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

Good morning, RVA: Severe weather on the way, some homework, and the Market @ 25th

Good morning, RVA! It's 66 °F, highs today will be in the upper 70s, and we’ve got some potentially severe wind and rain on the way. WTVR has a more detailed forecast—which does include the possible risk of some tornadoes. Be prepared and stay safe!

Cooler temperatures are on deck for the weekend after the storms move through.

Water cooler

Today, I am assigning you a piece of budget-related homework for the weekend. Amendments to the Mayor’s proposed budget were due yesterday, so every councilmembers’ cards should be on the table. I imagine we’ll see all sorts of scenarios, real estate tax rates, and cuts to schools and other critical services. I haven’t seen those amendments yet, but, presumably they’ll make their way into the public sphere over the weekend. Your homework is to find a copy of those amendments (if history is any indicator, maybe check Councilmember Jones’s Twitter feed), read through them, and start thinking about which ones fund the most stuff and make the most sense to you. Monday night is the Big Budget Public Hearing (6:00 PM, Council Chambers) which we’re all attending, so you’ll want to have put some thought in beforehand!

The RTD’s Tammie Smith has a good piece on the Market @ 25th, the new, longtime-coming grocery store in the East End that opens next week. It certainly sounds like the folks involved put a lot of care into making the store feel like part of the neighborhood. It’s exciting stuff, but dang if you can’t just hear how nervous folks are about making this store sustainable into the long-term future.

I want to point out this story in the RTD by Justin Mattingly about the Thomas Jefferson High School robotics team qualifying for the world championships. First of all, that’s awesome. Second of all, it’s wonderful to read a positive story about Richmond Public Schools in the RTD that doesn’t spend half the word count recapping whatever latest controversy. Getting positive stories of RPS success and resiliency (and fun) in front of as many people as possible is super important. This kind of thing, as simple as it sounds, starts to shift public perception of the District which starts to shift actual policy—both on the state and local level. More of this please! You can donate to help fund the team’s trip to Detroit over on their gofundme.

This Sunday is Easter, which means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Colleen Curran at the RTD has a good list of events taking place—including Easter on Parade. This is the time of year that we close Monument Ave to vehicle traffic for a bunch of dogs wearing hats. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but walking down The Avenue has lost a lot of its luster for me. I’m really interested in how organizations that put on things like the Easter Parade and the Monument 10k start to grapple with the huge, embarassing Confederate monuments that anchor the physical space of their events.

This morning's longread

A Ladder of Citizen Participation

Read this article from 1968 if you’ve ever participated in or helped run any sort of community engagement. Warning! This piece may bum you out as it certainly feels like not a ton has changed in the last 50 years.

The bottom rungs of the ladder are (1) Manipulation and (2) Therapy. These two rungs describe levels of "non-participation" that have been contrived by some to substitute for genuine participation. Their real objective is not to enable people to participate in planning or conducting programs, but to enable powerholders to "educate" or "cure" the participants. Rungs 3 and 4 progress to levels of "tokenism" that allow the have-nots to hear and to have a voice: (3) Informing and (4) Consultation. When they are proffered by powerholders as the total extent of participation, citizens may indeed hear and be heard. But under these conditions they lack the power to insure that their views will be heeded by the powerful. When participation is restricted to these levels, there is no follow-through, no "muscle," hence no assurance of changing the status quo. Rung (5) Placation is simply a higher level tokenism because the ground rules allow have-nots to advise, but retain for the powerholders the continued right to decide. Further up the ladder are levels of citizen power with increasing degrees of decision-making clout. Citizens can enter into a (6) Partnership that enables them to negotiate and engage in trade-offs with traditional power holders. At the topmost rungs, (7) Delegated Power and (8) Citizen Control, have-not citizens obtain the majority of decision-making seats, or full managerial power.

If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.

Good morning, RVA: Budget public hearing tonight!, Rodney Robinson, and Earth Day

Good morning, RVA: Budget equity, McAuliffe returns, and Planeteers!