Editorial: From a friend who cares.

"FYI. A comment on the suggestion from both the Gov and the Commonwealth Foundation (see news article).

The non-profits that advocate for history in Pa (and elsewhere) who will now have to "do more" have traditionally run their operations on grants that came from (you guessed it) PHMC. So much for that line of horseshit.

The people who work and used to work at PHMC didn't go into their professions because they thought they'd make lots of money. They did it because they had a sincere interest and love of history. They did their best work in out-of-the-way places, not places with a lot of political pull or money, and they did it for next to nothing. Cutting the guts out of this tiny agency did almost nothing to resolve the budget deficit. It was, among other things, a cynical attempt to silence rational perspectives on the societal value of doing things like building a casino in the middle of Valley Forge or Independence Park. This is political bullying of a weak and defenseless constituency.

The loss is incalculable. There are the properties themselves, which served as lynchpins in the communities that surrounded them. There is the loss of advocacy, technical advice and funding for the preservation and re-use of old buildings, communities and places as a rational alternative for ripping up farmland for new developments.

There is the grant and seed money that kept small historic properties and groups alive in every county of this state. Perhaps most significantly, there is the loss of passion, motivation and (no kidding) about 1,000 years of cumulative experience and institutional memory that walked out the door with those employees last Friday.

The Commission had a long and honorable tradition of speaking for, preserving and promoting Pennsylvania's distinctive and important historical roots. Who we are is in no small part where we came from: a Colonial Province, a religious refuge, a hotbed of revolution, the cradle of heavy industry and railroading, an agrarian heartland, an ethnic melting pot. The legacy of this heritage is at the heart of why
people travel here to see our state, and why we aren't New Jersey or Ohio or any of our other neighbors. Eviscerating the tiny investment we had in protecting, promoting, and preserving that legacy was dumb, mean and cynical, and ought to be remembered next November."


Anonymous said...

Very well said! You articulated many of my exact feelings and frustrations. If we lose our heritage, we lose a part of who we are; we lose a part of our soul. To dismember this part of our soul, only to save a mere pittance in the overall scheme of things, is bad for Pennsylvania and just makes no sense.

~ A PHMC Employee

Anonymous said...

I too find your comments to be well expressed. It is a sad day for those responsible as the keepers of the Commonwealth's rich historical legacy...

What hurts the most is that there were no advocates in Harrisburg for the PHMC who felt that it was worth fighting for. And that most people have no idea what is going on. Or that so many sites are closed or face a cut back in hours/services.

The other thing that hurts is the whole inevitability of it all, that there was no talk of compromise or other options, and the union seemed utterly impotent to also fight for its members.

One can't help but wonder, even in these difficult times, if there wouldn't have been sufficient funds to prevent such draconian cuts. To me it is a death knell, as what are the chances that the personnel and programs will ever be restored?

Well, I had hoped for more discourse here, this is just my two cents as I see it...