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Lancaster City Alliance Blog

Anne Williams: Behind the Scenes Mural at Robert Fulton Elementary School

Anne Williams, the Director of Communication at Lancaster City Alliance,  is in love with the bright, bold “Behind the Scenes” mural created for Robert Fulton Elementary School by artist Ophelia Chambliss. So many details in this beautiful mural! The assortment of windows, doors, and rooftops signifies elements of diversity and variety that come together to make up a whole. The street names depict the boundaries of the school neighborhood, and the fish, books, and other items in the windows were inspired by students. Stop by for a closer look soon!

Jeremy Young: View from Trinity Church Steeple Mural

Lancaster City Alliance Community & Economic Development Manager Jeremy Young has a real love for the history of Lancaster City and so he is drawn to this Grant Street mural on the 200 block of E.Grant Street between Lime and Shippen Streets – “The View from Trinity Steeple” by artist Steve Wilson.
The “view” is from the bell tower in the steeple of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. The star at the top of the mural is representative of the star that Charles Demuth painted in the bell tower, which is still visible today.

Neighborhood Connector: Jeff Tischer

Name: Jeff Tischer
Neighborhood Group: SoWe

Your work as one of the leaders in your Neighborhood Group is important because:

I hesitate to use the word “leader.” I’m not. I’m just a person who saw an opportunity to help and contribute my skills. I think it’s a good example of doing what you can and playing to your strengths. But I’m glad to be a part of SoWe and I’m thrilled to see the impact SoWe is making in the community.

Challenges that you are facing in your neighborhood right now:

I think resident apathy is the biggest concern. We are getting a lot of recognition from City Hall and non-profit organizations around the city. But SoWe residents are still not connecting as fast as I would like. When we have programs like free porch lights and there are struggles to find participants, that is an issue. Now that we have so many resources behind us, we need to do a better job connecting with the people we are working for.

The other big challenge is perception of how the neighborhood is changing. As I said, we’re attracting outside attention, but not all of it is the type we are looking for. I think the goal of SoWe is to make the neighborhood better for those who are already here, not to fix things up so that investors can come in and then price people out of their homes. I am worried that investors will look at our work as an indicator that they can swoop in. And there are already indicators that this is starting to happen. That concerns me quite a bit. I don’t want the character of this neighborhood to change.

What are some of the rewards from being a neighborhood connector in your Group:

Meeting all the wonderful people living in my neighborhood. I’ve lived here for 11 years, but before SoWe I was pretty insular. Getting to know those around me – and count them as friends – has been so great on so many levels.

Can you give a specific example of how your neighborhood has worked together?

I think the entire SoWe initiative is a great example of the neighborhood working together. We saw a need due to systemic neglect and together we are making an impact on this entire neighborhood. We pulled residents and community partners together and built upon their individual strengths to make change. And we are succeeding.

I think a tangible example of that would be the Block Party. Seeing all of these people come together to share and celebrate made for a great day. I’m excited to see that grow over the next few years.

What is your secret to meeting new neighbors and welcoming them into the community?

Forcing myself to be more outgoing – which believe it or not is against my nature. I like to take cues from people like Emerson Sampaio who are just so warm and gregarious.

Favorite way to spend a day with family, or friends in Lancaster City:

That really depends on the mood. Sometimes it’s sitting around a table kibitzing over a glass of beer, sometimes it’s my girlfriend and I taking our dog to the Buchanan Park dog park.

 

 

Neighborhood Connector: Andrew Whalen

Name:  Andrew Whalen
Neighborhood Group: Northeast Neighbors United

Your work as one of the leaders in your Neighborhood Group is important because:

There are so many opportunities to get connected to all that’s happening in the City and with the people in our neighborhood. I help neighbors reconnect with each other through events and discover that City living is much better when you experience it together.

Challenges that you are facing in your neighborhood right now:

We are facing two challenges. One is litter. Even with a handful of good neighbors working overtime to make a difference, the problem does not go away. It’s everywhere!

The other is finding the best way to reach out to our neighbors. Despite a strong presence on social media, there is no substitution for face to face conversations. Unfortunately, we are busy people who have forgotten how to be neighborly.

What are some of the rewards from being a neighborhood connector in your Group:

I get excited when my neighbors get excited about adopting a block, planting a tree, decorating for the holidays, planning a house party, helping out a neighbor or supporting a local business. The biggest reward is when others, who share my love for the neighborhood, step up and create a better place.

Can you give a specific example of how your neighborhood has worked together?

National Night Out is a BIG deal in our neighborhood. Everyone wants to help! We get volunteers to serve hot dogs, facepaint or lead game time. We have many neighbors who are involved in organizations that serve the community — I love when they come out and share all about it with their neighbors.

What is your secret to meeting new neighbors and welcoming them into the community?

We live on a busy street and see lots of people coming and going. If I’m working in my yard, I’ll just look up and say hello. If I’m grilling, I’ll offer to throw another burger on the grill — a couple of neighbors have taken me up on that! In the winter, it may be as simple as helping someone shovel their sidewalk.

Favorite way to spend a day with family, or friends in Lancaster City:

We have many favorite places we love to visit as a family and with our friends. We usually start our Saturday morning at Central Market, weather permitting we spend the rest of our morning in our yard reading or gardening, hopefully we will have dinner at our favorite Himalayan Curry and Grill (or one of the many stops on a Taste the World Tour), and we like to end our evening with a walk around the neighborhood.

 

Neighborhood Connector: Sue Mackey

Name:  Sue Mackey
Neighborhood Group: 200 Block of N. Mulberry Street

Your work as one of the leaders in your Neighborhood Group is important because: 

By getting involved in my neighborhood has allowed us to create a sense of community and genuinely caring for those in our neighborhood.  Neighbors helping and caring for each other and taking pride in where we live.

Challenges that you are facing in your neighborhood right now: 

We have wonderful home owners, and renters who live on the 200 block of N. Mulberry Street.  We have some wonderful landlords who are attentive to their properties and renters, but, our biggest obstacle is that we do have landlords who are disconnected to the neighborhood and we are trying our best to include them in our Mulberry Street activities.   Our street has greatly improved since the change to a two-way street and our adoption of our block.  A warmth, and sense of caring is evident, and people seem happier.

What are some of the rewards from being a neighborhood connector in your Group:

Being a former elementary school teacher it makes me smile when I realize that I have gotten to know the kids on our block and they will come up and knock on the door to say hi or ask if they should water plants. (usually popsicles are a good reward for watering).  The bottom line is neighbors are getting to know each other and enjoying each other.  When planning our block party sponsored by the City we had 11 people on the street volunteer to be part of the up-start committee.  That is so amazing!

Can you give a specific example of how your neighborhood has worked together?

We have worked together to clean up our street, plant flowers (sometimes tough when we hit rock or roots ¼ inches down), helping neighbors to shovel in the winter, and just checking to see if people are okay.  We usually have a little get together after clean-up, and often Halloween or other pop-up get togethers.  Last Christmas we did a Christmas luminary on our street on Christmas Eve and everyone pitched in to light and put out luminaria. I think people are starting to realize, you can just count on your neighbors if you need them.

What is your secret to meeting new neighbors and welcoming them into the community? 

People just go up to new neighbors and introduce themselves, get their e-mails and phone numbers, include them in our block directory, tell them about our private Facebook page for our 200 block and make sure we invite them to whatever the block is planning.  Sometimes, that is hard to contact apartment renters because often the main doors are locked but we continue to work on that and neighbors are very receptive.

Favorite way to spend a day with family, or friends in Lancaster City:

What can I say?  We love Lancaster City and there is so much to do, see, and, fortunately or unfortunately, eat.  Cultural activities, restaurants, musical events, quiet parks, great biking and walking, shopping, or just enjoying our backyard is all that Lancaster City offers. How lucky are we to live here. All cities have issues and some handle them better than others.  I think we have a city that strives to improve.   We love City living!  Lancaster City Rocks!

 

 

Neighborhood Connector: Luis D. Torres

Name:  Luis D. Torres
Neighborhood Group: Southeast Lancaster City/South Duke Str Corridor (Elm Street Project) – Atlantic Avenue/North Street Neighborhood

Your work as one of the leaders in your Neighborhood Group is important because: 

It allows me the unique, yet high level of responsibility of being an advocate of the youth and families that we serve to bring about lasting improvements to a community/neighborhood.

Challenges that you are facing in your neighborhood right now:

Poverty                     Abandoned Buildings       Subpar housing conditions

Trash in Streets      Poor lighting                       High Speed traffic (S Duke Street)

Alleys                        Dropout Rate                      Post-secondary Opportunity

Sidewalk safety     Underused Open Space  Lack of Public Art (CPTED)

Positive Youth Programming (we currently serve up 100 kids a night at The Mix at Arbor Place during the school year yet the need for more structured activities and program space are needed to accommodate the increasing number of school-aged youth in our extended neighborhood.)

What are some of the rewards from being a neighborhood connector in your Group:

Being able to advocate for a productive and strong linkages between the 3 P’s (Place, People, Partnerships).

Can you give a specific example of how your neighborhood has worked together?

  1. Hosting of several community discussions and events dealing with a variety of subjects – such as Community Policing, Trash Pick-up & sub-par housing conditions allowed by absentee landlords – The discussions have laid down the foundation for the implementation of an action plan.
  2. Able to represent South East Lancaster/South Duke Street Corridor efforts via the Elm Street Steering committee and assist with programming and sustainability efforts through a collaborative effort.

What is your secret to meeting new neighbors and welcoming them into the community?

Quite the opposite – I consider it a blessing and privilege to be able to interact with our neighbors – it is I that am being welcomed into a neighbor’s circle.  If I pride myself in being an advocate, then I must listen to every concern that my neighbor shares with me. —- but on my part – to always be the same fun-loving person and to acknowledge every person’s unique story.

Favorite way to spend a day with family, or friends in Lancaster City:

If it involves laughter then I’m all in…
In Lancaster City  I would have to say that I simply just enjoy interacting with people

  • The Musser Park Old-Fashioned 4th of July Celebration is always a must
  • My wife & I enjoy the plethora of local food & cultural restaurants – Sa La Thai, El Friquitin, La Costena, Grub n’ Stuff & Rachel’s Creperie among others.
  • Driving around and trying to find the Dulce de Coco (coconut candy) guy is a game that my kids and I enjoy – the best sweet treat in Lancaster.
  • Watching the Roberto Clemente Softball League’s annual “World Softball Classic” at Culliton Park.
  • Checking out the happenings of The Mix at Arbor Place (National Night Out Block Party, Soccer, Basketball, Afterschool Programming, Tennis, etc)
  • Checking out my favorite artists, Lourdes Torres-Shepard & Kathy Blouch, work on first Friday’s at Annex 24.
  • And my family is always drawn to the shops of BUiLDiNG CHARACTER… We love that place!
  • ending the day with coffee from Perkup Coffee Company

 

 

Neighborhood Connector: Audrey Skilton

Name:  Audrey Skilton
Neighborhood Group:  SoWe

Your work as one of the leaders in your Neighborhood Group is important because: 

We want the neighborhood to be cohesive, safe, pleasant, welcoming.

Challenges that you are facing in your neighborhood right now: 

The perception of crime, trash on the streets, lack of connection between neighbors, poverty and under/unemployment.

What are some of the rewards from being a neighborhood connector in your Group:   

I have gotten to know so many of my neighbors that I didn’t know before. We feel now that we are “somebody”—the city government and many city residents and stakeholders recognize the SoWe name. We are “lighting up the neighborhood” with free porch lights. We have the Bike Ambassadors. We’re teaming up with Price Elementary in school programs.

Can you give a specific example of how your neighborhood has worked together?

In the Blizzard of 2016, the plow couldn’t get down some streets, and residents went out with shovels and a few snow blowers and cleared entire blocks by hand.

What is your secret to meeting new neighbors and welcoming them into the community?

The SoWe Neighborhood Connections Committee is working on forming a kind of “Welcome Wagon,” with information packets and welcoming gifts for new neighbors. Our Lancaster Southwest Community Facebook group,  is a great way to get to know neighbors that you might not see in your daily travels.

Favorite way to spend a day with family, or friends in Lancaster City: 

First Friday and Music Friday.

 

 

 

Neighborhood Connector: Miriam Ortega-Brown

Name: Miriam Ortega-Brown
Neighborhood Group: West Lancaster Jewels

Your work as one of the leaders in your Neighborhood Group is important because:

We are a newly formed group of neighbors who have a wish to connect with our neighbors more and to improve our area. We wish for the city to address the security issues, blighted areas, and the ever-growing challenge of finding a parking space. This position (elections will occur in the fall) is important because neighbors are coming out to meetings looking for connectivity and change. Our area is ready to take action and to make improvements.

Challenges that you are facing in your neighborhood right now:

Many issues have come up during our initial meetings. Safety and security appears to be paramount as other areas of the city have patrol and/or security cameras to deter crime. We have neither, which leaves our area as a haven for criminal activity. Also, certain blocks in our area have become neglected and neighboring residents are fed up with the litter, trash and blight that surrounds them. As soon as we are established we hope to follow in the footsteps of SoWe and apply for grants to beautify all corners of the West Jewels areas.

What are some of the rewards from being a neighborhood connector in your Group:

Oh, my goodness, there are so many rewards and pearls of joy that have come from connecting with my neighbors. And the regulars who come to the meetings would agree that this group has connected them in so many ways to people who have lived on their block for years and were just never acquainted. Plus, we have had several police officers to our meetings to answer questions and clarify laws, which has also connected us to those who protect and serve our immediate community. In addition, there are so many talented residents who live in our quadrant who encompass skills and the drive needed to propel the group forward. For instance, Julien Godbarge who resides on Ruby, a consultant and business owner of GEM Consulting Solutions, will assist us in strategizing and implementing our goals to propel us to the next level. Another talent, Artist and illustrator Justin Jones, who created our logo, will be working with Lancaster Arts Joanna Davis to implement functional art that will slow traffic at the intersection by Crystal Park, another issue in the neighborhood. I can’t leave out Jenna Dougherty owner of the Pita Pit who has a ton of drive and who with Janae Algires, myself and LaShonda Whitaker of Whitaker Childcare formed a gardening group to beautify the 600 block of Columbia Ave. and parts of Ruby Street. Also, retired but active residents, Tom Cumrod & Andy & Ellen Berfond, of Clock Towers have loaned their time and talents by hosting meetings at Clock Towers. And Andy took words and ideas from our neighbors about what they thought about our area and crafted our mission statement.

Can you give a specific example of how your neighborhood has worked together?

The biggest reward came the day of our first block party and members came out to help in every and any capacity needed. Even neighbors who never attended a meeting pitched in and moved traffic barriers, cleaned up after the event, painted little faces, and hung unwilling banners. It was wonderful to see us all come together for one common good. Even Judge Adam Witkonis stood longer than necessary grilling hot dogs on that humid Saturday. All who attended were happy with the music stylings of Big Boy Brass who were friends of neighbor, Ian Lowe. Ian, with friend George, operated our only game and gifted every child with a basketball. And I can’t leave out Casey Flores who made it all possible and Lauren who added the final touches with her grill and sound system just to name a few.

What is your secret to meeting new neighbors and welcoming them into the community?

Good old fashion civility, just saying hello to people and listening is key. I could go on and on about my three kids but listening offers much more insight about my neighbors. For example, I’ve lived across Mr. C for 17 years and I thought I knew him, but last week I lingered a little longer and found out that he used to walk to work at the clock factory (now the clock towers) just two blocks away. He did this every day, except for the two tours of service in Korea and during WW II. Listening is key to building relationships.

In addition, Betsy Osman has piloted the “Welcome Kit” where she personally knocks on new neighbor’s doors and provides flyers and information about the city and our area as well as a baked goodie. We’re trying to push this out and have “Welcome” leaders on other blocks.

Favorite way to spend a day with family, or friends in Lancaster City:

My husband, Kyle, of 18 years and I and our three boys like to spend time at local events. Most recently we attended San Juan Bautista’s 35th annual church festival. We’re members and try to attend the popular festival annually. This year the church had unlimited jumps from a bouncy house inflatable company. The fabulous Latino dishes from several different countries are also a big draw, as well as the live music acts. It also brings neighbors, family and friends together as we see old familiar faces once again. It brings a great source of local pride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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