bu ·col ·ic adjective /byoÍžoˈkälik/ – of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside

Chainsaw carving is a pastime that uses a razor sharp chain traveling more than 50 feet per second as a mechanism for the creation of beauty, whimsy, and sense of place. Sounds neat, right?

Ridgway DSCF3782

If you missed the 14th Annual Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous this past February in Ridgeway, you need only to drive through Elk County on PA Route 219 and you will be treated to the stunning collection of raw material that supplies the abundant sculptural display adorning the streets of downtown Ridgway. Being in Ridgway, there is no mistaking your place in the PA Wilds region, but seeing block after block guarded by local fauna carefully carved out of native soft woods is distinct and welcoming. Chainsaw carving did not originate in Ridgway, the chainsaw itself wasn’t invented there, and trees grow all over the world, so why all the fuss?

Well, promotion, which is one of the four tenants of the National Trust’s Main Street program approach but also celebration. As a community, they seized an opportunity to promote their rural location and create an event and a lasting identity that sets them apart from their neighboring communities. They continue to celebrate the results of the event in a very visible way on their streets.

There are many unique festivals across the state from mushrooms in Kennett Square to cherries in North East. What makes your town unique? Are you promoting it and more importantly are you celebrating it for all the world (or at least all the weekend road trippers) to see?


back ·ing noun ˈba-kiÅ‹ – support or aid – approval or endorsement

How does a small community become the Coolest Small Town in America? For Lititz, there are many contributing factors: the streetscape, the retail offerings, the food and beverage (including the chocolate and pretzels!), the park, and the events. And yes, these all make Lititz cool.


But becoming the coolest, that required an additional factor ~ community backing. From the people who live here and work here to the occasional visitors and the experienced returning guests, without the overwhelming response and community backing that gained us almost 10,000 on-line votes, this title would not be ours.

Who has your back? Do you have direct financial backing (public or private) or more supportive backing (strong volunteer base and great leadership)? How can you maximize this support and where might it take you?

And in the coming weeks, you can receive additional backing, from us! As a firm with a passion for Pennsylvania’s downtowns and their success, we will offer some tales from the road. These brief but inspirational journeys will hopefully provide not only a source of inspiration for what you can do in your town, but also a   means of support through regional precedents that can be applied as you work to make your community the best it can be.

Welcome aboard and we hope you enjoy the trip!


hugs and kisses from the boroughs


Once every spring in Hershey, you don’t need to travel   across the state of Pennsylvania to experience the diversity that our 958 boroughs have to offer. PSAB-2013 Read more


This April, KAPPA* hosted their annual spring meeting at the beautifully renovated Omni Bedford Springs Resort.

The conference attendees  were welcomed with a superb meal served in the original 19th century ballroom. During the meal, a local expert provided a great historical overview of the hotel. He was joined by the renovation contactors who gave an insider’s view of the renovation process. We learned that the ballroom columns are hollow and the floor is actually supported by suspension from the ceiling above. This allows for open spaces below the room, which accommodates the   Chrystal Dining room and the grand entry to the lobby. The renovation  contractors further discussed the extensive research and cataloguing that was  undertaken to ensure the renovation was historically accurate. The count of  fixtures, lights, and other detailed architectural elements Read more

and the winner is…

Congratulations to our client, Tabor Community Services, the winner of a recently announced 2012 Envision Smart Growth Award for the Eastern Market Plaza project.

EasternMarket Read more

victory gardens

Revitalization of our core communities is a constant focus of our talented staff. VictoryGardenOur team serves in a variety of volunteer capacities to help their own communities outside the office, but it is our work in the office that has far-reaching impact on these efforts. This reach took us, yet again, to the annual statewide conference of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC) to speak about ways to spur revitalization in downtowns.

Read more

the ripple effect

Annville Center

The splash of six buckets of water is sure to make waves in the greater Annville community. Read more

boyertown museum of historic vehicles

BoyertownIf you happen to be in eastern Berks County and feel like taking a step back in time, head to Boyertown and find the Museum of Historic Vehicles,  http://boyertownmuseum.org/. We became aware of this truly unique Pennsylvania destination through our involvement with Keystone C.O.R.E. Services, a subsidiary nonprofit real-estate intervention organization of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center.   Read more

959 boroughs

We are so happy to continue our collaboration with the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs this year with several new articles to be featured in their monthly magazine,Boroughs. We believe strongly in the value of Pennsylvania’s core communities and look for opportunities to positively impact their efforts to strengthen their revitalization efforts. The past articles we have featured in  Boroughs  magazine have provided tools for some of the 959 boroughs across the state to utilize in their own environment.

That said we are enthusiastic about the topics that are being discussed with PSAB for 2012. We will post the copies of these new articles here as soon as they are released.

functional obsolescence leads to adaptive re-use

BalthaserBuildingDonovan Rypkema is a world leader in historic preservation based redevelopment who has literally been from here to Kathmandu and back preaching the gospel of preservation and re-use of historic architecture. Through a partnership of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC), Keystone C.O.R.E. Services, and the Our Town Foundation, Don spent the past three days in Hamburg, PA. The focus of this Berks County visit was the historic Balthaser Building, a prominent 1885 Victorian Composite mercantile building in the heart of downtown Hamburg.

We were part of a group of 25 attendees who took part in a DIY Feasibility Study for the adaptive re-use of the Balthaser Building. Within three days, four small working groups formed and assembled a variety of background data on local real estate markets, national and local economic trends, target user groups, market saturation and need, physical constraints and opportunities, political climate, and financial analysis.

In short, four teams created four functional feasibility studies for a building that is the backbone of Hamburg’s historic district and is currently vacant and endangered.

Oh, and they largely did it themselves without private sector consultants, architects, or accountants.

That is the essence of the Rypkema way. Through a combination of lecture, anecdotes, and a few self-deprecating stories, Don provides the necessary tools to create truly useable feasibility analyses for the preservation of historic buildings; an approach that Don will defend as the utmost sustainable form of redevelopment. He certainly makes a compelling case.

Check out some of Don’s presentations at  http://www.placeeconomics.com/.