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

Good morning, RVA: Mardi Gras, a housing framework, and signed editorials

Good morning, RVA! It's 25 °F, but, after the sun comes out, things should warm up a bit. Later on this afternoon, you can expect highs in the low 40s and a bunch of sunshine.

Water cooler

FYI, Today is Mardi Gras aka Fat Tuesday aka Shrove Tuesday. I don’t really know what that means for folks in Richmond, but I imagine people are out there getting ready to eat some king cakes and drink some booze.

Superintendent Kamras’s email from this past weekend is, again, worth reading. He devotes the majority of the space to a discussion of why he wanted to keep portions of the budget confidential: To spare the RPS employees losing their jobs from first hearing about it in the newspaper. This, of course, is exactly what happened, and today the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran a story titled “Which jobs are being eliminated by Richmond Public Schools? Here’s the list.” I think if I were about to lose my job, I’d find that title a little flippant. Anyway, I really respect the way the Superintendent communicates, even when his Board and the community ask him to do things he’d rather not do. One other detail mentioned in his email that I wish I would have know about earlier or had the time to dig into: “In an effort to be responsive to Board requests, we developed the ‘full,’ roughly 230-page version of the budget recently. Please note that this comprehensive document is normally prepared much later in the budget process—after RPS knows how much funding it is going to receive from the City and the State.“ Hmmm.

Sarah King at Richmond Magazine has an update on the regional affordable housing framework I mentioned yesterday. Sounds like we can expect a draft of the framework by the end of this year, “to ultimately implement the housing strategies across the region by June 2022.” That’s not a ton of time to get the wheels of government grinding away, but the people leading this effort—Greta Harris from the Better Housing Coalition and Laura Lafayette from the Richmond Association of Realtors—are talented, effective, and will not put up with the region dragging their feet!

Attorney General Mark Herring sat down with Kojo Nnamdi for his first interview since he admitted to wearing blackface in the 80s. You can listen/watch the entire interview over on WAMU’s site. Herring does a good job apologizing without qualifying, but he’s softened his position on the Governor resigning—mostly because it sounds like Northam has decided on his course. Also, Herring is still running for governor in 2021, I guess? There are lots of ways the Attorney General can use his power, privilege, and access to begin working towards racial justice, but he’s certainly not owed a shot at the Executive Mansion. I dunno. 2021 is still forever away, and a lot could happen between now and then.

Remember how the RTD Opinion pages (née Editorial pages) have a new editor in Pamela Stallsmith who promised to bring changes to that section of the paper? Well it’s happening! Stallsmith gets into those changes in a recent editorial, and, in a move that I’m very excited about, debuts signed editorials. I’m really interested to see if the tone and tenor of editorials shift now that folks are required to attach their names to them.

High praise from Karen Newton at Style Weekly for Nate’s Bagels. It sounds like she measures time in Richmond’s food scene as pre- and post- Nate’s. This piece is part of Style Weekly’s State of the Plate, which packs a bunch of food-related stories into the same issue. How many of Style’s favorite dishes in 2019 have you had? I have had...zero. Aw man.

This coming Thursday evening, March 7th, you can join the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, the Armstrong Leadership Program, and the Partnership for the Future for an iteration of the RVA Table Talk series. This is a chance “for community members to engage in challenging conversations about diversity and inclusion,” with this particular evening focused on youth. I know I could definitely use more challenging conversations in my life, and this looks like a solid group of folks to lead exactly that.

This morning's longread

Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction

Earlier this week, I finished reading Feed by M.T. Anderson and watched The American Meme on Netflix, so this sort of longread really fit the theme. I do take issue with the seemingly constant inability for folks writing about reading and focus in a digital world to conflate social media with the device itself. I spend a lot of time on my device, and a lot of that time is spent reading dang books!

Communion can be hard to find, not because we aren’t occupying the same physical space but because we aren’t occupying the same mental plane: we don’t read the same news; we don’t even revel in the same memes. Our phones and computers deliver unto each of us a personalized—or rather, algorithm-realized—distillation of headlines, anecdotes, jokes, and photographs. Even the ads we scroll past are not the same as our neighbor’s: a pair of boots has followed me from site to site for weeks. We call this endless, immaterial material a feed, though there’s little sustenance to be found.

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Good morning, RVA: Budget season begins, Bermuda Hundred, and trains

Good morning, RVA: Civil Rights, Black Restaurant Experience, and Byrd Theatre .gifs