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Environmentalists applaud greener laws but see ‘long road ahead’

New legislation in Virginia will soon give some power to local governments and help environmental organizations and businesses combat plastic pollution.

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By Veronica Campbell 

New legislation in Virginia will soon give some power to local governments and help environmental organizations and businesses combat plastic pollution.

Jim Deppe is an advocacy coordinator for Lynnhaven River Now, an organization that believes in restoring and protecting Virginia’s waterways. Deppe also coordinates the Virginia Coastal Alliance, which comprises 17 organizations in Virginia that focus on off-shore drilling and single-use plastics.

“Bags, polystyrene and balloons are all significant problems in the marine environment,” Deppe said. “Two years ago, there was no option for municipalities to put laws in place locally that would allow the elimination of plastic bags, polystyrene and balloons.”

That’s because traditionally, Virginia is a Dillon Rule state. That means municipalities or cities are limited to the powers expressly granted to them by the state. Organizations such as Lynnhaven River Now and the Surfrider Foundation, another nonprofit environmental organization, successfully lobbied in Richmond in 2020 to allow local municipalities to implement ordinances against plastic bag usage by requiring a small fee.

House Bill 2159, introduced by Del. Nancy Guy, D-Virginia Beach, is one of the most important bills of the year to combat plastic pollution in Virginia, according to environmentalists. The law prohibits anyone over the age of 16 from intentionally releasing non-biodegradable balloons outdoors.

Anyone caught releasing balloons could face a civil penalty of $25 per balloon. The current law prohibits the release of 50 balloons or more within an hour. The civil penalty is currently $5 and proceeds are deposited into the Lifetime Hunting and Fishing Endowment Fund. The new law will put any penalty money into the Game Protection Fund. The bill was signed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

Morgan Wilds is the vice-chair for the Virginia chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. The organization was founded 36 years ago with the mission of protecting the world’s oceans and beaches.

Wilds said the ban on balloon releases, and the ensuing penalty, will hopefully deter people from releasing them.

 “Virginia is a blue state, but it is still very much purple,” Wilds said. “Environmental issues have a long road ahead of them in the commonwealth.”

Another significant piece of environmental legislation passed by the General Assembly this year was the ban on polystyrene packaging commonly used in carryout. The ban goes into effect for larger chain restaurants in 2023 and then statewide in 2025.

Northam signed an executive order in March to help reduce single-use plastics at all executive branch state agencies and state higher education institutions. State agencies have 120 days to discontinue, with some exemptions, buying, selling, or distributing items such as disposable plastic bags, single-use plastic and polystyrene food service containers, plastic straws and cutlery, and single-use plastic water bottles.

“We’ve been fighting on it for a few years,” Wilds said about the polystyrene legislation.

Katie Register is the executive director of the Clean Virginia Waterways program of Longwood University and has worked to combat plastic pollution. She organizes the International Coastal Cleanup in Virginia and collects data on what types of litter are in the environment.

The top 10 contributors to plastic waste come from restaurants and convenience stores and include straws, lids, cups, and beverage bottles, according to the Clean Virginia Waterways website.

On the local level, some restaurants in Virginia Beach have already gotten a head start on using sustainable packaging before the polystyrene ban takes effect.

“They [the Surfrider Foundation] came to us three years ago,” said Patrick Edwards, owner of The Stockpot, an environmentally conscious restaurant located at 700 19th St. in Virginia Beach.

The Surfrider Foundation told Edwards that he would need to meet their requirements if he wanted to be a part of the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program, an initiative to stop plastic from entering oceans.

Restaurant owners who want to participate follow outlined criteria that bans use of polystyrene, plastic bags and straws, and calls for reusable foodware on-site and proper recycling practices, according to the Surfrider Foundation’s website.

“We already met all of those criteria because it’s something that we felt was important to us in the first place,” Edwards said. “So that was really a win-win for us.”

Owners participating in the program are listed on the Surfrider Foundation’s national and chapter websites and get marketing collateral such as window stickers, brochures and bill inserts to show and educate customers. Members also get a tax-deductible donation opportunity.

Edwards said he stopped using plastic straws and didn’t get the feedback he wanted for being an environmentally conscious restaurant.

“People are very dependent on certain plastic things,” Edwards said. “When we made changes to our straws, we got a huge backlash. You would think everyone would be on board.”

Register hopes that her nonprofit won’t have to focus on cleaning the environment.

 “I would like to see us spend more time in the world of prevention, preventing this debris in the first place,” she said. “It’s a matter of resources, but it’s also a matter of political will.”

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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2nd Street Festival Announces Full Schedule

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The 2nd Street Festival will return this fall, live and in person, Saturday – Sunday, October 2-3. Marking its 33rd year, the festival celebrates the rich culture of the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood in Downtown Richmond. This FREE event is produced by Venture Richmond Events.

Over the years, it has grown to be one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest street festivals. Thousands visit historic Jackson Ward to reminisce about the days when 2nd Street was the heart and soul of Richmond’s African-American community and was known as “the Harlem of the South.” Today, Jackson Ward continues to be a thriving neighborhood and community.

The 2nd Street Festival is an annual celebration and homecoming over two days that features three stages of live musical entertainment along with popular food vendors, a marketplace and Artists Row to shop, and the Richmond Metropolitan Antique Car Club.

We’re really excited to be back in the Jackson Ward neighborhood,” said Sharon Bassard, Booking and Festival Manager at Venture Richmond. “This year’s lineup features Richmond favorites and up-and-coming artists. From Jazz to Reggae and Gospel to R&B, you’ll be able to find a stage over the weekend with your favorite music – all for free! We ask everyone to be a “good neighbor” and show kindness to one another by following our health and safety guidelines, encouraging you to be vaccinated, wear a mask, and maintain distancing while attending the festival.”

Venture Richmond Events continues to closely monitor CDC and VDH guidelines for COVID-19 protocols for large, in-person outdoor events. A commitment to safety and adherence to local, state, and federal ordinances and recommendations will guide all decisions regarding in-person events. (see COVID-19 guidelines)

 

 

2nd Street Festival 2021 Stage Schedule
(Subject to change)

WAVERLY R. CRAWLEY MAIN STAGE (sponsored by Virginia Union University)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2

  • 11:50 – 12:35pm N.F.U.S.I.O.N.Z.
  • 1:10 – 2:10pm I Would Die 4 U; A Musical Tribute to PRINCE
  • 2:30 – 3:00pm Dancing with Mama D
  • 3:30 – 4:30pm DJ Drake and MC Choco
  • 5:30 – 7:00pm Plunky & Oneness

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3

  • 1:00 – 1:30pm James Johnson Jr
  • 2:00 – 2:30pm Virginia Union University Gospel Choir
  • 3:00 – 4:00pm J Tucker and The Krewe
  • 4:45 – 6:00pm Mighty Joshua

JOE KENNEDY JR. JAZZ STAGE

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2

  • 12:00 – 1:15pm Joe Kennedy, Jr. Scholarship Recipient Chet Frierson
  • 1:45 – 2:45pm Debra Dean & The Key West Band
  • 3:15 – 4:15pm Saxsmo “Stepping Out”
  • 4:45 – 6:00pm Nathan Mitchell

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3

  • 1:00 – 1:50pm Ashby Anderson’s Vibe
  • 2:10 – 3:10pm Larri Branch Agenda
  • 3:30 – 4:30pm Jazz In The Spirit
  • 5:00 – 6:00pm Curv Appeal

EGGLESTON HOTEL COMMUNITY STAGE

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2

  • 12:00 – 12:10pm Welcome – Historic Jackson Ward Association- Janis Allen
  • 12:30 – 1:10pm Young Prince Charles
  • 1:40 – 2:00pm Richmond Urban Dance Company
  • 2:30 – 3:30pm Bak N Da Day
  • 4:00 – 5:00pm Drew Miles and Company

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3

  • 1:30 – 2:00pm Chiquita Cross
  • 2:30 – 3:15pm DJ Milk D
  • 3:50- 4:30pm Glennroy & Company
  • 5:00 –6:00pm Testiphy Band

Saturday’s Headliner, Plunky & Oneness

For over 50 years, Richmond saxophonist, songwriter and producer J. Plunky Branch has been at the vanguard of Afro-centric jazz, funk, R&B, house music, and go-go, weaving these interrelated musical forms into a forward-looking message of empowerment, positivity, and cultural awareness. Along with his band, Plunky & Oneness, he has appeared in concert with some of the biggest names in Black music, including Patti Labelle, Ray Charles, Earth Wind & Fire, Frankie Beverly & Maze, LL Cool J, Chuck Brown, and more. His song “Every Way But Loose” was a top-ten soul music chart hit in London in the 1980’s and his hit single, “Drop,” was released in 2007. He also wrote “2nd Street Jaunt,” a song that Venture Richmond used in TV commercials promoting the 2019 festival. He will be performing at the festival on Saturday, October 2 from 5:30 – 7:00pm at the Waverly R. Crawley Main Stage.

Saturday’s Featured Jazz Stage Artist, Nathan Mitchell

Nathan Mitchell was recently named one of the final nominees for a 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album for his newest release Donny, Duke and Wonder. He will be featured on the Jazz Stage Saturday, October 2 from 4:45 – 6:00pm.

Sunday’s Closing Performance, Mighty Joshua

Closing out the festival on Sunday, October 3 from 4:45 – 6:00pm is reggae artist, Mighty Joshua, whose soulful exploration in the evolution of sound creates an expression of reggae for the modern day.

Official Festival Poster Artist, Unicia Buster

Purchase an official 2021 2nd Street Festival poster designed by local quilter and artist, Unicia Buster. The new poster will be unveiled on September 23, watch on Facebook Live! Posters will be available for sale at the festival, or at Plan 9 Music in Carytown and online at Plan9Music.com starting on Monday, October 4.

Jackson Project Weekend Activities

The JXN Project is a historic preservation project that celebrates the 150th anniversary of Jackson Ward by properly contextualizing the origin story of the nation’s first historically registered Black urban neighborhood. JXN is designed to excavate, elevate and educate the hidden histories of the city’s sixth ward, which inspired an effort to erect honorary street designations in honor of notable Jackson Wardians, also known as “Unveiling The Vanguard.” The 2nd Street Festival is partnering with JXN as they virtually unveil the vanguard by video released across their social media and website on October 2. Also, on October 2, festival-goers are invited to engage in a socially distanced, self-guided tour of the honorary street signs. For all details, visit www.thejxnproject.com and follow @TheJXNProject on all social media platforms.

Radio One’s “2nd Street MIX” Weekend

Back again for another year, 2nd Street Festival partner Radio One’s “2nd Street MIX” weekend will get you ready for the festival by bringing you mixes from the hottest DJs in the city! Tune into 99.3/105.7 KISS FM on Saturday, October 2 from 4:00pm-midnight and Sunday, October 3 from noon-7:00pm. Hear mixes from DJ King Tutt, DJ Drake, and DJ Lonnie B playing all your favorite 2nd Street Festival hits!

FREE Walking Tours, guided by Gary Flowers

Venture Richmond Events will provide FREE guided walking tours led by Gary Flowers who has a four-generation family connection to Historic Jackson Ward. “Educating the public to the place Historic Jackson Ward holds in commerce, education, and dismantling racial segregation in the United States of America is critically important to me,” Mr. Flowers said. These 60-minute tours leave at 1:00pm on Saturday and at 1:00pm on Sunday. Tour groups meet on the sidewalk at the Maggie Walker National Historic Site, 2nd & E. Leigh Streets.

Update on the Kidz Zone

Due to the highly interactive nature of the activities planned for the Kidz Zone, the 2nd Street Festival will not host a family area this year. The Kidz Zone, produced by the Children’s Museum, is a robust and engaging, much-loved, part of the Festival. However, due to the close proximity required for those activities and the lack of an approved COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12, we believe cancelling the activities is best for the safety of our littlest patrons. The Children’s Museum will be back to produce the much-loved Kidz Zone in 2022.

For information about the 2nd Street Festival, please visit: https://venturerichmond.com/our-events/2nd-street-festival-2021/

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PHOTOS: Fall Line Kitchen & Bar opens Thursday inside Richmond Marriott Downtown

Located at 500 E. Broad Street within the newly renovated Richmond Marriott Downtown, Fall Line offers an upscale-casual eatery with ingredient-focused comfort food alongside regional craft beer and cocktails.

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On Thursday, September 23rd, Fall Line Kitchen & Bar, a new restaurant in downtown Richmond, will open its doors for dinner service.

Located at 500 E. Broad Street within the newly renovated Richmond Marriott Downtown, Fall Line offers an upscale-casual eatery with ingredient-focused comfort food alongside regional craft beer and cocktails.

“We’re excited to start showing guests what our talented team has put together and giving the community a taste of what Fall Line has to offer,” said Peyton Powell, Fall Line’s head chef and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris. “We’ve developed a creative menu featuring dishes including lump crab hushpuppies and truffled bucatini.”

Throughout the month of October, a portion of Fall Line proceeds will go to support RVA Community Fridges, a nonprofit organization providing free food to Richmonders via community refrigerators. The restaurant will donate $1 for every signature cocktail and $1 for every cornbread appetizer purchased.

Fall Line offers an indoor dining area that seats 124, an outdoor patio that seats 34, and indoor bar seating for 59. Also available is a private dining room for up to 30. Initially open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5-10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 5-11 p.m., Fall Line plans to soon expand hours and offer a lunch, breakfast, and brunch menu. Reservations for the restaurant can be made via OpenTable.

Fall Line is continuing to hire for a number of positions, including cooks, servers, bartenders, hosts, dishwashers and support staff.

Fall Line’s name is a nod to the geological feature that shaped Virginia’s landscape and the location of Richmond. At the Fall Line, the James River flows over a series of rapids, or “falls,” and crosses from the hard bedrock of the Piedmont to the softer sand and clay of the Coastal Plain. The restaurant’s design evokes a distinct sense of place and highlights the variety of landscapes created by this geological feature.

Designed by //3877, the restaurant draws inspiration from the natural and geological world, including a can’t-miss mural of a Kingfisher bird created by local artist Hamilton Glass.

For more information about Fall Line or to join the team, visit www.FallLineRestaurant.com or follow the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram.

     

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Emancipation and Freedom Monument Unveiling on Wednesday

The project to build the monument began as part of the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the abolition of slavery in the United States.

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The Emancipation and Freedom Monument will be dedicated and unveiled in a ceremony on September 22, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. on Brown’s Island in Richmond.

The project to build the monument began as part of the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the abolition of slavery in the United States.

The monument, designed by Thomas Jay Warren of Oregon, features two 12-foot bronze statues representing a man, woman, and infant newly freed from slavery. Dedicated to the contributions of African American Virginians in the centuries-long fight for emancipation and freedom, the monument highlights notable African American Virginians who have made significant contributions to the emancipation and freedom of formerly enslaved persons or descendants. The base of the monument features the names, images, and brief biographical information of ten African American Virginians whose lives were dedicated to Emancipation and freedom — five individuals from the period before Emancipation through 1865, and five who continued to work for freedom from 1866 to 1970.

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