Good morning, RVA! It's 67 °F, and temperatures have cooled down a bit from yesterday. You can expect highs in the mid 80s today, with a slightly warmer Saturday and Sunday. There is a small chance for rain Saturday morning—fingers crossed!
Today at 2:00 PM, artist Kehinde Wiley will unveil his Rumors of War sculpture in Times Square. Then, in December, this massive statue will make its way to the VMFA where it will live forever. Here’s how the VMFA describes the piece: “Mounted proudly on its large stone pedestal, Wiley’s monumental bronze sculpture, Rumors of War, is the artist’s direct response to the ubiquitous Confederate sculptures that populate the United States, particularly in the South. Sitting astride a massive horse in a striking pose, Wiley’s young, African-American subject presents a powerful visual repositioning of young black men in our public consciousness while directly engaging the national conversation around monuments and their role in perpetuating incomplete narratives and contemporary inequities.” I’m sure pictures aplenty will exist this afternoon, so poke around on social media a bit, but I’ll make sure to include a few in Monday’s email.
Earlier this week, Richmond’s School Board voted to delay tearing down a circa-1922 building on the old George Mason Elementary School site. I think it’s important to keep saying this part out loud: The new school under construction there will still open for the 2020 school year, but now it’s unclear where athletic fields and a playground will go if the old building remains. The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Justin Mattingly has put together an absolutely fascinating Twitter thread about this history of that 1920s building. Take the time to tap—it’s one of the more interesting things I’ve read this week. Did you know the bricks to build it came from another, older Richmond school building? 💫
The RTD has two stories about building massive parking decks next to Pulse Stations. The Science Museum will build a 400-space deck just west of their main building and Sauer will build an 800-space deck in the Whole Foods development (which I need to remember is called The Sauer Center). Clearly not the highest-and-best use of land that’s literally adjacent to rapid transit. Imagine all of the things that we could build in those spaces instead of a box to store empty cars there for eight hours on weekdays. I know, these aren’t the worst parking decks you could design—the Science Museum one replaces surface parking and creates a park, the Sauer one won’t front the street—but dang, y’all! We can and should expect better.
Southsiders or people who frequent Fonticello/Carter Jones Park! The Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities wants to know how you use (and would like to use) the space as part of a master planning process for the park. You know I can’t not link to a civic survey. You’ve got until September 30th to fill this one out.
Ivy Main at the Virginia Mercury has a, albeit slightly cynical, breakdown of the Governor’s recent climate and clean energy announcements. I’d love to learn more about this sentence: “Offshore wind is Virginia’s largest long-term renewable energy resource opportunity, and we can’t fully decarbonize without it.”
Alright, crack open your calendars, I’ve got three things for you to pencil in on Saturday. First, Breakaway RVA will have their September bike ride, normally a Thursday affair, tomorrow at 10:00 AM. Second, the Virginia Pridefest takes place on Brown’s Island from 12:00–8:00 PM. There is a ton going on throughout the whole day, so make sure to check the aforelinked website and main stage schedule. Third, at Isley Brewing Company in Scott’s Addition from 12:00–6:00 PM, the Daily Planet will host The #TreatYourHealth Festival (Facebook). Beer is good, and sales of Isley’s Czech Pilsner will benefit the Daily Planet, but you can also attend a free NARCAN training while you’re there. That’s even better than beer.
This morning's longread
The sugar that saturates the American diet has a barbaric history as the ‘white gold’ that fueled slavery.
I’m still working my way through 1619, but this piece about the history of American sugar production is great/terrible.
None of this — the extraordinary mass commodification of sugar, its economic might and outsize impact on the American diet and health — was in any way foreordained, or even predictable, when Christopher Columbus made his second voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1493, bringing sugar-cane stalks with him from the Spanish Canary Islands. In Europe at that time, refined sugar was a luxury product, the backbreaking toil and dangerous labor required in its manufacture an insuperable barrier to production in anything approaching bulk. It seems reasonable to imagine that it might have remained so if it weren’t for the establishment of an enormous market in enslaved laborers who had no way to opt out of the treacherous work.
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