List of Published Works “Shockoe Bottom Green”, The Greater Richmond Grid, Issue 1, Summer 2009, Pages 8-9, Writer and Photographer “Living Easy with a Touch of Panache”, The Greater Richmond Grid, Issue 1, Summer 2009, Pages 12-13, Writer “Fernando Vera Luna”, The Greater Richmond Grid, Issue 1, Summer 2009, Page 17, Photographer: Fernando Luna Vera “The Beauty of Pandora”, The Greater Richmond Grid, Issue 1, Summer 2009, Pages 30-31, Writer and Photographer “The Beautiful People”, The Greater Richmond Grid, Issue 1, Summer 2009, Page 40, Writer and Photographer “MOSAIC”, The Greater Richmond Grid, Issue 1, Summer 2009, Page 43, Writer and Photographer “Cubicle Sawnsong”, The Greater Richmond Grid, Online Article (reference in print version on Page 20), Writer and Photographer “Making It Happen: Metropolitan Sports Backers Earn National Acclaim from Peer Associations”, Sports Backers Quarterly, Volume 2, Issue 5, July/August 2009, Page 7, Writer “The Half Marathon Picks Up Steam”, Sports Backers Quarterly, Volume 2, Issue 5, July/August 2009, Page 28, Writer and Photographer “TRIgirls Band Together to Power Spring”, Sports Backers Quarterly, Volume 2, Issue 4, May/June 2009, Pages 12-13, Writer
Shockoe Bottom Green Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom has just become a little greener. The 17th Street Farmers’ Market partnered with Venture Richmond in May 2009 to create the Shockoe Community Garden. The garden, adjacent to the market’s main office (100 N 17th Street), consists of over 18 beds of raised garden containers that will grow vegetables and herbs as a way of giving back to the community.17th Street Farmers’ Market Manager George Bolos describes how the garden came to fruition. “[The] 17th Street Farmers’ Market approached Venture Richmond with several proposals, one of which was the idea of a neighborhood garden, which they immediately loved,” he explains. “They felt as we did that this was an affordable project that would enhance the surrounding neighborhood.” The garden project is for neighboring restaurants as well as part of the “Little Sprouts” program for 50 children from faith based organizations who came out and planted the vegetables. Since this project is primarily a children's project, the property was offered to the 17th Street Farmers’ Market at no cost. Yogi Singh, a volunteer with Venture Richmond, helped recruit construction companies to build the garden plots. “Having a hand in building the garden, with friends and skilled craftsmen from Capstone Contracting and Kjellstrom and Lee, Inc., was an experience I will remember for a long time,” describes Singh. “I hope this garden will serve as an amenity for the community for years to come.” While a few businesses in the area asked for and were granted plots in the Community Garden, not just anybody can have a plot in the garden. “This year it is for our Little Sprouts program,” says Bolos [photo: left]. “Next year we may expand the plots to include others who are interested. We have to take baby steps before we walk.” In addition to children benefiting from volunteer work, Bolos also wants the garden to benefit Richmond by helping to make the area “green.” “We are working in partnership with Tricycle Gardens and representatives from Lewis Ginter as a way of introducing Urban Gardening methods to the City of Richmond,” Bolos says. “Specifically, we would like to assist some of the other programs that are happening within the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and promote self-sustaining gardens.” Restaurants in the area were granted plots in the Community Garden. They are tending to their gardens, harvesting their crops and using the produce and herbs for special features. The other week folks from LuLu’s came down and harvested a big batch of mint. Guess what their special was that night? Shockoe Community Garden Mojiotos! The Greater Richmond Grid, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2009 http://www.richmondgrid.com/index.asp?section=Live&id=10
Living Easy with a Touch of Panache Homeowners Colleen Hall and Carol Damon’s fabulous condominium with a stunning river view proves that simplifying your life doesn’t mean you have to forgo comfort or style. Built in 2007, Vistas on the James has sold out all of its 160 units—starting below $300,000 to just over $1 million. Owing much to its success are the facility’s luxurious amenities combined with a premium location. In the heart of the River District, the complex is situated on the banks of the James River and along the historic Canal Walk in Downtown Richmond. Hall, a site acquisition and leasing specialist for wireless telecommunications, and Damon, a retired UPS executive, have both been residents of Richmond for 12 years. After living in the Fan District and looking for something new, they were immediately attracted to the Vistas for a variety of reasons, both practical and aesthetic. “We had talked about downsizing and when we saw the Vistas we loved it,” says Hall. “[We] decided it would be perfect for us.” What really drew Hall and Damon to the Vistas were the quality of the building and the layout of the units, which include open-design floor plans, floor to ceiling windows, granite countertops, and a large private balcony, creating a contemporary ambiance that differed greatly from their previous residence. “We moved to the Vistas from a Victorian 2,600 square foot house in the Fan,” says Hall. “Our Fan house was very traditional with many antiques. At the Vistas our space is a 1,400 square foot contemporary condo and our furnishings follow contemporary lines.” In addition to the updated look and feel of their condo, the newly constructed building has 24-hour security, covered parking, a fitness center, and downtown convenience. While the Vistas’ modern design and convenient amenities are enough to attract almost anyone, it was the idea of having Richmond’s greatest natural resource right outside their window that made Hall and Damon fall in love with their complex. “We love the views!” says Hall. “We are also within walking distance to great restaurants, Brown’s Island, the Canal Walk, and much more.” Vistas on the James offers a fresh design, amazing views, and easy access to all things Richmond, right in the pulsating heart of Downtown. What more could anyone want in a home? The Greater Richmond Grid, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2009 http://www.richmondgrid.com/index.asp?section=Live&id=15 Homeowners Colleen Hall and Carol Damon display their view from the top. Inside Hall and Damon’s luxurious loft.
Fernando Luna Vera Fernando Luna Vera, a native of Columbia and a Chemistry graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University, first discovered his love of the Canal Walk at a festive time. “Last Halloween night during my typical walk through the streets of Downtown Richmond, I found a very curious congregation of demons and nurses at 14th and Canal Street,” says Vera. “These costumed people were there because a haunted cruise through the canal was about to start. I was not surprised; after all, what better place to have fun on Halloween than the Canal Walk?” After that night, Vera continued to visit the Canal Walk as often as his school schedule allowed, as he discovered that there was more to the Canal Walk than just a haunted cruise. “There is not a better place to find that characteristic blend of past and modernity of Richmond than the Canal Walk, where luxury apartment buildings, restaurants, and bars live together with the memories of merchants trading goods and confederation partisans trying to escape from the city,” Vera says. “I really enjoy walking that mile and watching people run, taking their pets for a little trip, [and] couples that find the place romantic, and I especially like to stop for a while and read a book, because even though the place is transited [it] is never noisy.” “The Canal Walk is a fun way to access several of the places along its line,” Vera says. “At night [it] is even better. You can see buildings illuminated with green and red lights and go nuts taking pictures in the short tunnels that resemble some sort of medieval castle.The Greater Richmond Grid, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2009http://www.richmondgrid.com/index.asp?section=Live&id=18 Fernando Luna Vera: “There is not a better place to find that characteristic blend of past and modernity of Richmond than the Canal Walk, where luxury apartment buildings, restaurants, and bars live together with the memories of merchants trading goods and confederation partisans trying to escape from the city.”
The Beauty of Pandora “For us they’ve become this really invaluable way to just talk directly with Pandora listeners,” says Westergren. “I am really interested in hearing your [the listeners’] thoughts, questions you have, criticisms you have, Pandora ideas you have for us.” Pandora was originally launched in January 2000 as a music genome project, the most comprehensive analysis of music ever attempted. “What we do is understand songs musicologically, and then by marrying that with some mathematics, kind of build this tool that connects songs based on their musical content,” explains Westergren of the project. Pandora’s team of 50 musician-analysts have been listening to music one song at a time, dissecting and analyzing every single detail of each song. “We have this musical taxonomy. It’s a list of about 400 musical attributes that sort of collectively describe the songs,” says Westergren. “[What we do is] essentially dissect melody and harmony and rhythm and vocal performance down to the basic building blocks.” Westergren’s original music genome idea failed initially, but that didn’t stop him from using his project with a different purpose. “When I got out of school I knew I wanted to be involved with music,” reflects Westergren, a Political Science graduate from Stanford. After working as a “manny”—a male nanny—for five years after graduating, Westergren became a working musician, writing music and traveling across the country to perform. “I became pretty intimately acquainted with the challenges of being a working musician,” he says. “There’s one really hard problem for musicians, which is, how do you get exposure? Only a small number of artists get on broadcast radio. And radio really is a key to professional longevity. So we took this huge database we had built, [the] music genome project, and decided to turn it into a radio.” Thus the birth of Pandora Internet Radio in November of 2005. Pandora’s team of musician-analysts still dissects songs based on 400 musical attributes as they had when the company was first launched. The goal behind this extensive analysis now, however, is to create playlists based on musical proximity for its 30 million registered listeners, and its constantly growing number of unregistered listeners. On June 29, Pandora Internet Radio founder Tim Westergren treated Richmonders to a meeting at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Grace Street Theater to discuss the radio’s future. The meeting allowed attendees to ask Westergren questions about anything Pandora, from the company’s humble beginnings to suggestions on how to improve ease of use on the radio website. These “town hall” meetings started in Austin, Texas with only six people; now over 200 meetings later from Biloxi, Mississippi to Boston, Pandora’s town halls have become so popular that entire rooms and theaters fill up with listeners eager to hear what’s in store for Pandora.
The Beauty of Pandora (continued) Westergren believes that the beauty of Pandora and the reason that it’s successful lies in the method of catering to its listeners based on musicological proximity and not on popularity. “It’s not a popularity contest,” he says. “It’s one of the only systems that, in terms of how it picks songs, is blind to popularity. So when you type in an artist or song, Pandora doesn’t know if that artist [or song] is famous or not, so it really is a truly level playing field.” Listeners at the Richmond meeting all expressed the desire for more granular feedback when rating songs picked for them by Pandora. Instead of just giving a song or artist a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down,” which is what they can do now, listeners would like to say why they gave a certain rating, saying things like “I like the vocal harmony on this song, I don’t like this singer, I like the melody,” and so on. This idea of providing granular feedback is something that Pandora plans to do in the future for its listeners. There are also new technological applications for Pandora in the works, such as car accessories in conjunction with the iPhone, as well as incorporating Pandora into DVD and Blue Ray players with Bose. “I realized, wow this is what the world is going to be like,” says Westergren about these advancements. But changes for listeners aren’t the only goals of Pandora. “We’ve gotten pretty ambitious with what we think Pandora can do,” Westergren says. “We’re intent not just on redefining radio from top to bottom for listeners, but also to really make an impact for musicians.” Westergren has received a lot of feedback from artists who have debuted on Pandora and have become successful from this platform. “Artists will say things like ‘My iTunes sales have spiked,’ and it corresponds exactly to when they were added to Pandora,” he says. “Or they’re at shows and people are saying they heard about them on Pandora—that’s happening a lot. So I think we’re beginning to see the ripple effect of it. I can’t say that this musician attributes his or her success to Pandora, but I think we’re kind of creating a bit of rising tide.” Because of this feedback that he has already received, Westergren only sees continued success for musicians in Pandora’s future. “Our goal is to create a musician’s middle class. I will be happy if someday Pandora will have reached the point where you graduate from college and you say to your mom, ‘Mom, I want to be in a rock band.’ And she says ‘That’s a great career.’ We’ll have laid the foundation for a viable profession, which I believe is there. The audience is there for it, and certainly the talent is there for it.” The Greater Richmond Grid, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2009 http://www.richmondgrid.com/index.asp?ID=50
The Beautiful People Richmond-area models, photographers, makeup artists, and hairstylists have the opportunity to showcase their talent and network with professionals at Model Mondays. The event is held every Monday night this summer through August 17, 7:30pm to 12:00am at Xscape nightclub at 814 West Grace Street. Originally started by Richmond photographer Randall Holmes at Rendezvous Café and Lounge and currently organized and hosted by Carlos Funn of FunnFotos, the event allows anyone with an interest in modeling and photography to actually participate in real photo shoots with the goal of making connections with others in their field. At the event, models bring several outfits to the event where hair stylists and make- up artists prepare them for photo shoots. After speaking with photographers, models participate in a one-on-one photo shoot to build their portfolios, as well as those of the photographer. “It is a way for people to break the ice and do test shots to see about working with each other on future dates or events,” explains Funn. “We do let people know that the models are here to work on their portfolios, yet is an open artistic night for creating cool shoots and art.” Model Mondays is the first event of its kind to occur in Richmond. Never before has a networking event been so cool as to make connections and beautiful art in the same setting. The event has drawn interested professionals from Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and North Carolina. Mosheh Israel, President and CEO of Black Nobility Magazine [shown on photo right with photographer Carlton Brightly] a lifestyle and culture magazine based in Raleigh, North Carolina, recently attended Model Mondays to recruit new models for the model section for future issues. And Founder and CEO of Catwalk Productions Angela Moore, also from Raleigh, scouted the event to recruit models to her agency. Their presence at this event shows how popular Model Mondays has become and how successful it has been in attracting professionals interested in building their networks. “Many have had a chance to pick up clients [and] set up gigs,” says Funn. “For me, it has helped with branding FunnFoto and getting connected with others in the community to let them know what kind of work I do and to let them know that we are here to not only help with pictures [but] with artistic development.” Funn plans to continue Model Mondays as a regular event all over Richmond throughout the year. “We are looking to make a moving venue,” he says. “We have some things planned, maybe a ‘hit the runway’ type of thing. We are searching for sponsors and vendors to help put on the night, and if they do have an interest they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.” The Greater Richmond Grid, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2009http://www.richmondgrid.com/index.asp?section=Play&id=57 Above: Makeup artists prep models for their close-ups. Left: Funn with FunnFoto model Leanne Nicole.
MOSAIC Known primarily as a hot lunch spot for Richmonders since 1999, MOSAIC Cafe & Catering (6229A River Road ) has revamped its look and services to create more buzz and attract more clientele. In early June 2009 MOSAIC reopened its doors—after closing for redecoration around Memorial Day with a fresh look and an entirely new addition: the MOSAIC Bar and Lounge. The bar and lounge areas were created partly in response to customer demand, but it was also something that Jeffrey Weaver had wanted to do ever since he was appointed General Manager three months ago. “We really wanted to create an atmosphere where a guest could come in and have a cocktail while waiting for their table,” explains Weaver. “We have always been know as a lunch place; we won best chain for lunch in the Best of/Worst of Richmond. We wanted to start focusing on dinner as well, so we remodeled. We built a whole bar in four days and had to hire a whole staff.” Weaver (right): “We really wanted to create an atmosphere where a guest could come in and have a cocktail while waiting for their table.“ Left: MOSAIC’s new design creates an ambiance that is exciting yet soothing, with light green as the restaurant’s primary color. MOSAIC’s new design creates an ambiance that is exciting yet soothing, with light green as the restaurant’s primary color, accented by earthy tones in the granite countertops of the bar, the wood of the chairs and barstools, and the multi-colored starburst light fixtures constructed with 60 to 70 twisted glass tubes and the greatest of care. “It’s very hip. I would say chic, modern, and artsy, not eclectic,” comments Weaver. “The look and feel of our restaurant really match the look and feel of our menu: very light, healthy, and fresh. [It’s] a fresh look. When you see it now compared to what it was, it is literally night and day. Now it has a cool atmosphere.” The Greater Richmond Grid, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2009http://www.richmondgrid.com/index.asp?section=Play&id=63
Cubicle Swansong An evolving workforce necessitates change in workplace design Richmond architectural and interior design specialists had the opportunity to learn about the constant changes of work environments at the Virginia Interior Design Association (IIDA), Virginia/West Virginia Chapter’s Spring Continuing Education and Social Event at the Children’s Museum of Richmond on June 22. Erin Boden, LEED, AP, Architectural and Design Specialist for Allsteel, Atlanta, discussed several topics of which design specialists should be aware, including the drivers of workforce change and how they ultimately cause changes in workspace design. “Competition has become more fierce, especially in economic downturn,” says Boden. “[With] increased margin and pricing pressures, 24/7 operation [and] access to information is critical.” This increased competition has caused the rules of work to change drastically. Instead of working the once typical 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job, workers now have nontraditional work hours at both their office and home. There is no “clock out” time for workers anymore, and that’s due in large part to modern technology. Mobile devices capable of internet access make it easier for workers to do their jobs at the “ding” of an incoming email from their boss on their Blackberries. Because technological advancements have made access to information much more feasible, technology has itself become a main driver of workforce change. It has become a status symbol, especially for younger workers, giving them an edge over seasoned workers who may not be as tech savvy. Changes in generational demographics have also influenced today’s workforce. With a changing mix of workers, diversity in attitudes and beliefs about motivation, technology, career development, and work-life balance can pose challenges between workers. “People communicate based on their generational background,” says Boden. “Young workers are willing to take risks and try new ideas and concepts. Seasoned workers are all about entitlement and want privacy.” Marais: "Vendors are coming up with very creative ways to accessorize those smaller work stations by consolidating storage needs—personal storage versus task-oriented, immediately-accessed work areas. They’ve really refined the personal work zone."
Cubicle Swansong (continued) In addition to multiple generations in the workforce, other demographics including gender and race will create differences among workers. The number of women and minorities are expected to rise and create a very different workforce within the next five to ten years. “People are complicated,” she continues. “[This leads to a] more diverse workplace and a more complex workforce.” But these differences have added value to the collaborative method of work, as having different perspectives can create positive outcomes in group projects. Environmental Issues And as a result of generations both past and present, environmental issues have affected how workspaces are designed. Rising costs of commuting to work, polluting the environment, and ineffective building design are all problems that have resulted out of current building designs. These issues are leading designers to create workspaces that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. How can architectural and design specialists adjust to these changes? And how can they effectively design workspaces that will attract and retain employees? Designers must first acknowledge that effective work design calls for two necessary elements: space for individual work and space for collaboration. Patricia Taylor Marais, Director of Interior Design for Commonwealth Architects in Richmond, discusses how this need for both individual and collaborative spaces has changed workspace design. “Personal work stations have a smaller footprint,” she says. “Vendors are coming up with very creative ways to accessorize those smaller work stations by consolidating storage needs—personal storage versus task-oriented, immediately-accessed work areas. They’ve really refined the personal work zone. In terms of overall office plan, there are more communal plans designed.” Designers must also contemplate the impact of strategic organization in the workspaces they design. Workspaces must support the diverse workforce of today by allowing easy access to modern technology to increase productivity. “We collaborate with specialty consultants more than we ever have before primarily because of technological advances,” explains Marais. “Telecommunication, teleconferencing—those are space requirements.” Talk to Me Randy Alberson, co-owner of Smarter Interiors in Richmond, notes how these modes of communication, and the effect of generational differences on them, have impacted how designers create suitable workspaces for is clients. “The way people communicate is different from many, many years ago,” he explains. “Employees of today are going to face situations that our grandparents couldn’t imagine. But in the end it is going to come back to the same thing: it’s about people sitting down face to face and talking. You want to feel like you’re in your living room and be comfortable.” But most important, designers must design workspaces to attract, educate, and retain clients’ employees. They must implement drivers of worker satisfaction and prepare for the future needs of organization by means of the education and development of the workforce. Marais has witnessed how an attractive workspace affects the futures of her clients’ employees. “The younger workforce has greater expectations of their work environments,” she says. “So what we found is that companies are having to modify their interior environment to recruit more talented younger professionals. “In terms of the environment, the spaces are more exciting, more invigorating, to generate more creative collaborative communication.
Cubicle Swansong (continued) It is imperative that when designing workspaces for their clients, designers consider the drivers of workforce change as well as their clients’ needs, which are constantly evolving, and must predict the future through efficient workspace design. “It is our job to anticipate the needs of the customer, even when they don’t realize it,” says Alberson. “We have to be able to set them up for the future. We’re the experts; we come in and we tell them this is where you need be.” The Greater Richmond Grid, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2009 (Online article) http://www.richmondgrid.com/index.asp?ID=73 Alberson (above): “Employees of today are going to face situations that our grandparents couldn’t imagine. But in the end it is going to come back to the same thing: it’s about people sitting down face to face and talking. You want to feel like you’re in your living room and be comfortable.”
Making It Happen: The Metropolitan Sports Backers Earn National Acclaim from Peer Organizations Sports Backers Quarterly, Volume 2, Issue 9, July/August 2009 www.sbqnow.com
The Half Marathon Picks Up Steam Ro Gammon takes on the half marathon. While many Richmond area runners have already begun training for the SunTrust Richmond Marathon on November 14, this year offers a new challenge: the McDonald’s Half Marathon, which will take place the same day. Ro Gammon--a history teacher at Powhatan High School, personal trainer at the Midlothian YMCA, and veteran marathon coach and runner—has accepted the challenge of coordinating the training group for this event. “I love coaching marathon training groups, but when they approached me it was like, this is a new opportunity, and you had not heard of half marathon training teams,” says Gammon. “Sports Backers does a great job with all the other programs…it was like, okay, I will give it a try.” The SunTrust Marathon added the half marathon to its schedule because of the rising popularity and increasing demand for the 12.1 mile race. “[In the past] you had the 5K, 8K, and the marathon, and those were your only options,” says Gammon. “Now more and more races have added the half marathon because it’s doable for people. They are really drawing a lot of people.” Not only that, but they are attracting people of all fitness levels. Half marathons appeal to new racers because while it’s more challenging than a 5K or 10K, it is not as intimidating as a full marathon. Runners who have not competed in a marathon before also use half marathons as a stepping stone for participation in future marathons. Regular marathoners are drawn to half marathons because the recovery process has a lot less time involved than a full marathon, allowing them to begin training for their next marathon sooner. But just because a half marathon is half the distance of a full marathon doesn’t make the race any less challenging. “It’s always a big deal,” says Gammon. “You get the same satisfaction when you cross the finish line, whether you do a half or a whole.” The half marathon training group will meet every Saturday for long group runs as part of a prepared training schedule given to group members. Members will follow the schedule day by day, beginning with three miles on select days during the first week and increasing the distance the following week, working up to the 12.1 mile race.
The Half Marathon Picks Up Steam (Continued) In Gammon’s past experience as a marathon coach, she saw how training group members rarely ever ran by themselves outside of weekly group runs. “A lot of times people will get together during the week and they’ll find out, ‘Hey, you live in Midlothian, let’s get together for a run,’” she says. “And what happens [is] some people never run by themselves, they always have a group.” Gammon is looking forward to getting her training group pumped up this August not only for the half marathon, but for the relationships that result from training together as a team. “It is so much fun, the camaraderie of the group, and you make friends that last forever,” she says. “I hear from people that I coached years ago. They’ll still call me or email me and let me know how they’re doing. It’s like a big family.” Gammon has always been passionate about helping others through physical fitness, and coaching the half marathon training group is no exception. “Our goal is the half marathon. My goal is to get them across the finish line and enjoy it and keep them healthy.” Sports Backers Quarterly, Volume 2, Issue 9, July/August 2009 http://sbqnow.com/index.asp?ID=82