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RVAgreener Highlight: Shannon

Shannon photoMeet RVAgreener Shannon! In her own words:

I moved to Richmond in 2018 after graduating from James Madison University, and immediately fell in love with this river city. I live in Church Hill with my husband and our dog. One of my favorite parts about the neighborhood is its thriving urban ecosystem. Once I witnessed a bald eagle and hawk fight over a fish just above the spire of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on 25th and Broad. Every summer, migrating monarch butterflies visit the milkweed planted in my community garden plot. But while there are still natural wonders to cherish, summers in Richmond are already hotter and wetter than is sustainable. This year for example, several seemingly healthy oak trees fell across Church Hill after days of excess rain. Waterlogged roots destroyed concrete sidewalks and toppled onto homes. Fortunately no one was harmed, but it easily could have been a lethal event.

As someone who struggles with climate anxiety, especially as it pertains to the future of Richmond’s residents, I decided to get involved with the city’s Office of Sustainability when I saw a yard sign for RVAgreen 2050. RVAgreen 2050 is the city’s equity-centered climate action and resilience blueprint. This summer I volunteered my skills to develop a concept for the city’s first ever climate-themed youth engagement program. JaVonne Bowles and I created a program - in partnership with community organizations, nonprofits and businesses - to enrich the lives of 8-10 students from Richmond’s historically underrepresented districts. Over the course of our work I observed that Richmonders are informed, collaborative, and resilient. I am proud to be a part of this community of people who do the most radical thing we can do in this fiery age, and that is to believe in a harmonious, green future.

Follow Shannon on social media at @mrslilburn

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RVAgreener Highlight: Jeremy

Jeremy photoMeet RVAgreener Jeremy - or as you may be know him, Dr. Hoffman from the Science Museum of Virginia - the gentleman that made us more aware of the urban heat island effect and its impacts to our beloved city.

Jeremy has lived in Scott's Addition for the past five years and has made quite a splash in Richmond. His love for the public green spaces, trail systems, and the way the city "hugs a historic river" was all a part of his decision in making Richmond his new home.

His time at the Science Museum has primarily focused on partnering with local organizations that are committed to addressing disparities throughout the city, including air quality, heat, and carbon emissions. Jeremy has noticed a common trend when asking neighbors how they would like to become more climate-resilient:

"There is almost a unified vision among neighbors to have safe, beautiful, and connected neighborhoods, and this is climate justice. This can be our experience. Yet, there is a hyper-focus on vehicles here in Richmond, when places around the world have realized that bike and pedestrian infrastructure and safety are priorities. People want walkable neighborhoods that have quality homes."

While Richmond can surely tout the Pulse rapid transit line and the Capital Trail, Jeremy acknowledges that transportation is a significant source of our greenhouse gas emissions, so we must extend and expand these amenities to all parts of the city.

In addition to putting Richmond on the map for urban heat island and air quality studies, Jeremy and the Science Museum have also supported the Office of Sustainability by helping develop to the RVAgreen 2050 climate vulnerability and risk assessment and serving on the Environment Working Group. Jeremy shares that one thing he enjoys most about this collaborative is the mutual learning and sharing that takes place, which he also experiences in the courses he teaches as an affiliate faculty at VCU.


Throwing Shade in RVA

Science Museum of Virginia - RVAir




Author: JaVonne Bowles, Office of Sustainability Equity Fellow and RVAgreen 2050 Roundtable Member

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RVAgreener Highlight: Angela

Meet RVAgreener Angela! In her own words:

Angela photoI am originally from California and moved to Chesterfield, VA as a child. After obtaining an Associate Degree in Science, I moved to Richmond to attend VCU in 2004. In 2007, I moved to Phoenix, AZ. After living in the desert for a few years, I moved back to Richmond in 2011 with a new perspective on how climate change and heat affects our health. Living in a different (much hotter) climate caused me to change the way I lived day to day. I moved back to VA and all of its glorious humidity and under 100-degree temperatures as soon as I could.

I live south of the river, in the Forest View Heights neighborhood. I love my neighborhood because it is diverse and established. Everyone is friendly and we look out for each other. I have a good-sized yard for a city dweller and am learning how to use it in an economically friendly way. I am also close to the bus line which is great. I use the bus whenever possible. I do live off two very busy streets, one of which does not have a sidewalk. Safe, accessible streets is very important to me, especially now that I have a 3- year-old. I hope he will be able to walk to school one day. I have driven him to the park many times when I would have walked if there was a safe route for us to get there.

Besides my neighborhood, my favorite place in Richmond is Shockoe Bottom. I have frequented this part of the city since I was a teenager and have worked there and in the surrounding the neighborhoods. To see its transformation, while preserving its history and culture is truly inspiring. It is far from perfect and there is a long way to go, but I see this neighborhood as the heart of the city, and I love spending time there. I also love Jackson Ward for the same reasons.

I get around Richmond, by driving, lyfting, carpooling or taking the bus. My family has one car and does not have the need for a second since my spouse and I both work from home. I would rather walk, or take public transportation but as mentioned above, sometimes I do not feel safe doing so due to the infrastructure. Sidewalks would be amazing! The sidewalk on Jahnke is there, but it is broken, floods easily and difficult to use for those community members who use wheelchairs or scooters and strollers. When I lived in Carytown, I biked quite often. I no longer feel safe doing this since my neighborhood is not bike friendly. I would like to see this change as well.

Aside from pedestrian infrastructure, the flooding in Richmond is a concern. I am not affected at my home directly at this time, but my neighborhood is, as well as others around me. Flooding causes damage to homes and property and makes transportation difficult and dangerous. This, along with rising temperatures, make our city unsafe. I am currently concerned for my neighbors who are getting older, folks who use wheelchairs or individuals with health concerns. Climate change is impacting all of us, but for them, the problem is directly impeding them now.

In recent days, I have noticed a lot of changes within the city. With the pandemic a lot of businesses have closed, but I have also have seen a lot of businesses thriving and a community focus on buying locally whenever possible. There is also a lot of work being done to preserve the true and full history of Richmond. I am ecstatic that many monuments to racist traitors and colonizers have come down around the city and throughout the world. Understanding our true history is imperative to ensure that Richmond is an inclusive city that celebrates its diversity. All Richmonders should be empowered to take ownership of their part and their impact in the city. I hope that these changes also empower Richmond residents to join the efforts to stop climate change.

I hope to see people everywhere moving towards living more symbiotically with the environment. I am not a climate expert, but since being a part of RVAgreen 2050 I have learned how important climate change is on the health of the community and I hope the efforts of RVAgreen 2050 not only impacts the city's transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions, but also inspires individuals find more ways of having less of a negative impact on our environment. We can all take small steps, which will lead to huge changes.

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Cross-Country SunPedal Cyclist Rides Through Richmond!

Members of the RVAgreen team recently met up with Sushil Reddy, an energy engineer who is on a 6,000+ mile, 90+ day journey across the country on a solar (and human)-powered bike when he came through Richmond. Learn more below and here!

What inspired you to do this?

Being an Energy Engineer by educational background with some work experience in solar energy, I saw that there is a need to raise awareness about the technology and economic aspects of solar energy in India in a unique way for greater adoption of the technology. A solar powered electric bicycle journey across India seemed like a unique way to undertake a campaign to raise awareness by connecting with people and having conversations and that is how the idea of The SunPedal Ride began. 

Are there actions people could take in their everyday lives to help spread the message of sustainability?

People in their everyday lives can start to live in a sustainable way by being conscious of their resource consumption. In terms of energy usage, the concept of AMG - Avoid, Minimize and then Generate (in that order) will help people to realize the usage of resources in their everyday lives. The idea is to differentiate between want and need when it comes to sustainability.

How has your ride around/through Richmond been so far? 

Me and Luis passed through the town of Richmond during the lunch break but we could not visit places. Overall, we found the motorists respectful of the space while biking and we felt safe on the road while biking in Richmond. The ice cream was the best calorie boost!


Solar powered bikes Sushil Reddy


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RVAgreener Highlight: Monica

Monica photoMeet RVAgreener Monica! A neighbor of Richmond for over 30 years, Monica loves taking global trips as well as local walks along the James River and enjoying the beautiful scenery. However, these walks require the use of her car to access due to neglected sidewalks and bicycle infrastructure. Monica has years of experience in the field of environmental justice. While leading the Renewal of Life Land Trust, she also serves on the Board for the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative. The Collaborative partnered with Mapping for Environmental Justice to launch a mapping tool that uniquely highlights a network and the narratives of communities experiencing environmental injustice.

Monica has enjoyed the teamwork element of working on the RVAgreen 2050 Racial Equity & Environmental Justice Roundtable and Environmental Working group. She noted that several conversations have focused on green infrastructure, and while her time in Canada and Costa Rica has shown her that this is essential, our communities need to equally prioritize the reduction of industrial greenhouse gases and asphalt removal projects, especially in Southside.

"All people deserve to experience vitality."

Monica ensures she shares this value while leading talks and walks surrounding land stewardship, access, and agency.


Virginia Mercury: New mapping tool aims to clarify Virginia environmental justice debates

Renewal of Life Land Trust

Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative

Author: JaVonne Bowles, Office of Sustainability Equity Fellow and RVAgreen 2050 Roundtable Member

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