Last night, nestled in the basement of The Valentine Richmond History Center, we presented the second part of the RIC/RVA event series. Fighting the urge to frolic in thebeauty of an 80-degree evening, 40 Richmonders once again put their heads together to think differently about the town in which they live. And if I do say so myself, we created our own bit of beauty – ours shining through new ideas, and a city reimagined.
True to form John began with a challenge. To engage properly in the depths of Richmond’s past, he told us, we needed to understand Richmond through the city’s built spaces. Here, we were reminded, were the tangible manifestations of all the conflict, innovation, and pride Richmond has wanted to show the world. Leaving our interests piqued, John handed the floor over to Gregg Kimball, of the Library of Virginia, and Bill Martin our gracious host at the Valentine. With an obvious excitement the pair walked us through the ways in which the landscape of Richmond has been carved and re-carved. Not surprisingly, the crowd was rapt by the presentation. Each building torn down, each community split in two, was a part of our fractured past, and the comments from the audience were vigorous. Notably Christy Coleman of The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, gave some significant context for many of the buildings and events that surrounded them. Piece by piece the rich history of what has been built, torn down, or denied its proper place, began to come together. And with that, we moved from the informative to the creative.
As the empty wine bottles began to pile up, attendees were led by John and Peter Fraser, of Fraser Design Associates, into a mapping exercise that further explored our city’s landscape. The results were inspiring to say the least! Instructed to re-imagine how the city is connected, where we envision its focus, and how we will all relate accordingly, groups of 6 literally remapped Richmond. Taking decidedly green approaches, each group made clear that connectivity and inclusion were paramount. It was so heartening to know that if we could have our way, there would be far fewer fissures and separations between the members of our community.
With Floricane at the helm, and some help from i.e.*, this series is proving to be a spectacular way imagine our cities future!