If the first event was any indication, the RIC/RVA series is going to be quite an experience!
Welcomed by the warm embrace of The Library of Virginia, last night's inaugural event was a healthy collision of historical education, creative engagement, fermented fruit, and inspired ideas. John got the party started with an invitation to begin thinking differently about Richmond's history. Asking participants to relinquish the common story that our biggest achievements took place in the 1860s, we were encouraged to widen our view to see a picture of Richmond that honors our rich diversity. Gregg Kimbel of The Library, and Christy Coleman from The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, continued the conversation with an engaging exercise. Each of the six tables of participants were armed with a stack of 50 cards describing important events in Richmond's past. The attendees then picked nine events they thought most important, and one that was not included in the stack. In sharing their choices, each group displayed their unique opinions on what mattered most in our history. From the overly political to the inspired and creative, each group shared a different story of their version of Richmond; stories that converged to tell our collective tale.
As Bill Martin of the Valentine Richmond History Center refueled us with wine, the night shifted towards a creative exploration. Aided by six of the city's best designers, attendees brainstormed provocative posters to begin mapping out how their version of Richmond's history could be captured. The variety of the results spoke to an excitement in the room that was truly inspired. You could see on the faces of everyone in attendance that something different was being considered, and a new story beginning to be told.
With the additional support of Fraser Design Associates, and some help from the i.e.* initiative, this first event was a great kick start to getting a new conversation started. As the night wound down, there was a palpable buzz among the crowd, the kind of buzz that results from 60 people getting activated both creatively and intellectually; the kind of buzz that marks those higher moments in our day to day lives.
As this series moves on I believe we can expect that feeling to recur time and time again.