Polly Chalfant, a dedicated designer of many Planning Commission publications for over two decades, has retired from her county position. Polly celebrated her last day at the office on December 6. A native of Chester County, Polly instilled her love of the area into all her projects. The Planning Commission is very fortunate to have had her on staff and she will be missed.
Polly arrived at the Planning Commission in 1992 when graphics were done by hand. Her first task in the office was editing maps by hand on Mylar. Her range of tasks, however, quickly evolved. Many of Polly’s initial handiwork is well recognized, most notably, the cover of the county’s first Landscapes plan as well as the detailed watercolors in the plan illustrating the benefits of smart growth planning and the pitfalls of sprawl. Polly’s efforts on the plan played a major part in making the plan an award winning and nationally recognized document.
Over her 27 years at the Planning Commission, Polly embraced digital technology and worked with planners on plans and publications too numerous to count. One of her favorite projects was the first redesign of the Planning Commission’s annual report. She remembers analyzing the old report: “It was very dry,” she says. “When I took a closer look, I realized we were involved in so many interesting activities, working with so many municipalities and organizations and so many accomplishments. I remember thinking, this is all very exciting, so let’s show some excitement.” Polly went on to redesign the document incorporating multiple photos and graphic elements and set the stage for future annual reports.
Other personal highlights over her career include work on the Oxford Revitalization Plan, the Landscapes2 and Landscape3 plans and most recently the Return on Environment report, which details the economic advantages of preserving open space in the county. The layout of each of these projects required not only Polly’s graphic design skills but an adept understanding of the planning purposes of the documents. “I enjoyed working with everyone on their projects. I enjoyed trying to find the essence of the message being conveyed and bringing it forward visually.”
Besides reports, Polly also played a key role in the design of the Planning Commission’s website and other miscellaneous, but important graphic elements. For instance, this past year Polly helped create logos for two county initiatives: Census 2020 Complete Count and A+ Homes.
“There was always something new that I learned about the county on a project. And the variety of the subject matter never made my job mundane.” The people at the Planning Commission and throughout the county have also made her time here zoom by with happy memories.
Brian O’Leary, Executive Director of the Planning Commission, noted during Polly’s office send-off, “We owe Polly a debt of gratitude. Her artistic skills, her calm demeanor, and her uncanny ability to find graphic solutions for communication challenges has helped the Planning Commission be what it is today.”
Polly is only retiring from the county. While she will spend more time with family and friends, she will continue to create art in her home studio. Check out Polly’s website to learn more. While the Planning Commission will miss her, we look forward to seeing more of her artwork.