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Sustainability

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.

Links:

Throwing Shade in RVA

Science Museum of Virginia - RVAir

@jer_science

@VCUWilderSchool

@ScienceMusofVA

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.

Links:

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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RVAgreener Highlight: Jeanne

Jeanne photoMeet RVAgreener Jeanne! She resides in Green Park, a neighborhood located within Highland Park. Jeanne moved to Richmond from Midlothian to attend college and stayed. She has appreciated the growth of the city; she sees it reflected while shopping at local stores along Brookland Park Boulevard on Sundays as well as in the awareness her neighbors have of displacement and gentrification. She knows that the protests that took place last year and the monuments coming down are not the end of Richmond addressing its history and the ramifications it has on our present life. Jeanne loves her neighborhood - she, her husband, and and her dogs enjoy the Cannon Creek Parkway which was made possible by Charles Price, Sierra Club, Army Corps of Engineers, other local groups, and city and state partners. It has truly made her feel that we are going in the right direction regarding climate resilience; however, we can always do more.

"Our city is not yet a walkable city; it is necessary to drive unless you live in the Fan or Church Hill. Too many neighborhoods are being built with cul de sacs that don't connect to anything. Many years ago I regularly rode the bus; however, it was very hard because the routes were not, and still aren’t, convenient for too many of our city residents." Jeanne has also noticed that although much of the city experiences unnecessary flooding, it doesn't impact her neighborhood because they are on a hill. It is only until she and her family are trying to commute out of the community do they see how flooding is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

As a Certified Master Gardener, Clean City Commission Board Member, and RVAgreen 2050 Racial Equity & Environmental Justice and Waste Working Group member, Jeanne advocates for more green space where people can safely connect with each other. She particularly loves the nation's largest edible public park in Atlanta, GA, and hopes to see something similar at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church located on Fourqurean Lane. What Jeanne accredits most to her time working with RVAgreen 2050 is the breadth and depth to addressing climate change and environmental injustice. She says, "This has been a real learning experience because I didn't fully understand the impacts that climate changes have on historically marginalized communities. We are fortunate to have a wide range of experience and expertise collaborating; it's simply a matter of time to get these strategies in place."

Jeanne will be coordinating with the Science Museum of Virginia to set a date or two for Northside neighbors to walk and collect air quality samples. If you are interested in joining her, reach out to get connected.

Links:

Visit the Cannon Creek Parkway 
Learn more about the Clean City Commission
Can Richmond, VA follow Atlanta’s steps and be the next place to have a Free Community Food Forest?

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

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