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Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Throw the Switch (officially) November 23rd

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While many things are different in 2020, one of the region’s favorite events will return: Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights. This year’s show will run November 23, 2020, through January 10, 2021 (closed Thanksgiving and Dec. 24 & 25).

Safety is the top priority as the Garden makes appropriate adjustments to GardenFest during this time of COVID-19. This year’s GardenFest is designed so small groups of friends and family can relax, have fun and make special memories in a magical outdoor setting.

“Our staff and volunteers know how important Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights is to the community,” says Interim Executive Director Kim Dove. “Although it’s a challenging time, we’re committed to offering the best display and experience possible given the challenges of COVID-19 and the Garden’s focus on safety.”

TICKETS: All tickets must be prepurchased before coming to the Garden. They are available online ONLY. Tickets are limited and have a 30-minute arrival time window.

Due to the governor’s new mandate and COVID-19 restrictions, the number of visitors permitted at Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at any given time has been substantially reduced. In an effort to allow as many people as possible to see GardenFest, we are asking guests to limit their visit this year to one hour. With this year’s exhibition being all outdoors, we think an hour will be ample time for most to view the lights. Thank you, in advance, for your understanding and patience as we navigate these new restrictions together.

SAFETY: Masks are required for all guests over age 10. There are separate entry and exit points and social distancing protocols.

ALL OUTDOORS, INCLUDING (NEW!) MODEL TRAINS
This year’s show is all outdoors. Thousands of lights line garden paths and twinkle in trees under the night sky. The Garden is highlighting displays from previous GardenFests, allowing guests to search for favorite forms, including giant flowers, the peacock, unicorn and dragon. New this year is an outdoor model train display. Guests can look for the trains chugging around the Garden Keeper’s Cottage in the Children’s Garden. (Please note: a number of facilities and activities from previous years make physical distancing challenging and are not part of this year’s show, but should return next year.) Dining and shopping with special safety protocols continue to be a part of the GardenFest experience. Please check Garden’s website for more details, including safety protocols and updates about Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights.

BEST LIGHTS CONTEST: For the third year in a row, the Garden is in the running for USA Today’s 10 Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights in the nation. People can vote daily through Monday, Dec. 7 at noon. Winners will be announced Dec. 18. The Garden placed fourth and second in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The link to vote is: https://bit.ly/VOTEGardenFest

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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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Weigh in on Richmond’s New Downtown Plan Tonight

A public meeting is today at 6:00 PM to learn about and share your thoughts on the recently released draft City Center small area plan.

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Details from Partnership for Smarter Growth

Please join us at a public meeting today at 6:00PM to learn about and share your thoughts on the recently released draft City Center small area plan. You can attend the meeting in person at the Greater Richmond Convention Center or online via Microsoft Teams. Go to the PDR website to learn more.
City staff drafted this plan in response to the failed Navy Hill redevelopment proposal, and it encompasses largely the same area, while this time recommending demolition of the Coliseum, without replacement. This isn’t the only big change.
The plan focuses on how to create a vibrant urban neighborhood in an area marked by a number of vacant city owned parcels, and includes proposed improvements to bicycle, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure, at least 20% affordable housing, and new amenities, including a linear park, a pedestrian plaza, and outdoor dining space. Included are protected bike lanes, a new transit transfer center, and a new City Hall at a new location. The latter is quite a surprise to many of us and we would like to learn more. We also want to understand if a Transfer Center located two blocks from the Pulse BRT, makes sense.
To date, the primary input has been limited to online surveys due to the pandemic, so we hope there will be more opportunities for public involvement in planning the future of our downtown.Take a look at the draft plan and see all of the proposed changes in store for the City Center area, and leave comments on the interactive PDF, by following this link
Do you like the public spaces and are they enough? The location of the transit transfer center? Moving City Hall into a new building at a new location?
We hope you can attend tonight and also send in comments. Thank you for your involvement in shaping the future of our city and region.
Screenshot from the Small Area Plan

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Virginia Students Win 1st Place at the National History Day Contest

Forty-nine Virginia students, ranging from grades 6-12 and representing every region of the Commonwealth, competed against over 3,000 students from across the country.

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The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) is excited to announce results from National History Day’s (NHD) National Contest. Between May 25th and June 16th, 49 Virginia students, ranging from grades 6-12 and representing every region of the Commonwealth, competed against over 3,000 students from across the country. A virtual award ceremony was streamed on Saturday, June 19th to announce winners of 18 contest categories and dozens of special awards.

Virginia History Day is the state affiliate of the National History Day program. Similar to a science fair, but for history, the National History Day Contest was founded in 1974 to inspire students to conduct original historical research. Since its creation, the contest has grown into an international competition with more than half-a-million participants and thousands of dollars in scholarship awards and prizes annually. “Creating a project for the National History Day Contest is challenging. It requires hard work and dedication. But, it also provides great reward,” said Dr. Cathy Gorn, National History Day® Executive Director. “The skills of conducting research and recognizing credible sources are crucial to increasing civic engagement in young people.”

Virginia’s student delegation did exceptionally well at this year’s National Contest. Caroline Bruton and Kayla Shaller, 8th graders from William Monroe Middle in Greene County, placed 1st in the Junior Group Documentary category with their film, “Communicating Through Cell Walls: The Secret Correspondence of American POWs in Vietnam.” Caroline and Kayla investigated the importance of secret communication methods of American POWs during the Vietnam War and how they created a support network that kept their morale up and helped them survive their ordeal. These successful tactics are still taught to American servicemen today.

Also from William Monroe Middle, 6th grader Mukund Marri placed 8th with his documentary, “Navajo Code: The Unbreakable Code,” which told the story of Navajo code talkers during World War II.

From Prince William County’s Mary J. Porter Traditional School, 7th grader Julienne Lim placed 9th in the Junior Individual Website category with her project, “Devil Dog Canines: A Line of Communication in World War II.” Julienne focused on the important role messenger dogs played in sending battlefield communications in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. Additionally, Julienne received the United State Marine Corps History Award. Sponsored by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, this prize is awarded to an outstanding entry that demonstrates an appreciation of Marine Corps history.

Two Virginia projects placed 4th in their categories. Carly Phung, an 11th grader from John Randolph Tucker High in Henrico, received 4th place for her exhibit, “Say Cheese!: How Lewis Hine Used Cameras to Shine a Light Upon Life’s Dark Corners.” Carly explored the impact of groundbreaking reformer and photographer Lewis Hine in the early 1900s. Placing 4th in the Senior Group Website category were Sahil and Sagar Gupta, 11th graders from Thomas Jefferson High for Science and Technology in Fairfax, with their project, “The Story of Walter Gadsden: How One Miscommunication Changed the Course of the Civil Rights Movement.” Sahil and Sagar described the impact a 1963 photo of police brutality had on public perception of the Civil Rights Movement.

Two projects received Virginia’s Outstanding Affiliate Entry Award. In the Senior Division, Georgia and Caroline Berg, 11th graders from Grafton High in York County, received the distinction for their documentary, “The Secret Language of Flowers.” Their project revealed how Victorian era people overcame the social rules that controlled their lives and expressed their true emotions using language surrounding flowers. In the Junior Division, Samhita Som, a 6th grader from Haycock Elementary in Fairfax, received recognition for her paper, “Watergate: The Impact of Communication in Investigative Journalism and Reporting.” Samhita’s paper demonstrated the importance of the Watergate scandal to the world of journalism and the development of new journalistic techniques that are still relied upon by journalists today.

In addition to the success of Virginia’s students, several Virginia teachers received recognition for their hard work. William Monroe Middle teacher Mrs. Stephanie Hammer received the Naval Historical Society’s Teacher of Distinction Award. This award is given to teachers of those students who place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd nationally in their respective categories for projects with a naval or maritime theme. Mrs. Hammer has participated in NHD for more than 10 years and her students always do exceptionally well at all levels of NHD competitions. Mrs. Julie Noble of Richmond’s New Community School and Mrs. Jennifer Goss of Staunton High School were Virginia’s nominees for the Patricia H. Behring Teacher of the Year Award. Both received $500 honorariums for their outstanding contributions to history education and success using NHD in the classroom.

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Neighborhood Clean-Up Saturday in Strafford Hills and Willow Oaks

Get rid of the junk you may have in your trunk, basement, attic or closet.

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Neighborhood Clean-Up this Saturday, June 26 for the Strafford Hills and Willow Oaks area (ZONE 13) from 8 am to Noon. We take EVERYTHING except: electronics, construction debris, hazardous waste items & broken glass. For more details, go to rva.gov/public-works/n

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