Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Storyteller: Phoebe Driscoll
Last week, Phoebe Driscoll was Night Out With Meaning’s storyteller. Night Out is about learning, connecting and reflecting. It is my hope that those who attended took away knowledge that they didn’t have before, that they met someone new or discovered something about a friend that brought them closer. And it is also my hope that there were pieces from Phoebe Driscoll’s story that made them stop and reflect about their own lives and experiences.
I certainly spent time reflecting on Phoebe’s life story. Phoebe exudes wisdom in a way that makes you feel like she’s lived it and she’s simply going to let you in on a few things she’s learned along the way. I thought about where she came from and where her life landed her based on her “gut and luck!” I love how she is entering her eighth decade and still sees work to be done around land preservation. I thought a lot about her awareness and consciousness of her place in the world, how she contributes to its betterment and how she will one day leave it. I thought about my part, what I am doing and how aware my young children are of nature and the environment. I’ll say it…we take the Wissahickon and surrounding land for granted. We can literally step outside and find ourselves on a wooded trail. And I admit, I didn’t think much about how that land was preserved – until now. Someone said this is beautiful and someone said we must take care of it and preserve it for future generations. Phoebe realized this early on and works very hard to make that a reality. Thank you, Phoebe. And thank you to Anne Standish and Nancy Venner from the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association for introducing all of us to Phoebe.
If you are interested in learning more about the outreach programs of the Watershed, check out www.wvwa.org.
Described as “a dreamer and a doer” Phoebe Driscoll’s hard work, lasting resolve and inspiring dedication to land conservation has benefited us all. She attributes who she is today to growing up on a farm, having a woman’s education in the forties and fifties, a supportive husband and luck!
The fourth Night Out With Meaning was held on November 10, 2011 and featured Phoebe Driscoll. The topic was “Protecting the Land & Environment.”
On a personal, community and national level Phoebe Driscoll has committed her married life — what’s left after family affairs —to volunteer activism in protecting the land and environment. Phoebe began what would be her lifelong passion for protecting the environment in 1954 when she went to work for the Governor’s Committee to Keep Maryland Beautiful. When she left it was said Phoebe is Keep Maryland Beautiful.
Since then, she has dedicated her energy to volunteer efforts that protect land and the environment. For thirty-six years she has served on the board of the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association (WVWA). Demonstrating her spirit and vitality, Phoebe was one of the leaders on the watershed campaign in the mid 1980’s to preserve a 77-acre parcel of wetlands and forest known as Penllyn Woods. Organized much like a political campaign, this movement was successful in preserving this important tract as a publicly owned nature preserve and park.
Phoebe is a founding board member of the Montgomery County Lands Trust, which over the past 17 years has been involved in saving over 2,100 acres in a county under intense development pressure. In 1993 she was appointed by the Montgomery County Commissioners to the newly formed Montgomery County Open Space Board which oversaw the innovative 10 year $100 million dollar open Space program. Now as chair of the Board she oversees its sequel — the-nationally recognized $150 million dollar Green Fields/Green Towns initiative.
While most of Phoebe’s environmental activism has been focused on the local and county level, she has played an role on the national level as well. A long time member of the Garden Club of America (GCA), she served as chairwoman for the GCA’s National Affairs and Legislation Committee which lobbies on environment issues related to plants
In December 2008, Phoebe’s commitment to the land was expressed in a very personal way. She and her husband, Lee, gave the Natural Lands Trust 49 acres (6 acres was a bargain sale) It is now known as Tunnel Farm Woods. The Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association holds a conservation easement over the Woods and her remaining 24 acres. In making the donation Phoebe remarked, “We have loved this land and it has loved us back. We want future generations to enjoy it as we have”.