Interview With Beth Marschak, Richmond Earth Day Founder

Style magazine has a nice interview with Beth Marschak, one of the founders of the Richmond Earth Day celebration (and a former Oregon Hill resident).

Here’s an excerpt:

Beth Marschak, now an HIV prevention specialist, was 20 when she helped organize the city’s inaugural Earth Day at Monroe Park in 1971.

In a nod to Saturday’s yearly acknowledgement of the planet, Style spoke with Marschak about some of the progress made — and to worry about the future.

Style: Why did you want to bring Earth Day to Richmond?

Marschak: I was in a student group at Westhampton-University of Richmond called S.H.A.M.E – Studying and Halting the Assault on Man and Environment. That was back when people liked names like that.

Most of the people in our group were science majors. I was a chemistry major at that time. People had a fairly sophisticated view of the problems affecting the environment and ecology from a scientific standpoint.

And, of course, if you looked at the James River back then, it was terrible. Sewage was going directly into the river. You would not want to get into it. Now people tube down it and swim in it and fish. You could not do that then. You wouldn’t put a toe in it.

So it was really one of those things where, right here in this area, you could see some major impacts from not having policies protecting clean water, clean air.

She also recently wrote a letter to the Planning Commission, asking that they spare remaining mature trees in Monroe Park. However the Planning Commission voted in favor of removing the trees.

Civil War and Emancipation Day at Tredegar Tomorrow

From the webpage:

This year’s Civil War and Emancipation Day highlights two significant themes in post-War Richmond that have evolved into fundamental components of our modern democracy: voting and education.

Join cultural, historical, and community organizations from Greater Richmond for a day of hands-on activities, performances, historical talks, and a mid-day keynote program.

Admission is free. For more information and a schedule of activities, visit

Participating Organizations:

American Civil War Museum
Black History Museum & Cultural Center
City Dance Theatre, Richmond, VA
East End Cemetery Cleanup & Restoration Project
Groundwork RVA
League of Women Voters Metro Richmond, VA
Library of Virginia
The Mariners’ Museum and Park
Richmond Ballet
Richmond National Battlefield Park
Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site
Richmond Public Library
Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project
Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church (The Mount – Richmond)
Urban Archeology Corps RVA
The Valentine
VCU Department of History
Virtual Curation Laboratory
The Virginia Defender
Virginia Historical Society
VMFA Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Virginia State Capitol
Virginia Union University
Venture Richmond

Were You An Earthling?

Doing ‘Throwback Thursday’ a day early. Found some old signs while cleaning out my shed this past weekend (in preparation for this coming weekend’s yard sale). Some older residents may remember participating in the Earthlings Food Coop, which shared local seed/produce and split up truckloads from United Natural Foods.

Eventually the Earthlings dwindled away, but the dream continues with the Richmond Food Coop, which is setting up across the river. They are holding a volunteer interest meeting this evening at 6 pm at Cafe Zata.

You Are Invited! (No Joke)

Please come and celebrate the unveiling of the new OREGON HILL highway marker to commemorate the important history of the Oregon Hill neighborhood!

What: Highway marker dedication ceremony with guest speaker Councilman Parker Agelasto

When: Friday, April 7, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Where: 911 Idlewood Avenue (one block west of St. Andrews School)

World War I Historical Reenactment In Monroe Park This Thursday

After prolonged discussion between local history groups, the City government, and the Monroe Park Conservancy, plans are reportedly coming together for the staging of a historic reenactment of World War I trench warfare in Monroe Park this coming Thursday. This event will correspond with other World War I centennial commemoration events happening throughout the Commonwealth.

As one third-party observer put it:

After so much controversy regarding the taking down of trees and beginning of serious renovations for Monroe Park, I guess they thought they should make lemonade out of lemons and invite hobbyists and re-enactors to make use of the current state of the park by demonstrating the World War One innovation of trench warfare. They want to increase and diversify uses of the park going forward and in their ongoing conversations with the City, this was suggested as an educational opportunity for Richmond.

A local design firm has been engaged to set up barbwire and pillbox forts around perimeters, but they are still waiting for decisions on the use of replica tanks and inert mustard gas.

There will be some corporately-sponsored V.I.P. tents set up and rented during the event, which should help make Monroe Park a profit center and encourage the privatization of other public City parks.

The announcement of the reenactment event has already brought different responses. A gaggle of Oregon Hill residents have vowed to bring an old-style protest along Main Street, while some elderly Prestwould Condominium residents, a few of whom still have personal recollections of WWI, look forward to their bird’s eye view of the spectacle. ‘White helmets’ are organizing to protect nearby homeless.

Interestingly enough, the City’s Urban Design Committee is scheduled to meet this same Thursday, and while trench warfare is not on the agenda, some new Monroe Park plans are.