This is an article written by our friend Ramey Connelly in response to an article and an event that happened earlier this month in Richmond. There was a Sustainability Forum that was happening at First Fridays in Richmond at Gallery 5. Food Not Bombs and the Really Really Free Market were both going to table. However the event was not how we pictured it being. You can contact Ramey at rameysaurus@gmail.com and find out more about the Really Really Free Market at http://www.myspace.com/rvafreemarket
Here is what she has to say!

My response to this article: http://wrirnews.blogspot.com/2010/06/for-local-businesses-future-of-richmond.html

As a community member & Richmond enthusiast, I went to the forum to share information about the RVA Really Really Free Market, but came away sorely disappointed. Not only was there no space or table set aside, but my attempts to remedy the issue were thwarted by rudeness and standoffishness. So much for building community.

Luckily, some friendly neighborhood anarchists at the Food Not Bombs table were kind enough to share their space, and we spent the time co-promoting and discussing our confusion and dismay at what surrounded us.

The so-called “sustainability forum” ended up being a marketplace for people to sell their wares under the guise of being “green” and “eco-friendly”. But the majority of people buy over-processed agribusiness products because that’s what they can afford. Buying/going green is just another form of conspicuous consumption; a way of using money to feel morally superior- a luxury that is not afforded to most of the community.

Instead of having a company selling rain barrels, why not a workshop on how to build your own?

Instead of having a company selling solar panels, why not a discussion about ways to reduce energy use in our everyday lives?

(By the way, solar panels are highly contested as truly being “eco-friendly”. They are very expensive; it can take up to 100 years to recoup losses through energy savings. It also takes an immense amount of energy, resources, and toxic chemicals to produce solar panels. Various solar panel companies have been charged or cited with improperly disposing of said chemicals. )

Instead of hosting Tricycle Gardens, a group that doesn’t provide free space in their “community gardens” nor give workshops without charge, why not a skillshare on ways to reclaim public spaces and utilize them in productive ways? A workshop on guerilla gardening? An assembly line for making seed bombs?

Why did the catered food consist of caviar and quail eggs? The increasing demand for caviar by food “aficionados” all over the world has led to the near extinction of at least one species of fish. And quail eggs are most often considered a delicacy- again, something that is not acquirable for most Richmond residents.

Why were there slim to none options for vegans and vegetarians- diets that are quite often chosen for their sustainability? Why were the drinks served in plastic cups?

I’m also a little disconcerted by this article. I’m uncertain how concentrating growth and development will change the fact that outlying areas are currently excluded from the public transportation system. At the forum, there was a table for the Richmond Transit Riders’ Union- a group in the process of establishing itself in our community, with the goal of working to fight issues facing users of public transport- including the exclusion of the surrounding counties. Mentioning them in this article could have been a major jumping off point for the group- a group that I think is going to be vital in the creation of a sustainable transportation system in this city.

I understand the logic behind wanting to prevent more urban sprawl, through the concentration of development. However, when one talks about “re-investing” and “revitalizing” currently existing properties in order to be more sustainable, what you are really talking about is gentrification. Concentrating growth and development might reduce urban sprawl, but if you can’t do it without gentrifying, then you aren’t doing it sustainably.

Sustainability means being accessible to all residents- not just those who can afford to install low flow showerheads and dual flushing toilets. It means building a community through mutual aid and collective knowledge. It means encouraging and inspiring conversations about how every member of this community can be given the same chances to live flourishing and enriched lives. To me, that’s what a Sustainable Richmond would look like. But instead, all I saw were advertisements printed on vinyl, business cards, and boxes for collecting money.

**In an added note, I want to do a REAL sustainable richmond thing. Something legitimate, which would require a lot of time, planning, and commitment. The failure of this event really lit a fire under me, and I think that it’s vital to our community to do this right. But it would mean reaching out beyond the activist/anarchist circle (which I think is important to most radical efforts anyways). Is anybody interested?

Comments
  1. anonymous says:

    I am interested, is there still a fire anywhere? planning doesn’t have to be done in one big rush, but if this idea is kept in mind, then we (the community) could make progress on it over the course of many months.

    • anarchymo says:

      Yep there is still a fire for this project.
      It looks like some of us with experience with the Richmond Zine Fest and other folks from various aspects of RVA community are interested in organizing, for next spring, a day of workshops. It will probably include a lot of sustainability type subject matter, but not be limited to that. And It will be similar to a Do It Yourself event, except that we want to avoid only appealing to particular subcultures.
      Who are you, we should all have a brainstorming session soon!