by | Feb 15, 2010 | POLITICS

Shop RVA like all other movements, began as an idea. What started out as an assignment in a graphic design class called Design Rebels became something more.

Shop RVA like all other movements, began as an idea. What started out as an assignment in a graphic design class called Design Rebels became something more. This idea was propelled by local artist, activist, and head of Design Rebels Noah Scalin. Scalin offered his students the opportunity to utilize their artistic abilities and beliefs to promote change. The end product was Shop RVA. A movement dedicated towards promoting and preserving the culture and individuality indigenous to the Richmond area. To this end, Shop RVA seeks to educate the public in their role for stabilizing the local economy by shopping locally.

Though class reached its end, the students who had shared in its birth, had other intentions in mind for Shop RVA. Meanwhile, members of a local nonprofit organization, The Bridge CDC, were recruiting partners to implement a shop local campaign. Founded in 2005, the mission of The Bridge CDC is to improve lives by reducing socio-economic barriers by creating strategic collaborations throughout Richmond, VA. Its overall vision is to create a city where upward socio-economic mobility is easily accessible to all. Following this motto, they have created the ESL Collaboratiave Network (ECN), which is a city-wide support system for all ESL providers, and focuses on communication, collaboration and results. Its goal is so remove the language barrier for foreign born residents, which can result in limited access to vital services such as education, healthcare, child-care, transportation, and employment opportunities. They have launched a Girls Gone Wise program, which is a life skills program that targets Richmond Public School’s female high school students to help them.

The groups combined, and in 2009 The Bridge CDC, a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization, joined forces with several locally owned businesses, nonprofit/community organizations, and individuals to re-vitalize the idea, forming the Shop RVA coalition. Shopping at local businesses preserves Richmond’s character and culture, strengthens neighborhoods and local causes, helps create jobs and investments in the community, and reduces our environmental footprint. “The initiative would support local businesses ranging from home-grown businesses and retail stores, to farmer’s markets.” stated Terrell Pollard, Executive Director of The Bridge CDC. The coalition also wanted to take things a step further. Member businesses under Shop RVA would provide internships for area high school and college students. “We didn’t just want to preserve the culture. We also wanted to show people the impact of giving back.” Says Joy Harris, Chair of The Bridge CDC.

As the movement has grown, so have people’s dedication to it. Over 20 people are involved in the day-to-day operation of pushing Shop RVA, each person dedicating between 4 and 20 hours per week.

Born and raised in the capital of Virginia, the community has been so kind to my family who had come to call this place home so long ago. As residents of RVA, we must be active in the conservation of our community. There is only one RVA, rich with history, art, and culture, that which you cannot find elsewhere. Like the Amazon rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, once gone, it can never be replaced or restored to its original splendor. What disservice would we bring to future generations if we were to allow our community to wither away? That is why I enlisted in Shop RVA, to prevent such a disaster from taking place.

By John Ram, Volunteer for the Marketing Division of Shop RVA

John Reinhold

John Reinhold

John Reinhold is currently CXO of Inkwell Ventures Inc. which owns and operates RVA Magazine and GayRVA. Also, he is a deejay with PLF, husband and father to a couple of great kids.

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