Friendship Artists Mural Mary Street J12.jpg

Colin Morrell's home on North Mary Street in Lancaster city became a canvas for Friendship Heart artists.

THE ISSUE: It’s Friday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County and the surrounding region. Some of these items are welcome developments on the economic front or for area neighborhoods. Others are local stories of achievement, perseverance, compassion and creativity that represent welcome points of light during the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and with other difficult developments enveloping our nation and world. All of this uplifting news deserves a brighter spotlight.

We enjoyed LNP | LancasterOnline correspondent Lis King’s recent article about the murals that are sprouting on Lancaster city buildings, thanks to the Friendship Heart Gallery & Studio and some inspired homeowners. Artists brought in by Friendship Heart painted a stunning mural of a garden in bloom on a two-story house on the 300 block of North Mary Street.

“The owners of the house, Colin and Julia Morrell, enjoyed seeing their house’s exterior walls sprout a garden and become a local destination,” King wrote.

Talk about city beautification!

And another mural is in the works, this one for Rachel’s Cafe and Creperie sometime this autumn.

The mural on the Morrells’ home was painted by about 60 artists over the course of seven days last September. Mast Film Co. produced a short documentary about the project called “The Garden” that’s available to watch at mastfilm.co/ourfilms/the-garden.

“It captures the process beautifully, from the idea taking roots through the days of the artists painting the mural,” Colin Morrell told Lis.

See Lis’ story for more about how these bright and cheery colors are popping up on city buildings.

In other good things:

— Dorothy Merritts, a geosciences professor at Franklin & Marshall College, was “recently was elected to the National Academy of Sciences — an elite society ‘charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology,’ ” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Sean Sauro reported.

Merritts is the first Franklin & Marshall faculty member to be accorded the honor.

It’s a natural step for Merritts, who’s had an interest in science and an inquisitive attitude throughout her life. As a child, she gravitated toward nature books and issues of National Geographic. Now her areas of study include active fault lines and plate tectonics in the western United States and soil erosion in Lancaster County streams.

Franklin & Marshall colleague Christopher J. Williams told Sauro that Merritts is a perfect fit for the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is a well-deserved honor reflecting Dorothy’s hard work and dedication to scientific inquiry,” Williams said. “Her teaching is informed by her research so having someone like Dorothy teaching students at all levels of the curriculum really elevates our academic program.”

Now, Merritts could be called upon lend her expertise to pressing issues in ways that could influence public policy.

— Millersville University, Elizabethtown College and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology will receive grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to improve access to STEM — science, technology, engineering, math — and computer science education, LNP | LancasterOnline’s Ashley Stalnecker reported this week.

“These PAsmart awards focused on STEM education are particularly valuable in putting commonwealth students on a path to the best jobs of the future,” Gov. Tom Wolf stated in a news release.

The Millersville project will help school counselors in their work to guide underrepresented students, particularly girls and women, into STEM careers.

The Elizabethtown project “will go toward computer science and STEM education for Pennsylvania teachers through advanced training and preparation by professors” and could boost regional school districts, Stalnecker reported.

And Thaddeus Stevens “plans to partner with kindergarten through grade 12 post-secondary educators and community organizations to remove financial, social, educational and career pathway barriers to underserved rural students as they transition from high school to post-secondary education and eventually to STEM careers,” Stalnecker explained.

— Finally, there’s a dandy summer program for Lancaster County youth (and the young at heart) that deserves to be amplified.

Get Outdoors (GO) Lancaster!, which is in its eighth year, has been expanded to even more parts of Lancaster County. The program, sponsored by WellSpan Health, the Library System of Lancaster County and the Public Libraries of Lancaster County, encourages reading and physical activity, and this year’s aquatic theme is “Dive Deep!”

Participants can search for 15 “anchors” — wooden marker posts — that are hidden in county and state parks. In addition to potential prizes being offered to those who log their progress, there are the benefits of fresh air, nature walks in new places and curated recommendations for library books about coral reefs, crabs, narwhals, penguins, starfish and more.

Get more details online at golancaster.org or at your local library.

Meanwhile, if you want to enjoy nature but don’t want to officially sign up for any program, we love this recent “simple recipe” that Sam Frankhouser, of Ephrata, shared in a letter to the editor:

1. Go for a walk and take your smartphone!

2. Look for God’s gifts that are free!

3. Snap a picture of nature’s great beauty!

4. Keep it as a reminder of his love for thee!

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