Good morning, RVA! It's 62 °F, and today’s highs are in the upper 70s like it’s some kind of early-fall Monday. I still feel like we’ve got one more heat wave in us before True Fall hits, but we’ll see.
If you’re looking for news on the flooding in Houston, I’d start with this long Twitter thread by @corbettmatt which will give you some really important context. The New York Times has a short before-and-after video that’s hard to believe (keep that context you learned in the Twitter thread, though).
Here’s your seems-like-daily stack of Richmond Monument News Updates:
First, the mayor has decided to postpone the September 13th meeting of the Monument Avenue Commission. They’ll take some time to restructure “the commission’s engagement with the public, promoting accessibility and constructive dialogue so more voices can be heard.” There were also some legitimate public safety concerns with the old format. This is all great news, if you ask me. The day after the first meeting of the Commission I had five unsolicited thoughts: 1) Expand the scope of the Commission to include removal; 2) Schedule more meetings in a different part of town, possible on the weekend; 3) Don’t have the Richmond Police department manning the door; 4) Livestream the event, and 5) Tweak the format. Looks like we’ve checked off numbers one, five, and maybe two. Onward!
Second, the Richmond Times Dispatch Editorial Board says we should take down the Jefferson Davis Statue. This tactical retreat is also good news, but beware of all the language in there venerating the remaining figures on Monument Avenue. Language like, “Unlike other Confederate leaders, whose redeeming qualities make them worthy of high regard to some and complex figures to others,” and “unlike others such as Robert E. Lee, who considered slavery evil.” I’ll link to W.E.B DuBois’s thoughts on Robert E. Lee again, and quote this part: “Either [Lee] knew what slavery meant when he helped maim and murder thousands in its defense, or he did not. If he did not he was a fool. If he did, Robert Lee was a traitor and a rebel—not indeed to his country, but to humanity and humanity’s God.”
Third, the Rev. Ben Campbell penned an editorial focusing on artifacts of the Confederacy other than “the massive gravestones to a Lost Cause spreading stiffly and silently down the expanse of Monument Avenue”: Deteriorated public school buildings, distressed public housing projects, buses that stop at the city line, the Richmond City jail, and the city of Petersburg.
Fourth, Jeremy Lazarus at the Richmond Free Press digs into the City Charter to see who really has the authority to remove the monuments and who needs to be involved in the process. Turns out the dang Planning Commission, possibly the Commission of Architectural Review, and maybe even the Public Art Commission. City process is sometimes deep and laborious!
Vanessa Remmers at the RTD has a good piece on the lack of affordable housing in Chesterfield County. She talks to Laura Lafayette, CEO of The Richmond Association of Realtors, who lays out a bunch of the challenges facing the County: not enough homes for first-time buyers, a high percentage of folks considered cost-burdened by their mortgage, an east-west divide when it comes to new construction, and a lack of public transportation to get folks to jobs.
Mark Robinson and Katy Burnell Evans at the RTD have an update on Paul Goldman’s ballot referendum: Council will not challenge the referendum in court. I agree with Council President Hilbert who said of the referendum, “I’m not sure this is going to make any difference at all.” Sounds like the Mayor, City Council, and School Board need to get together and figure out what their response will be when this referendum solidly passes in November. How can they use Goldman’s disruption to the process for good? Luckily, there are already meetings on the books for them to get together and talk about this kind of thing—thanks to the Mayor’s Education Compact.
Claudia Rupcich at WTVR recaps the second annual East End Community Day, an event where the community, local churches, organizations, and police come together to hangout with the goal of getting to know one another and preventing violence in the East End.
- Squirrels lost a bunch to Trenton over the weekend. They return home to host Altoona tonight at 6:35 PM. Tickets are available online.
- Kickers topped Charleston, 3-1.
- Nats came out even over thee weekend against the Mets. A new series against the Marlins begins tonight at 7:05 PM.
This morning's longread
Here’s a deep dive on Henry David Thoreau by Kathryn Schulz, one of my favorite writers.
In reality, Walden Pond in 1845 was scarcely more off the grid, relative to contemporaneous society, than Prospect Park is today. The commuter train to Boston ran along its southwest side; in summer the place swarmed with picnickers and swimmers, while in winter it was frequented by ice cutters and skaters. Thoreau could stroll from his cabin to his family home, in Concord, in twenty minutes, about as long as it takes to walk the fifteen blocks from Carnegie Hall to Grand Central Terminal. He made that walk several times a week, lured by his mother’s cookies or the chance to dine with friends. These facts he glosses over in “Walden,” despite detailing with otherwise skinflint precision his eating habits and expenditures. He also fails to mention weekly visits from his mother and sisters (who brought along more undocumented food) and downplays the fact that he routinely hosted other guests as well—sometimes as many as thirty at a time. This is the situation Thoreau summed up by saying, “For the most part it is as solitary where I live as on the prairies. It is as much Asia or Africa as New England. . . . At night there was never a traveller passed my house, or knocked at my door, more than if I were the first or last man.”