Last night, while ordering my second gin & tonic at the bar in the lobby of the Artsquest Center at Steelstacks, it hit me that I had visited this space—in fact, spoken to this bartender—3 times in the past 3 days. This is not to say that I’ve been on some sort of ridiculous bender where I’ve been frequenting bars, but I have had various reasons to show up at this venue over the past couple of days.
This arts center in south Bethlehem has proven to be a pretty major point of contention among several people I know personally. A friend’s partner found steady enough employment here that they could adjust their lifestyle to suit their passions. A colleague refuses to visit the facility because of its connections with the casino. A man a spoke to tonight referenced the casino and this center as a reason he likes this area, even though he never gambles himself. I’ve made money designing graphics for a gambling addiction group that formed after the entertainment complex opened. I’ve also spent money seeing movies, dining, attending concerts and purchasing drinks from this center.
Who would have thought that an arts and entertainment complex on one of the largest brown fields in the region would cause so much controversy? I can’t say that I was thrilled, or even mildly supportive, about a casino opening in south Bethlehem. But, it’s not something I am going to argue now that it has opened, and I have to say, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with my interactions with the Artsquest Center to this point. However, I suppose wherever there are large sums of money being spent to develop a part of any town, disagreements and controversy will arise.
Politics and opinions aside, I have visited the Artsquest Center several times over the past couple of days. Saturday morning, I visited the winter farmer’s market, which paled in comparison to the summer market (understandably), but still packed a punch and allowed me to purchase some fresh, local veggies in these cold months. I was thrilled to see the press coverage of the reopening of the market (after it unfortunately was pushed aside for the Christkindlemart tourist attraction).
Saturday night, I headed back to the center for dinner and an amazing Everclear concert.
To read more/see more pictures of Everclear, click here.
Finally, last night I attended the first Lehigh Valley bloggers meetup, also at the Artsquest Center. Sponsored by Lehigh Valley Live, the event allowed local bloggers from various backgrounds and interests to step out from behind their screens and meet others who fill the blogosphere with impassioned content. Food bloggers, political activists, news journalists, special interest writers and non-profit organizations gathered to share their thoughts on ethics, accountability, anonymity, and content. It was great to see the amount of energy people have for sharing their passions and encouraging conversation and the diversity in styles, approaches and attitudes. Lehigh Valley Live took a few minutes to put in a plug for their blog hosting services, and a young man presented his initial vision for Bloggleverse, which seems to be a hybrid of WordPress and Facebook. The site is in it’s earliest days (created 12/30), but it’ll be interesting to see how it develops.
I wish I would have had the chance to talk individually with each blogger, and I wish even more that there would have been a list of everyone’s blogs available, but these are the products of some of the cool Lehigh Valley-ite bloggers at the event (if you were there and I missed you, please feel free to leave your blog address as a comment!):
- Laughing At My Nightmare: A brutally honest and often hilarious documentation of this 19-year old man’s life with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a debilitating disease that has left him in a wheelchair since age 2.
- Remember: A well-informed blog written by a fascinating environmental scientist centering on the Allentown parks system, plant life, and life with anxiety, with a call to action for all people to get involved in environmental service.
- Neighbors of Easton: A blog of enormous content and scope, this woman touches on all aspects of local democracy, food, and businesses.
- No Room For Seconds: A foodie through-and-through, this gent shares recipes and reflection through witty-titled posts.
- The Corner Seat: This woman offers comprehensive coverage of the Lehigh Valley Roller Derby scene, as well as entries about local art and music.
- Save the Kales!: I’ve already told you about this fantastic vegan cooking and lifestyle blog.
- Lehigh Valley With Love: A satirical look at news in the LV, with an eye for the absurd and a good heart, supporting several charities.
I know there were lots of other talented and fascinating folks at the meetup, that I just didn’t have a chance to talk with! This event definitely reinforced the notion in my mind that there are awesome people doing great things in this area. I can’t wait to meet more of them (maybe at the Artsquest Center, since it seems to be the place to be these days!).
Now, to go finish the tortillas I am making so I can post another recipe soon!