At the 10,000 Friends 2010 Commonwealth Awards, the Friend of Pennsylvania and the Smart Growth Visionary Awards for Citizen and Public Official were awarded.
2010 Friend of Pennsylvania Award
Secretary Allen Biehler’s leadership of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has been seminal to 10,000 Friends’ work. Policy principles like fixing existing infrastructure, linking land use with transportation and creating a growing source of revenue for public transportation have been advanced by Secretary Biehler’s bringing unlikely partners together. And thanks to Secretary Biehler, the Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative was created and has become a national model for linking land use and community and economic development decisions with transportation investments.
PCTI is a true, “place-making” investment tool that encourages partnerships and places our transportation assets as the centerpiece of community investment. While we served, in his terms, as the “skunkworks” for the development of the program - first in the guise of the 10,000 Friends’ Pennsylvania Community Choices Initiative - he helped to refine the ideas, marshal the resources and bring the concept to fruition. The $60 million dollar pilot program is one of the most strategic investments in smart growth in the state’s history. In the new update to the State Transportation Plan, there is $48 million of funding for the PCTI program.
Secretary Biehler has shown himself to be a true Friend of Pennsylvania and we are honored to recognize him with this year’s award.
2010 Commonwealth Award Smart Growth Visionary in the Citizen Category
The winner of the 2010 Commonwealth Award Smart Growth Visionary in the Citizen Category is Jonathon Schmidt of the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project. Unfortunately for all of us, this is a posthumous award.
“My entire goal in life is to use opportunities to give others the chance to realize their full potential”. Quite a statement for a 17 year old to make and it demonstrates how Jonathon Schmidt lived his life. Growing up in Upper Darby, he went onto Yale and Princeton, getting advanced degrees in economics, public policy and law. Following his graduations, he served in many other positions, almost too numerous to count, all concerned with the public good.
In 2006, as a lawyer at Ballard Spahr, Jon began a volunteer effort to organize leaders in the first suburbs surrounding Philadelphia to stabilize and revitalize their communities. He met with over 100 community leaders to understand their concerns and to identify who was interested in working across all of the political, economic and racial barriers that separated them. This grew into the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project which has reached thousands of people and policy makers through multiple summits, issues conventions and legislative meetings on a common agenda to address education, infrastructure and housing policy.
The core belief of the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project is that state policy changes and regional solutions will best address the common challenges of the older suburbs by using limited resources more efficiently to benefit *all* of the residents of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
One of Jonathan’s dreams was to grow the coalition beyond the First Suburbs by reaching out to regional groups and local leaders from across the state. His dream is now being realized as the First Suburbs, York Counts, Good School Pennsylvania, and the Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Lancaster, Reading, and Southwest Pennsylvania regions are organizing a statewide summit called Building One PA. This event will be held on July 16 in Lancaster to bring attention to the host of issues that are causing the decline of our historic older communities throughout the state.
Unfortunately, cancer cut short Jonathon’s life and he cannot accept this award in person. But we can all realize that no matter what time we have, it can be always be put to good use, doing what we can to improve everyone’s lives here in Pennsylvania and everywhere.
Jonathan’s death leaves a void that is impossible to fill but those of us who are left are committed to continue his legacy.
Accepting the award were two First Suburbs board members: Bill Clinton who a Councilman in Upper Providence Township, and Jacquie Purifoy-Brinkley, former Councilperson from Yeadon Borough and Co-Chair of the First Suburbs Project.
2010 Smart Growth Visionary in the Public Official Category
The winner of the 2010 Smart Growth Visionary in the Public Official category is John Milius.
In January 2010, John Milius rotated off the Cranberry Township Board of Supervisors after 18 years of service, including 4 years as chairman. This period corresponded to the evolution of the township, in southwest Butler county just north of Pittsburgh, from a thinly populated agricultural community into a vital hub of commerce, technology and family life.
This was not an easy transition. The prevailing pattern has been for communities to surge unsustainably and then fall into decline and community planning has long been eyed with suspicion in western Pennsylvania. But, recognizing the risk in the early 90’s, officials in Cranberry township embraced planning. As a central player on the Township’s policy-making body, John was at its forefront. By 2005, essentially ever element of that first comprehensive plan has been implemented.
This plus John’s actions to merge infrastructure into land use policies, ensure that there is housing for all, and care for all aspects of the community have exemplified the goals of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, integrating local government, infrastructure and land use planning, into something that works for everyone who lives in Cranberry Township.
The Opportunity for All award winner is one of our prior winners. We are pleased to award The Century Building the PNC Bank Opportunity For All award for their success in achieving those goals.
And our winner for the PNC Bank Leading the Way awards is the Alliance for Building Communities. Since 1975, the Alliance for Building Communities has been dedicated to assisting Lehigh Valley communities reduce urban density by providing affordable housing and first-time homeownership opportunities for clients with modest income. They also have the goal of revitalizing local communities in the process.
Rather than placing their projects outside of towns, they have used existing structures and renovated them, allowing residents to remain within the towns to shop and find entertainment. This also protects our historic resources. Two of ABC’s projects have used old factories as their base, the Tamaqua Boot and Shoe factory, now the Hazle Street Appartments and the Wright’s Knitting Mill, now the Knitting Mill at Peach Alley, in Hamburg. This thoughtful placement of affordable housing within boroughs allows walking or transit to be used rather than individual cars. This allows residents to patronize local businesses, creating a true community.
By these actions, the Alliance is admirably following its mission “To create community partnerships dedicated to revitalizing neighborhoods by developing safe and affordable housing that fosters independent living and enhances the quality of life for seniors and families.”