Sierra Club Calls For Ending The MPC And Awards Neighbor For Activism

This past week, the Sierra Club Falls of the James, the area’s oldest environmental organization, sent an open letter to City government concerning the deliberate cutting of trees in Monroe Park and the appearance of impropriety. In the letter, the Sierra Club suggested, among other actions, that the City’s lease with the Monroe Park Conservancy be terminated. The Shockoe Examiner posted the entire letter, minus some of the maps and photos. It is noteworthy that so far there has not been more media coverage of this detailed call for accountability and transparency from the new Mayoral administration.

Furthermore, today the Sierra Club Falls of the James announced that Oregon Hill neighbor Todd Woodson would be one of the recipients of the prestigious Green Giant awards. The award is being given in recognition of Woodson’s previous and current advocacy for Monroe Park and urban trees (including his previous service on City Council’s Monroe Parks Advisory Commission), as well as his promotion of animal welfare with the Richmond Animal Advocacy Alliance.

In the announcement, the SCOFOJ stated that City Parks worker Wyndham Price would also be receiving a Green Giant award posthumously. Price was an ardent environmentalist who helped with a variety of projects within and outside the park system. He was a familiar face around Oregon Hill and he will be missed.

The next SCFOJ monthly membership meeting, to be held Tuesday, February 14th (yes, Valentine’s Day) at 7 pm at the Science Museum of Virginia, will include a brief award ceremony for our Green Giants. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Announcing The First Annual Oregon Hill Jack O’Lantern Contest

I have been wanting to do this for a while, and I think this is the year… I am hereby announcing the first annual Oregon Hill Jack ‘O Lantern Contest. First prize so far is a measly $20 from yours truly, however I am also announcing that I am looking for a local business to co-sponsor and help to significantly increase the prize money. (In other words, this could quickly become the ________/Oregon Hill Annual Jack O’Lantern Contest with the right advertising contract).

Creative Commons image- A Jack o' Lantern made for the Holywell Manor Halloween celebrations in 2003. Photograph by Toby Ord on 31 Oct 2003.

Creative Commons image- A Jack o’ Lantern made for the Holywell Manor Halloween celebrations in 2003. Photograph by Toby Ord on 31 Oct 2003.

So…rules…let’s see…

Submission Info

OregonHill.net invites submissions for its first annual Oregon Hill Jack O’ Lantern Contest. Entrants should read the following rules, terms, and conditions before submitting any photos or documentation.

Eligibility

Entrants must be 18 years of age or older. All entrants younger than 18 years of age must submit a note of parental consent with their entry. All entrants must be a resident of the Oregon Hill neighborhood to be considered. Contest is void where prohibited by law.
Contest judges (which is so far just me) and their immediate families are not eligible to enter.

Entries

Entries will start being accepted from October 15, 2016 at noon through October 27, 2016 at 11:59 pm. A winner and runners-up will be announced and presented on OregonHill.net on Friday, October 29, 2016 at noon. Please submit entries by emailing a photo jpeg file, size between 200 kb and 1.5 mg, of the entry to info@oregonhill.net, including a (real) name and a (real) address. Submitted photo should be of a carved or altered pumpkin in front of address. All entries must be original, newly-produced works, created after October 1, 2016. Entries must be original creations, with photo by the creator, and not infringe on the copyrights of any other parties. Any entires suspected, in the discretion of OregonHill.net, to be in violation will be rejected immediately from the competition.
OregonHill.net does not grant entrants the right or access to photograph private property or use of its name to secure access. Entries may have multiple co-producers, but one should be listed as the primary contact upon entry. The fair dissemination of any prize winnings will be the responsibility of the primary contact. Participants may submit multiple entries, however 1 photo entry per email. All forms of photos that are not produced by the entrant must be credited to the original photographer. Entries containing immoral, defamatory, obscene or scandalous content, or any other content which, at the sole discretion of OregonHill.net, is not in the keeping with OregonHill.net, will be deemed ineligible. By submitting a photo entry, each participant represents that the photo submitted is an original work that does not infringe on the copyright or intellectual property right of another party, and each participant agrees to indemnify OregonHill.net, and its contest judges from all liability arising from any alleged infringement in this regard. Photographer retains ownership rights to the submitted photo. However, the winning entrants grant to OreognHill.net the non-exclusive, non-transferable right and license to use the photos and the winners’ names in perpetuity without compensation, notification, or other limitation or condition, both in conjunction with the competition and promotion of the competition and promotion of OregonHill.net generally.
OregonHill.net is not responsible for entries that are not received or not received properly, or for any technical problems with corrupt digital files, internet outages, computer failures, and the like. OregonHill.net is not responsible for lost, late, or misdirected entries. OregonHill.net is not obligated to acknowledge receipt of entries.

Judging

Entries will be judged by a panel made up of OregonHill.net editors and Halloween experts invited by OregonHill.net. Judges’s decisions will be final and binding.

To select the winner, entries will be by judged by awarding of points based on the following criteria: (1) originality (40%), (2) composition and coherence (20%), (3) quality of photo (20%), and (4) consuming/recycling/composting of materials (20%) (this can be signified by a statement of intent included with entry). In the event of a tie score, the tie will be broken by awarding the prize to the entrant with the highest score in the first of the above-listed criteria (in order of appearance) as to which there is no tie.

Prize

Prize consists of $20 in U.S. currency, prominent featuring on OregonHill.net, and bragging rights. Runners-up will receive prominent featuring on OregonHill.net, and bragging rights. Applicable federal, state, and local taxes on prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.

Lastly, OregonHill.net reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to modify, suspend, or cancel the contest for any reason.

I think that covers it.

In addition to possibly having a co-sponsor, there is the possibility that the contest judging will change to online public voting on OregonHill.net to determine winner, but that possibility may or may not happen for this year’s contest.

Oregon Hill On The Tourist Map

Tourist maps are always fun for their distortions as well as their inclusions and exclusions.

The photo below is an excerpt from “The Character of Richmond”, circa 1990, made by Atlantic Graphics. It seems more oriented towards Fan businesses and notably left out all of the Southside. I got it from former Oregon Hill neighbor Greg Wells, who has a booth or two at Mixie’s in Mechanicsville. He has more copies of this map for sale, along with a lot of other cool memorabilia, Richmond and otherwise.

I have seen more recent ones around town that leave Oregon Hill out, showing just the Virginia War Memorial right next to Hollywood Cemetery.

Anyway, this post also gives a little foreshadowing to an announcement coming this Thursday.

IMG_6557

This Week

Coal Ash Stories film screening tonight.
(***Group Bicycle Ride to Event!***, Meet at Oregon Hill Overlook at 6:45, Enjoy Gorgeous Views of James River, Arrive at 7:00 to Rag & Bones Bicycle Co-op)

VCU-Community Meeting on the Gladding Residence Center Capital Project tomorrow evening.

Community Conversations: ReRVA – Public Spaces
Tuesday, April 5, 6-8 p.m., The Valentine, 1015 E. Clay St., Richmond, VA
Continue the conversation.
Part of the Community Conversations series on revitalizing, recycling and re-imagining Richmond, find out how Public Spaces are being redefined throughout the city. Whether for recreation, environmental initiatives or reflection, public spaces are shaping why people move to and remain in Richmond. Event is free.

Mayoral candidate forum on Wednesday at VUU.

5th District meeting this Thursday.

Power Dialogue Friday, April 8, 8:30-noon at VCU, 2-5pm at UR Robins Center
The VA Power Dialog will engage college and university students from across the Commonwealth of Virginia in meaningful conversation with state regulators, officials, and peers on how our state will help meet the U.S. climate commitment of 30% cuts in global warming emissions by 2030. The day’s events will conclude with an interactive poster session and tabling. A collaborative network of twelve colleges and universities will host the event at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond. Registration is free. For more information and to register: BLOG.RICHMOND.EDU/VAPOWERDIALOG

Don’t forget about the Ukrop’s Monument Ave 10k this Saturday. There will be associated traffic closings.

The Tredegar book talk that was scheduled for last month and had to be canceled due to tornado warnings is being rescheduled for April 19th.

Volunteer Opportunity: Que Pasa Festival Saturday, May 7, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Canal Walk in Historic Downtown Richmond
Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (VAHCC) hosts the annual Que Pasa Festival as a celebration and showcase of Virginia’s diverse Latino community and businesses. The festival will include food, drinks, music, and a variety of games and activities for people and families of all ages. VAHCC is looking for volunteers to help us make this a successful and memorable event. Volunteers will provide assistance in a variety of tasks, including setting up and breaking down, admissions, and beverage sales, and volunteer shifts are available throughout the day from 6:00am until 9:00pm. Volunteers who stay for 4 or more hours get a free meal! If you are interested in volunteering at the event, please register here: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form?EQBCT=9ff305896f8547e88f3dbb0352c9c50a

‘Tredegar Green’ – Still No Response To Neighborhood Concerns

Venture Richmond, a very powerful special interests group, still has plans to apply for re-zoning the Tredegar Green property near Oregon Hill. Venture Richmond has talked about the need for Oregon Hill to compromise on the site’s planned use, and discussions between Venture Richmond and the neighborhood have been conducted over the last few years. However, the lawyer representing Oregon Hill, Andrew McRoberts, reports that there has been no reply from Venture Richmond representatives, not even a confirmation of the letter he sent outlining Oregon Hill’s very reasonable wishes over six months ago. All other inquiries by all residents of Oregon Hill had likewise been ignored (so much for “public-private partnership”).

The latest Venture Richmond communications to City staff reveal gross inadequacy:
No real commitment to event management planning- crowd, parking, trash, etc.
Sound levels are to be monitored, but this is meaningless because there is no decibel limit on sound, etc.
No height limitation (even though the DCC zoning would allow any owner of the property to build up to 95 feet in height by right — right in front of the Va. War Memorial’s view of the river!)

All the media has reported is that Jack Berry, Venture Richmond’s Executive Director, is planning to run for the position of Mayor of the City of Richmond. Perhaps he thinks he can do an even better job of putting off the public’s concerns than the current Mayor.

Richmond Community Solar Co-op

The Richmond Community Solar Co-op had an info session last night at Henrico County’s Tuckahoe Library.
Hunter-Install-5
Here is the basic information:

Want to Go Solar on Your Home or Business in the greater Richmond area? Join the Richmond Community Solar Co-op

Neighbors in Richmond have formed a solar co-op to make going solar easier and cheaper. Co-op members use their group buying power to get a discount and work with the support of the non-profit VA SUN as they go solar. VA SUN brought the first Solarize program to Virginia and has helped hundreds of homeowners go solar in the Commonwealth.

Based on the same principle as buying in bulk, co-op members purchase solar systems together to save money and share knowledge. The group uses a competitive bidding process to select a single company that will install systems on all of the participating homes. Each participant signs his or her own contract with the installer, but everyone gets the bulk discount.

By going solar as a group we can save up to 20% off the cost of a solar system. You’ll also have the support of the group instead of navigating an often-complicated process alone. VA SUN is supporting the group effort.

Contact: Aaron Sutch, VA SUN Program Manager (aaron@vasun.org)

Community Partner: Sekar Veerapan (smvee@hotmail.com)

The “Tredegar Green” Amphitheater and Local Media

An article appeared on RVANews.com on the amphitheater built by Venture Richmond this summer. The subtitle of the article is “Here’s why a new patch of grassy hillside is such a big deal.” Unfortunately, like an earlier article on the subject that was published by Richmond.com, it mostly contains quotes by Venture Richmond’s executive director, Jack Berry, without including any opposing or even questioning viewpoints. In other words, these articles seemed designed to drown out any concerns coming from Oregon Hill neighbors.

I hope people remember the impetus for the creation of this community news site, OregonHill.net. Neighborhood residents were having difficulty getting their unadulterated views represented in the local media on the destruction by VCU of important historic stables, and the absorption of Green Alley and the historic City Gymnasium for its VCU student recreational center. At one point, the Times Dispatch published a column with outright falsehoods about the condition of the stables, in conflict with an earlier TD real estate column on the successful and tasteful renovation of one of the stables. Thanks to John Murden and RVAnews.com for their help with getting the site started, OregonHill.net was able to later publicly offer some opposing points. At the very least and if nothing else, the subsequent discourse eventually lead to a better finished project overall. That controversy continues to have reverberations.

And that is why it is particularly disappointing to see RVAnews.com publish such a one-sided piece on this current controversy. While I don’t think OregonHill.net necessarily represents all the views of neighborhood residents, in the same way the Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association does not necessarily represent all neighborhood residents, it at least offers a community perspective, one that is often shortchanged by the local corporate media. Case in point: Do these recent articles on Richmond.com and RVANews.com do the community interests justice or are they more interested in serving as advertising? When the Times Dispatch, WCVE, Style, or for that matter, “alternative community station” WRIR, preview the Folk Festival and ignore the amphitheater controversy altogether, can they truly say they are serving the community?

And for the record, this is not about me- there a number of other residents from Oregon Hill, the Overlook condos, the local preservation community, local politicians, the local canal society, the international canal society, etc., with their own nuanced views of the controversy that the local media could have chosen to interview for their articles. But they did not. They chose to give Jack Berry and Venture Richmond the full coverage and sole voice.

There is also the important journalism principle of disclosure. The Times Dispatch, WCVE, and many other local media outlets are sponsors or partners of Venture Richmond (along with many other powerful interests, including VCU and City government). Is there a financial relationship between Venture Richmond and RVANews.com? And while it is may be too much to expect disclosure on every article or opinion, it should definitely be part of the ones that deal with topics of important community discussions. By the way, don’t forget that the Times Dispatch and Richmond.com are owned by the same company and they are in the process of tightening their relationship. (Also, not all the local media has been amiss. The Richmond Voice has done a good job of presenting and balancing opposing views in the amphitheater controversy. It deserves more readership.)

Consider and compare the roles media and community involvement in regard to the multiple attempts to push through a flawed plan for a minor league baseball stadium in historic Shockoe Bottom. If it was not for dogged involvement and investigation by citizens, and those same citizens demanding media coverage, there are many important facets to the public debate that would have likely been ignored. Now, with City Hall figures jumping ship, opponents are feeling better about the chances of stopping the potential destruction of valuable slave history in Shockoe Bottom and making way for more responsible development.

Sadly, there are still many Richmonders who are not aware of the damage done to the James River and Kanawha Canal, an important piece of slave history in its own right, by Venture Richmond’s Tredegar Green amphitheater, despite similarities to the Shockoe stadium proposal. Oregon Hill neighbors have watched over this valuable public resource for over a hundred years, yet much of the local media has deliberately chosen to ignore our concerns. Will it continue to do so going forward?

Bottom line, real community journalism represents the happenings, news, and opinions of the community. It does not exclude voices as much as it includes them. ‘RVA’ continues to struggle in this regard and that does not bode well for the future. As citizens, in all our different communities, we need our local media to make an effort for fair reporting that gives voice to more than corporate agendas. That was true with the Shockoe ballpark debate and it should have been true for the Tredegar Green amphitheater controversy.

Who Will Be At The Market Today?

From email announcement:

Well, YOU, certainly!

The Richmond Tree Stewards and the James River Park System’s new manager Nathan Burrell will be onsite to convince you (as if you needed convincing) that our trees, waterways, and parks are fantastic and essential.
AND All our wonderful vendors – farmers and food makers, local crafters of local goods and services. We bid farewell to Alchemy Coffee, Cucina and RedGate Organic Farm. But we welcome Jazzy Petite Treats and next week St. Andrew’s begins its biweekly appearances – this week it’s Robin Raver (massage and handknittedvegibabycaps) and Wild Heaven (goat soaps and lotions)’s turn. And have you tried, the eggs, cheeses, yogurts, flowers, sausages, roasts, onions, carrots, greens, sandwiches, spring rolls, ices, ‘shrooms, ayurvedic tasty teas, herbs and plants… it’s all here at Byrd House Market, Tuesdays 3:30-7pm through October…sometimes longer!

Support Locovorian Practices
and win a $250 VaGrown Gift Basket! Get your punch card at the BHM Tent.

Student Boxes, etc.
It’s First Tuesday so Amy’s Garden will join Byrd Farm, Epic Gardens and Agriberry in offering a Student deal. Check’m out!

WBCH Yard SALE!!
WBCH is holding the raincheck Yard Sale this Saturday, June 8: Tables just $20. Details at the BHM Info Tent

SNAP, Credit & Debit Cards WELCOME
________________

Ana Edwards, Manager
Byrd House Market & Library Programs
Grace Arents Library & Education Center
William Byrd Community House
www.wbch.org / 804.643.2717 ext.306