A big shout-out to Jenny Landis, local artist and Executive Director of Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau. Jenny, a tireless community leader, booked Dar Williams, world renowned singer/songwriter and author of the best-selling book “What I Found in a Thousand Towns” to speak at Brookmere Winery tomorrow night, November 14, in Belleville, PA! The book is a collection of essays based on Williams’ observations while touring America’s small towns. She examines why some towns flourish and others struggle to regain their footing and reinvent themselves for today’s economy and society.
The Juniata River Valley encompasses two counties, Mifflin and Juniata; it is a region of breathtaking scenery anchored by the county seats of Mifflinburg and Lewistown. It also has several other small towns and villages, located about 40 miles outside of State College, PA.
These towns, like others across Pennsylvania, are working hard to redefine and bolster themselves; to become healthy and vibrant. Since reading the book earlier in the year, Landis became an apostle for the book to encourage and galvanize communities in the Juniata River Valley to work together as a region to transform their hometowns. Bringing Williams to the Juniata River Valley is one more step in Landis’ efforts to help the region prosper.
Williams writes passionately about how citizens can establish a sense of place by working together in small ways that make a difference; about “community character builders”- people who are good at providing an environment for folks to gather i.e. a coffee shop, barber shop or bakery. Her insights, like her music, are thoughtful and truthful, presented with a sly sense of humor that is her trademark.
One of her essays is about Phoenixville, PA, a town near and dear to Eastwick! We had the pleasure of working with Jean Krack and Barbara Cohen when we worked on Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Schuylkill River Towns Program. Williams interviews these two individuals who (along with others) refused to give up on a town they loved. William’s story about Phoenixville illustrates that success is often rooted in history, a sense of play and above all, authenticity. And now, we are so excited to be working in the Juniata River Valley again and are hopeful to see the seeds of Landis’ and Williams’ enthusiasm take root and grow into something great!
If you can’t get out to Belleville on Wednesday night, check out a reading by Williams below.
Dar Williams preaches what Eastwick practices….now if I could convince her to take me on tour!
Eastwick Solutions develops revitalization strategies for towns and municipalities, activates rivers and trails through recreation, education, and environmental programs to spur economic development in nearby towns, provides Main Street marketing to supplement existing staff, engages stakeholders of all levels to ensure buy-in and support, stimulates economic development strategies leveraging nature-based assets (rivers, trails, agriculture, events), designs and develops nature-based asset programming, events and activities to maintain engagement and build affinity, writes grants for project-related funding, and conducts asset assessments to build image, programs, and events around.