The South Mountain Partnership is partnering with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC), the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Dillsburg Arts and Revitalization Council, and the Orton Family Foundation to support Dillsburg along its path to becoming stronger and more vibrant using Community Heart & Soul®, a humanities-based initiative that uses resident stories and community conversations to spark collective decision-making and action.
Through this unique partnership, PHC and Orton will provide training and technical support worth an estimated $18,000. In addition, the South Mountain Partnership is providing over $18,500 in grant funding through the Environmental Stewardship Fund, administered by DCNR.
“Seeing communities come together, deepening their connection to one another and to the things that they love about their communities is half of what makes me a supporter of this project,” said Katie Hess, the South Mountain Partnership’s director. “The other half is about community development and economic revitalization based on those shared values – ways for the community to build wealth that stays in Dillsburg and retains and improves quality of life.”
Through Community Heart & Soul®, Dillsburg has been paired with a coach, a trained professional tasked with guiding the community through the program, including gathering residents’ stories, carefully discerning a town’s values through community events and activities, and developing an action plan.
Dillsburg is joining the Community Heart & Soul® movement because, “It’s about getting your community’s stories down and bringing people together to make connections, “ said Heidi Tucker, Chairperson of Dillsburg Heart & Soul. “Being from a small town we have limited resources, so we need everyone to use them effectively to make smart decisions. That’s what Heart & Soul sets out to do.”
The Borough of Dillsburg is located in York County, approximately 15 miles south of Pennsylvania’s capital, Harrisburg. The quaint, walkable community is best known for the historic Dill’s Tavern and the New Year’s Eve tradition of dropping a giant pickle at midnight. The borough’s proximity to the capital and cities like York and Lancaster offer myriad economic development opportunities.
Since 2015, PHC has been working to bring Community Heart & Soul®, a model originally pioneered by Orton, to communities across Pennsylvania. Dillsburg joins Ambridge, Beaver Falls, Rochester, Upper Chichester, Cameron County, Greater Carlisle, Mont Holly Springs, Meadville, and Williamsport – all which currently have Community Heart & Soul® projects underway.
“The humanities have proven a powerful tool for community and economic development in Pennsylvania,” said Laurie Zierer, PHC’s executive director. “We are seeing significant positive change because residents are building relationships, honoring their homegrown talents and assets, and reclaiming and reshaping their communities.”
For more information about Community Heart & Soul® in Pennsylvania, visit https://pahumanities.org/initiatives/civic-engagement-grants.
And if you are interested in being a part of the Dillsburg Heart & Soul effort, please reach out to them through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dillsburgheartandsoul.
“This project was financed in part by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Environmental Stewardship Fund, under the administration of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. The grant was awarded through the South Mountain Partnership, with management oversight of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The project is an effort of the South Mountain Partnership, an alliance of organizations working to preserve and enhance the cultural and natural assets of the South Mountain Landscape in Central Pennsylvania. To learn more about the Partnership, please visit www.southmountainpartnership.org.”