|My nieces and nephew at Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz, PA|
**Are you paying attention, Arden? I started life in an intentional community in which residents had to lease the land on which they lived.
Lititz was the first community in Pennsylvania to establish a historic district, which is why its older buildings survive in such pristine condition. In the 1970's the downtown merchants got together and formed an association that bought up properties and bolstered business in the town for decades to come. As a result, Lititz has a thriving downtown and economy where many other towns are now shuttered, abandoned or have some sort of token commerce. Lititz boasts both the oldest girls' school and the longest running Fourth of July celebration in this country. The latter has one of the best fireworks displays around, and you can bet that the soundtrack that accompanies the show is top notch--as it is provided by the same folks who are "rocking" Lititz at the north end of town.
In this blog, I've detailed a lot of what the experience of living in Arden has brought to us. Maybe we sought Arden out because community is so important to us. I came preloaded with expectation, having cut my teeth in a place that values neighbors, honors its history, and moved into this century with such forward thinking it is astonishing. Arden has a great history, too. I have read much about it in the short time I have been here. My friends joke about my geeky spouting of Arden trivia. My knowledge is not complete, but certainly well-informed. I do honor my new town's 115-year history with the same reverence I give to Lititz, though Lititz history is over twice as long. Sometimes, I run into Ardenites who are stubborn about change in the community. I can't blame them. They don't want the Arden of their collective childhood to fade away. Their memories can account for half the history of the place, so of course their experience has weight. I can respect that. But I am glad to see forward momentum here as well. As an example, The Arden Concert Gild has grown over the last decade to the point where our Gild Hall is a true venue, competing for artists with other great hotspots in Wilmington and Philadelphia. How interesting that music plays such a central and progressive role in both my beloved towns?
And so Arden, I offer you my past, as you have offered me yours. When I step forward at village meetings or offer suggestions in various committees, know that any challenges I make to the status quo are informed and respectful of the past. Just because I seek changes doesn't mean that I don't honor the story. I haven't been here very long, but I have great joy and enthusiasm for our village life, and I come to you with a storied history of my own.