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

Good morning, RVA: Graduation rates, bus news both good and bad, and a 5th District candidate

Good morning, RVA! It's 51 °F, and we’ve got another beautiful day queued up. Expect a dry, sunny day with highs in the upper 70s. Summer heat returns tomorrow.

Water cooler

This week’s edition of Superintendent Kamras’s email is worth a read. Of note: His administration presented the first draft of the revised Student Code of Responsible Ethics to the School Board this week (long PDF, but a summary of the changes is right at the top). They worked on decriminalizing existing language and policies as well as including new language to affirm and embrace LGBTQ+ students. Kamras worked with Side by Side on the latter, which seems like a really wonderful partnership. Also, the Superintendent describes further issues with student transcripts and graduation rates following an audit, an overview of which you can read for yourself (PDF). You may remember last year’s transcript situation that revolved around incorrectly calculated GPA’s? Well, this new issues fell out of the audit of that. The Superintendent says “We also now know all of the issues related to our transcripts and graduation rates and will be able to put in place the necessary guidelines, supports, and accountability structures to improve outcomes for our students going forward.” I know it feels like a lot, but I think we’re nearing the end of the “new Superintendent learns about XYZ terrible thing that happened at RPS before his time and pledges to fix it” cycle.

I’ve got two piece of GRTC news for you this morning—one good, one bad. Let’s start with the good news first: Bus ridership continues to go way, way up (PDF) to the point where it feels kind of boring to keep talking about it. But make no mistake! It is not boring! Richmond’s ridership increase is amazing, incredible, and unique across the country. We’re doing something that no other American city is doing, and it’s happening because we’ve decided—as a region—to begin reinvesting in public transportation. Specifically, ridership is up 17% year-over-year in April; GRTC has seen already seen more rides this year than all of last fiscal year—with two months remaining (6.3 million versus 5.5 million); and the Pulse has doubled the original 3,500 weekday rides projection. Whoa! Now, the bad news: As part of a City Council-requested attempt to address fare evasion, GRTC has proposed a really terrible marketing camping that uses unnecessary and aggressive language to shame transit riders and threatens to “expose” them. Roberto Roldan at WCVE has more, including my thoughts on the matter: “I don’t think we should shame transit riders, a significant number of whom are people of color and lower-income Richmonders...We don’t use the same kind of language for people who park illegally and we shouldn’t use it for people who are trying to ride the bus.” GRTC needs to go back to the drawing board on this, and maybe get inspired by what @transitrunner said on Twitter, that the proposed signs “squash the joy of transit” and that “transit stations should feel welcoming.”

The Courts have officially decided to hold the special election to replace 5th District Councilmember Parker Agelasto on November 5th. With that decision in the books, Thad Williamson has announced his official candidacy. As far as I’m aware, Williamson is the first/only candidate in the race at this point. You can read his announcement email (PDF) or visit his website.

Did you know that the Library of Virginia takes allllll of the records, files, emails, PDFs, and whatever other detritus a governor creates and archives it all? Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury says the process is slow and arduous but state lawmakers are unwilling to pony up the cash to speed things up. Also, I tried to find where the “online database for the public to access” all of this governor-related information lives, but totally failed. Anyone have the link?

Chesterfield people! Tonight, at Steam Bell Beer Works (1717 Oak Lake Boulevard) the County will host an event with County staff as part of the Chesterfield County Millennial Visioning Project. They want to hear your thoughts on how Chesterfield can appeal to current and future generations of youngish people. This sounds like an excellent chance to get in front of actual policymakers and whisper to them sweet nothings about denser development, bike & pedestrian infrastructure, and public transit.

This morning's longread

All Placemaking is Creative: How a Shared Focus on Place Builds Vibrant Destinations

I’m about halfway through this three-part series, but I’m enjoying it—especially after recent conversations about the new 17th Street Farmers Market.

Every neighborhood—every plaza, square, park, waterfront, market, and street—can be vibrant, but if people don't feel like they can contribute to shaping their places, vibrancy can't exist. Period. Gentrification, which is often blamed on honest attempts to create more vibrant, livable places, is what happens when we forget that vibrancy is people; that it cannot be built or installed, but must be inspired and cultivated. Says DC-based community organizer Sylvia Robinson: "I consider gentrification an attitude. It’s the idea that you are coming in as a planner, developer, or city agency and looking at a neighborhood as if it’s a blank slate. You impose development and different economic models and say that in order for this neighborhood to thrive you need to build this much housing, this much retail."

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Good morning, RVA: Yearbooks, audits, and silver platters

Good morning, RVA: Thanks!, baseball, and boards & commissions