Grand Firebirds

Grand Firebirds

Every year I take a trip to Phoenixville, Pa for the annual Phoenixville Firebird Festival. It is my favorite event of the years. I started going in 2012 and just keep going through rain, snow, whatever. This year's event will be tomorrow Saturday, December 9. 

Phoenixville is a nice town to get out and explore when you want to get out of Lancaster for a bit. They have a number of small shops and eateries along Bridge Street. The refurbished storefronts along Bridge Street have a really great main street feel centered around the old Colonial Theater and the old foundry site.

This festival is a great time to get out and walk around. The foods is great and plentiful, the small shops in town provide an opportunity for finding a unique Christmas present, and the atmosphere on Friendship Field is charged with excitement as the light the bird.

Check out my Grand Firebirds video below for a quick recap of the past six years!

Going to the Firebird Festival?

Share your pics with us using the tag #GrandFirebird, we would love to see your perspective. You can also share your photos with us in the Grand Lancaster Society Facebook Group. Click the button below to share with us ...


Also be sure to check out ...

Silent Nights

Silent Nights

A few minutes ago I looked out the window and noticed it looked a little odd out there. So I put on my big puffy coat, pulled up my hood, and stepped into the cold night air.

When I stepped out I noticed the light first, it's an odd shade of blue tonight. Thanks in part to tonight's extra bright supermoon. Then there is this low lying fog above the ground and the bite of 30 °F in the air. So the fog is forming frost across everything.

The frost on the grass crunched beneath my feet as I made my way over to the fence to look across the countryside. The lack of wind, the crispness of the air, and the soothing blue hue from the frost and fog all came together to create a very peaceful feeling.

The nights out here can get pretty dark, but tonight the rustling in the brush was just a local family of rabbits playing in the pasture. It's kind of an odd feeling to be able to observe what's normally hidden in the darkness. It reminded me of nights after a snowstorm when the refracted light from the snow lightens up the night.

It's hard to refer to this as a silent night because even at 2 am in the middle of the countryside I can hear cars and trucks zooming down the streets nearby. About a mile across the fields I can see lights heading up and down the road a couple of times a minute.

The thought occurred to me that I should get out my camera, to capture the moment and share it with all of you. Instead, I just stood there and enjoyed the moment for a few minutes. Then I took a few minutes to think about why I'm enjoying standing there in the cold at 2 am looking into basically nothing. 

One comment I've heard a lot since starting my photography is "I wish I could see these things the way you see these things". To which I want to respond "me too, and you can". 

It's always been my goal to encourage others to get out and explore, to take a deeper look at what's around, and to find the beauty in our world. I'm afraid those aren't activities that get enough priority from enough people. I understand not everyone gets to live in the country either, but It seems hard for just about anyone to slow down and enjoy the moments anymore.

I'm sure I could have snapped a beautiful photo that would have captured the essence of the mood tonight. Instead, I hope I've given a bit more of the thought process behind the scenes. I don't want to capture photos just to show off. I always hope that my images inspire folks to head out and explore, to take a moment to enjoy the sunset, to watch the moon rise and admire the beauty in its details, and maybe even observe the animals moving in the moonlit night.

Sure, these things aren't top priorities, but personally, I have gained a lot of joy from taking time out of my day to stop and enjoy them. I think the more you make a conscious effort to stop and notice the finer details, and some of the "less important things", the more it just becomes a part of your daily habits. Over time to begin to appreciate these little things more and more.

 

 

 

 

Rooster Street Butcher

Rooster Street Butcher

The holiday season is always a busy time. Shopping, holiday activities, school plays, church events, charities, on top of our ordinarily busy lives. It can be difficult to relax and enjoy a good meal. This month’s destination has two locations right in the heart of local artisan based shopping, with a very tasty outcome.

I first discovered Rooster Street Butcher at The Shop on South Cedar Street in Lititz. While taking pictures of the beautifully decorated shops and pre-colonial homes on Main Street a friend just had to show me Rooster Street Butcher. I could already see it from Main Street and it had a very hip style to the storefront. When I walked through the door the very stylish decor continued to impress as I rounded the corner of the display case. It was then obvious I was in the presence of quality food.

Rooster Street Butcher

Just looking at the cuts on display is enough to make your pallet run away with your imagination. I had the opportunity to meet Kristina Page while her husband and co-founder Tony was busily preparing an order in the cutting room. Kristina was very pleasant and invited me to come back sometime and give some of their sandwiches a try in the BYOB Dining area. We returned the following week and made it our first stop before heading down Main Street for some Christmas shopping.

Lititz Springs Park beautifully decorated for Christmas.

The menu is lean but hearty. The focus was fresh, with their made-to-order coleslaw and house-made pickles, to the fresh cuts of meat on their hot and cold sandwiches. We went with a soup and sandwich combination that was quite possibly one of the most delicious meals I've ever had. It’s evident that the Page's begun their mission of quality at the base level ... with their ingredients.

The cornerstone of Rooster Street Butcher would almost certainly have to be their ingredients. The Page’s have made clear since 2012 that their mission is to remind people that “healthy meat and simple ingredients can be transcendent, found locally, and are worth sharing with others”. They source their meat from local farmers who don’t use hormones or added antibiotics while maintaining a very high touch approach to raising their livestock in the pasture. Once the meat reaches their shop they use a head-to-toe approach to maximize the yield of the animal and reduce waste. The Page’s and their staff clearly take great care in their craft, and they are very helpful and open about how to turn your cut into a masterpiece meal.

Rooster Street Butcher’s second location can be found in Lancaster Central Market on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The central market location doesn’t offer their menu items, but they still offer the same fine cuts of quality meats.

Check out the Rooster Street Butcher Deli Counter at Lancaster Central Market.

Check out the Rooster Street Butcher Deli Counter at Lancaster Central Market.

While supporting the locally owned stores in downtown Lancaster and Lititz this holiday season. Be sure to stop by Rooster Street Butcher and grab a bite, or take home a cut to create a holiday masterpiece of your own. Rooster Street Butcher also offers gift cards for a locally focused gift with a flavor your friends and family will definitely appreciate after the holiday mania calms down.


Directions

Lititz Shop:

Lancaster Central Market:


more to explore ...

 
 

Grand L.A.N.D.S. Project

Grand L.A.N.D.S. Project

It’s hard to describe the feeling. I’m standing in the northern most parts of Lancaster County near the Berks County line. A truly beautiful section of rural Pennsylvania. It’s beginning to get a more mountainous feel than the rolling hills near eastern lancaster county where I live. It’s getting close to sunset and I’m snapping a few pictures of some horses in a pasture. The aged rusty wire fence ads to the rustic rural feel. The insects provide a natural symphony only interrupted by the sound of my camera shutter. There are also a few bullfrogs providing bass alongside the pond behind me. It’s the type of pond you would love to find in the morning surrounded by low fog with a mountain full of trees rising in the background and bursting with autumn colors.

Some of the shots I captured that evening were postcard worthy. Not necessarily because of anything special I did, but simply because this spot is an idyllic rural scene in all directions. Except for one very startling exception, directly in the middle of all this beautiful scenery lies the footprint of the Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline.

Whether you are for or against the pipeline, there is no argument about whether this project has impacted the landscape. Such a small pipeline requires a considerable swath of land be cleared to make way for the equipment and crew. From this point of view it is particularly startling as you see the path dip slightly into the valley and then ascend sharply up the side of the mountain to a sky color treeless void surrounded by lush forest,

I’ve made multiple drives up there over the last month, but I’ve never seen anyone else taking pictures or even stopping to take a look. I personally know homeowners in the area who are outraged, but you definitely get the sense that the pipe is in the ground and the deed is done, at least for this round. For Sale signs are around the corner on every road. I instantly wanted to show these images to the world, but wasn't sure what to say. Seemed a little late to say much of anything. Take a look ...

A post shared by Seth Dochter (@sethdochter) on

On the opposite side of the County dozens of protesters are gearing up as the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline crew has begun breaking new ground every day. Construction is currently gearing up to go under the Conestoga River from the property that was previously a hub of the pipeline opposition. There is really no better example of the determination to install this pipeline no matter what. They’de prefer to hit right at the core of the opposition and silence them quickly. Don’t worry, if anything goes wrong with the drilling fluids down by the river, they’ve got around a mile and a half buffer to stop the flow before it reaches the Susquehanna River. Nothing to worry about here.

I greatly appreciate the passion and dedication of the protesters, some of whom have been fighting this pipeline for over two years. Just this Monday 23 protesters were arrested for standing in front of a backhoe just outside Columbia, PA. For most, the courts have ruled against them and they have no other options available. It takes courage to believe so strongly in something that you would stand in front of heavy machinery, but as you would expect the police simply came and arrested everyone and the machines went back to work. Which left me to question what could be done when the powers-that-be seem so determined. Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Organization describes "bearing witness" as cowardice, but I'm afraid that may be the only legal recourse available at this point. 

What was even more discouraging was some of the public's comments to news articles on Facebook. There was an abundance of hatred, negativity, and apathetic ignorance. It's literally sad to see it spelled out. Every time a story comes out about protesters, all too eager critics mock the protesters because they aren't at work. While also using the opportunity to stir-up unrelated left vs right political cat fights of course. You're typical visit to Facebook land with many folks shouting out their beliefs without necessarily going into details like facts and reality. The loudest opposition has been from those who have been directly affected by this pipeline, but what about the next one and the next one after that. Will one or two eventually run through your yard?

As can be expected with every contested development project, attention will be given to the protests in opposition, some of the construction woes, and the unforeseen problems that will certainly come later. But what about the land itself? This is a point in history where the land will be changed forever. While it may be too late to save these lands, what about the next pipeline?

Grand Lands Banner.jpg

Grand L.A.N.D.S. Project

Aside from the rather speculative arguments around environmental impacts and politics there is one thing for certain, the construction of a pipeline will most certainly impact the land and change the landscape in a very permanent way.
— Seth Dochter

That’s the feeling I felt standing in the footprint of the Mariner East in the northern end of the county. That’s the feeling I felt driving 45 minutes down a single lane logging road with no exits, just to see my first drill pad site. That feeling really punched me in the gut last week when I came across two lawns staked out for destruction in the coming weeks to make way for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. Seeing the stakes made it eerily obvious what was about to be destroyed. I wish I had stopped at one particular lawn for a photo, but another car was behind me. The next time I make it down there, the deed might already be done. That’s when I really felt the sting.

Panoramic view of a field along Witmer Road. All the way to the left you can see the area where crews are preparing to dig. If you look closely in this photo you can see the pink flags marking the path of the pipeline.

One of the things that drew me into 360 photography was the idea that we could revisit places that had changed over the course of time in a really immersive way. Throughout the course of collecting uncountable amounts of photos and videos from the area over the last few years I have also been infatuated with the idea of how to archive and make that imagery available in a meaningful way.  While the protesters on the ground and in the courts are giving it their all, the bright pink markers have already mark the future path of destruction in Conestoga. Passing the scene feeling discouraged my creative side forged all of these thoughts and feelings into an idea.


 

The monkeywrench has been described by long time environmentalists as your talent. Unlike traditional monkey wrenching environmentalists I’m not going to be sabotaging machinery. I’ve spent years now avoiding exploring awesome abandoned places because I don’t want to be arrested for trespassing, so standing in front of machinery is also not something I want to engage in. A lot of the focus is currently on the construction site, but I think what would be best is for me to do what I do, and that’s capture the beauty of Lancaster County.

Monkey_Wrench.png
Polite Conservationists leave no mark, saved for the scars on the land that could have been prevented had they held their ground
— David Brower - Sierra Club

Specifically, I would like to capture the path of the pipeline before and after it comes through. These lands are about to be altered for at least the course of my lifetime. I want to give as much effort as I can to capturing the undeveloped land in the coming weeks so we will at least have the ability to go back and see what once was. We will also be able to use it as a visual representation of the pipeline process to inspire future communities who have lawyers knocking on their doors.

The rush will be to capture as much as possible before it’s gone, capturing the aftermath will be easy. I’ve already begun this mission to utilize the beautiful fall foliage while it’s available. There is much more I could be doing, but I need some support.    

How you can help?

There are a number of tools I would like to access to help this idea have the greatest impact. For all intent and purposes we can define this project as a survey of the area before it’s altered. While I already have the camera equipment to generally capture the area, I would like to rent (or purchase when justifiable i.e. used items) some specific equipment for specific applications such as long distance and macro lens attachments to capture wildlife and plantlife. Everything from gas money to batteries is an expense, but I see a learning opportunity that extends beyond the coming months. With the machines already digging away at the ground bit by bit, time is of the essence.

I won’t just be capturing for archive purposes, these images will be going out every day to bear witness to the project as it unfolds. There are other photographers on the scene to bear witness to the protest, so I mostly just want to share what’s happening to the land itself. I think that's a story that needs to be told on it's own right. For all of the environmental documentaries out there, you rarely get to see the land before it's been destroyed.

While I’m always willing to put my own money in the game, I just don’t have enough for as urgent and important as this issue is.  As I’m typing this the backhoes have been digging away. So I’m humbly reaching out to my fans and asking you to help me get this idea going right now!  

I’ve set up a special donate button below. Please give as much or as little as you can. Currently I’m looking to raise about $900 to get the ball rolling a little further, but every dollar will go towards capturing this area before it's altered forever. In the meantime, I will continue to capture and share with what I have because there is no time to lose.

After you donate be sure to check out the links on my thank you page and subscribe to our newsletter. I'll be keeping you up to date with the progress of this campaign here on the blog and across our social channels.

 
 

More Ways To Show Your Support ...

Be sure to like Grand Lancaster and Lancaster Against Pipelines on Facebook

Share your Perspective with the Grand Lancaster Society Facebook Group ...

Use the Hashtag #grandlands on your pics

More news to come!!

Send a message

Got something to say? Wanna get involved? Wanna cuss me out? Shoot me a message, I'll read it!

Name *
Name

Lancaster Airport Community Days

Lancaster Airport Community Days

It's that time of year again! Time for the annual Lancaster Airport Community Days. This is one of my favorite events of the year. Not only are there a ton of really cool airplanes, but there are all sorts of activities, foods, and a very intriguing interactive display I've heard rumors of. Best of all, it's free admission and parking is only $5. For more details on whats going on this year, visit the Lancaster Airport's website below ...

 

check out my video ...


Photo Slideshow ...


Directions ...


 

subscribe for more adventure ...

recently on the blog ...