Growing up in a suburban landscape made me a little naive to what a city looks and feels like to live in. But now, after living in Richmond for a few years, I feel that I have a somewhat decent grasp of what its actually like to live in Richmond, and cities in general. The best routes to get home during rush hour, the best coffee spots in each neighborhood, the best trails amidst the urban landscape. I have learned to love Richmond, and continue to learn more about it and the people that live here with me.
Cities are made up of many different people, buildings, and neighborhoods separated sometimes by race, sometimes by wealth, and sometimes by hipsters. Richmond falls into this pattern as a modestly sprawled southern city. Richmond is at a unique turning point in its history right now, though. The Bus Rapid Transit system construction is just starting to get under way, the new bike share program, “The B”, is going to be implemented this fall, and there are many new parks and building construction and redevelopments that are all taking shape now.
It is important for me to take a step back sometimes, because I get really excited for these developments. It has taken a long time for these ventures to unfold, and there has been and probably still will be a lot of opposition to parts of them as well. The main idea behind most of these projects is to help Richmond move forward and improve its public transit system, which means a lot of change and new things for a lot of people. For me, new things and change is not as big of a deal because I am pretty new to this city, but for many people who have lived here for many years, change and new things are not always what they want. They feel that the cost of whatever is being done could have always been used for something else.
My only hope for Richmond, though, is that somehow we’re able to overcome our differences of race, of wealth, of neighborhood, of political party and come together. The first thing that should unite us is that we all live in Richmond. We share the same streets, the same parks, the same side walks, the same museums. We go to the same stores, the same restaurants, the same events, and the same festivals. And so pushing for a more connected and a newer Richmond helps us all. Whether its by helping more businesses come to our neighborhoods so we can all enjoy them, or by helping everyone have better access to parks, schools, and jobs.
And the second thing that should unite us is that we are all a part of the human race. We are all people. When I forget about the people that are behind these projects and how many human hours went into thinking about, planning, designing, promoting, and developing them, I lose the human aspect at the heart of each one of them. The human need that they are filling. The human response that has already appreciated and approved them. So as the construction starts to happen along Broad Street, yes, we can all grumble a little as our lives are slightly inconvenienced, but lets try and remember that this project is just the next step to help make Richmond better for the people of Richmond.