September 2009 - Synergy among 10,000 Friends Projects is Emerging

Dear Friends,


Judy Schwank

Are you familiar with GIS or Geographical Information Systems? Chances are, if you are a regular reader of 10,000 Friends E-Update, that you are very familiar with this useful tool. According to ESRI, a company which develops and markets the technology, GIS is defined as “computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing things that exist and events that happen on earth. GIS technology integrates common database operations such as query and statistical analysis with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by maps.”

You have likely used a GIS map if you search the internet for driving or walking direction. I’ve seen the technology used in many applications from making decisions on effectively deploying police resources by mapping crime hot spots to determining where to successfully locate a retail business. It is mind boggling how layers of data can be incorporated into a map to provide unparalleled levels of information. The applications for GIS seemingly are unlimited.

Ed Wilson, Vice President (and resident researcher) for 10,000 Friends is quite adept at using GIS technology and mapping information. In a recent staff meeting Ed mentioned the possibility of mapping some of the best practices in land use and local governance that are occurring in Pennsylvania. It’s an interesting concept and intriguing to think about the GIS map that might be created. One great example is the Greater Pottstown region in Montgomery County.  Mapping the synergy created by all the municipal cooperation and smart land use and sustainable economic development initiatives would be a real challenge for a GIS technician.

Layer one on our hypothetical synergy map would be the Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Comprehensive Plan which includes the Borough of Pottstown , four townships in Montgomery and two townships in Chester County. This plan, which is having a great impact in the region, is outstanding in that these communities have also adopted an implementation agreement and created a regional planning committee to guide implementation in the future. The forerunner to the plan is the Pottstown Area of Council of Governments (PACOG), one of the most active COGs in the commonwealth.

The region is actively championing smart transportation initiatives too. Recently two Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative grants were awarded to projects in the region that will improve traffic flow and leverage transportation investments for more walkable communities and better economic development. The leadership to create a light rail link between the City of Reading and King of Prussia (expansion of the SEPTA R6 line) is primarily based in this region too. Pottstown and communities along the Route 422 corridor stand to benefit greatly if this transit alternative becomes a reality.

The state government has noticed that the region has great potential as well, primarily because of its nearby and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities (like the Schuylkill River and French Creek State Park) and the growing population in the metro area. DCNR created the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative with the Pottstown region at the center of the landscape. As a result of this initiative, the region is in line for and has received state grants for land preservation and community and economic development.

The last, but not least layer would be the recent efforts by community and business leaders to convene and discuss regional economic development that benefits all parts of the region. This effort, which 10,000 Friends is facilitating in cooperation with the Team Pennsylvania Foundation, may help to link all of the unique collaborations that are happening in the region.

Pottstown isn’t the only place where this kind of activity is taking place in the commonwealth but it is certainly one of the most active. I envision a masterpiece of a map if we can use GIS technology to quantify and visualize the level of great regional cooperation that is occurring in Pottstown, Montgomery and Chester Counties.


 Judy Schwank
President and CEO
10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania 

Please feel free to contact me in the Harrisburg at the central office of 10,000 Friends. My email is, or call me at 717-234-6070.