Party in the Park a Success!

20 Jan

On January 15th, hundreds of Richmonders gathered in Monroe Park to celebrate our 1,000th signature on the petition to keep portions of Monroe open during renovations.

ENORMOUS thanks to All the Saints Theater Company for their generous work! There were tons of musical acts performing, including No BS! Brass Band, Dave Watkins, Pedals On Our Pirate Ships, Diamond Center, Gull, Julie Karr, Lobo Marino, Better Not Makeouts (All the Saints folks!), Alison Self, Cmilk and Reeverb Collective, Just Plain Sounds Hip Hop Collective and others.

There was much face painting and hula hooping as Art on Wheels did their thing nearby, and some of Richmond’s most awesome local establishments that support the campaign – including Lamplighter Coffee, Cafe Gutenberg, Crossroads, and others – donated coffee, food and sweets for the occasion.

Thanks so much to the local media covering the event, including WRIR News:

RVA Magazine, featuring photography by Poison Affair:

This isn’t about resisting progress, or fear of change, or underlying anti-gentrification agendas. This is about preserving the last constant, physical manifestation of democracy: a designated marketplace of ideas. A scrap of nature in the hard angles of the city. If this park that has served the needy (FNB has been serving there for over 16 years), and those in need of an open space, is turned into an inaccessible strip mall of metropolitan shrubbery, we have lost something significant. We have lost “we”. Everywhere else, is territory.
Entire Article…

As you can see from the news coverage, we didn’t let all the music and food get in the way of the political nature of the event. More signatures were obtained, more information was disseminated and more expressions of support were offered by the attendees. Thanks so much, Richmond!

Informational Video!

19 Jan

Sign the Petition!

18 Jan

To keep sections of Monroe Park open during renovations, please sign the Petition Here!

We also encourage everyone to write individually to members of the Monroe Park Advisory Council and Charles Samuels with your concerns. Their contact information can be found below:

Charles Samuels
Richmond City Councilman of the North Central 2nd District, where Monroe Park is located.

Alice Massie
Head of the Monroe Park Advisory Council

Adele McClure
Student Government Association President, VCU Student Government Representative

Dave Clinger

Elinor Kuhn

James C. Hill

John Peters

Janice Nuckolls

Turk Sties

Patricia Daniels

Todd Woodson

Brian Ohlinger

Update: 1,000 Signatures Celebration!

21 Dec

The online/paper petitions to keep Monroe Park partially open during renovations have now reached more than 1,000 signatures! To celebrate, All the Saints Theater Company is throwing the campaign a party! No, make that a festival! Monroe Park, January 15th @ 12-4pm!

There will be tons of musical acts performing, including No BS! Brass Band, Dave Watkins, Pedals On Our Pirate Ships, Diamond Center, Gull, Julie Karr, Lobo Marino, Better Not Makeouts (All the Saints folks!), Alison Self, Cmilk and Reeverb Collective, Just Plain Sounds Hip Hop Collective and more! With the musicians playing simultaneously at three separate stages, you’re sure to hear something you like. Free refreshments (including warm drinks for the cold) are being donated by some of Richmond’s most awesome local establishments that support the campaign, including Lamplighter Coffee, Cafe Gutenberg, Crossroads and others. The Really Really Free Market will be there with free stuff. Giant puppets! Pickup truck troubadours! Audio and video documentation! This is going to be huge.

Backing up a bit…
The campaign to keep 25%-50% of Monroe Park open during renovations has garnered quite a bit of attention since its inception a couple of months ago! People from all over the city are making active efforts to show how valuable this public space is to Richmond. The press has taken note too, and we’ve seen editorials, articles, interviews and television coverage from The Richmond Times-Dispatch, to Style Weekly, to

A number of student groups, churches and social justice groups have now pledged their support to keeping Monroe open and free.

Thanks to the VCU’s Bachelors of Social Work Student Association, who not only have signed on as a group, but are offering to host awareness-raising events at VCU!

Thanks to Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, who had this to say to their congregation:

    Many of you may be aware of the recent plans from Councilmen Charles Samuels to close Monroe Park for renovation in such a way as to destroy the central service of the park to our homeless brothers and sisters, as well as multiple faith based and secular groups, who feed and minister to the homeless population of the park. The Cathedral Community will be affected by this decision in multiple ways. Most sadly, the burden for our daily door ministry will increase, while the Sunday population that allows us to share our Christian love and calling will be scattered and harmed. Let us all be challenged to keep the indignity of homelessness before us so that we are continually called to act. We ask that you pray on this issue and act. Please support the petition to keep portions of Monroe Park open during renovation…

Thanks so much for the awesome display of support by RVA Hoop Lovers!

(And Samuels says women are afraid of Monroe…)

Speaking of Samuels, he hasn’t been doing so well. The noise ordinance he helped to craft – which prevented anyone from ever making a sound that can be heard 50 feet away, or by anyone other than themselves at night – has now been ruled unconstitutional in a Richmond court.

In addition, the open forum he hosted last month didn’t quite go as he’d planned. The 100 attendees were divided into tables, and even though it was specifically designed to exclude conversation about keeping portions of Monroe Park open during renovations, more than half of the tables asked that the park either close in sections (the primary demand of this campaign), or that it be more thoroughly explored as an option. Even members of the campaign were surprised by the overall support for keeping the park open! Check out the condensed version if you haven’t seen it:

We thank you for your continued support on such a pressing issue, and hope to see many of you at the park to celebrate our 1,000th signature on January 15th!

Charles Samuels’ E-mail Response to the Monroe Campaign

11 Oct

Dear Friend:

Every day, more than a thousand people in our community experience homelessness. This number includes adults wrestling with addiction and mental health concerns, families with children coping with a job loss, and many others facing a wide array of barriers that impact their ability to get and maintain safe and stable housing. Many times, our faith and community partners are among the first places people reach out to when they are in crisis. We know that this is a need that many of you have been filling for years. Whether it is with a warm meal or dedicated volunteers, Richmond’s faith and community partners have been instrumental in serving the needs of our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

Monroe Park has served as a de facto central location for those seeking to assist our community’s homeless. As the city begins plans to renovate this historic park, I believe it is important to bring together both those needing services and our faith and community partners to discuss ways that we can continue assisting our community’s most vulnerable citizens. I would like your help and leadership to develop a plan to provide continued support for those who depend on the services offered at Monroe Park.

To make certain that we maintain our community’s response to the needs of those seeking assistance, I have invited Homeward, our community’s planning and coordinating agency for homeless services, to partner with my office to facilitate a community conversation about services offered at Monroe Park. The agenda will include an information-sharing session and a discussion of potential strategies for partnership.

We invite you to participate in this community conversation that will be held on Thursday, November 4, 2010 from 5 until 7 p.m. in the auditorium of The Richmond Carillon, 1300 Blanton Avenue at Dogwood Dell. My hope is that it will foster mutual education and identify points of collaboration. I ask for your help so that we, together, can build a plan to truly help people who are homeless and depend on services provided at Monroe Park. We need your leadership, input, support and assistance to shape this plan and these services.

Please register by emailing your name and contact information to Jan Girardi at by Monday, November 1, 2010. You may also register by phone, by calling 804-646-6532.

We hope you join us for this important discussion, and we appreciate the work you do to improve the lives of our neighbors.


Charles R. Samuels
North Central 2nd District

Everyone is encouraged to register to attend the above-mentioned meeting on November 4, 2010 from 5-7pm in the auditorium of The Richmond Carillon, 1300 Blanton Avenue at Dogwood Dell.

Also, come and talk about our plans of action at the meetup in the park on Sunday, October 24th at 5pm!

Campaign Update! – Nov 1st

11 Oct

Since this blog was published earlier this month, the informational video has received over 900 views, and the petition to keep Monroe Park partially open during renovations has obtained almost 400 signatures from Richmond residents. Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to do so!

In response to this, Charles Samuels announced a “community conversation” about homelessness services in the Richmond area, to be facilitated by Homeward on November 4th. Excited about the opportunity to open a dialogue on this issue, several campaign participants called to register and ask what format they should present their ideas in. These folks were all told that there would not actually be any proposals allowed, and that they would only be permitted to comment on the presentation given by Homeward – which begins with the premise that Monroe Park will necessarily close completely for the duration of the renovations, and that services for the homeless will be moving elsewhere. Obviously, this is in direct conflict with the stated intention of this campaign.

At the last campaign meeting on the 24th, the general consensus seemed to be that we would still attend Samuels’ forum in the hopes of respectfully questioning whether the park needs to be completely closed. The attendance of this “community conversation” by members of the campaign does not signify an acceptance of Monroe Park’s closing, but rather another attempt to engage in civil discourse with the city and the Monroe Park Advisory Council about how we might better renovate it. We sincerely hope that some productive conversation might ensue.

If you’d like to attend, the forum will be held inside the Carillon auditorium on Thursday, November 4th at 5pm. We will be providing rides from Monroe Park at 4:30 to anyone who needs one. Thanks to everyone who continues to work hard on this issue! We’ll have another update after the forum this Thursday.

If you’re interested in being involved, there are tons of things you can do – creating and distributing flyers, research, contacting churches and service providers about the campaign, etc. Just get in touch at and let us know how you’d like to help!