Writing for Town & Gown Magazine

By Tom Shakely, April 1, 2014

Starting this month in Town & Gown, The Nittany Valley Society will start contributing a regular column to the magazine. David Pencek, Town & Gown’s Editorial Director, explains in his “Letter from the Editor:”

Starting this month, the site will have columns and stories contributed by The Nittany Valley Society. The nonprofit group based in State College “cultivates appreciation for the history, customs, and spirit of the Nittany Valley, the Pennsylvania State University, and the surrounding communities.” The group has published several books, and excerpts from them will be part of its contribution at townandgown.com.

This month’s column, written by society board member Tom Shakely, provides an introduction about the organization and what to expect in the coming months.

Our first column is “In a Flat World, the Nittany Valley Matters More Than Ever.” In this debut column, I strive to convey a sense of The Nittany Valley Society’s role within the community by outlining how special the Nittany Valley is when compared to so many other small American towns that have vanished over the past century—victims of Industrial and Information Age forces. I also excerpt a paragraph from a remarkable new book that relates to our Valley community:

In Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America, McClay and McAllister write:

“Whether we like it or not, we are corporeal beings, grounded in the particular, in the finite conditions of our embodiment, our creatureliness. … In losing ‘place’ entirely, and succumbing to the idea that a website can be a place and that digital relationships can substitute for friends and family, we risk forgetting this reality of our embodiment, risk losing the basis for healthy and resilient individual identity, and risk forfeiting the needed preconditions for the cultivation of public virtues. For one cannot be a citizen without being a citizen of some place in particular; one cannot be a citizen of a website, or a motel.”