No More Wednesday Deadlines for Patti Clymer

Patti & Beth

Patti Clymer and Beth Gross

By Beth Gross

That friendly person subscribers and advertisers would meet at the Swarthmorean office for the past 24 years ended her last day at the paper on Thursday, January 28. Patti was office coordinator and staff writer. But in a small office, staff members do just about everything, and she did.

Miraculously she kept our decrepit label machine going for all those years. It was on its last legs when she began working at the old office in the building that now houses Bamboo Bistro on Dartmouth Avenue. She could intuit when the machine was going to act up, and she nearly always managed to get it going again.

She organized our major moves: from the Dartmouth Ave. office, to the alley next to the Post Office, and a few years later to 112 Park Avenue (in the former Rudi’s Restaurant).

On Thursdays she hauled the papers to the Media and Chester post offices, then back to the Swarthmore Post Office to be mailed. She became friendly with those U.S. Post Office officials, who changed their procedures inexplicably with little notice, and she handled her dealings with them with great diplomacy.

Despite blizzards, ice storms, floods, power outages, and last minute front-page story delays, the papers were always at their designated post offices on time, because she was determined that readers would receive them in their Friday mail. Whenever I, as the former editor, was out of town, I had no qualms leaving the office in her able hands.

Every work day, she went to the round bank with the Swarthmorean’s deposits. Thus she took the First Keystone embezzlement news hard, because she knew all the bad-gal tellers and could furnish background details for the article.

Patti and I share November birthdays, and decades ago we realized we were both partial to chocolate pudding pies. Every year I cooked one as her gift. This year the pie I made for her failed to jell, though I don’t think that is the reason she is going. Rather, she intends to spend more time with her two young granddaughters at the Jersey Shore, as well as her new daughter-in-law, who lives close to Swarthmore.

When Patti first came to the Swarthmorean, she seemed to know just about everyone in town, having worked at the Swim Club for many years and as director of the Swarthmore Community Center, where she became friendly with its patrons, both young and old. That knowledge — her village memory — turned out to be a tremendous asset to the paper.

Patti also has an incredible memory for numbers and dates. So when we needed to know (before the paper was digitized in the library) when the Ingleneuk fire or big blizzards occurred or when the new Co-op was built, she could pinpoint the years with ease.

We wish her productive and happy years with her family, both nuclear and extended, and her high school, college, and local friends (“the usual suspects”). Also, we hear that the Swarthmore Library may be the lucky place where she plans to volunteer.

Her contributions to the paper have been inestimable. We will miss her dearly.

Stars Fall in Swarthmore for YPTW Fundraiser

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YPTW Alumni and Strath Haven High School grads (l. to r.) Josh Young, Brian Lowdermilk and Marcus Stevens are three of the featured performers at next week’s “Come Home to YPTW” concert. See calendar listing for Wed., Feb. 3.

Young People’s Theatre Workshop (YPTW) will host “Come Home to YPTW,” a concert featuring alumni star performers on Wednesday, February 3, at 7:30 p.m., at the Players Club of Swarthmore.

The event will feature a performance by Josh Young, a Tony nominee for Jesus Christ Superstar, who recently completed a Broadway run in which he originated the leading role in the musical Amazing Grace. Actor and director Marcus Stevens who starred in Forbidden Broadway in New York will also appear, and award-winning composer Brian Lowdermilk will participate as a composer and instrumentalist.

Additional performers include Cory Wade Hindorff, a finalist on TV’s “America’s Next Top Model,” regional musical theater artist Jenna Pastuzsek, off-Broadway performer Michael Jansen, longtime PCS favorite Liz Seymour and recording artist Courtney Jansen.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Proceeds benefit YPTW’s spring production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a technically expensive production that requires a flying car.

For tickets or more information, visit Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for a complimentary pre-show dessert.

Sustaining Swarthmore College’s Green Commitment

Aurora Winslade finished 2015 in Hawaii, and started 2016 in Swarthmore at Swarthmore College’s new sustainability director. She spent the last few years designing consumer energy efficiency programs for Hawaii Energy, a state program. In 2012, she launched the sustainability strategy for the multi-campus University of Hawaii system, where she helped develop a degree program that involved at-risk youth in organic farming and study and established the first systemwide UH Board of Regents Sustainability Policy. Winslade had come to Hawaii from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she became the university’s first sustainability director upon graduation, after an undergraduate career at Santa Cruz which involved substantial environmental activism. She grew up in California and Galveston, Texas. She’s a surfer, not a skier, but she has nonetheless settled happily this winter in a home in Morganwood in Swarthmore. The Swarthmorean interviewed her a day before the recent snowstorm, which she anticipated enthusiastically on behalf of her 7 and 2 year-old sons, who had never really seen snow.

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Aurora Winslade

What are your priorities as you begin to find your feet? My first priority is to get to know the community, build relationships, and understand Swarthmore College’s history. I’m a facilitator; I’m here to help the college community establish sustainability goals and turn them into actions. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and ideas. For instance, already we are moving ahead on a carbon charge — an internal fee structure where we will “bill ourselves” for our carbon emissions, paying into a fund that will help reduce emissions. We haven’t gotten into the mechanics, but I’d like to see at least part of it as a revolving fund, where we loan the money to ourselves in order to implement projects, and pay ourselves back to create a steady flow of capital.

The facilities staff here has been clever and thoughtful at finding creative, low-cost ways to reduce energy use. But there hasn’t been an opportunity to invest in larger scope projects. By having a fund, you start to make that possible. One big thing is transitioning from our heat plant system, which is high in carbon emissions, towards high efficiency boilers and water heaters.

I also have priorities to expand student, staff, and faculty engagement with sustainability, implement the Environmental Sustainability Framework [ESF], reduce our waste, and establish goals and associated metrics to track progress.

How is Swarthmore College doing with regard to sustainability? The college has done exceptionally well in its energy management. I was just talking with an outside consultant, Sightlines, which has worked with hundreds of colleges and they gave us high marks for our energy management. They just completed a national study finding that many campuses are really increasing their energy intensity per square foot, not to mention total energy use. It’s surprising and worrisome. But they put Swarthmore College in the top 10 or 20% among peer institutions for energy use reduction.

The ESF, approved by the Board of Managers, is a really excellent foundation on which to build. It’s impressive how much [her predecessor] Laura Cacho, the sustainability committee, facilities and everyone involved made progress. I’m still getting my mind wrapped around the College’s campus master plan for development [which prioritizes sustainability in new projects].

How involved in sustainability are the students at Swarthmore? This is a passionate, engaged student body. Our sustainability coordinator Melissa Tier works with 26 students who are Green Advisors here, doing education in dorms and managing the campus-wide composting program. We also look to coordinate with students, whether they’re doing projects in their classes or summer internships, managing the Good Foods student garden in collaboration with the Lang Center, or proposing ideas for solar energy generation on campus. There’s a very strong social justice mission and passion that is shared broadly amongst the student body.

What do you know about the Mountain Justice group [which protested last spring for the college to divest itself of fossil fuels investments]? I look forward to meeting with them; it’s really important to hear everyone’s perspective. The Board has said without question that they are not going to divest from fossil fuels. That’s not on the table, but the Board has instituted a fossil fuel-free investment fund as an alternative for donors. It will be part of my job to let people know this is an option. I’m also focusing on creating funding for carbon charge [in the college’s direct energy usage]. My hope is we can get to carbon neutrality before 2035, the year that we’ve committed to in our Climate Action Plan.

I will be on the Social Responsibility Committee of the Board; I sat in on SR’s last meeting via Skype. Carbon charge was discussed; they were enthused about it, and that was handed to me with the message “Make sure you move forward on this.”

Do you have a policy role for the college? Absolutely. It’s more of a recommending role, and reporting on what’s working, why or why not, whether there are policy solutions … [sometimes] policies need to be instituted so we can say “This is how we do business.” Greening operations is important, but the bigger impact is involving students who are the leaders of tomorrow in the process. We can all make change at different levels in different institutions; we can all have influence.

Floating Photographer

Question: What did you do with your snow day today?
(Asked on Monday, January 25.)
By Chris Reynolds

In Swarthmore Town Center:

FP Margaret 1-29

I bugged my brother, and we had a big snowball fight.

Margaret Atkins
Academy of Notre Dame

FP Jake and Casen 1-29

We tried to build a snow fort, but it failed. Maybe it was too icy.

Jake Booth (left)
Strath Haven High School

We walked around, and I took photos. And we put my GoPro camera in a snowball and threw it around.

Casen Connell
Strath Haven High School

FP ava and ro 1-29We went sledding and played Clue.

Rowe Crawford
Strath Haven Middle School

And we made a snowman, and now we’re taking a picture in these helmets that our mother used to make us wear for sledding.

Ava Crawford (left)
Strath Haven Middle School

FP Emma and Paige 1-29

I slept late and went sledding at Swarthmore College.

Emma Lee (left)
Strath Haven High School

I shoveled snow in the morning and went sledding with Emma. And we had a big snowball fight – every man for himself.

Paige Gillespie
Strath Haven High School

At the sledding hill at Strath Haven High School:

FP Dana and Maia 1-29

I played video games and came here to sled with my friend. I’m happy even though I’m frowning.

Dana Peterson (left)
School in Rose Valley

I went snowshoeing with my mom at Ridley Creek State Park and it nearly killed me!

Maia Simmons
School in Rose Valley

FP Isaac, Isaiah Bella 1-29

Isaiah: I’m enthusiastic about Legos, so I was playing with them for a long time.

Bella: I played with my Barbie.

Isaac: And don’t forget about sledding!

Triplets (left to right) Isaac, Isaiah and Bella Peeler
Nether Providence Elementary School


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Elizabeth Deforest Balcom and Nora Lowry Cothren

Nora Lowry Cothren and Elizabeth Deforest Balcom were married on October 17, at the Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia. Joseph Cella, a friend of the couple, served as the officiant. Emma Lowry Cothren, a 2004 graduate of Strath Haven High School, served as maid of honor for her sister. Benjamin Balcom, served as best man and Jennifer Ludwig was maid of honor for Elizabeth (Liz). Other attendants included Carl Marissen of Swarthmore.

Nora, a 2007 graduate of Strath Haven High, is the daughter of former Swarthmore residents, Susan Lowry and Michael Cothren. Susan and Michael currently divide their time between Philadelphia and Sedona, Arizona. Liz is the daughter of Sarah Pearson of Lewiston, Maine, and Don Balcom of Boston, Mass.

The brides are both graduates of Smith College, where they met. Nora currently works for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Liz, who received a master’s in nonprofit leadership from the University of Pennsylvania last year, is a development officer at Bryn Mawr College.

The couple, who honeymooned on the Rivera Maya, lives in Philadelphia and will soon move into a new home they just purchased in the city.

Swarthmore Crime at a Five-Year Low

Do you feel safer? If you live in Swarthmore or Rutledge you should.

At the January 11 meeting of Swarthmore Borough Council, Police Chief Brian Craig noted that fewer crimes were reported during 2015 than for any year since 2010 in the two boroughs his department serves. Crime was down nearly 11% from 2014.

Among 157 crimes reported in 2015, nearly half were burglary (14 incidents) and theft (60). There were 33 reports of vandalism, 29 liquor law violations, 24 disorderly conduct citations, 10 DUIs, and 19 reports of fraud, which Chief Craig notes were mostly reports of telephone scams. (For a copy of the full crime report, e-mail

For 2014 (according to the most recent data available from the FBI) Swarthmore and Rutledge had 12.3 property crimes per 1,000 inhabitants, the second-lowest among neighboring towns (Nether Provdence recorded 9.6.). Swarthmore’s rate of burglary is lowest among this group, Craig said. “We think that’s in part because of the vacant property request program, which was established in 2006,” Chief Craig said. The program encourages Swarthmore residents to advise police of vacations or other prolonged absences from their homes; officers will check the house regularly for signs of trouble.

Aging-in-Place: Living Here

This is the third in a series of four articles on the findings and recommendations of the Swarthmore Aging-in-Place Task Force. The author is Linton Stables, a member of the Task Force. This week he addresses Living here: recommendations on housing.

Housing is — along with healthcare — the major concern that people have as they plan for their future in Swarthmore Borough. Cost, accessibility, access to shopping and medical offices, safety, home maintenance, and proximity to friends and family are all factors in deciding whether to continue living in Swarthmore or to move elsewhere. As reported last week, Task Force transportation recommendations are heavily weighted toward walking. Realistically, to make walking more attractive the distances between home and destinations will have to be shorter.

The creation of a range of affordable housing options near downtown is a long-term goal for the borough, adding low-maintenance, affordable townhomes and apartments within a half-mile of the train station. Also, the borough should encourage the establishment of one or more senior living communities, such as a naturally-occurring retirement community (NORC), an intentional community (cohousing), or a group assisted-living home like a Green House(r). Just outside of the Town Center but still within the half-mile distance to the train station, additional housing and parking options could be accommodated in apartments above stores and professional offices. The Task Force heard from a number of people who are looking for such options in order to stay in Swarthmore.

Others, however, still want to continue living in their family home. Barriers such as school taxes and maintenance costs need to be addressed. Making those homes more accessible — perhaps with a bathroom and bedroom on the ground floor — may also be necessary. Paying for taxes, maintenance, and remodeling can be expensive, so offering the possibility of a mother-in-law apartment (accessory dwelling unit) in a home or a separate building such as a garage might offer additional income or a place for a caregiver or the senior person him/herself to live. This could even be done on a temporary basis using “granny pods,” a variation on the “tiny house” phenomenon. Likewise, in some locations in town, changing the zoning regulations to allow the conversion of large homes into apartments or condominiums would allow seniors to continue to live near friends in Swarthmore.

The Task Force recommends taking on one of the cost factors directly, supporting a more equitable statewide funding mechanism for schools in Pennsylvania, resulting in lower property taxes for most homeowners.

Physical barriers to living at home mount as we grow older. Steps, high cabinets, and bedrooms on another floor are a hindrance to a good quality of life at home. This does not have to be the case, and the Task Force recommends that everyone begin to assess their homes with an eye toward fixing some of the issues long before they become a problem.

The side benefit is that the homeowner can now welcome all kinds of old and new friends to their homes: people in wheelchairs, friends with temporary mobility problems, and other seniors. The cost of making homes more accessible is much less when the work is done alongside other remodeling. Grab bars in bathrooms do not have to be ugly or look institutional. Higher toilets can also be nicely designed and are helpful to just about everyone. Providing information and encouragement to homeowners, the borough can strive toward a town where everyone feels welcome, and where growing older does not necessarily mean moving from our homes.

Next Week: Getting it done: Implementing the recommendations of the Task Force. A copy of the presentation to Borough Council is available at and the full report can be found at Some of the terms used above are more fully explained in the report.

Briefly Noted…

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“Lotus IX (Matter-Antimatter), an encaustic on board by Wallingford artist Alan Soffer, is included in an exhibit of his work opening today at the Church Street Gallery in West Chester.

An exhibit entitled “Master of Abstraction,” by artist Alan Soffer of Wallingford will open in the Church Street Gallery in West Chester tonight, Friday, January 29, with a reception from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. An artist’s gallery talk will be held on Saturday, February 13, at 3 p.m. The show runs through February 27. The gallery is located at 12 South Church Street. For more information, visit or

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Marty Molloy

Democrat Marty Molloy of Wallingford, a nonprofit education executive, has announced his candidacy for state senator in the Pennsylvania 9th district (which includes Nether Providence and Rose Valley), a seat vacated by Dominic Pileggi. A special election will be held on April 26.

Eric Hewett, a 1992 graduate of Strath Haven High School, recently visited his parents, Angela and Tom Hewett of Wallingford en route from his home in Rome, Italy. He was heading to the annual conference of the Society for Classical Studies in San Francisco, where he and his co-founder of The Paideia Institute, Jason Pedicone, received the President’s Award for their work in “advancing public appreciation and awareness of classical antiquity.” Paideia sponsors programs on spoken Latin, mostly at historic sites in Italy, including a 4-week summer program for college students and one week classes for high school students. The institute also has events in the U.S. and conferences for students and teachers of Latin and the Classics.

Early last month, Lizzie King of Swarthmore, a junior at Strath Haven High School, was named the women’s soccer All-Delco Player of the Year by the Delaware County Daily Times.

A Timely Offer: Program Your Thermostat with Help from aFewSteps

By Beth Murray

Now that the cold winter weather is finally here, heating bills are on the rise. One way for households to cut their energy bills by as much as 20% is to use a programmable thermostat. Yet according to a recent study by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, nearly 90% of Americans say they’ve rarely (or never) programmed their thermostat because they’re not sure how to do it.

A tech-savvy group of local volunteers is offering to help residents start saving money now by programming their thermostats – or installing programmable thermostats – free of charge.

“Figuring out how to tweak a system to make it run more efficiently is what I love to do,” explained volunteer David Director of Wallingford. “If I can help my neighbors save a few hundred dollars a year while I’m at it, that’s even better.” Director leads the tech volunteers from aFewSteps, the local environmental group.The other volunteer programmers/installers include Charlie Pell, David Page and Marty Spiegel of Swarthmore, and Jim Audley of Rose Valley.

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Charlie Pell of Swarthmore is one of a group of tech-savvy volunteers from aFewSteps who will install and/or program your thermostat free of charge.

“All we need is a portable drill and screwdriver,” said Pell. “It takes about 30 minutes.” Pell swears by Apple’s Nest learning thermostat, which he calls “A high-tech thermostat that’s actually easier to use than the old ones.” Besides the $250 Nest, aFewSteps suggests two other programmable thermostat models which are highly rated by Consumer Reports: Lux TX9600TS at approximately $68, and Honeywell RTH7500D at about $55. Both can be ordered online or at Swarthmore Hardware.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to save energy and money,” said aFewSteps president Phil Coleman, a research analyst/program manager for Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. “Programming a thermostat may seem like a hassle, but for every eight hours someone turns back their thermostat 10 degrees – from say from 68 degrees during the day to 58 degrees at night – they can cut their heating bill by 10%. If they can turn it back again while they’re at work, that’s another 10% saved.”

For more information about aFewSteps’ free thermostat help, visit