Saturday, January 27, 2007

V-Day 2007: The Vagina Monologues

In the U.S., a woman is raped every six minutes.
In the U.S., a woman is battered every 15 seconds.
In North Africa, 6,000 women are genitally mutilated each day.
This year, more than 15,000 women will be sold into sexual slavery in China.

Turning Point of Lehigh Valley provides services to more than 3,000 victims of domestic violence each year, right here in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

You can join Turning Point in the fight against violence, and join Civic Theatre in celebrating V-Day 2007. Attend Civic's one-night-only benefit performance of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, and help raise money to support Turning Point and V-Day Worldwide.

Saturday, Feb. 10, 8 p.m.

Where: Civic Theatre, Allentown

Cost: $17

Friday, January 26, 2007

NET in the News: Article in the Bethlehem News Jan. 18

Local rail not a far-fetched vision

People spilled into the hallways from the Hotel Bethlehem's Terrace Room as a larger than expected crowd came to listen and comment on passenger rails in the Lehigh Valley.

Renew Lehigh Valley and the Network of Young Professionals had guest speakers-Robert Puentes of the Brookings Institution and Senator Rob Wonderling-come and talk about the issue that had been previously addressed as a major concern of people in the Lehigh Valley. Both groups held a forum in March 2006 to ascertain the issues important to young professionals in the region. Affordable housing and open space preservation were two key issues, but by a dramatic three-to-one margin, 93 percent expressed concerned about passenger rail in the Lehigh Valley.

Renew Lehigh Valley holds the loss of young professionals as one of their key concerns, and stress on its Web site that Pa. lost more young workers than any other state between 1995 and 2000.

Network of Young Professionals President Abraham Nemitz expressed his enthusiasm and faith in rails as a way to promote growth and draw back in the missing youth.

"It's an exciting thing to focus on because the research, both theoretical and in practice, shows that every community that has deployed new rail systems in the last 10 years has seen their ridership forecasts exceeded," Nemitz said, "and more importantly, has seen tremendous development near the stations."

Nemitz called rails a key in helping commuters headed to nearby cities.

"One of the biggest things that can be done to help them and to help their quality of life, is having a fast train service to New York City and Philadelphia to make their commutes more tolerable," he said.

Renew Lehigh Valley has also held forums on housing and open space that organization co-chair Joyce Marin found quite successful.

"It's important for us to focus on the issues, learn more and educate the public," said Marin.

Puentes talked about the pros and cons of rail transportation, examining the options for the Lehigh Valley. Puentes cited thriving communities outside Chicago and Boston that have been revitalized after implementation of passenger rail systems.

Puentes called passenger rails a "transformative investment," but also stressed that it is only one piece of the puzzle in making a community thrive.
Wonderling, who has been working for the past few years to help restore passenger rail service to the Quakertown area, shared his experiences with the process.

He gave an estimated time frame of 2010 to 2012 for having the Quakertown line running, but emphasized the difference between that and the original estimates of a 2020 completion.

Marin was pleased with the turnout that nearly tripled the amount of seats available, and stressed that it is ultimately up to the people if they want to see action take place, "the more people who talk about this with their neighbors, their local elected officials, their state representatives, the more likely it is to happen."

The casino development of Southside Bethlehem may help the rail cause. While Marin stressed that Renew Lehigh Valley has yet to take a position on casinos coming to the area, she did call the casinos "the kind of development that this type of transportation investment also supports."

Marin speculated that casinos may mean for rails could come more rapidly to the area.

"Might it [passenger rail] happen more spontaneously? Possibly," she said.
Renew Lehigh Valley has one more forum in their current series that is yet to be scheduled. It will address entertainment concerns in the Valley. The date and location are yet to be named.

For more information on the Network of Young Professionals and Renew Lehigh Valley, visit their Web sites at and

What you eat: Organic, the new trend in food

So you've heard the reports, organic is better for you and the environment. But what exactly does organic mean?

Organic growers use biological and cultural practices as their first line of defense against pests. Methods include crop rotation, the selection of resistant varieties, nutrient and water management, the provision of habitat for the natural enemies of pests, and release of beneficial organisms to protect crops from damage. The only pesticides for use allowed in organic agriculture must be approved by the National Organic Standards Board and listed in Section 601 of the National Organic Program rule.

Traditionally, organic food was grown and sold locally. However, with the mass adoption of organic food, those fruits and veggies could be coming from Florida, California or elsewhere. So if you're eating organic food from your local grocery store simply to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, you've got it all wrong.

Luckily, with internationally renowned organic groups like the Rodale Institute in our backyard here in the Valley, as well as the Emmaus Farmers Market, which specializes in organic, locally grown produce, local organic food is relatively easy to come by.

So why go organic? Organic food offers several benefits:

Organic farming helps prevent topsoil erosion, improves soil fertility, protects groundwater, and conserves energy.
There is evidence of drawbacks linked to current popular food farming practices. A global survey of groundwater pollution [Payal Sampat, Worldwatch, "Deep Trouble: The Hidden Threat of Groundwater Pollution."] shows that a toxic brew of pesticides, nitrogen fertilizers, industrial chemicals, and heavy metals is fouling groundwater everywhere. In a study published in Science(April 13, 2001), scientists headed by University of Minnesota ecologist David Tilman concluded that continued expansion of the industrial farming model for the next few decades "has the potential to have massive, irreversible environmental impacts."

Organic methods are as efficient, economical and financially competitive as conventional methods, and better for the soil and the environment.
According to The Rodale Institute's long-term Farming Systems Trial comparing crops under conventional and organic management. A report looking at the first 15 years of the trial shows that after a transitional period of about four years, crops grown under organic systems yield as well as, and sometimes better than, those grown conventionally. In years of drought, organic systems can actually out-produce conventional systems. In addition, organic systems showed significant ability to absorb and retain carbon, raising the possibility that agricultural practices might play a role in reducing the impact of global warming.

Growing crops in healthy soils results in food products that offer healthy nutrients.
There is mounting evidence that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains may offer more of some nutrients, including vitamin C, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and the hot nutrient on the block omega-3, and less exposure to nitrates and pesticide residues than their counterparts grown using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

To learn more about organic food, and for some good entertainment view the Store Wars.

Pocono Passenger rail by 2012

The 20-year effort to restore passenger rail service from New York to the Poconos is a step closer to reality now that a final study has determined there are no environmental issues blocking federal approval, New Jersey Transit officials said Thursday.

Laying 88 miles of track from Port Morris, N.J., through the Poconos to Scranton, and operating the line from Pennsylvania to Hoboken, N.J., and New York City won't affect air quality, water or the land, said officials who presented the rail plan and environmental assessment study at a public hearing in Stroudsburg.

Once completed, the service would be operated by New Jersey Transit, with nine round trips daily into New Jersey and New York from four rail stations in Monroe County, at Delaware Water Gap, East Stroudsburg, Analomink and Mount Pocono, and one in Scranton.

Jack Kanarek, senior director of project development for New Jersey Transit said the rail project is one of many projects under consideration by New Jersey Transit, which will begin a feasibility study later this year on extending train service to Phillipsburg that could support service from Lehigh Valley commuters.

''We already have one study under way and will use those results to begin a study on the I-78 corridor, which includes a detailed feasibility study of rail service to Phillipsburg,'' Kanarek said.

Bruce Davis, a co-founder of the Route 22 Coalition, which is supporting a $200 million, 3.5-mile widening of Route 22 from 15th Street in Allentown to Lehigh Valley International Airport, said he ''encourages'' a rail link in Phillipsburg. But he cautioned supporters of a rail link into the Lehigh Valley, citing the years it took Poconos officials to get their project to its present status.

More here.

What you eat: What's Fair Trade Certification?

Fair Trade Certified essentially means that the raw material producers are paid a fair wage and workers are treated fairly as they manufacture the garment. A non-profit organization, TransFair USA, one of 19 national certifying groups that operate under the umbrella of the international Fair Trade network, grants Fair Trade status to products sold in the United States. Under Fair Trade rules, only products that are 100 percent Fair Trade Certified can carry the label.

The official Fair Trade movement in the United States is relatively young. The first certified product, coffee, arrived in the United States in 1998. Tea, rice, cocoa, a select number of tropical fruits followed suit. Last year, TransFair added vanilla and three types of tea to the list.

Certified products sold in the U.S. carry a small certification mark, or logo, with a figure, half black, half white, holding two contrasting cups. Lettering in the logo, above the figure, reads Fair Trade Certified.

In the United States, Fair Trade coffee is by far the largest single imported product. To qualify, farmers have to have less than 5 hectares (about 12.3 acres) of land, be organized into a co-operative recognized by the international Fair Trade Labeling Organization and be paid at least $1.26 per pound of coffee from a buyer.

But coffee also is subject to one of the widest ranges of certified and uncertified possibilities.

Starbucks imports more Fair Trade Certified coffee than any roaster in the U.S, according to TransFair figures. The Seattle-based company imported 18 million pounds of the certified coffee in 2006, or about 6 percent of its total. Most of the Fair Trade Certified coffee goes into the Starbuck's Cafe Estema brand, but the rest is blended into other Starbucks coffee offerings.

Since only products that are 100 percent Fair Trade Certified can carry the label, Starbucks and other roasters who blend certified coffees with others can't legally use the logo on those mixed blends.

Starbucks also imports a far greater amount of coffee — some 155 million pounds in 2006 — under its own ''independently verified sourcing and purchasing guidelines'' for its C.A.F.E. (Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices) program. The C.A.F.E. coffees represent slightly more than half of all the coffees Starbucks bought in 2006, according to Starbucks figures released this month.

The C.A.F.E. coffees also represent a trend among coffee importers and growers called ''relationship coffee,'' where the grower and roaster form a partnership.

Troy Reynard sells Counter Culture coffee, which is Fair Trade Certified and 'relationship' coffee similar to Fair Trade, at his Cosmic Cup at 520 March St., Easton.

Beyond food: Fair Trade for all

In the United States, a second labeling effort, called Fair Trade Federation, also comes into play, especially on products that fall outside the limited list of certified agricultural products. The tag means a company — but not the labeled product itself — formally endorses the goals of the Fair Trade movement. To be able to use the federation label, a company makes its ways of doing business — how much it pays for its raw materials, how well it treats its workers — transparent.

The tag, a pair of hands on an eye-shaped oval, appears on some clothing at Bethlehem's Clothesline Organics, says co-owner Josh Bushey. Between 10 percent and 15 percent of the clothing at the store carries the tag.

One well-established Fair Trade Organization is 10,000 Villages. The organization works with over 100 artisan groups in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to bring handmade jewelry, home decor, gifts and more to the masses. Shoppers can create a registry to incorporate fair trade items for their next wedding, housewarming or special occasion. 10,000 Villages items are available locally at Hackman's Bible Book Store, 1341 Mickley Road, Whitehall or online.

Do you know of any other Fair Trade supporting businesses in the Valley?

What you eat will be an occasional series on the new up and coming food movements.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ethnic Eats: Southampton Fish & Chips

Southampton Fish & Chips
15 E. Fourth Street
Bethlehem PA

Morning Call review:
"The eatery has that American fast food sensibility — given its more-than-reasonable prices, quick service and basic fare — but with a little more character and charm."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Easton mayor not up for re-election

Mayor Phil Mitman announced Tuesday that he won't seek re-election, leaving Republicans scrambling for a candidate and Democrats counting their votes in the mostly Democratic city.

Despite the difficulties within City Hall, Mitman managed to help bring attention to the Lehigh Valley's smallest city through regionalized efforts at crime fighting and economic development. He also included more residents in the decision-making process, which sometimes created controversy and disgruntlement.

While he's still in office, Mitman said he's not backing down from anything he started, including the controversial Riverwalk condominium and bus terminal proposal.

In fact, he intends to start new initiatives to unite neighborhood groups and improve the environmental awareness of global warming issues.

The leading potential contender to replace Mitman as mayor, former Democratic Mayor Sal Panto Jr., said he has known for weeks that Mitman would not seek re-election.

But that has not helped him decide whether to commit to the race. Panto was mayor for eight years after Mitman's first four years in office. He lost the seat to former Republican Mayor Thomas F. Goldsmith.

State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, said a number of his constituents have asked him to run for mayor, but he intends to continue serving them in Harrisburg.

More here.

More open space planned for Hanover Township development

Land in Hanover Township, Northampton County, that developer J.B. Reilly wants to build on may be one of the township's last cornfields, but that doesn't hold much water with some of the township's oldest residents.

Reilly's original plan, unveiled in May 2006, called for 272 units, split between townhouses and detached homes and built at a density of four units per acre. The project would be for ''active adult'' living, meaning residents 55 years old and older.

Tuesday, Reilly presented the board of supervisors a proposal with a density of about three houses per acre, with a new twist: an agreement with the School Sisters of St. Francis to keep 25 acres of their remaining land adjacent to the development as open space in perpetuity.

More here.

FREE Rape Prevention and Women's Self Defense class this Saturday

Every 2 1/2 minutes, somewhere in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted. One in six American women are victims of sexual assault, and one in thirty three men. It’s time to gain the knowledge and movements needed to defend yourself against these attacks.

Learn mental, emotional, and physical tactics that will enable you to become an empowered fighter nrather than a defenseless victim. Learn from a certified, professional in Sifu David Shapiro. We look forward to serving the community, and making it safer for those men and women who had enough of the fear, and intimidation from the streets.

When: Saturday, January 27th, 9:30am – 11:30 am

Where: St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 150 Elm Street, Emmaus, PA

Cost: FREE

Sponsored by Round 1, St. Margaret's and the Emmaus Main Street Program

LVEDC Annual Meeting

Helping business arrive. Helping business thrive. That’s a theme LVEDC members and guests will hear at this year’s annual meeting as the organization lays out its vision of the future for the Lehigh Valley. Following last year’s message by futurist Ed Barlow, keynote speaker Leslie Sayoko Parks will take the “flat world” concept to the next level in an uplifting talk entitled “It Ain’t Over Yet: We Can Compete in A Global Economy.”

An economic development consultant and former director of community development for the City of San Carlos, California, Leslie Parks specializes in technology-based economic and workforce development strategic planning. With her extensive experience as an implementer, she will share examples of initiatives that proactively address the challenges of global competition.

The meeting will also feature a renewal of leadership as outgoing chairwoman Jan Armfield hands the baton to Robert Episcopo after a successful two-year term.

More here.

When: Thursday, January 25, 4:30 p.m.

Where: Lehigh University’s Zoellner Arts Center

PBS 39 Souper Bowl this Saturday

PBS 39 invites you to attend its popular Souper Bowl event from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Saturday, January 27th – the week before the Super Bowl football game. The contest will be held at Starters Riverport in Bethlehem.

Mouth watering Snow Crab Bisque, rich tasting Butternut Squash Coconut Curry soup, creamy Tomato Basil or the mother of them all, Italian Wedding Soup, are just a few of the entries vying for the coveted title of “The Best Soup in the Lehigh Valley.”

More than twenty-five local restaurants are competing to win. The challenge is on and you’ll be the judge! Bring your family, friends and your appetite! Over 500 people attended last year!

When: Saturday, January 27th from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Where: Starters Riverport, Bethlehem

Cost: $12.00

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Betcha didn't know...

Charles Chips still does home and individual deliveries. Read an article about Ernie, aka Mr. Chips, who has been delivering chips for nearly 40 years. To place an order call (610) 264-4831.

Monday, January 22, 2007

North Whitehall plans for more open space

North Whitehall supervisors plan to acquire more land for open space preservation, parks and recreation over the next several years as part of a plan amended to keep up with the township's population growth.

The goal is to acquire more space in an area considered desirable for development.

Supervisor Chairman Ronald Stahley said the amended plan focuses on the southern part of the township west of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that includes Orefield, Schnecksville and Neffs; the central area east of the Turnpike and south of Rockdale Road, including Ormrod; and the largely agricultural area east of the Turnpike and north of Route 329.

The plan estimates that by 2010, the township population will reach 17,425 and recommends that the township obtain 18.6 acres more of park space and work toward developing a network of pathways. The half-mile Ironton Rail-Trail is under way.

The plan suggests that supervisors focus on developing one larger park in the south area of the township to provide a variety of leisure activities for the growing population, which jumped from 10,827 people in 1990 to roughly 16,112 people today. Recent development plans propose 478 new homes.

The township owns 143 acres of open space, parks and recreation areas. About 86 acres are owned by athletic groups, Parkland School District and playground associations. Trexler Nature Preserve contains roughly 1,100 acres.

A survey of 5,973 residents in 2005 showed a desire for hiking/biking areas, baseball and softball fields, soccer, football and lacrosse fields, courts for tennis and basketball, a skateboarding area, more nature preserves and playgrounds. Supervisors plan to continue efforts to obtain grant funding.

More here.