The Pennsylvania Humanities Council has partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and Orton Family Foundation to support Upper Chichester and Cameron County along the path to becoming stronger, healthier and more vibrant communities through a humanities-based approach to community development.
Through this unique partnership among a government agency, a statewide nonprofit and a national foundation, PHC and Orton Family Foundation will provide training and technical support worth an estimated $60,000 to each community. In addition Upper Chichester Township and The Cameron County Project have each received $5,000 in combined funding from PHC and DCED, for a total investment valued at $130,000.
“The humanities are a valuable tool for community and economic development in Pennsylvania,” said Laurie Zierer, PHC’s executive director. “We see so much positive change as residents build relationships, honor their homegrown talents and assets, and reclaim and reshape their communities.”
Since 2015, PHC and Orton have been working together to bring Community Heart & Soul®, a community development model pioneered by Orton, to communities across Pennsylvania. Upper Chichester and Cameron County join Greater Carlisle, Meadville and Williamsport, which have Community Heart & Soul projects underway.
“This alignment of interests: the humanities, the community and the economy makes perfect sense. We all share a common goal—building communities that are stronger culturally, socially and economically. We look forward to seeing positive change unfold as the residents of Upper Chichester and Cameron County embark on Community Heart & Soul,” said David Leckey, executive director Orton Family Foundation.
A suburban southeastern Pennsylvania town of 17,000 residents, Upper Chichester is working to develop its commercial corridors and, with feedback from residents, further establish its identity and sense of place. The Upper Chichester Board of Commissioners has approved funding and staffing to develop neighborhood plans that will help create a comprehensive plan informed by residents through Community Heart & Soul.
Located in rural northcentral Pennsylvania, Cameron County is the smallest county in the state with a population of 4,592. Residents there founded the Cameron County Project in 2017, inspired by a 2016 workshop produced by PHC and Orton and hosted by the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission in Ridgway.