Welcome the Bellefonte Wilds Are Working participants
For five newcomers to Bellefonte, their average workday has suddenly become something extraordinary.
Meet the participants of “The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience,” an initiative that offers remote workers the opportunity to live and work in the towns in the PA Wilds. These five remote workers each receive free housing for the month of July with the powerful wifi needed to work remotely. In addition, they’ll get a gift card that will offer experiences provided by grant funding.
A welcome committee in Bellefonte is helping the visitors navigate life in the town. These initiative volunteers help the participants find trail heads, recommend great spots for dinner, and overall make it feel more like “home” while they’re here.
By the end of July, the hope is that these remote workers and others who hear about the initiative will be encouraged to flip the script on what they value and what they want in their work-life balance. Once they experience the quality of life in the PA Wilds (being able to do things like literally go mountain biking before your first Zoom call), they could rethink the possibilities that are available for living and working here.
Thank you to Downtown Bellefonte Inc for helping with the initiative, hosting the meet-and-greet and collecting the participants’ biographies and experiences. Thank you to Jaimie Holsinger of All Things Kind for capturing the meet-and-greet and the participants’ warm personalities in some wonderful photographs.
The Bellefonte participants of
The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience
“My name is Patrick, and I am excited to participate in the WaW program this July. I grew up in a small town (Clarion) in Western PA and lived in New York City for ~10 years after graduating from Penn State in 2011. I focus on building, managing, and commercializing technology products and services to help better understand and amplify the patient experience in clinical research.
“After my job went remote in 2020, I’ve been a bit nomadic, exploring new areas of the country while working remotely. I’ve always been a big fan of small towns and walkable communities so am looking forward to exploring Bellefonte and central PA this July, especially the many available outdoor activities.
“I previously lived in New York City for 10 years. After COVID hit, my company closed its NYC office, and I became a remote worker. Suddenly I am able to live wherever I want, which can be an overwhelming decision. Now that I am in my early 30s, what I am looking for in a place to live has evolved and changed (compared to my 20s). I want to settle somewhere with a lower cost of living, a tight-knit community feel, and access to cultural and recreational activities.”
“Hi, I’m Mandy. I’m a photographer turned web developer based in Pittsburgh, PA, working for a medium-sized agency that is based in Ohio. We develop websites for a variety of clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to smaller non-profits. The work I do includes ensuring that websites are developed so that they are accessible to people with disabilities.
“I grew up in a rural area of Western Pennsylvania and have been coming up to the PA Wilds region for many years. I am very excited to have a chance to experience living there! I love camping, hiking, fishing, exploring small towns, and going on backroads adventures.
“It always seems like there is something new to explore here. I’m thrilled to be participating in the Wilds Are Working program and having a chance to discover everything that Bellefonte and the surrounding areas have to offer.
“I’ve been a resident of PA my whole life. When I was little, one of my favorite things was when my grandfather would drive us up to the mountains on weekends. That’s where I first learned to enjoy those mountains. After he passed away, it would be many more years before I had a chance to visit again. On a whim, a friend and I adventured up to see the elk herd in Benezette, and that is when I fell in love. Ever since then, I have made it a point to come up to the Wilds at least once a year to enjoy what the region has to offer. Hiking, camping, fly fishing, and photography – it seems like I can do almost everything I love on those visits there.
“One of the things that I enjoy about the area are all of the small towns that I drive through. Some are so healthy and brimming with life, and the ones that are not quite there yet just seem so full of potential. I imagined that being able to live in one of these towns, so close to everything, would be lovely.
“During those years, I worked as a photography instructor at a non-profit, before recently moving into a career in web development. Now, I am finding myself with more freedom, money, and time to be able to invest more in the things I love. I have very recently started volunteering my time to conservation efforts, like building nature learning equipment at my local state park for Earth Day and joining my local chapter of Trout Unlimited in watershed conservation efforts. I have also started considering the role that my work plays in environmental matters – like how to create websites that are more sustainable by building them in a way that consumes less electricity. I am also interested in issues that matter to rural areas, like the importance of broadband internet access to both quality of life and economic development.
“This is also the first time I feel that I could have the freedom to live where I want, and have been able to seriously consider where I would like to be. There are places on my list, but it feels like the PA Wilds region really calls my name.”
“I am from Easton, Pennsylvania, nestled at the forks of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers in Northampton County. We are the proud centerpoint of the D&L National Heritage Corridor, and I have long taken advantage of this combined recreational and educational jewel. I value the history and heritage of my community, and what it means to come from a small town that stands to teach quite a lot.
“I was raised to love nature. I participated in the Boy Scouts of America and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. I’m an avid hiker, camper, and outdoors enthusiast. One of my hobbies is photographing waterfalls.
“I graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia in 2013, having studied filmmaking and American History. My wife, Holly, attended the same university’s Beasley School of Law. In 2020, I was recognized with the prestigious ’30 Under 30′ alumni recognition award. We both live and work in Philadelphia.
“I assist our production company in creating documentary films and television programming for platforms such as ABC and PBS. Our work is educational and historically-oriented, often focusing on stories with local tie-ins. My chief role is that of ‘Archival Producer.’ I interface with various libraries, museums, archives, and collections – at local, state, and national levels – to conduct research, execute license agreements, and procure audiovisual materials for use in our film projects. I also serve the company as a video editor.
“Over the course of ten years and a score of films with History Making Productions, I’ve developed a highly effective method of researching and organizing that furthers our storytelling capability. I especially value the opportunity to help institutions preserve and digitize aging materials from their collections. My role necessitates a degree of collaboration that is reflective of the filmmaking process as a whole. Our documentaries have been honored with over a dozen Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards and the 2021 Lavine / Ken Burns Library Of Congress Prize For Film.
“In addition to my job with History Making Productions, I work as a freelance video editor, and an adjunct faculty member of Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.”
“I’m a PA-raised, LA-based creative, with experience beyond writing in event planning, photo styling, and office management (the irony of now working from home 24/7!). I’ve proudly carved out a freelance career, and I love the flexibility that doing so remotely affords me.
“I’m a full-time freelance writer, currently wearing different hats for three clients. My main client is a tech company that makes educational games for children. My role encompasses scriptwriting for games, UX/UI writing for apps, and product/marketing writing for emails. I also manage social media for a Los Angeles-based wallpaper designer. I source images, research hashtags, and write captions for daily architecture and design-focused posts. Lastly, I write short-form blogs for an HR consultancy firm. I speak with subject matter experts on topics like downsizing office space and establishing company culture, to create insightful articles for their website.
“When I’m not sequestered to my office (AKA bedroom) writing, I’m out taking nature walks, cooking up something from my ‘Imperfect Foods’ weekly delivery, or planning some sort of get-together with my close-knit group of friends. I love grabbing drinks, soaking up the sun, hunting yard sales for tchotchkes, and dipping my feet in a nice cold body of water.”
“It’s been a life-changing few years – A devastating and scary layoff, raising my baby in isolation, and discovering the opportunity of remote work. Things are still tough, but I LOVE my job.
“Sequal Consulting is a strategic communications firm. We’re strategists for social change who help movements shift power from corporations and billionaires to the people and the planet. We help our clients increase their visibility, sharpen their message, share their stories with new audiences, and advance their vision for a more just society.
“In my remote position as a Senior Associate, I manage a portfolio of clients throughout the region. Appalachia has long powered the economic prosperity of the country, yet many of our communities have been left behind. I work to transform the region by securing our due share of investments that can build local wealth, address fires and floods caused by damage to our climate, and create good jobs with family-sustaining wages.
“My principal duties include developing strategic communication plans, including media relations and messaging. As a former journalist, I also provide media training to other staffers, clients, and organizations.
“I also love creative writing and musical theater and making costumes for my family. I have a kid who is funny and sweet and brave. And the forest is a critical component of my mental health care. I love scrambling along river banks, talking back to the birds, and challenging myself to get to the top of a steep slope as fast as I can.”
A warm PA Wilds welcome to Patrick, Mandy, Jonathan, Nora and Virginia!
Stay tuned as we continue to follow their experiences during the Bellefonte portion of “The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience.”
Interested in participating yourself?
Although the Bellefonte remote work experience is underway, applications are still being accepted for the September 2022 initiative in Kane, McKean County. Click Here to learn more.
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