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PFB recognizes Rep. Murphy as Friend of the Farm

023Representative Tim Murphy has been recognized with the “Friend of the Farm Bureau” award for supporting agriculture related policies including those that reduce regulatory burdens on farmers, provide for sensible food labeling options, and maintain and modify the tax options available to farmers.

The Friends of Farm Bureau award is presented to members of Congress every two years near the conclusion of each legislative session. Senators and Representatives are nominated for the award by their respective state Farm Bureau and approved by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Board of Directors.

“On behalf of nearly 62,000 families, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) would like to thank Representative Murphy for voting in favor of issues that benefit agriculture,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “The Congressman’s support can help preserve the future of farm families, maintain our ability to produce safe and affordable food and provide resources to assist farmers in implementing environmentally friendly practices on the farm.”

In order for a state Farm Bureau to nominate a member of Congress, that member must vote consistently in favor of Farm Bureau issues. The voting records are based on AFBF priority issues, as determined by its Board of Directors.

The Friend of Farm Bureau award signifies that the recipient had a favorable voting record on issues impacting agriculture over the past two years, but the award is not a political endorsement.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with a volunteer membership of nearly 62,000 farm and rural families, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.

Pardon our dust!

household-dust-allergensExciting developments are in the works for Pennsylvania Bridges! As a result, we’re making some changes to our website with the aim of improving content accessibility for our loyal readers and shining more of a spotlight on our fantastic advertisers.

While we make these changes, we ask that you pardon our dust as we revamp our web presence.

You may note that you can now read all of the content from our Fall 2016 edition simply by scrolling down the home page. We’ve moved our articles from an older, web page style format to a more modern blog style, beginning with the Fall 2016 edition, so that readers can now more easily view (and share) our great content on their cell or mobile device.

If you currently enjoy reading our publication online via ISSUU, have no fear. We’ll continue to publish each edition online via ISSUU as we have in the past.

Looking for an article published in Pennsylvania Bridges prior to Fall 2016? Check our extensive archive of every story we’ve ever published. You can now also use the “search” feature in the top right-hand corner of our site to locate specific content.

Our awesome advertisers support the (always free) print edition of Pennsylvania Bridges and we thought they also deserved recognition on our website. Since many of our advertisers have an active Facebook presence, we’re now including links to those pages on our site. Please help support them by “liking” and following them on Facebook, as they are the reason we can continue to publish a print edition in an age when many publications have ceased to do so.

Stay tuned as other new developments are in the works. If you haven’t already, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news.

Fall 2016 Edition: Here’s Looking at You!


The Fall 2016 issue of Pennsylvania Bridges is now available online and in print.

Here’s Looking at You!

A few days ago, in one of my college level public speaking classes, I asked my students to interview each other, using open ended questions that couldn’t be answered with a simple yes or no, and then to deliver short, impromptu speeches relaying the information they gleaned from those interviews. As is often the case with group work, an odd number of students were present in class, and one brave aspiring public speaker was left with the unenviable task of having to interview me, her professor.

Following a script, she asked me what I considered to be my greatest strengths, a question I was hard pressed to answer, in spite of my having crafted the inquiry in the first place. A number of adjectives sprang to mind.

“Umm,” I began, relying on one of the vocal fillers I caution my students to avoid, “Well, I like to think I’m loyal, hard-working, and ambitious. Oh, and I have an embarrassing amount of self-confidence.”

Reflecting upon the statement a couple of hours later during the drive home from class, I wished I’d phrased my response differently. I regretted using the word “embarrassing” to describe my level of self-confidence. I realized I’d unintentionally devalued a feeling many people never experience.  So many people have so much to say and yet they lack the voice, the means, or the opportunities to express themselves. I was ashamed at how I often take for granted the ability to easily speak my mind or to assert myself in any given situation.

Not only should I own my excessive, “embarrassing amount of self-confidence” I should recognize it for the gift it was, and for the personal achievement it represented.

You see, I haven’t always been the professor, or even the student with their hand raised high in the air, hoping the teacher would call on me. Growing up a child of divorce, like so many of my generation, I was often not sure of my place. I developed a keen sense of when to be seen and when to be heard. I was quiet when necessary, well behaved almost without exception and, in many respects, painfully introverted. In short, I learned not to bother people for fear of being rejected.

This was at odds with my actual upbringing, during which my mother and grandmother especially constantly reminded me to assert myself. In spite of their encouragement, I made it into my late 20s and even my early 30s before I managed to convince myself my voice was worthy of being heard. It was a complicated process, and like anything worth doing, it didn’t come easily in the beginning.

I’ve never been one for half measures, and since the first day I discovered my voice, I’ve continued to seek ways to use it to effect positive change. Still, from time to time I do wonder if I’m bothering people.

The conclusion I always reach is I hope that I am bothering people. I hope I’m making them think by asserting my right – no, my privilege – to contribute to a civilized conversation about how we can elevate ourselves as a society.

This issue is dedicated to all the men and women out there who – with the aim of making the world a better, more compassionate place – bother people. This issue’s for the kids in the front row, hands held high. This issue’s for the volunteers who assume positions of leadership in their community, who lend their time, talents, and above all, their voices.

No seed was ever successfully planted in untilled ground. This issue is for all those who till the soil. Here’s looking at you!

Until next time, Carla E. Anderton

Back to School 2016: Mindful Distractions

Back to School 2016: Mindful Distractions

Back to School 2016: Mindful Distractions

The Back to School 2016 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges – Mindful Distractions – is now available online & in print.

Mindful Distractions

kids_playing_006_01When we’re children, we celebrate play. We expect play will be a constant in our lives, like celery and peanut butter at snack time, and at various intervals during the day, we’ll be encouraged to pursue activities that bring us simple joy.

If we’re deprived of this pastime, we sulk. We may throw tantrums. At the very least, we’re sullen and uncooperative and no fun to be around.

As we grow older, we’re told that play comes second to work, always. Leisure time is shifted from being a daily occurrence to something we’re promised on the weekends, if only we work diligently enough during the week.  We can earn the privilege of relaxation, however, it’s no longer guaranteed to us as a right. Welcome to adulthood, when you’re expected to spend the bulk of your waking hours at work. Still, while all work and no play may make Johnny a dull boy, it will at least guarantee he gets to eat and sleep under a roof at night, which are no small feats.

I’m a big fan of work, in fact, I’ve mentioned before I find it to be relaxing. Washing dishes, folding laundry, and sweeping the floor has an almost therapeutic effect on me. However, there’s a difference between engaging in the mundane, which can be restorative, and engaging the intellect, which can be draining.

For much of my adult life, I spent the majority of my time pursuing the cerebral: writing, editing, publishing, and producing in general. I felt if only I were fitter and more productive, I’d be happier.

As a result, I filled my every hour with industry and activity. I left no space for laziness to creep into my routine. I also forgot to schedule time for relaxation. Play could still be earned but I came to see it as a waste of time I could otherwise spend involved in more productive ventures. So, I worked more, and longer hours, and after a while, even sleep seemed like an obstacle to increased productivity.

Eventually, of course, like anyone who’s tried to keep up a relentless pace, my wheels finally refused to keep turning. When that happened, and I was forced for various reasons to slow down to the point of halting, I rediscovered the recuperative power of play. I found activities I once considered mindless distractions became pursuits during which I could turn off the noise and hear the still voice I’d ignored for too long. It became important to me again to nurture the child inside, and like a child, to celebrate play.

I still work hard, and I log a lot of hours at my desk and in the classroom, but I also make leisure time an equal priority. I encourage our staff to do the same, which is why this edition I filled in for Retro Whiz Chuck Brutz in the Entertainment Chuckwagon (Congrats to him as he’s celebrating a big move!) and I gave our technology columnist (AKA my husband) time off to go play Pokemon GO. (I’d say I was kidding about this last part, but the proof of his interest is in his full report on page 11 & 12. Next issue, he’ll be back to sharing with you how you can slash your cable TV bill.) As for me, I’ve recently discovered how calming coloring can be, as evidenced by the three coloring books now sitting on my bookshelf.

Whatever mindful distractions bring you joy, I encourage you to make them part of your daily life.

Until next time, Carla E. Anderton

Summer 2016 – Just Keep Swimming!

Pennsylvania Bridges - Summer 2016 - Just Keep Swimming!

Pennsylvania Bridges – Summer 2016 – Just Keep Swimming!

The Summer 2016 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges – Just Keep Swimming! – is now available online & in print.

Just Keep Swimming!

fathers_day_035_01Sometimes I’m sad, y’all.

I know that may seem an odd way to begin a piece in a summer edition. After all, summer is practically synonymous with happiness. It’s the season of near endless sunshine, with many a day spent outdoors enjoying food and fellowship with family and friends, the stresses of work and reality distant concerns.

Yet, the fact remains that while the sun beams bright, some days my smile does not.

I’m not alone. According to a 2015 study conducted by the World Health Organization, 350 million people worldwide suffer from some type of depression, whether it’s situational, seasonal or caused by a wide ranging variety of factors. In many cases, depression is more than just occasionally feeling blue; it is a debilitating, even disabling condition.

I feel grateful my own bouts of depression are mostly short lived and manageable.

Full disclosure, I am not by any means a mental health professional and am not qualified to diagnose or treat anyone. I’ve never even stayed at a Holiday Inn Express!

Still, I find for me the magical elixir that alleviates unhappiness is work. In the periods of greatest sadness in my life, I’ve discovered the best method for combating depression is to stay busy, even if that meant I had to seek out or outright invent an activity.

It’s difficult to remain in an emotional funk when your mind is engaged. The action you take doesn’t even have to be especially meaningful. It just has to be purposeful. I do some of my best thinking – and, by extension, problem solving – when I’m performing some simple, repetitive task like washing dishes, chopping vegetables or folding laundry.

My husband is probably reading this and wishing I’d spend more time cooking and cleaning my way to bliss, but that’s another issue. As it stands, when he arrives home to an immaculate house and the aroma of a meal simmering on the stove, more often than not he knows I’ve had a rough day.

It’s the act of doing, and not necessarily the intention, that soothes my soul and clears my mind. I retreat inwards until I locate that place of strength I am always amazed to discover.

To borrow the mantra of an animated fish named Dory we first met in 2003, I “just keep swimming.”

I focus on the aspects of life I can control, and just keep moving forward. I know that at the end of the day, what matters is not always whether I’m joyful or discontent. What matters is what I accomplished in that span of time, in spite of my emotions.

“Just keep swimming,” I tell myself in times of distress. The alternative is to drown.

“Just keep swimming.” It may not be the cure all for all of life’s unpleasantness, but the opposite of activity is inertia, a state in which nothing positive can be accomplished.

We’ve crammed this issue full, almost to the point of bursting, with profiles of people and organizations that have kept going, often in the face of adversity. May they inspire you to do the same!

Until next time,  Carla E. Anderton

Pennsylvania Bridges Summer 2016: Mother, May I?

Spring 2016: Mother, May I?

Spring 2016: Mother, May I?

The Spring 2016 edition of Pennsylvania Bridges“Mother, May I?” – is now available online & in print.

Spring 2016 Edition: Mother, May I?

MomMomA favorite playground game when I was of school age was “Mother, May I?”

For those unfamiliar with this children’s game, the basic objective was to instill both appreciation for authority and foster imaginative thinking.

Speaking of my youth, one of my earliest and fondest memories of my first forays into the wild, wonderful world of publishing was an occasion on which I – along with my high school newspaper sponsor and mentor, Pearl Washington – had to make a difficult choice on the fly.

In a nutshell, our funding was in question, and we had to decide whether or not to send an edition of our paper, The RamPages, to the print shop.

On one hand, we’d already announced to the entire school the paper was due out that week.

On the other, we weren’t sure there was enough money in the school’s budget to cover the printing costs.

Torn, Pearl and I made our choice based on advice she’d received from her own mentor, our high school principal.

“Principal Howard always told me ‘it’s better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.’ Perhaps this is a case when that rings especially true,” she said, and the decision was made. We sent the issue to the printer.

Fortunately for us, our worst fears weren’t realized, and the check the school cut to the printer cleared.

Fun fact, this adage of it being better to ask for forgiveness than for permission, did not originate with my high school principal but was first stated by the late Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, a U.S. Naval officer and early computer programmer. If you’ve never read her story, look her up. She was a remarkable woman and a pioneer of invention.

“It’s better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission” is a piece of advice that’s lingered with me, and even now, some 20 plus years after Pearl and I took that gamble and shipped off a paper we weren’t sure we could afford, I still find myself on occasion making impulsive choices when I fear an apology may be in order before everything is said and done.

After all, life is a series of choices, some deliberate and others haphazard, and not every decision we make, no matter how well intentioned, is going to be popular with everyone.

Picture how colorless and dull a world we’d occupy if we all made every choice based on how it might be perceived by others.

Think of the innovation that would no longer occur, the questions that would never be asked, the solutions that might never be found. Imagine the revolution that would never happen if we preceded every decision with the query “Mother, May I?”

Sometimes, in order to follow a new path, we must first bypass the gatekeeper.

This edition features a number of people and groups who have elected to take risks, even when the obstacles seemed to outweigh the advantages. Rather than shirking from making difficult choices, they’ve opted in favor of imagination, and of believing the greater good is paramount. Instead of saying “May I?” they’ve said “I can, I may, and I will!”

Until next time, Carla E. Anderton