Once upon a time I ran a news site, now I just have opinions on the news. 

Good morning, RVA: Schools stuff, Jackson Ward development, and a new ICA director

Good morning, RVA! It's 77 °F, and we’ve got another hot day on deck with highs in the mid 90s. There’s a chance for storms late this evening which will continue into tomorrow and throughout the weekend.

Water cooler

Here’s a feel-good Richmond Public Schools story from Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Rodney Robinson has been named Region 1 Teacher of the Year. That’s for all of Central Virginia! It’s tournament-style, so next week he’ll move on to the Virginia Teacher of the Year competition, and then on to National Teacher of the Year from there. Robinson teaches History and Social Studies at the Virgie Binford Education Center, which is part of the juvenile detention center. I love this quote from him, “I just made it a point to try to cover every inch of this building with motivational material and something to inspire them...even though [the students’] situation is bad, it’s a reminder that their minds can still wander and when you get out, your mind can still take you places.”

Michael Paul Williams, also in the RTD and also about RPS, writes about how the district has hired Ram Bhagat as Manager of School Climate and Culture Strategy 💸. He’s a well-known dude in Richmond, and I’m interested to see how his experience with trauma-informed care and restorative justice works on a larger, district-wide scale. Richmond Magazine has a longer profile of him from earlier this summer.

There is a small and tiny update on the City’s continuing negotiations about the Coliseum redevelopment proposal. You can read the full text of a release from the Mayor’s office here, but the gist is “Negotiators for the city report consensus among the parties on Mayor Stoney’s key priorities regarding affordable housing, minority business participation and a new GRTC transfer station,” and “Before the terms of a Master Development Agreement can be structured, city officials and the city’s financial advisors must analyze the financing proposed for the project and will await results of a third-party review of the proposal.” Stay tuned, I guess!

Susan Winiecki at Richmond Magazine summarizes their recent stack of articles on Blackwell, Manchester, and Southside in general. I love the model apology at the bottom of this piece: “I overstepped. I’m sorry. Can we move forward, together?” Apologizing is great! People should do it more!

Jonathan Spiers has this week’s dose of zoning and rezoning news: the RRHA is doing some serious development work in the Northern parts of Jackson Ward. These are extremely central areas located near lots of high-quality transit (here’s a quick map if you’re unfamiliar), and I’m hoping the developments bring some more life to a kind of dead spot in the neighborhood.

Quick update on the person that drove their car into the Shockoe Bottom Pulse station: They were driving drunk.

The ICA has hired Dominic Willsdon as their new executive director. He comes to Richmond from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and previously worked at the Tate Modern in London (fancy!). Colleen Curran at the RTD says he’s an avid biker, which is great, because it’s always nice to have high-profile folks around to help advocate for better and safer bike infrastructure.

Stone Brewing will host their now-annual Stone’s Throw Down in RVA tomorrow from 1:00–10:00 PM on Brown’s Island. $20 bucks gets you on an island filled with beer and bands—and all proceeds go to worthy local organizations like the Capital Trail Foundation and the James River Association.

This is a weird thing to find at the river, via /r/rva.

This morning's longread

New Mexico’s Sad Bet on Space Exploration

Depressing because of the sketchy uses of public money to build a big, shiny project, but also depressing because I wish we had people in space on the regular and needed this spaceport!

But the mythologies of the former American frontier tend to collide with the final frontier: As extreme environments, deep space and remote desert have a lot in common. That explains projects like Utah’s Mars Desert Research Station, a faux-Martian habitat for long-duration fieldwork for a hypothetical, future Martian expedition. Humanity dreams of going to space for many of the same reasons some people went to the desert: because it is there, because they hope to get rich extracting natural resources they find there, and because they suspect mysterious, new terrains can’t be any worse than the irredeemable wreckage of the landscape they’re leaving behind. In a region defined by boom-and-bust cycles of mining and oil and gas, where the future has always been in part determined by the art of water-rights negotiations, and where climate change presents a very real threat (more than half of the state of New Mexico is currently experiencing severe drought), believing in the inevitability of Mars colonies is maybe no less idealistic than believing in the Southwest itself.

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Good morning, RVA: Violence, tax breaks, and hurricanes

Good morning, RVA: Vision Zero, another schools audit, and the ERA