Earlier this Spring I had the pleasure of attending that HYPE 804UM put on by the Richmond Greater Chamber of Commerce. It was held this year at the Science Museum of Virginia, already famous for enriching minds and inspiring all. I was excited as the day started, not knowing what to anticipate. The day would be filled with two breakout sessions that included speakers on platforms of Art, Culture and Community. Unwittingly, I gravitated towards the talks focusing on Community.
I have a small background with volunteering in the Richmond Community. I have spent my time assisting at the Richmond Area SPCA and at WRIR, Richmond’s local independent radio station, that is staffed, almost 100%, by local volunteers. Although I have done those activities in the past and could continue to do so well into my future, I still consider what else I can do for my immediate community. I not only want to be an active and engaged member but want to be able to make a difference, big or small.
Marc Cheatham runs and started a blog, The Cheats Movement, which informs about the Richmond Community at large. He covers everything from emerging artists to any positive action that is happening within the City of Richmond. He was the first speaker I joined. The discussion was started of how we can personally discover our place within the community. But first the word community had to be defined. It is a concept that is different and unique to each of us. For me, community is support from neighbors, friends and local government. Another definition I heard that day defined community as a network of relationships. Once you have the definition, the next step is finding your place within it. For me, my involvement with the Coalition Theater, a long-form improv theater, downtown connects me to members of the community I may not have had the chance to meet in my day-to-day work environment. I feel that by taking classes and working with others that are like-minded, I can inspire and reach others with comedy with the end goal of a sense of comic relief.
I feel at the theater we provide another pawn in the artistic landscape that is becoming downtown Richmond. We constantly do shows that invite our neighbors and friends to get up on stage with us. We have embraced our place as an alternative option to the casual food and bar scene always available throughout Richmond. But still there lies the question of the next step: How do we broaden our horizons now that everything else has come into place? Ryn Bruce of Batter Up would tell us that we need to connect with ourselves, to focus and simplify and most importantly, to get out of our comfort zone. It would be too easy to open a theatre and say, “Hi. We’re here. Whenever.” But it does not always go quite simply. We will need to promote not only the theatre but the house teams as well. I even consider branding DaVinci, the house team that I am a member of. We will need to continuously attend festivals to let others know what we are trying to do in Richmond, VA. Or maybe the next step is a program that can help others in serious need of laughter smile again.
I am sure that the path we will take will align with the ideas offered by Mr. Cheatham and Ms. Bruce. We are in a constant motion of change and ideas and there is no short to the amount of creativity of possibilities that the Coalition Theatre or Richmond have at its grasp. Get out there, dig into the cooperative soil of Richmond and discover your place within the community while discovering yourself.