Jerry Andree, Township Manager

No level of government has more impact on daily life than local government. That’s why my colleagues and I at Cranberry Township are passionate about pushing the limits of excellence to provide the best possible services to our residents and customers. However, being well-served is not a passive achievement; it is a collective undertaking. Through this blog, we offer our personal reflections on that assignment. And we hope it will help engage you in joining us on that same collaborative mission.

Jan 08

[ARCHIVED] Diversification: Cranberry in a multicultural world

The original item was published from October 4, 2016 1:44 PM to January 8, 2021 9:28 AM

Earlier this month I received an online inquiry from someone living in Texas.  He said that he and his family were considering a move to the Cranberry area – maybe in connection with the Shell ethane cracker plant being built in Beaver County, but that’s just my speculation.  What particularly concerned him was that he and his wife were of different races, and he wanted to know how they and their three bi-racial children would be received here. 

America, as we are frequently reminded by the news, has entered a particularly difficult period with respect to race relations in general, and in particular, to the role of law enforcement agencies in that mix.  It’s a touchy subject, and anyone who talks about it is presumed to be biased along the lines of their own ethnicity or career; no one is excluded from that presumption.  So what is the real truth?

The problem is that there are so many ‘facts’ out there – including actual events, rumors, wishes, perceptions, interpretations, urban myths and Internet-enabled misinformation – that by being selective, you can ‘prove’ pretty much anything.  So, while I would like to persuade the man who wrote to me that Cranberry is largely exempt from the tensions we keep hearing so much about, I also believe that proving it would never be completely convincing.  Stuff happens – and some of it happens here. 

But what I can say for sure is that we value diversity and we have been working hard to make people of all backgrounds feel welcome and valued.  Our residents expressed that value loud and clear during the preparation of our comprehensive plan, and it continues to be a high priority of The Cranberry Plan. 

To help, we have engaged two residents of our community who are passionate about their love for Cranberry and about the diversity goals of The Cranberry Plan.  They have facilitated discussion with hundreds of residents.  They have organized a number multicultural events to celebrate and support diversity.  They are forming an Envoy program to mentor new arrivals.  And they’ve convened a leadership forum, including local police, to look at diversity issues countywide.  Beyond that, we have worked with the Sister Cities organization, supported Seneca Valley School District’s Diversity Initiative, and we expect to do more.

At the same time, however, simply working hard doesn’t guarantee complete success.  Even if Cranberry never has an incident that rises to the level of making the evening news, awkward or uncomfortable situations are still bound to arise from time to time.  So here’s part of what I said to the man who contacted me: 

“We are thrilled you are considering Cranberry Township to be your family’s new home.  Yes, western PA may still have some old hang-overs that exhibit biases and bigotry.  As a person born and raised in western PA I can certainly say I knew a few of those characters in my early life. 

“I will not promise that you will never experience bad behavior, but I can promise any bad behavior results in an overwhelming response from our community who will say that such conduct does not reflect 99.9% of our community.  My family has flourished in this community for over 25 years and I can tell you for certain that this community exhibits more love and compassion than anyone could imagine for a community.”  

I concluded by saying that if the writer decides to come here for a visit, I would welcome the opportunity to meet him and to share our excitement about life in Cranberry Township.  
I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.  Write to me