Media Borough is about to approve a 10-year comprehensive plan to make Media an even better hometown and the plan is filled with initiatives near and dear to Transition Town Media. It seems like someone’s been listening.
Media is a terrific town. Residents, business owners, visitors, diners, shoppers – everyone seems to agree that Media is a great place to live, shop, work, and eat. It’s hard to pinpoint just what it is about Media, but you can really sense it when you walk around the town. There’s a buzz, an upbeat feeling, an unabashed sense of pride in the town.
But there was a period when it looked like Media was washed up – the competition from a nearby shopping center was too overwhelming, a little town like Media just didn’t stand a chance. And yet, Media came back, surprising almost everyone. How did it happen? Was it the great shops – Tancreed’s and B. Gross, Kuta and Seven Stones, all the little gems of stores crammed into the tiny business district? Was it the wonderful diversity of restaurants? Was it because it was the county seat? Was it the vibrant arts scene and fun events? There were probably a lot of reasons but underneath them all was this steady hum – the people who cared deeply about Media, her history, her sense of place, her community of resourceful and dedicated people.
Five years ago, a small group of people were meeting and talking about creating a Transition Town in Media. The Transition Town movement had only started 3 years earlier, in England, but had been spreading like wildfire, like an idea that was just waiting to be born. The idea was that the future we were collectively moving toward was looking pretty shaky – the oil and gas our economy, our livelihood really, depended on was getting harder to extract leading to higher prices, more pollution, and more devastation to the environment, the weather was getting more and more volatile with more drought, more floods, fiercer and more damaging storms, good jobs were hard to find and income inequality was straining our social fabric. Everywhere you looked things looked scary or dreary – people were working harder, often earning less and under the shadow of large debt, animals and birds that bring us joy were dying at a heart-breaking pace, green spaces were getting fewer and smaller, life just seemed harder and less joyful. The Transition Town folks had a simple but important question: Is this the future we want?
A lot of us would say no. We want a future that’s more joyous, with more stability, more time to enjoy life and more life to enjoy. A future that’s more like life in Media, where people care about their town and the people in it, and where they recognize that the quality of their lives clearly depends on the viability, the resilience of the town and its people. It’s a town where people care enough to be willing to pitch in, to work hard at making it great. It was clear to the Transition Town Media planners that this was an important feature for a Transition Town – that there were already people here who were getting together to do amazing things, making life in the town better, strengthening the sense of community. Since resilience and a better future are what Transition Towns are all about, Media already had a great head start.
In January 2013, Media started a new process of re-imagining its future. The firm Simone Collins Landscape Architecture in conjunction with the Delaware County Planning Department started work on a comprehensive plan for Media’s next ten years. Once again, Media residents, business owners, and non-profit organizations stepped up to add their expertise, their perspectives, their visions to shape this master plan. Eighteen people, including Borough officials and representatives of many non-profit groups, joined the committee that met 17 times over the past year to work on the plan. Many others attended focus group meetings, public hearings, and other group and individual meetings. Over 200 people completed the online survey to elicit even more opinions. Hundreds of people were heard, directly or indirectly. And the results were very interesting.
TTM was pleased to learn that many of the recommendations, culled from all these meetings with various members of the Media community, were very much in sync with our vision of what would make Media a stronger, more resilient town. Take a look at section 4 (pg 78) of this hefty plan and skim through the 14 pages of recommendations, grouped into 9 categories such as Transportation, Land Use, Energy and Resource Conservation, Economic Development, Arts and Culture, and so on. And keep in mind that these recommendations aren’t the ideas of the planners. They came straight from all the people who took the time to participate in this project. So what sorts of things do the people of Media want? They want bike lanes. More parks & green space. More energy efficient buildings. More community gathering spaces. In short, they want the kinds of things that add to the livability of Media, that make it a healthier, happier, more community-oriented place to be.
These are the kinds of things that TTM has been working for as well. Noodle around our website and check out the working groups and projects we’ve been working on – Yardens, Reskilling, Energy Conservation, the Time Bank, the Free Store, and so on. Check out our newsletter and our Facebook pages. We’ve been working hard on those things we think are most important to Media’s quality of life – making healthy, local food more accessible by supporting the local farms, farmers market, and CSAs and encouraging more edible gardens through our Yardens projects; reducing waste by supporting composting in the Borough, and by creating more opportunities to share and reuse our stuff through our Free Store and Free Markets; making homes and businesses more energy efficient; re-learning useful skills like canning, soap-making, and bike repair; encouraging more biking and walking, being out in nature, learning simple ways to lower our energy usage without compromising our quality of life.
Media really is a great town. And it keeps getting better, thanks to all the dedicated and caring souls who live, work and play here. TTM is proud to be part of that effort.
PS – thanks to the 63% of the survey respondents who selected ‘Transition Town Media’ as one of the ‘important issues for Media Borough and its future’. See this (question 17) and the other survey results at the very end of the comprehensive plan. Thanks for the vote of confidence!
Originally published July 27, 2014