To the Editor:
At a recent Borough meeting, I was struck by an under-appreciation of how much Swarthmore has changed recently. I suspect many of our residents appreciate the changes, but a few questions and comments made at the meeting suggested some in our community are less aware.
While Swarthmore has been a “special place,” there’s now a vibrancy like never before, coupled to an industrious spirit. That spirit is the fruit of collective efforts of many who believe in that special place, but still are creatively and collaboratively working to forge a forward-looking town ambience. The town center has its anchor businesses, and, luckily for us, some of those are hanging on.
To a person they are run by folks with knowhow, community spirit and generosity – just what is great about our town. But, the recent changes matter, too. The Co-Op supports local farmers, and has become a magnet for community activity, gathering in members in educational, fun ways, whether though Quizzo, grilling, or local tastings.
Saturday mornings are a veritable hub of activity, with a food truck to boot and live music; it’s a town happening. And, music! There are now several places to hear bands, spanning genres (I know: some of that on plinky ukuleles, but, hey …).
The amphitheater (and Central Park) exceeds anyone’s vision of a forward-looking, community-centered town. If you haven’t experienced Thursday Night Music, then you don’t know what a lovely magnet space this is for young and old alike.
And, the Inn, predicted by some, years ago, to be the downfall of our town, only generating marauding Swarthmore College students, instead is another hub of activity (some of that at its bar), with no marauding students. This (now disproven) concern was invoked again at that recent meeting. Those who worry about this do not know the college student body.
I was surprised also that some community members said they do not go to the College. Why not? It is a significant contributor to the vibrancy of town. If you have never been, come with me over this next year, and I’ll show you the creativity, incredible talent and energy of these College students: recitals, dance, music, performance art (all free, and open to us). Or, talk to those of us who interact with these generous, socially-minded students who volunteer in hospitals, community centers, etc.
I don’t know zoning regulations, and I don’t live near the address at issue in the zoning meeting I attended. I’m content to have less say than those directly involved. But, one thing I urge: let’s not turn back to some faded “idea” of a town long ago. One key role for a zoning board is surely to assess how closely rules are followed. But, another key role for any committee is also to look creatively to the future and continue to support industrious entrepreneurs, to keep our town vibrant so that it will thrive in the future.
Paving the way
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association, I would like to thank the Borough of Swarthmore for its work to make the sidewalks of the Borough more accessible for everyone. We refer, of course, to the program of marking non-compliant pavement with white paint and the delivery of notices to property owners to bring those sidewalks up to code.
Perhaps more importantly, we would like to thank the property owners who have been inconvenienced and have incurred expenses repairing and replacing the sidewalks on their property to meet the standards of the Borough. Your efforts and your expenses have not gone unnoticed! Not only does this make walking easier for seniors, but it helps many others in our community: parents and grandparents with strollers, toddlers on tricycles, pedestrians carrying groceries and not able to watch every foot of pavement before them, runners and joggers, people who use wheelchairs and other devices, and everyone who goes out for a stroll in our town.
A little more than three years ago the Borough signaled its commitment to making Swarthmore a place where seniors can feel comfortable and safe. This program goes a long way toward that goal. Thank you Borough Council members, Mayor, Borough Manager and staff, and citizens/property owners for your work!
Linton Stables, President
Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association
Historic project on track
Hello Friends and Residents of Swarthmore,
My name is Nate Linderman, a Boy Scout in Troop 112. I am currently working on my Eagle Scout project, which is to put up approximately 15 historical markers around the Borough to commemorate our Borough’s history.
Last fall I reached out to many of you with a request to help fund my project. My fundraising campaign was successful, meeting my original goal, thanks to the generous support of many of our citizens. I am in the midst of working with the Borough, Swarthmore Historical Society, Swarthmore College Friends Historical Library, and Swarthmore Centennial Foundation to finalize the markers’ copy, design, and placement. My timeline has been slightly extended from my original estimate, and I currently plan to have the project completed by early summer 2019.
I just want to take a brief moment to thank all of those who have helped to support the project thus far either financially or via their guidance and expertise, and I look forward to finalizing the project over the next year.
If you have any questions regarding the project, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exposing the elephant
To the Editor:
I hope that area churches and synagogues will join their national denominations and the Jewish peace organizations that have denounced the recent Israeli massacres in Gaza. Although the Israeli government has done everything possible to obfuscate the circumstances, I know of no independent voices that deny that it authorized the murder of 100 unarmed Gazan Palestinians and the wounding of thousands more in recent weeks, crippling many of them for life. I add my voice to those of the 15 national Christian denominations including my own Presbyterian Church (USA) that have condemned this historic atrocity.
History has taught us where the failure to confront brutal regimes leads. Our own hearts tell us that the murder (“killing” does not adequately describe what happened) of unarmed protesters is wrong, especially when the situation could easily have been controlled by one of the world’s most powerful militaries without lethal force.
Faith communities must not keep silent in deference to members who feel that “politics has no place in church.” The irony is that the decision to remain silent when even the most basic moral imperatives are violated – all the world’s enduring religions condemn murder – is itself a political decision. In the Christian context, it privileges concerns for institutional quietude over faithfulness to the Word of God. This is the elephant in many sanctuaries. It is time to expose it. I urge the leaders of our local faith communities to end this politicization of their churches, synagogues and mosques.
A second irony is that silence ensures the outcome it seeks to avoid. Christians know that it is rare to find a teaching of Jesus reported in all four Gospels. An exception is “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” I submit that this teaching applies not just to individuals but also to faith communities that hope to “save their lives” by sacrificing faithfulness to preserve quietude. As Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out, failure to proclaim its beliefs will cause the church to lose the loyalty of millions. Failure to stand up publicly for the basic tenets of the faith will not scotch but accelerate the now decades-long decline in membership of faith communities. “Silence” marks the entry to the death spiral.
I write as a friend of Israel, which I fear is at risk of receiving the judgment pronounced by its prophet Amos (Amos 2: 6, 13-16). I accept that some will disagree with me. I welcome an opportunity to participate in a public forum where the views of both defenders and critics of Israeli policies can receive a respectful hearing. But I reject the charge of anti-Semitism. Among the methods used by the Israeli government to prevent honest discussion of its policies by faithful Christians and Jews is the ad hominem labeling of those who speak out as “anti-Semites” or “self-hating Jews.” That is abhorrent.