Category: Meeting Summary

December 20, 2017 – Mt. Airy USA

Brad Copeland, Executive Director of Mt. Airy USA, presented the vision 2025 plan of Mt. Airy USA.

The group has been a community development Corporation since the 19 eighties. It was the child of cooperation of East and West Mount Airy Neighbors.

There are 4 core areas: housing counseling and financial literacy (1100 clients per year); real estate development; business services (recent opening of co-working space); and public life programs (e.g., support the local public schools).

The driving force of Mt. Airy 2025 is the notion of “bonds between neighbors”. The planning process began in 2015, based on a large number of committees, study groups, and outside consultants. The actual study area was bounded by Carpenter Lane to Washington Lane and from Stenton Avenue to Wissahickon Avenue. Although this does not include all of what is traditionally called Mount Airy, it includes 22,000 people of the estimated 35,000 in the area.

Results of the survey:

Satisfaction: safety, housing, proximity to public transportation, my neighbors

Dissatisfaction: safety, access to amenities, my neighbors, public schools

Some of these contradictions suggest that one of the key drivers for satisfaction is one’s neighbors. Note that 71% of local residents own their own homes, though recent developments on Germantown Avenue suggest a renewal of interest in rentals, often higher cost rentals.

This has suggested that there are 6 areas to work on: neighbood and commerce; homes and housing; community safety and placemaking; senior living; early childhood education; youth engagement

Brad also pointed out that only 28% of community dollars are spent in the area, whereas a “healthy ratio” would be about 50%. Even though the low ratio is in part a function of easy transportation to employment elsewhere, this also suggests that there is opportunity for new businesses. This is one of the foci of the vision that has been developed.

December 13, 2017 – The Lenape leave the Delaware Valley

In the course of researching his book on the landscape history of South Jersey, Dr. Claude Epstein, emeritus professor of environmental studies at Stockton State College, came across a large number of land conveyances (property deeds) from Lenape Indians to Europeans. This information provided the basis for a study on how and when the Lenape left the Delaware Valley.

The first European settlers in this area came from Sweden in the seventeenth century. They were mainly traders, interested in beaver pelts and tobacco. In exchange, they gave iron items, tools and weapons. At that time there were thousands of Lenape, and perhaps 200-300 Swedes. These proportions reversed over the course of the seventeenth century.

Another group who came at that time were the people called the “forest Finns”, whose lifestyle allowed them easily to fit into what the Lenape were doing – extended family groups based on slash and burn agriculture.

The Swedes and the Finns eventually became outnumbered by settlers from Holland and England all over the colonies. In the course of the seventeenth century, these new settlers engaged in armed clashes with local Indians from Massachusetts to Virginia, with the single exception of the Lenape in the Delaware Valley. Trading continued on a peaceful basis, despite the depletion of the beaver population. The Lenape themselves became middlemen, purchasing beaver from further west. Locally in the Delaware Valley, Quakers began to purchase the land. Gradually the Lenape moved west, from South Jersey to the Lehigh Valley and from the Delaware Valley across the Appalachian Mountains into what is now Western Pennsylvania. These Western lands were available to the Lenape because the previous local Indians had been wiped out by the Iroquois.

Dr. Epstein’s study of the land conveyances show that these began as early as 1620, and peaked in 1670. By 1710, all the purchasing was done, and by 1750 the Lenape were gone. He noted that in all cases the Swedes, the Dutch, and the English bought the land and did not seize it. Although some of the deeds described “trinkets” as the currency for which the land was purchased, the trinkets in fact included tools and textiles, which were desired by the Indians.

Eventually the Lenape moved to New York, Wisconsin, and to the Oklahoma Indian territory. Today the tribe is gone, though there are some individuals still around.


Alexander Pushkin, 1799-1837


If I walk the noisy streets,

Or enter a many thronged church,

Or sit among the wild young generation,

I give way to my thoughts.


I say to myself: the years are fleeting,

And however many there seem to be,

We must all go under the eternal fault,

And someone’s hour is already at hand.

Meeting of November 29, 2017 – Chestnut Hill Hospital

Chestnut Hill Hospital has been a fixture in the local community for a long time. Five years ago it was taken over by CHS, a for-profit chain of hospitals, and Dr. John Cacciamani was hired as president and chief executive officer. Very recently the hospital was taken over by a new entity, Tower Health Systems, a non-profit system. Dr. Cacciamani addressed these changes.

He first reviewed the growth of the hospital, which aims to provide “the highest level of care close to home.” In addition to housing a high-quality internal staff, the hospital also has physical locations of area medical schools and hospitals – for example, Penn radiation oncology, Temple sports medicine, Jefferson neurology and neurosurgery. The hospital also maintains residency programs in internal medicine, family practice, and surgery.

With regard to ownership, Dr. Cacciamani explained that CHS was suffering under an intolerable debt load. Tower Health, which has taken over five of the former CHS hospitals, was formed by Reading Hospital in October 2017 as a group of area hospitals, four of them in distant Philadelphia suburbs plus Chestnut Hill. Except for Chestnut Hill, the other four hope to “lock in” their local market, meaning 60-65% of the local hospitalizations. This is obviously not pertinent to Chestnut Hill (less than 10% of local hospitalizations).


This new system, in association with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), should provide significant economies of scale. Initially Independence Blue Cross fought this new integration by threatening to pull out of Chestnut Hill Hospital because it saw UPMC as a rival health insurer, but this crisis has passed. For the moment, UPMC is not entering the Philadelphia market.

The integration of these hospitals is ongoing, but the general public does not know what the outcome will be. Even some of the medical staff at Chestnut Hill have some fears about the future, and have predicted to Dr. Cacciamani that Chestnut Hill Hospital will be sold off from the system because its location makes it dissimilar to the other hospitals in the system. John’s response to this fear – nobody knows the future. For the moment, the transition from CHS to Tower has moved the hospital from a high-risk system to a low risk system.

Club meeting, November 15, 2017 – Conscious Eating for Well-Being

Our current medical system is focused on treating specific diseases and conditions, but Dr. Soyini (Sy) Powell has left her prior career as an obstetrician-gynecologist in the belief that proper nutrition is the key for the living.


She practiced standard medicine for 30 years, only to find that the stress and associated elements were tearing her apart. There is an obesity-diabetes epidemic in this country, fed by our unhealthy diet. In addition, 50% of diabetics are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Powell retrained in nutrition, focusing on eating, sleeping, and stress reduction. It is insulin that is the driver of the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates fats and proteins. Although laypeople generally associate the supply of insulin or lack thereof with diabetes, Dr. Powell stresses that control of diet means control of insulin production. The major idea behind this diet is to stop fat storage by controlling carbohydrate intake.


She has founded a coaching company entitled Authentic Nutrition LLC, which sets out a six-month program of nutritional coaching. Many individuals cannot do this alone, and Dr. Powell’s program targets these individuals.

Club meeting, August 31, 2017 – eBay project

Club goes to e-bay An attempt to supplement our fundraising, is collecting items to be sold on eBay. Abby Lederman specializes in such sales, and has agreed to handle the club’s activity. Lists of items that can be sold have been distributed, and are still available at club meetings. Abby discussed various approaches used on eBay, and emphasized that is not always possible to tell what will or will not sell. However, her years of experience have made her comfortable with evaluating a large range of items. The Club will receive 60% of the sale price; the rest of the money is the seller’s fee and eBay fees. Items sold to benefit the club foundation are eligible for a tax deduction. Most people who have items that might be sold should send a picture and a detailed description to Abby, will decide whether the item can be sold. Contact information: 267-934-4964