Welcome to the your Reading Garden! 

     In conjunction with the Mt. Carmel Area Public Library Board of Trustees, staff, and friends of the Library we are endeavoring to design, build, and maintain a Community Reading Garden in the abandoned lot adjacent to the Library on Oak Street in Mount Carmel.  A sustainable Green Space in the downtown is our answer to the unfortunate challenge presented first by a blighted building and then by the degradation of the lot after the edifice was razed.  The Community Reading Garden shall be our contribution to the wider effort to breathe a new life into downtown Mount Carmel.  We envision a transformation of a dead place, that through misuse and neglect had become a sink for filth and decay, into something new, alive and beautiful. Demonstrating that such change is possible is, perhaps, the single most important aspect of the project.  People (especially the youth) need to see, experience, and even engage processes of transformation rather than simply watching things fall apart.  It is entirely fitting  that this should come through the Library; for it is a 'gateway' to knowledge and its books and resources both spark our imaginations to dream things as yet unseen, and, inform our minds, empowering us to change the face of the world.

          It is true that the communities of the Anthracite Coal Fields have suffered for decades from the dissolution of the Industrial Economy and from declining population, and that these have left deep scars on our towns that leave many at a loss as to how to respond to negative changes.  It is also just as certain that we inherit a proud legacy of hard working people -mostly immigrants- who though strangers to one another, built this place together.  They brought with them knowledge, language, and traditions of distant lands and applied them in strange, difficult, and dangerous circumstances here in the coal regions, and they were rewarded very little for it.  Like them, we still find ourselves poor, but too often these days too much is made of the limitations imposed by too little money.  Like them, we must imagine a world we can afford, envision a place for ourselves in it, and work to build it with our own hands if need be.  It may be beyond our powers to resurrect all that has been lost, but we honor our heritage when we take this place we've inherited, and with a strong, clear sense of our special identity, mold it into something new.  There should be no mistaking where we are as we step into the Mount Carmel Area Reading Garden: it should be clear that we are in the Anthracite Coal Fields of Pennsylvania, in the Mount Carmel Area, but it should be a surprising and hopefully inspiring version of home that we may not have expected to see.  

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