A Recipe for Progress (and Chocolate Chip Cookies)
I came across these cards the other day. They are mailers from the late state Representative Sam Morris’s campaigns in the 1970s. I find myself looking at them every election season and reflecting on how much has changed. And yet, Chester County’s values continue to stand strong.
Back then, this was campaign literature – a simple typewritten postcard including a brief message from Sam and his wife, Eleanor, along with a family recipe. In an age of extreme partisanship, political vitriol, and negative advertising, sometimes I think we’d do better to follow their example.
If you’re not familiar with Sam and Eleanor, they were pioneers and visionaries in Chester County for several decades. Sam served the 155th District of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1971 to 1978 and then again from 1981 to 1990. He was the driving force behind several important farmland preservation measures, including the Clean and Green Act of 1974 and the Right-to-Farm Act of 1981.
Together, Sam and Eleanor made an amazing team that exemplified the Chester County ethic of public service, stewardship of the land, and the preservation of our natural resources. The Morrises co-founded the French & Pickering Creek Conservation Trust in 1967, and Eleanor served as its president from 1972 to 2000, during which time it permanently preserved more than 6,500 acres. Today, their legacy lives both through their successful efforts in land conservation and their family homestead at Lundale Farm. The Morris children, in accordance with their parents’ wishes, have established a nonprofit organization on the 400-acre farm and it is being farmed organically through land-lease agreements with several local farms and CSAs.
As I look at these cards, I wonder if Sam and Eleanor could have ever imagined the Chester County of today. The literal and figurative fruits of their labor have resulted in the preservation of almost 30 percent of our open space. And on a larger scale, it was recently announced that Pennsylvania, leads the nation in farmland preservation – having recently preserved our 5,000th farm.
Sam and Eleanor were my public service mentors and true friends – some of the first in a long list of local leaders from both sides of the aisle who I’ve been fortunate to know along the way.
There was my predecessor, the state Senator late Bob Thompson, who truly set the bar in terms of putting people first and giving each resident the respect and attention they deserve.
There was the late state Representative Elinor Z. Taylor, whose passion for public service, liveliness, and love of West Chester University was central to nearly everything she did. Elinor always meant what she said and said what she meant.
There was the late West Chester Mayor Dick Yoder, who we lost earlier this year. It’s still hard to walk the streets of West Chester without thinking of him and his leadership.
And last but not least is my friend, former state Representative Arthur Hershey, who remains very active in the agricultural community through his work with the farm bureau and Delaware Valley College. Art is always quick to point out that Chester County has some of the best soil and farmland in the world. He continues to be a loyal friend and a mentor.
All of these leaders helped make Chester County what it is today. And for that, we owe them a debt of gratitude. On a personal note, they’ve each touched my life and inspired me to pursue the work of public service and the business of the people. I’ve learned so very much from each and every one of them. As your state Senator, I continue to strive to follow in their footsteps every day.
So, when you drive through Chester County and admire the acres upon acres of farmland and open space, or visit West Chester or one of our other bustling historic downtowns, take a moment to remember all those who served our region and everything they’ve done to make Chester County such a great place to call home.
And in the spirit of that leadership and those values — respect, hard work, civility, integrity, and bipartisanship — I’m sharing this family recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with you.
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Dinniman for Senate
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