American Dream in Carlisle

According to the Borough of Carlisle: “Strolling through historic downtown, one is greeted by unique architecture, quaint shops, and overall SERENITY.
With a reputation as a growing and viable community, historic Carlisle CONTINUES TO MEET THE EVER-EVOLVING ECONOMIC NEEDS OF ITS CITIZENS.
Civic pride appears throughout Carlisle’s well-maintained community.† Restored homes, manicured lawns, and flower boxes reflect the pride of homeownership where peoples of ALL economic backgrounds have achieved the “AMERICAN DREAM” through AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HIGH EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS.† Citizens continually volunteer and support local programs involving the elderly, youth and disenfranchised revealing the MORAL FIBER of this great town.
Carlisle’s cultural environment is a diverse mix”
Do you as a community agree or disagree with these statements? Is Carlisle truly this idyllic place referenced to by the Borough, or is there more to Carlisle than meets the eye?

More info here

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Antique Shops and Tattoo Parlors

In a chapter titled “Community Life,” from Stacy Mitchell’s book Big Box Swindle, the following passage immediately made me think of downtown Carlisle’s landscape due to similar characteristics mentioned in the book and evident in the town:

“Mega-retailers have not only produced landscapes that are remarkably inhospitable to community life, but they have also severely compromised the vitality of our downtowns and older, ‘mixed-use’ neighborhoods by undermining the local businesses that were once their lifeblood. Walking is no longer appealing if most of the worthwhile destinations have closed and the streets are a dreary series of vacant and half-used storefronts… ‘Now there ’s no one. The storefronts downtown are still occupied, but it’s antique shops and tattoo parlors’” (95).

My intention is not to make Carlisle sound “bad,” nor do I want to imply that I think the downtown area is “inhospitable.” However, the things pointed out in the selected passage are visible in Carlisle. The big-box stores such as Wal-mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s in Carlisle certainly took business away from the downtown are and have thus severely affected the towns’ prosperity and business. Going along with the rest of the passage, I am wondering:

1. Did sidewalk traffic in downtown Carlisle change once the big-box stores arrived? Was there even a lot of walking around the downtown area before the big-box store phenomenon?

2. There are two tattoo parlors and many antique shops in downtown Carlisle. Will they be able to survive in the future? How many antique shops can there be in one town before business slows down? Where there ever more antique shops than there are now in Carlisle?


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Air quality and truck traffic in Carlisle

I had an interesting discussion with Rev. McKenna, President of the Central Pennsylvania Clean Air Board. She explained the need for anti-idling regulation in Pennsylvania. Unlike the majority of states surrounding Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania itself does not have an ant-idling regulation that restricts trucks from idling. From her experience speaking with truckers and the trucking industry, she learned that some truck drivers deliberately drive to Pennsylvania because they know that the state does not have any restrictions against idling. This certainly may contribute to the 3,000 trucks that can be found idling 24 hours, 7 days a week a few miles from downtown Carlisle. Trucks idle because drivers are required to rest 10 hours for every 24 hours that they drive, and during that period of rest, truck drivers keep warm in the winter and cold in the summer by idling.

Idling trucks contribute to Carlisle’s poor air quality in a very negative way. Indeed, doctors note that diesel contains four compounds that are carcinogenic. The particulates in diesel exhaust are also harmful because of their size; these particulates are the same size of particulates that are utilized to deliver medicine to the deepest area of asthmatic patients’ lungs. Rev. McKenna noted that there is a “good” size for “good” particulates but the same size is also good in transporting “bad” particulates like those from exhaust from trucks running on diesel.

While these idling trucks are obviously bad for Carlisle’s air quality, Rev. McKenna suggested that the truck traffic in downtown Carlisle is not great for business because it creates a sidewalk atmosphere that is not pedestrian friendly. Therefore, people are less likely to shop downtown on foot or bycicle.


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Big Box Reaction

After reading the first part of Big Box Swindle along with our discussion in class it became apparent that updating Carlisle would not be as easy of a task as one may assume. However, after a long discussion in class I believe that if you tackle one objective at a time Carlisle could be improved greatly.  The first objective I would attempt would be creating a downtown for “young people,” not just for college students but for all late teenagers to mid adults in their mid-twenties. I believe this would be a good starting point for a new and more “hip” Carlisle. JS

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First Formal Interview

This past weekend I conducted my first formal interview with a tape recorder. Unlike my last interview, this one was very different and  challenging. Initially my interviewee was not nearly as comfortable because he saw the recorder out of the corner of his eye. However, after a while he became more comfortable with he fact that he was being taped and the interview from there went great.  It was also more beneficial because I received a lot more information having it on tape.


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I was able to conduct my first formal interview with Pete, from George’s subs. I already interviewed him informally so he was already familiar with me and my purpose. The interview was outstanding, again. I kept my comments short and sweet and just let Pete talk. More details on the interview are forthcoming.


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Annual Car Shows an Untapped Resource

The 26th annual Corvettes at Carlisle was a huge success this year and was held on the weekend of August 28th.  Corvette and GM execs were present at the fairgrounds for the event.  Carlisle Events hosted its first Corvettes at Carlisle Auction this past weekend. The inaugural event featured 84 Corvettes of all eras and models and brought $1 million in sales.  The  “Go Red For Women” campaign, a nationwide movement to raise awareness of heart disease as women’s No. 1 killer was part of the event. A donation was collected from those who participated in the gathering to help support the awareness campaign. All red Corvettes were parked in a specially designated area on the show field.

    Carlisle Events, host of 10 collector car, truck and motorcycle events each year, attracts more than half a million people to its 82-acre fairgrounds in Carlisle, Pennsylvania each year. Included in the annual schedule are two huge automotive swap meets – in the spring and fall – and individual specialty shows featuring Corvettes, Fords, GMs, Chryslers, trucks, motorcycles, sport compacts and imports. Founded in 1974 by friends Bill Miller and Chip Miller, the “Cars at Carlisle” shows attract automotive enthusiasts from around the world.

            The events at the fairgrounds have grown to attract over nearly one million people a year to Carlisle and have grown in popularity around the world.  With a constant flow of thousands and thousands of car enthusiasts coming to down, why does the downtown area see only a few of these people?  Business is not at an all time high during the shows.  In fact, business in the downtown area is barely effected at all.  With a downtown full of history, why do tourists in Carlisle never find their way into the downtown area?  Are the Car Shows an untapped resource in supporting the growth of the downtown economy? If so, how can Carlisle Events become directly involved with supporting the downtown businesses?


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Review of Interview with Mr. Cassius Mullen by Stephen Gensemer, Class of 99′

I have noticed by reading and analyzing interviews conducted by others some of the problems that can arise from trying to get ones true story about a particular event in history opinion. The interviewer’s job is to act thought provoking questions and dig deep into their subject to try and get to the bottom of the story. The problem that I found within this Oral History interview between Mr. Mullen and Mr. Gensemer was the inconsistencies within the actual questions themselves. The interview seems to be all over the place that there is no one main point or topic within the general flow of the conversation. Another critique is that the interviewer consistently cut the interviewee off to ask a question. This should never happen because the job of the interviewer is to find the true and whole story by cutting the speaker off you run the risk of not getting the full story. In short the Interview gave us a glimpse into the life of Mr. Mullen and his life here in Carlisle but I hate to say that more could have been learned if the question would have been phrased better and had more of a unified flow to them.


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Kyle Beeton’s 1999 interview with Joe Thomas describes Joe’s “livestock business.” I find this interview interesting particularly because it discusses the abundance of resources near Carlisle in 1999. When Kyle asks Joe where he buys his bulls from, Joe notes that he buys “90% of the cows…and cattle…out of Cumberland County.” Although Joe states that he previously bought cows and cattle from Virginia, he comments that the cost of fuel makes it economically impractical to buy from Virginia. The importance and success of the livestock business near and in Carlisle is another important element of Carlisle’s history.


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Eileen Bear Interview, 1999

I found the interview of Eileen Bear, who has worked in the President’s Office since the mid-1980s to be very interesting. During the interview, she tells of the different jobs that she’s had throughout her lifetime, including working on her parents’ farm, and the reasons for why she took them. A main factor in her decisions was her family and her desire to be with her children as much as possible. She talks about watching Dickinson presidents come and go, which was also interesting to read about.

As far as the interview itself, the interviewer adapted to what Bear was saying, allowing the interview to flow well. However, the grammatical mistakes and awkwardness of some of the questions can be a bit distracting when trying to read. I suppose our class should watch out when trying to phrase an unscripted question and when we transcribe. However, these are minor things, and overall the interview is well done.


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