/City Connection
  • Jo Moranville, Garlic Fest, Growing a Food Festival With Care
  • Serial entrepreneur, Troy Reynard, with Cosmic Cup
  • Allison Czapp, Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley

We’ll start with lunch at noon, followed by a panel discussion, then small group table discussions.  You’ll become inspired and then be able to connect with panelists and other local resources for lessons learned and practical advice.

Lunch will be provided.  There is no cost to attend this event thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream.

However, seating is limited, so please register today at:  http://tinyurl.comj6er2xf

We hope to see you there!

Celebrate Farmland Friday by Speaking Out

Farmland Preservation Friday

Lehigh County Close to Funding Farmland Preservation – Your Help Needed!

Northampton County: The Push is on to Make Farmland Preservation a Budget Item!


Yes, it’s Friday…and that means it’s Farmland Friday.  This time of year it’s a great time to eat local produce especially tomatoes, sweet corn and peaches.  But if you want to continue to enjoy local produce, open vistas, fresh air and clean water, if you don’t want traffic to get worse with increased development, it’s also important today to find your voice and reach out to your county executives and council members in support of farmland preservation.


This year RenewLV has been vocal in support of farmland preservation. RenewLV has recommended that both counties restore funding for farmland preservation to previous levels ($2 million for Lehigh County and $1 million for Northampton County.)

Now we need you to find your voice and speak out in support of farmland preservation.  Let your county elected officials know through emails, letters and phone calls how important it is to you that we restore funding for the county farmland preservation programs to previous levels.

People often tell us a story that begins: “When I was growing up in the Lehigh Valley…”  or “When I moved here in…”  Now is the time to tell your most moving story to your elected officials.  Now.  They need to hear from you today.

Here’s the update of what’s happening in Lehigh and Northampton counties on this topic:

In Lehigh County, County Executive Tom Muller and the Lehigh County Commissioners have heard us! They are working through the details on restoring funding to $2 million a year for three years from a combination of $1.5 million from the refinancing of a bond issue and $500,000 per year in gaming revenue.  We could not be happier (okay, we asked for ten years of funding, and they found three years — that’s actually really GOOD!)

If you live in Lehigh County, you should be proud and maybe event take a minute to say thank you.

Please reach out today!  It’s easy!  Here is the physical address for sending letters, the email addresses for sending emails and the phone numbers you can call to register your support.  It’s important that you reach out to both the council and the executive because they are two separate branches of government.

We’re told that email is the preferred method of communication.


Executive: (I’m told email is the preferable method of communication)

Physical letters may be mailed to: Lehigh County Government Center, 17 S 7th St, Allentown, PA 18101

Phone:  610-782 3050 Commissioners, 610-782-3001 Executive

Over in Northampton County we have work to do. In council meetings a few months ago County Executive John Brown predicted a surplus in the existing farmland preservation budget adequate to meet demand for easements in 2017.  We would like to see a robust farmland preservation effort in Northampton County and have questioned whether surplus funds will actually be enough in 2017 to cover the demand for eligible farms in the pipeline.  The budget process is happening now, and Northampton County Council needs to ensure in this budget cycle that there will be adequate funds to cover the cost of those farms eligible for farmland preservation easements in 2017.

Now is the time for anyone who supports farmland preservation to make their voices heard.

If you are a Northampton County resident, it is necessary that your county council hear from you immediately.  Tell them that story of yours that begins, “When I was growing up in the Lehigh Valley…” or “When I moved here in…”  Tell them what impact you see development having today in your neighborhood and why you think preserving farmland is important.  Now.  Today.  Tell them that funding farmland preservation in the Northampton County 2017 budget is a priority for you.

This affects you!  According to the Assessment Report:  Local Food Economy, with the farmland that remains in the Lehigh Valley, we can only feed 24% of our population in the region on a traditional American diet!

Here is the physical address for sending letters, the email addresses for sending emails to Northampton County Council and Executive and the phone numbers you can call to register your support for farmland preservation.

Emails to Northampton County Council:

To Northampton County Executive, John Brown:

Physical letters may be mailed to:  Northampton County Council and Executive, Northampton County Courthouse, 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042-7475

Phone calls:  610-829-6596 Council; 610-829-6300 Executive

If you send an email or a letter please copy me (  I will be keeping a file for when we communicate with your elected officials and the higher the stack of communications, the more powerful the argument for farmland will be!

Here are some additional things you can do to celebrate Farmland Friday today:

  1. Stop at a local farm stand or go to a farmers market and buy local produce.  Local economies are built one dollar at a time.
  2. Take a photo of your favorite farmland vista and send it to us at  Let us know where farm field is located and we may use it in future social media.
  3. Let us know if you want to be on the Farmland Preservation Direct Action Team.
  4. We are going to be organizing people to attend future Northampton County Council meetings.  If you are interested in joining us, please let us know.
  5. We have plans to create a big banner that says, “Save It – Don’t Pave It,” and we’ll need some extra hands.  If you want to help, let us know.
  6. Make a donation to RenewLV today to support our campaign.

Thank you for your support of farmland preservation in the Lehigh Valley.  Through your efforts, you are leaving a legacy of farms as businesses, open vistas and local food.

Did you see that RenewLV’s Farmland Preservation Committee chair and board member, Julie Thomases had an editorial about farmland preservation published in the Morning Call?  Check it out here. 

Join us for the Easton Experience 9/13

Learn how one communitycreated economic prosperity from Focusing on Local FoodHave you been intrigued by the economic resurgence of Easton, PA?

Have you noticed that a lot of what’s happening in the way of economic development centers around local food?

Have you wondered about what you might learn from the Easton Experience that would be relevant in your neighborhood or municipality?

We’ve organized an event where you can hear from the people who helped make it happen, including:

· Mayor Sal Panto

· State Representative Bob Freeman, History of the Farmers Market

· Jared Mast, Ambassador Program and the role of GDEP

· Megan McBride, Easton Farmers Market

· Kim Kemmetz, Easton Main Street

· Tod Auman from Dundore & Heister, “Why I came to Easton”

· Ben Scholl of Scholl’s Orchard, The Farm/City Connection

· Jo Moranville, Garlic Fest, Growing a Food Festival With Care

The panel discussion will be followed by small group table discussions where you can connect with panelists and other local resources for lessons learned and advice.

There is no cost to attend this event, thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream.

However, seating is limited, so please register today at: http://tinyurl.comj6er2xf

A Letter to my People about Food by Hasshan Batts


On May 20th, I attended a community discussion, Food in the Public Square, addressing food, family and culture hosted by Northampton Community College and RenewLV at the Fowler Center on Southside of Bethlehem. The program aimed at capturing the “food stories” of the participants. Although the event attracted a number of Latino participants, I was disappointed to find that of the 120 people in attendance to address the critical issue of food, an issue that greatly impacts the Black community, I was one of three Black people present.

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I have been searching for answers, asking, “Where is the Black voice in community discussions like this that are held on important issues impacting our lives?” I befriended the organizer and brainstormed methods and creative approaches to sincerely engage people of color in the discussions from a place of value, dignity and appreciation. I scrutinized her social media reach from a social network analysis approach and decided to share the post on my social media sites, hoping to increase participation from the populations I believe are most impacted by food deserts, food insecurity, poor food quality and the inequities of resource distribution as a whole. I was surprised to find of the hundreds of local Black and Brown people on my social media contacts, none had registered to join the discussion.

I was confused and decided to consult the people in my network. I discussed the lack of participation with my closest friends and confidants. It was shared with me that community discussions around necessities such as food are considered a privilege that many Black and Brown people don’t believe they have the luxury to discuss, because they are in the world struggling to feed their families. I write with the hope of reframing the lens of discussions around food. I challenge Black, Brown, poor and oppressed people to participate: because we simply cannot afford not to contribute to the discourse around food. People are suffering greatly in our community due to food insecurity. When discussions occur that may impact decision making and policies, it is often the case that the people most impacted are silenced or ignored. In this case, that is not the situation. The previously, “under-heard” are especially welcome to attend. That being said, I believe it behooves individuals struggling to afford or access fresh, nutrient rich food to come on Sunday and share their stories. By doing so, you will be advocating for the changes that we so urgently need to see occur in our community.

Community dialogues are not just a tool of the privilege, or a tool of oppression to pacify the masses, but have the potential to engage, document and amplify the voices of the often unheard, ignored and silenced. Food Justice is a critical issue in our community, and it significantly impacts our neighbors’ lives and health outcomes. I believe an inclusive and diverse discussion around food, family and culture like this one is relevant and critical to the proper development of our community.

You may come and share, but will you really be heard? I am very familiar with and respect the methodology being used in Sunday’s community conversation, and have been asked to serve as a table host for the table discussions. The facilitation technique to be used, Art of Hosting, recognizes that our problems are too complex for a hero leader to solve and that we must all come together to craft solutions to our most difficult problems. Solutions will come as we continue to come together in safe spaces like this one and build relationships with others.

I believe that this event represents a unique opportunity for the Black voice be heard on this important topic. At this event, all personal stories shared will be audio recorded and some people will be invited to have their stories video recorded. A team of scholars will study the stories shared for themes. Additionally, some of what is shared will be captured through graphic recording, a note-taking technique that puts what is said into simple, easy to understand visuals that lend themselves to being shared on social media.

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I humbly encourage people of color and the disenfranchised to join the conversation tomorrow, this Sunday, July 24th from noon to 2 p.m. at Northampton Community College’s Fowler Center at 511 E. 3rd Street, Bethlehem. Please come and share your voice, document your story, fight for equity and advocate accountability for the basic human need for sustenance. Your participation can have a big impact throughout the Lehigh Valley.  For more information:

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Hasshan Batts was invited to be a guest blogger on this blog.

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Hasshan is a Social Worker with the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley (, Director of Training and Education for Practitioners Research and Scholarship Institute (; board member of Resurrected Community Development Corporation, founding board member of the Lehigh Valley Social Impact Center and 2015-2016 Rider-Pool Collective Impact Action Learning Fellow in Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

Hasshan Batts is also a consultant, inspirational speaker and life coach. He is a survivor, healer, son, father and friend. For more information, go to:

You can do it ALL this Sunday!


You can do it all this Sunday!

You’ve probably heard that there’s a big event going on about food at SteelStacks…   Taste: a celebration of farms and food.   This is a great opportunity to support local farms and local food between noon and 4 p.m.  Lynn Prior of Buy Fresh Buy Local has been working hard to make this a fantastic experience and we encourage you to support it.

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In concert with this event, for those who understand that there are issues with our food systems and appreciate the power of personal narrative to move mountains, RenewLV has been working with Northampton Community College to organize a community conversation on the topic of food, “Getting into the Kitchen.”

We believe that open-hearted story-telling in a safe space among people of different cultural backgrounds is critical to building relationships, increasing empathy, creating community healing and ultimately solving our most challenging community problems.  Joining us for this next discussion is a proactive step that you can take in this direction.  After past discussions like this, participants have said that they connected to people and made new friends.  Please join us on Sunday.

Please reserve your seat today at 

The aim of this discussion is to collect “Food Stories” rich with the flavors and textures of your family and culture.

The community conversation will take place from 12:15 to 2 p.m., with registration starting at noon at the NCC Fowler Center at 511 E. 3rd Street, Bethlehem — just a block from the Taste event!

You can do both.  You can do it all.

Come join us at the Fowler Center at noon, for the guided conversation about food, family, community and culture.  Then head over to the Taste event.

Our discussion is part of a six-month project, Food in the Public Square,, an exploration of the local food supply coordinated by Northampton Community College in conjunction with RenewLV, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Hispanic Center, BuyFresh,BuyLocal Lehigh Valley, and the Penn State Agricultural Extension.unnamed (1)

As such, we are collecting “Food Stories” from people like you.   We think you have a story and we’d love to hear it.

All participants will have their story captured with a audio recorder.   Some will be captured by video.  If you’re wondering what this might look like…here are three short (60-90 second) videos of Food Stories from the last event:

Marylou Seixas from the Southside of Bethlehem spoke about cross-generational cooking.

CACLV’s own Javier Torros shared his insight regarding food and cultural preservation.

As many of you know, food access and security are issues with too many people in the Lehigh Valley.  Hasshan Batts, social worker and inspirational speaker “Coach Batts” shared his thoughts on the topic.

We want to hear the “Food Stories” most precious to you, your family, your community and your culture.  After the event a team of scholars from area colleges and universities will see how your story fits within the larger intellectual conversations focusing on food policy and food justice.  That’s when the mountains can start to move.

Please join us at noon at the Fowler Center and then come to the Taste event at nearby SteelStacks.  Other food related activities you can enjoy after the discussion include cooking demonstrations, tastings, children’s activities, the screening of two movies:  “What’s on Your Plate”( 2 p.m.) and “Plant This Movie” (3:45), as well as “Food Poetics” workshops led by award-winning poet Marilyn Hazelton for both children and adults.  It’s going to be fun!

There is no charge for the community conversation, but space is limited.  Reserve your spot today:

Native Spanish-speaking individuals who feel more comfortable speaking in their native tongue will be able to share their stories in Spanish as we will have native Spanish-speaking table hosts.

Refreshments will be served, thanks to donations by Giant and Fresh Market grocery stores.

If you want to learn more about this project, go to the website at: Food in the Public Square – The Collective Human Experience

You’re Invited to a Community Conversation about Food, Family, and Culture: “Getting into the Kitchen”


Kelly Allen of Northampton Community College has asked me to reach out to you with an invitation for your participation in a free Community Conversation on Sunday, July 24th at 12:15 p.m.

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Kelly and a dynamic team of scholars and community partners invite you to an exciting Community Conversation, “Getting into the Kitchen.” This interactive conversation will take place at Northampton Community College’s Fowler Center at 511 East 3rd Street on Bethlehem’s Southside. This represents the second in a three-part conversation as part of the six-month “Food in the Public Square” project that launched in May of this year, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The aim with this project will be to collect “food stories,” rich with the flavors of “your” family and culture.

While Sunday’s event will be facilitated by academics and community organizers, the information gathered and assessed will come directly from you and the other the participants.

The goal of these conversations is to learn about and capture the food culture of the Lehigh Valley. What are the food decisions we make and how are they influenced by who or what we are? We have wonderful ethnic food traditions tied to our food, but often these meals are time consuming to prepare. This conversation, “Getting into the Kitchen” will also ask, “Who’s in the kitchen?”

To see how we have captured food stories from a previous community conversation,13325740_10153923735529093_6440831049553915667_n

Marylou Seixas, resident of South Bethlehem shares her cross-generational family food stories.  Click here to see her video story on YouTube

Rather than use our scholars as an authority to disseminate information, we are looking to you for the wisdom. The scholars create the questions to provoke discussion:

  • Given the demands of modern life and families with two working parents, how are you handling the preparation of our meals, especially those important foods or meals connected to our heritage?
  • How have your eating and cooking practices changed between childhood and adulthood? Why?
  • How do you make your food choices with regard to food preparation?
  • Do you have certain food preparation rituals? Please describe them and the roles played by your various family members.

We want to hear the stories most precious to you, your family and your culture. What you share will be recorded through audio and video. After the event, the scholars will figure out how your stories fit within the larger intellectual conversations focusing on food policy and food justice.

At the event Kelly Allen, a Northampton Community College professor who is managing this project, will explain what this project will accomplish and why this discussion is important.

You can reserve your spot at the table here .

“If you want to learn more about the Taste event, organized by Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley, go to their website.

We hope to see you Sunday, July 24th at the Fowler Center at 511 East 3rd Street (6th floor) on Bethlehem’s Southside. We want to hear your story.

“If you want to learn more about this project: follow this link to the Food in the Public Square website

We hope to see you Sunday, May 20th at the Fowler Center at 511 East 3rd Street (6th floor) on Bethlehem’s Southside. We want to hear your story.

Here’s the whole day’s schedule:

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