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See the James Like Never Before

The James River VR Experience will allow exploration of the river without getting wet.

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For more than 40 years, the James River Association (JRA) has been working to restore the James River to full health. The organization was founded when a group of concerned citizens banded together in 1976 to restore and protect the river at a time when toxic chemical contamination led to the James being known as one of the most polluted waterways in America. JRA has grown over the last four decades to include watershed restoration, student education, advocacy, and community conservation efforts that have improved the overall health of the James from a grade of D- to a B- in JRA’s biennial State of the James report. This remarkable improvement garnered the river international recognition through winning the 2019 Thiess International Riverprize.

Despite this progress, JRA’s work is far from being done. One of the most effective ways to continue this progress is to help people envision and truly understand what has been lost in the degradation of the James River and what we stand to gain in achieving a Grade A James. Enter JRA’s new James River Virtual Reality Experience, created in part through funding from the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office.

In the span of just over three minutes, the Experience takes you underwater in the James, beginning with the pristine state of the river that existed before English settlers colonized Jamestown. The water is clear, the river is teaming with aquatic life, and grass beds are thriving and abundant. The video then advances to the mid-1970’s as the river turns brown, murky, and devoid of most organisms. It paints a vivid picture of a polluted and neglected James, and sets the stage for why it was so necessary to focus a concerted effort on restoring the James to a fully fishible, swimmable, and drinkable river for all. The video then transports the viewer to today’s river, much improved from the 1970s but still not back to its earlier pristine health, and ends with a call to action to help protect and connect people to the river by supporting JRA’s work.

As the first of its kind for a river, JRA created the virtual experience as a unique way to engage the public, provide an exciting resource for student education, and bring the James – and its full potential – to life.

Joseph Cathey, Founder of Capital Interactive, expresses his excitement for producing the video: “We knew we wanted to tell the story of the river, which meant lots of research – and animating it from the ground up using 3D software typically used on Hollywood films. In doing so, I think we were able to capture that sense of wonder and responsibility that comes along with viewing some of nature’s most incredible underwater scenes.”

On Wednesday, June 17, JRA is offering a limited-space webinar launch to unveil the James River VR Experience, as well as an overview of how and why the video was produced, featuring aforementioned Joseph Cathey. Attendees can sign up to join the webinar, receive a link to view the 360-degree 3D video, and be entered in a drawing to win a VR cardboard headset for an enhanced viewing experience. Winners will be announced during the webinar.

To view Science Museum of Virginia’s Rich Conti, Maymont’s Parke Richeson, and Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler trying the James River VR Experience for the first time, click here: https://youtu.be/ixBy5avnmHA

To view JRA’s 360 Scavenger Hunt, unveiled on Earth Day as part of JRA’s Virtual Classroom series, click here: https://thejamesriver.org/360-degree-scavenger-hunt/

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Crossroads to Re-Open on September 30th

When it opens, Crossroads will be to-go and offer limited patio seating.

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It’s been a long 6 months without one of the neighborhood favorites, Crossroads. As you can see from the above sign, they’re planning on re-opening on Wednesday, September 30th. When I stopped by to take the photo Will Herring (owner) was there working on the interior and stepped out to briefly chat.

Just like all of us it’s been a struggle to figure out what was best for his business, employees, and customers. He has truly missed being part of the community. After looking at the limited options, he’s decided that the to-go and limited patio sitting are the best paths forward. Reminiscent of  an old 50’s drive-in, take-out joint customers will be placing their orders at the window to the right of the door and picking up around the corner if taking off and at the windows to the left if claiming a patio spot. The menu, will be very similar to before the closure and it wouldn’t be Crossroads without an impressive beer list.  Some signage is still on the way to make it easier to navigate but Will and his staff are very excited to see their neighbors soon.

After opening on the 30th the plan is to be open from 8 AM – 3 PM, Wednesday – Sunday. Expanding hours and days as needed. Be sure to give their Facebook a follow to keep up with any changes.

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Jackson Ward Interior Design Firm Starts New Venture

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News out of Jackson Ward.

Today, Flourish Spaces, the Jackson Ward-based retail and commercial interior design firm, is announcing the opening of its retail showroom, The Flourish Collective, later this fall.

For Founder Stevie McFadden, interior design started as a passion before evolving into a career. As such, she is uniquely familiar with the struggles of both groups: design-lovers who want to curate their own homes, desperate to access product lines only available through designers, and interior designers running out of stores where their clients touch and feel samples before making a major purchase. The Flourish Collective solves for both problems.

The Flourish Collective will showcase custom furniture, fixtures, art, and home accents. Interior designers can bring clients to peruse before purchasing, while design-lovers can shop sought-after product lines while tapping into the expertise of the collective’s members who will be staffing the showroom on a rotating basis.

Inaugural members of The Flourish Collective include Flourish Spaces (interior design), Jamie Coffey (furniture, linens, and decor ), Wendy Umanoff (lighting design), Whittney Forstner (art and art curation), Sarah Rowland (wall coverings), Jason Lefton (dimensional wall murals), and Devon Cushman (tablescapes and holiday decor).

The Flourish Collective will be located at 221 E Clay Street. The space was previously occupied by Flourish Spaces, which has moved to the building’s second floor. At the time of opening, The Flourish Collective will be by appointment only, for both the public and designers.

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Richmond BizSense Reporting Takeout Tacos Taking Over Naked Onion Spot

Good news for lovers of the taco. If you don’t love the taco, I don’t know if we can be friends.

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In these uncertain dining times, it’s good news to see a new take-out option opening up.

From Richmond BizSense.com

TBT El Gallo, an upstart Mexican takeout concept, plans to take over the space in October.

TBT refers to the restaurant’s mainstay menu items: tacos, burritos and tortas. El Gallo, which means the rooster in Spanish, is the family nickname of owner Carlos Ordaz-Nunez. He picked it up thanks to a particularly bad childhood haircut.

“Richmond still needs a (a place for) very traditional Mexican-inspired tacos,” he said.

If you can’t wait to try the menu follow TBT El Gallo on Facebook. They are often hosting pop-ups around town and Facebook will keep in you the know.

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