James Ryan is an education guru. In his 2010 book, Five Miles Away, A World Apart, he looks at 2 high schools in the Richmond region (Freeman and Thomas Jefferson) as a way to explore broader disparities in American education. He is now the Dean of Harvard’s graduate school of Education.

Below he highlights 5 Essential Questions for Life (6 Min).

The Five Questions are as follows:

  1. Wait, what?
  2. I wonder why? I wonder if?
  3. Couldn’t we at least?
  4. How can I help?
  5. What truly matters?

We believe asking good questions is the first step in seeing things in fresh ways.

This list is a great start.

We made national news again, ya’ll.

The New York Times published a guide on how to spend 36 hours in Richmond. I can send this to my mom, as if to say, “Hey, come visit! It’s cool.” And then, as an aside, drop the hint that she could move here. And then feel conflicted about whether that would be a good situation for everyone. Get over yourself, Blaine! Just move here already, mom! Pull quote:

“Richmond has traditionally had a genteel, understated nature. More recently, a new Richmond has emerged, with ambitious college students and diverse residents moving into historic spaces; a restaurant scene that gets better every month…With the James River as an anchor, Richmond reveals a stark natural beauty that, no matter the season, offers a distinctive urban charm and vibrancy.”

Yeah, I’ll say. Not a bad time to be in Richmond.

Tina Griego wrote for Richmond Magazine, covering some the stories of people and places around Richmond. She’ll be moving out to Colorado sometime soon. In her final piece for the magazine she reflects on her time in Richmond, capturing the beauty, the brokenness and the complexity that is Richmond:

“I have never witnessed so plainly the devastating modern consequences of historic policies that quarantined the poor and black. Neither have I lived in a place so abundant in natural and architectural splendor. I will miss the cobblestoned alleys and the dogwood trees. I will miss the wide, rocky tumble of the James through the city, and the view from Libby Hill. I will miss walking through the Museum District when the late afternoon sun gilds the rooftops.

In this old city, in its restlessness and ache and contrariness, there exists something of an adolescent ever torn between rebellion and conformity, aspiration and cynicism. For all its financial lack, for the rooted shortsightedness that hampers regional consensus and action, this is a city pulsing with potential. So much of that lies in its inhabitants.”     — Tina Griego


You can check out the full story here. We wish you well, Tina.

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The Richmond Police continues to develop programs and approaches based on the things they’re seeing in the community. Three examples:

  • Based on the number of firearms in the community, they started a program called GUN 250. It’s a reward program where neighbors can text information about illegals guns, making them eligible for up to a $250 reward. Check CBS 6 story here.
  • Virginia tops the nation in sending kids into the juvenile justice system, according to a 2015 report from The Center for Public Integrity. Virginia led all states, referring 16 students per 1000. As a response, the Richmond Police Department started the L.I.F.E. Program aimed at keeping teens out of jail.
  • In his free time, Chief Durham has befriended a young man named David Baldwin to help him get back on his feet after getting out of jail. An inspiring, heart-warming story. Check the video and the RTD article here.

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Regular maps, good. Interactive maps, better. Color coded interactive maps over time, THE BEST. Check out this map of Virginia’s 10th Senate District courtesy of the Virginia Public Access Project. In the early 2000s, the district was more red (conservative) than it is today. The lines are redrawn every ten years. The new lines went into effect in 2011 following the 2010 census, cutting out sections of Chesterfield and Powhatan to include some new parts of the city. If you want to really nerd out about gerrymandering, check out OneVirginia2021.



I’ve always wanted to know– from the very beginning– how Richmond actually won the bid for this giant race coming to town. Was there a dude in Richmond that was up late, pacing around house in the wee hours of the night just dreaming about how to make it happen? Or did the upper echelon of the global cycling elite gather in a smoke filled room and throw darts at a map of the wirld? Neither one of those things happened. But what did happen involved the Kennedys of the cycling world, along with some good ol’ fashioned Richmond elbow grease. Check out the full story– The Road to Richmond 2015— by Mark Robinson via Richmond Magazine.

Photo above courtesy of Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly


“By employing the right kinds of questions— open, curious, slightly provocative at times, but never judgmental— one could have a meaningful dialogue with people who are very different from you, culturally, politically, temperamentally. Such questions could slip under and around the barriers between people; they could help identify common ground and shared concerns. And eventually, if the questioning and the discussion went deep enough, they might begin to resolve conflicts and problems.”

— excerpted from More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger



John Moeser literally wrote the book on how the city-county dynamic in Richmond got the way it is. His recent essay in the Richmond Times-Dispatch explains how we got where we are. The short story? In the last 40 years the city and the counties have operated like separate nation states. They compete for resources, rather than collaborate on regional solutions. When a conversation about a regional project comes up– like a baseball stadium or a children’s hospital– the city-county dynamic is at work. In the recent past, the counties have wielded more power than the city, but as people flock to the city and poverty spreads to the localities, the balance of power is shifting. There may be an opportunity for a new generation of leaders to craft regional solutions that address poverty, pool and manage resources more effectively, and get things done for the good of the Richmond region.




This was a big week for the startup scene in Richmond. Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, was in town with his Rise of the Rest Tour. Right now, 75% of U.S. venture capital  goes to California, New York, or Massachusetts. This tour aims to reverse the investment disparity by highlighting start-up communities around the country and hosting a startup competition in each city. Winner gets $100,000 from Case himself.  WealthForge took home the top prize this year. Check out this brief overview from Southern Alpha.

Collaboration is like riding a bus. You may not get to pick the route, food, or snacks; you may have to wait for other people; and you just might be crammed a little together. But on the bus, you have conversations you might not otherwise…and you’re working together for a common purpose.

–Ross Baird, Southern Alpha

In our interview with Shawn Boyer, he talks about being invited to The White House back in 2008. He met President Bush and was honored with an award for Small Business Owner of the Year. It was near the end of Bush’s second term, so he asks Shawn for his card. Check out the video below.

Each episode of the podcast, we aim to bring you someone’s story and their perspective. Over time, by listening to many perspectives, we can get a fuller picture of Richmond. Tom Friedman puts it eloquently:


“You have to learn how to [pull] information from these disparate perspectives and then weave it all together to produce a picture of the world that you would never have if you looked at from only one perspective…If you don’t see the connections, you won’t see the world.”

–Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree

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A lot has been written and discussed about the departure of VCU coach, Shaka Smart. Less has been written about the people who write the stories. What’s one tactic they use to get a story? THE AIRPORT STAKEOUT.

This gem from the Richmond Times-Dispatch gives you a snapshot of the work they do to bring us the news. In my head, the airport stakeout is like a buddy copy film where the chief deploys his best guys on a manhunt to find the bad guy. In reality, though, it’s less intriguing and involves more soft rock.

They’re doing some great work over at the RTD. Check out our interview with Michael Phillips for more.

If a dead mall is brought back to life, does that make it a zombie mall?

Two things to consider:

1. There are a bunch of dead malls in Richmond. Tons of photo galleries of them exist online. To view these galleries is to embark on a journey of urban development, hope, and decay. Check out the RTD galleries here.

2. This story about the future of of the dead malls in Richmond is fascinating.

Suburban redevelopment could be huge for our region:

“Regional mall redevelopment … can be transformative for communities. We believe that this type of redevelopment has the potential to not only be profitable, but can also be catalytic in nature, facilitating additional growth and redevelopment within the surrounding area.”

— James F. Downs, zombie mall expert

There’s been a lot of discussion in recent months about the possibility of building a children’s hospital for metro Richmond. William Godwin’s development company has acquired some land in Henrico that may be considered as a possible site for the hospital. Speaking at the business school at University of Richmond, he encouraged a spirit of regional collaboration to get it done.

“I think we need to get our act together. This community has got to be willing to work together and do some forward thinking. We lag behind in a lot of areas. This community is so afraid. Everybody wants to protect their little fiefdom, and they can’t look past that.”

— William Godwin

Read the full article from the RTD here.



Ira Glass has hosted This American Life for over 20 years. He built the form of the medium into what it is today. Speaking in the RVA tonight, on what audio does well:

“Radio is like a machine for empathy. We live in a world where we are so separate. But no one’s mind changes because of something they heard on the radio. What [radio] can do is make us see, “Oh, that’s what it would be like to be them.” That’s it. And I wish more things did that.”

–Ira Glass




A group from the University of Richmond published a fascinating look in the Richmond Times-Dispatch at how demographics have shifted in the region. You can read the full article here. In short, poverty is a regional issue that must be dealt with regionally:


“Chesterfield, Henrico, and Richmond are more alike demographically than at any time in history. . . Poverty ignores the boundaries between city and county, and the leaders of the three jurisdictions must act in concert to address the collective challenge.”

–Moeser, Massey & Shields



Hello and welcome! This is a blog, on a website, on the internet. But you knew that. We’re glad you’ve made it this far to find us. That means you at least have a passing interest in the show. Thank you for that. We will do our best to bring you interviews that are interesting to your brain-dome-space-place. Please take a look around. You can find old episodes here, as well as some extra stuff that relates to our interviews, the city of Richmond, or anything else we think is worth your time.