Austin Jepsky is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in environmental science and sustainable engineering. He works on issues related to conservation and sustainability. His work has been published in Allegheny West Magazine and Dark Mountain. He was born in Washington State and currently resides outside of Pittsburgh.
Today the man described as “Issaquah’s Thoreau” is largely forgotten. His books have been out of print for years and the anniversary of what would have been his 100th birthday in 2020 passed without a single mention in any local newspapers. An unfitting end for a man who poured so much soul into his writing about a small place he loved. In truth, in an era when more and more books and media are exclusively focused on the national and international, Petite’s focus on the local scale of life is not only refreshing but downright astounding.
By acquiring sufficient acreage, typically a minimum of 500 acres, ideas can be given the isolation they need to have a chance at succeeding, unmolested by the outside forces of the world. Coupled with the beauty of the land and the built environment, the “castle,” a true local culture and community can arise.
Neither Columbiana nor Sewickley perfectly realize the role of Cram’s ideal walled town, but Sewickley comes much closer. While not perfect, it offers a real-world example of an economically vibrant, urban community.