“Many hands make light work”. – John Heywood
Too often, there is so much emphasis placed on the newest, shiniest venture. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. New advancements keep us progressive and moving forward. However, it is also beneficial to think back and remember the past. When thinking about the past, try to concentrate on the positive aspects. I reminisce on family gatherings, cookouts, and holidays, going from house to house. My best friend was my cousin, Lisa. We were connected at the hip, always! There was something special about sharing my dreams, hopes, and life with her. We are not as close as we used to be (totally my fault), and I miss her. However, I have made a commitment to reconnect and rebuild our friendship and relationship.
There is something to be said about looking back on memories. The historic Churchill district, in Richmond, Virginia, highlights one of those places that represents some of the best of Richmond. On 25th Street, there is so much history. On the corner of 25th and Broad streets, Patrick Henry gave his “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech. This community has transitioned from a marvelous warm environment that boasted community engagement and support. However, as the economy changed issues of maintaining income, families shrinking, and relocation created challenges for the environment. An increase in economic instability, rises in crime, and reductions in community engagement, gave way to increased crime, deterioration of homes, and an overall, sadness to the otherwise vibrant area.
Progression and Change
Many conversations arose regarding the increase in unhealthy lifestyles and the food desert creating even more challenges and a decline in nutrition of children and community members. However, many community members continued to weather the ever-changing storm of the neighborhood. Many community members partnered together to find solutions. One entrepreneur, Johnny Johnson opened Community Pride stores in areas with desperate needs for fresh groceries. However, in 2003, the 25th Street location of Community Pride closed. Over the following years, the area saw a tremendous revitalization, investors began to buy homes, remodel, and upgrade the area. Smaller businesses began to move in, families began to purchase, and the community vibe seemed to see a boost.
Unfortunately, many community members with roots in the area, battled with increasing property values, transportation, and employment challenges. I will always believe in the power of working together. Many times, it takes one vision and a group of people that are willing to partner together to make it happen. Well, that’s exactly what you get with the Marketplace @ 25th Street in Richmond, Virginia. Community members, government officials, and interested stakeholders joined together to make a simple vision, a fabulous reality. The Marketplace @ 25th Street boast a spectacular display of the history of Churchill, complete with a timeline of pictures that capture the history of the last 400 years in the area. It’s a refreshing environment that illustrates community and customer service. The space is shared by the community partners. Brewer’s Café, Mama J’s Soul food, Hope Pharmacy, Richmond Heritage Federal credit union, and even Lyft partner together to make the vision of the Marketplace more cohesive and inviting.
The Marketplace @ 25th Street began with the paid training of employees due to collaboration with Caritas. Employees’ base wage is above minimum wage starting at $9 per hour, and depending on their experience, some even start at $12. Now, that may not sound like a lot, but it’s better that $7.25. Residents living within 3 miles of the Marketplace are able to receive free transportation home due to a partnership with VanGo. Yes, these diverse partnership value the uniqueness of the community while providing a welcoming oasis that benefits all stakeholders and community members.