Phoenixville Area Transition
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Initiative Group Meeting

Location TBDPHOENIXVILLE AREA TRANSITION COMMUNITY

Meeting Notes

Sunday, September 2, 2018, 3-6 PM

Community Arts Phoenixville, 207 Bridge Street

Present: Amy Atlee, Joel Bartlett, Adrian Bowden, Sandra Boyer, Jane Dugdale (facilitator), Shanlee Fisher, Jean Flood, Wesley Frazier, Chris Goulian (note-taker), Melissa Greer, Gwynne Hagee, Kris Keller, Larken Kennedy, Lisa Longo, Koshy Matthews, Rodney Platt, Katie Tandon, Sherry Wildfeuer, Thomasina Webb Wilson.


Welcome and Introductions 


Jane Dugdale opened the meeting at 3:20.  After a round of introductions, she led the group in a mindful consideration of the new PAT website “Welcome” and mission statement. Central to the mission is (re)establishing a connection to nature and to one another.  See www.pat.community


Reports from summer activities


Orion Communities: Kris Keller, the director of Orion Communities reported on the current state of affordable housing. She shared Orion’s Fall 2018 newsletter; Orion is working with the Phoenixville Council for Affordable Housing.  Units under $1000/month decreased by 80; units above $1000 increased by 750. Kris provided a brief history of the formation of the Council in 2017 (monthly meetings of 20+ people). A year-long process resulted in an understanding that working people can’t afford to live in Phoenixville. Affordable housing defined as spending no more than 30% of monthly income on housing, which rules out a person working at Molly Maguire’s for $10/hour. Ripple effects of public transportation. Council presented findings at the end of 2017; Borough of Phoenixville adopted Council’s recommendations. Kris spoke about public policy, developers, different types of banking. Phoenixville is expecting 5000 more people to move into the borough in the next five years. Two sites in Phoenixville are adding affordable housing, but these sites don’t address the anticipated needs. Aim is to help people understand the need in Phoenixville and help address solutions to meet the need. Kris asked what can we do to help make bus travel more appealing (we’re down from three bus lines down to two). Plans to add a train line (on the existing freight line), but that line will only stop in Phoenixville, King of Prussia, and Norristown. Transportation needs for some people commuting in and out of Phoenixville require 3 buses and 4 hours. Read the Orion newsletter!


St. Peter’s Church: Amy Atlee reviewed some of this summer’s activities at St. Peter's, including a summer environmental ministry program for children in lieu of the regular Sunday School curriculum. The focus of the program was nature, the spirit, and wonder.  Some examples: Building and planting a raised-bed garden, composting, connecting with the universe trough yoga, ready-set-recycle, leave-no-trace trash collection walk. Children ranged in age from 2-9 years old. Also, Koshy Matthews invited Amy to start a monthly yoga class beginning in October. The class will be a meeting of eastern and western traditions and will be called, “Yoga For The Soul”: relation between yoga and meditation, mindfulness, and movement. How do we work to build our inner strength and keep the furnaces stoked, how do we stay strong and resilient, feel the spirit moving in us? The class will be an opportunity to make new friends and is open to all in the Phoenixville community.


Soup Group: Thomasina Webb presented the Soup Group’s voting posters project.  Women’s march of 2017 led to her joining two groups. First, Chester County Moving Forward. Second, group of concerned women meeting each month over soup. What grew out of this was posters project, using military’s upside-down flag symbol as distress call. Began crafting ideas and language for different posters for 13 weeks leading up to the election. The goals for the project are to empower, inspire, motivate, and provide hope. The project is non-partisan, though it is against current partisan politics practiced in Washington. Posters have been posted all around Phoenixville, Spring City, Pottstown area. Lastly, crafting a mission statement: morality, kindness, and justice. Developing a website. You can download posters and print them (cheaply at UPS). Posters are on the PAT website, under initiatives. Lisa Longo: I can help with a digital campaign. Also, consider making lawn posters. Chris Goulian: Consider linking the project to a voter registration drive, especially for younger potential voters.


Pxv Regional Comprehensive Plan Workshop was on August 29; Jane announced that a copy of the report is on the information table. It addresses Land Use, Environment, Energy, Housing, Economy, Facilities, Open Space, Transportation, and Culture.  The next meeting of the PRCP is Wed., Sept. 26, 7 pm, at Schuylkill Township building


Pxv Area Time Bank has a fundraiser at Iron Hill Brewery Monday Sept. 10; Jane passed out copies of the coupon.


Altair Eco-Village: Joel Bartlett discussed with the group the Altair community. America is about community, but isolation in suburbs and mindset of rugged individualism has led to a weakened understanding of community. Concept of co-housing communities is pushing back: extensive common facilities (but not sharing incomes the way some other intentional communities do). The goal of such communities is to be sustainable at every level; they won’t work without the social component. Joel recently visited largest eco-village in Holland. Social component is now more important to them than sustainable energies or agriculture. Altair is creating a model of a sustainable community. 35 units are the goal; homes will cost $250-300K. Trying to acquiring more land to address density issues raised by the township. Website is www.altairecovillage.org. Altair sponsors regular conversations about sustainable and alternative energy, healthcare, utilities, architectural presentations, de-cluttering, and conversations with other eco-communities. Joel presented a poster of the concept and map. Invested over $600K so far. On board are architects, developer, and builder. This is a model that we believe will spark other eco-communities in the region. Open discussions held every third Sunday; check the website.


Ready for 100%: Katie Tandon reviewed the “Ready for 100%” campaign in Charlestown Township and the Charlestown Day scheduled for September 15. She and others recently met at Jane’s house, watched the movie, “Catching the Sun,” discussing beforehand how to push forward legislation for Charlestown Township as well as the Open Space initiative. The film was excellent and highlighted the economic feasibility of embracing solar power. Partnering with the Green Team and others. There is a planning meeting this Friday at 6:30 at Katie’s studio. Next Saturday, Rise For Climate march in West Chester at 2:00 pm. Lisa Longo: Important to adopt effective talking points that avoids language of “climate change” as a trigger points. More effective to approach from an economic standpoint, for example, and focus on building with renewable energy. Jane: All the townships are encouraged to pass the resolution, “Ready for 100%,” which is sponsored by Sierra Club. 


Green Earth Festival: Jane announced that the Green Earth Festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 29, 9-1 pm next to the Farmers Market. 


Soltane 30th Anniversay: Adrian Bowen, with Jane, reviewed with the group the calendar and the networking page on www.pat.community website. Working on having Phoenixville Chamber of Commerce and many other sites add link to PAT on their websites. The goal here is to promote one another, not necessarily endorse one another. Melissa Greer: We want to promote shared values, too, and explore how to network and connect so that we are having common conversations and aligning our efforts by raising awareness in our various organizations. Adrian: Soltane's 30th anniversary celebration is on Saturday, September 29, starting at 3:00 pm. Music, food and drink, and much more. Please register for free event.


“Tomorrow”: Rodney Platt reported on the upcoming showing of film, "Tomorrow," at Colonial Theater on Monday, October 15. Very positive film about climate change and serves to empower viewers to get involved in making a change. Transition Towns is featured in the film as a way to reduce carbon footprint and effectively address climate change. With $8 ticket price, we should be able to cover our costs. Response to first viewing was very positive.


Diversity in Action: Gwynne Hagee announced Diversity in Action's Multicultural Festival at the Phoenixville Area Middle School on November 3 from 2:00-5:00 pm. Gwynne shared pamphlets and read the group’s mission statement. Diversity in Action meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Also, on the upcoming 4 Saturdays (September 8, 15, 22, and 29), morning dialogue circles are scheduled at St. Peter’s Church. The discussions (from 9:45 am to noon) will be on education, immigration, housing, and voice.


Transition Towns update: Jane, Adrian, and Rodney recently underwent training via Transition US. New training, called LAUNCH, starts September 20. We’re invited to join mid-Atlantic retreat on Saturday, October 6. The national online summit is scheduled for October 27. 


Wrapping Up


The group agreed to schedule the next meeting for Sunday, October 7, at 3:00 pm, at the Community Arts Phoenixville, and subsequent meetings possibly on the first Sunday of each month.


Lisa Longo: Lisa is working with Josh Fox (“Gas Land”), who wants to do his new show at the Colonial Theater. His new live solo performance is “The Truth Has Changed.” No date yet. “Gas Land” is about fracking and the impact on the US. There was no objection to the suggestion that PAT co-sponsor the event.


Adjourned (for refreshments and socializing) at 5:24.  The last conversation ended at 6:30 pm.

Earlier Event: August 29
Regional Comprehensive Plan Meeting
Later Event: September 5
Mosaic Art Show