All about town. SPRING 2021
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Table of Contents
Metro 10 10 Raising the bar Not Your Sweetie
chocolate for the win
10 Must-do Self-guided Garden
Week tour deets
11 Lend your ear Lael Neale’s ode to
13 Meet cuter A local romance
Front and Center 17 17 Fleet of foot
Prolyfyck runs the streets
20 Pure poetry A visiting prof on his work and life
22 Walk this way Great hikes for every level 26 Dressing the part Walk in My Shoes’
26 OOTD @cvillefashion’s
29 She’s got Spirit Lorraine Sanders takes
30 Get in gear Community Bikes’
Feature 34 The purpose of art is to help us feel. Afraid, happy, maudlin, morose, elated—if an artist has done his job, you’ll walk away from the frame feeling something. From mural to canvas to printed photograph, these five local artists are helping us feel connected—to our homes, our community, and to our shared human experience. FOR A GOOD DAY, CALL... Ian Dillard. Page 46 On the cover: Muralist Chicho Lorenzo stands in front of his mural at Mas Tapas in Belmont. Photo: John Robinson.
434, a supplement to C-VILLE Weekly, is distributed in Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the Shenandoah Valley. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. 434 Editor Caite Hamilton. Copy Editor Susan Sorensen.
308 E. Main St. Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 817-2749 n c-ville.com c-ville.com/434
Designer Tracy Federico.
Art Director Max March. Graphic
Account Executives Chloe Heimer, Lisa C. Hurdle, Gabby Kirk, Stephanie Vogtman,
Beth Wood. Production Coordinator Faith Gibson.
Publisher Anna Harrison. Chief Financial Officer
Debbie Miller. A/R Specialist Nanci Winter. Circulation Manager Billy Dempsey. ©2021 C-VILLE Weekly. 434 7
Letter from the Editor
Welcome to 434. First things first: No, you’re not imagining things. Indeed we have printed a magazine with those numbers across the top of the front page before. Back in 2015, 434 was dedicated to all things seasonal, with a giant pull-out calendar in its center pointing you to the must-dos throughout the year. It was (in our estimation) a great resource, but it didn’t go quite far enough in its storytelling. So when we sat down to brainstorm the name of our new lifestyle magazine—the one you’re currently holding in your hand—we resolved to resurrect 434 and help it live up to its former glory (and then some). In each of its quarterly issues, 434 will feature local businesses, outdoor recreation, artists, parents, things to buy, things to eat, and, most importantly, the faces of your neighbors from Albemarle to Lovingston. As always, if you have an idea for a person, place, or thing we should cover in our pages, reach out to the editor (email@example.com) with details. We’re all about town, but there’s a lot of ground to cover. See you out there.
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Metro G O OD BARS
Empowering women through CHOCOLATE CARLY ROMEO HAD always been really into chocolate, but it wasn’t until a visit to a chocolate shop with a friend that she realized her interest had grown beyond that of a casual hobbyist. “I started telling her things about chocolate origins and darkness percentages,” Romeo says, “and she called me a total nerd.” After that, she did hours of research—learning about the cacao-to-chocolate process and supply chains—with the hope of eventually making chocolate from cacao grown by women. Soon she was introduced to Trinidad-based botanist Sarah Bharath, who encouraged Romeo to travel to Trinidad, meet and learn from her, and, eventually, start Not Your Sweetie.
Today, she uses beans from Trinidad and Tanzania, and has teamed up with Patricia Ross of Splendora’s to make the artisan bars in flavors like Not Wasting My Thyme (dark chocolate with a dusting of za’atar spice) or Not Afraid to (C)rye (dark milk chocolate with caraway seeds). With her new venture (Romeo is also a Richmond-based photographer and project manager at Soapbox, Inc.), she hopes to bring more awareness and appreciation for the craft of chocolate-making, amplify women’s voices across the supply chain, and create more work for local women as the team grows. “And, of course,” she says, “make delicious chocolate.”—Caite Hamilton
I N B LO OM
ON SUNDAY, April 18, don’t miss this year’s Historic Garden Week Albemarle event: a driving tour of three private local gardens boasting everything from 150 azaleas (in one landscape!) to one of the oldest and largest surviving American Elms in Virginia. vagardenweek.org
LI S T EN I N
Return to FORM through FUNCTION GROWING UP ON her family’s farm in Albemarle County, Lael Neale was a devout fan of poetry, and held an affinity for nature writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson. When she moved to California to pursue music in 2009, her penchant for poems and the outdoors never waned. The up-and-comer signed to indie stalwart Sub Pop Records in the fall of 2020, and is making her label debut with Acquainted with Night, a collection that gives as much of a nod to central Virginia as it does to the West Coast. In April of 2020, Neale returned to her family’s farm to ride out part of quarantine. There, she picked up an old Sony Handycam and began shooting grainy videos to accompany the album’s songs, which were all written and recorded in Los Angeles. The video for “For No One For Now” is filled with Southern imagery: wide shots of an old church, scenes of the countryside viewed from a car window, and a protagonist cutting up peaches and spreading jam on toast. This track, alongside other singles like “Every Star Shivers in the Dark,” has a sonic uniformity rooted in minimalism, harkening back to Neale’s love of poetry. Recorded on a cassette recorder, the songs possess a gauzy, lo-fi quality that features Neale’s voice front and center, accompanied by a drum machine and an Omnichord (an instrument she didn’t pick up until 2019). By channeling the breadth of her surroundings, Neale has crafted a coast-to-coast dreamscape.—Desire’ Moses
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Metro PAG E- T URNER
CHARLOTTESVILLE’S OWN ROM-COM queen Jenny Gardiner loves—like, totally loves—a chance encounter. Whether it’s a Las Vegas waitress literally falling for a prince on an Italian train platform, erstwhile lovers coming face to back-of-head in an Uber, or estranged fiancés pitted against one another in a cooking competition, Gardiner consistently finds ways to bring her characters into comically compromising situations. “Andi rolled over like an upended turtle, dusted street crud from her cheek, then looked up and cringed,” Gardiner writes in Bad to the Throne, her latest in the It’s Reigning Men series. “Because it wasn’t someone. It was him. The naked prince. Decidedly not naked this time around.” For Gardiner herself, the chance encounter that started it all was with a publisher willing to take, well, a chance. “I have a strong writer’s voice,” she says. “You either like it or you don’t like it at all.” In the early part of her career as a romance novelist, Gardiner butted heads with predominantly male editors who just didn’t get her. That all changed when she won a fiction writing contest and found a publisher who fell head over heels for her humor. Now, after publishing three dozen books since 2008, Gardiner’s in a groove. Her latest titillating tale hit shelves on February 28. (She’s also an occasional freelance writer for C-VILLE.) In Hard to Get Lucky, Gardiner will unleash her whimsical style on a new protagonist, Alyssa Heyward, and her hapless-cum-hunky suitor, Josh “The Mad Tooter” Trumbull. Gardiner admits that she usually doesn’t know what’ll happen until a book is finished—but the couple is likely to come to a cheerful finale. “I’m a big fan of happy endings,” Gardiner says. “With the pandemic, I think a lot more people feel the same way.” Gardiner cites romantic comedy guru Nora Ephron as a primary inspiration for her work, and her laugh-out-loud ludicrous premises might remind some of other delightfully over-the-top writers like Dave Barry or Carl Hiaasen. She promises her plotlines and characters are fully fabricated and never based on real-life acquaintances. Gardiner also seeks to empower women, she says. She hopes readers see her characters in positions of strength, and come away with the “good sense of yourself you need in any kind of relationship.” And Gardiner swears her lit’s not just for chicks. “I have more male readers than I ever realized I had,” she says. “Everyone wants to get into some other world. Whether you’re reading sci-fi or murder mysteries, you’re trying to find another place to put yourself. And it’s helpful to get in the minds of women.”—Shea Gibbs
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FRONT & CENTER WHAT TO SEE, WHERE TO GO, WHO' S IN THE SPOTLIGHT
They RUN these streets
DERRICK J WALLER
As the pandemic drove people apart, Prolyfyck Run Crew helped bring them together By Nathan Alderman CONTINUED ON PAGE 19
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Front & Center
hey gather in the dozens at the Jefferson School at 6am every Monday, Wed nesday, and Friday: Black, brown, and white, women and men, old and young, united by the road ahead of them. Year-round, they run, jog, or walk a challenging route through the city. Members say the group has changed their lives for the better— and together, they’re working to do the same for Charlottesville. William Jones III, co-owner of Char lottesville’s His Image Barber Shop and Natural Hair Studio, began what’s become the Prolyfyck Run Crew—inspired by lyrics in Nipsey Hussle’s 2018 song “Vic tory Lap”—to share his love of running. Jones ran solo when he moved to Charlottesville in 2006, but over the years, he invited friends and customers to come with him, and the group began to grow one or two people at a time. By 2019, its ranks had begun to bloom; new members included former vice may or Dr. Wes Bellamy, who worked with Jones to design a roughly five-mile course through Charlottesville’s histor ically Black neighborhoods and public housing projects. “We run the route weekly to encourage an active health lifestyle,” says Crew member James Dowell, who runs mar keting for the Virginia reggae band Mighty Joshua, “and to also show that it’s people of color, their color, out here running the streets. They’re community members and residents who greet us every day, and they are family.” Therapist Juanika Howard says the group is her “accountability partner,” helping her get up and go when she’d rather sleep in. She’s seen close to 100 people gather for some runs. Other group members say Prolyfyck lets them run with more safety and confidence. While collectively the runners don’t speak frequently about how the death of Ahmaud Arbery—who was murdered in 2020 while jogging in Georgia—af fects them, “It’s important to be as vigilant as possible while we’re running, especially if it’s alone,” says Chris Co chran, a counselor at Monticello High School. But running with the group makes the whole experience better, he says. “Running with people you know that are going to motivate you, encour
DERRICK J WALLER
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17
age you to push yourself, and hold you accountable really has a way of bringing the best out of you.” That’s proving true on and off the road. “The crew has become an amazing net working vehicle,” says Derrick Waller, a product manager at PRA Health Scienc es, “both supporting each other’s busi nesses and projects, but also serving as a way to positively impact the commu nity.” Those efforts include picking up trash as they run, raising money for charity, dedicating runs to different
community causes, and even helping one of their neighbors along the route with an upcoming move. Cochran says he hopes that in the years ahead, Charlottesville as a whole will start to look more like the Prolyfyck Run Crew: “A bunch of people who don’t all look alike trying to leave the place better than they found it by pitching in and doing what they can individually,” he says. “When we’re all making small contributions, the results can be massive. I’m looking for ward to seeing that change.”
The Prolyfyck crew— up to as many as 100 people!—runs a five-mile course through Charlottesville's historically Black neighborhoods each week.
“It’s people of color, their color, out here running the streets. They’re community members and residents who greet us every day, and they are family.” JAMES DOWELL 434 19
Front & Center
A lyrical WORLD For Spanish poet Fernando Valverde, Charlottesville is a global stage By Erika Howsare
n one of Fernando Valverde’s poems, “Ellis Island,” he imagines would-be immigrants to the United States, gathering in European cities like a swelling tide: “The future / sold in first and second class tickets / in the ports of Naples, / of Trieste, / of Constantinople, / grows on the haze of Bremen / or the drizzle of Hamburg / or the loneliness of the Liverpool docks.” Valverde’s own route to the U.S. from his native Spain has little in common with the fraught journeys of Ellis Island-era newcomers, but he sees his own life in similarly poetic, and global, terms. Now a visiting distinguished professor at UVA, Valverde’s themes cross cultures: suffering, tragedy, nostalgia. And he has tackled the subject of the U.S. head-on, both the promise it offers and the ways that promise fails to manifest. Born in 1980 and raised in Granada and Almuñécar by his mother and grandparents, Valverde says his early life was marked by the Mediterranean Sea—in his words, “the oldest sea in the world, the sea of Ulysses and Shelley.” In his first memory, “My mother rescues me from the waves. Perhaps it wasn’t the first one, but in some way it installed itself in my mind as the beginning.” His mother couldn’t save him from the pain of missing his father, who was mostly absent from his life. But he says that as he grew into writing as a way of understanding the world—he started writing poems seriously at age 18—the difficulties of his childhood were an essential ingredient. “It is possible that pain and anguish have been my best professors of poetry,” he says. “I saw my family destroyed very quickly, my father kicking my toys around when I was a child. Poetry has been an insufficient effort to change the world, a failed attempt. But it hasn’t been a bad attempt.”
A visiting distinguished professor at UVA, poet Fernando Valverde was once named "the most relevant Spanish-language poet born since 1970."
Valverde spent 10 years as a journalist in Spain, writing for the newspaper El País, while building a reputation as an important young poet. He co-founded and directed a noted literary festival, published several books which found their way into multiple translations, collected prestigious poetry prizes, and earned notice as the “most relevant Spanish-language poet born since 1970” as voted on by an international group of scholars. He is considered a leader of the Spanish literary movement known as The Poetry of Uncertainty. “Uncertainty is everything that lies in front of us; it belongs to the future but it is filled with errors from the past,” he explains—perhaps something like a statue in his poem that queries Edgar Allan Poe’s history in Baltimore: “the stone / carved by misfortune, / the same as happens with beauty.” In 2014, Valverde received another honor, unusual for a poet: a Latin Grammy nomination, for lyrics he’d written to accompany flamenco music by his friend, Juan Pinilla. The award ceremony wasn’t his first trip to the U.S.; he’d previously done some teaching at the University of North Georgia, which he calls “a fabulous experience.” But the Grammys opened new doors. He was asked to teach at Emory University that same year, and in 2018, at UVA. He’s frank about feeling some culture shock here. “I miss Atlanta a lot,” he says. “It’s obvious that moving from Atlanta to Charlottesville has been a radical change in my life. I miss the existence of a cultural fabric in this city that isn’t associated with a social class. I was working on constructing those spaces for dialogue between different races and cultures when the virus arrived.” That said, he adds, “The University of Virginia is a fantastic place, and I have been able to teach what I love, poetry in Spanish.” Valverde has been published in English translation by more than one American press, and much of his new writing is concerned with the echoes of American writers like Poe, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, as well as American history itself—including the painful legacies of slavery and violence. Historical harm weaves in and out of personal longing and sadness, as in his poem “The Boys of Camden,” where the speaker observes “the children of the children of slavery”
RUBY BRIDGES WALKS WITH FEDERAL ESCORT TO THE PROMISED LAND Every morning Ruby crosses the desert pursues the promise that at the end of the road milk and honey will flow but people are spitting the crowd is spitting and when she feels thirsty the water tastes of salt. Ruby walks each dawn with lunch in a small bag because the end of the road is sweet because the end of the road is full of fruits poisoned for her mouth spits upon by the crowd that defends the land bathed by the Mississippi worked by slaves the more oppressed the more they multiplied the blacks of the Mississippi River if it’s a boy he must die if it's a girl, she’s allowed to live but not the land on which Ruby Bridges walks every morning determined that the mothers also move forward, carrying a coffin with a black doll for Ruby for her courage because those who stand firm will see the bitter water turn sweet because they were chosen for their insignificance they will see the greatest of nations thrown out. —Translation by Carolyn Forché, From America, Copper Canyon Press. Fall 2021.
before slipping into a reverie of individual loss: “I have left the places I loved the most, / those I’ve seen in my dreams where my mother cries for no reason…”. Having titled one of his books La Insistencia del Daño (The Insistence of Harm), Valverde in a sense claims harm as his poetic territory. “It’s a question of a very concrete harm,” he explains. “My mother suffered a cerebral aneurysm and she can’t retain new memories. She has lost her short term memory completely. You can have the same conversation several times in one hour with her, and she is not going to remember it. For me that repetition is the harm.” Valverde sees poetry as a means to make connections. He is known as a poet
who can speak to a broad audience—his 126,000 Instagram followers, for instance. And he hopes to continue teaching at UVA, using his post to encourage bilingualism and cross-cultural exchange. “My dream is that one day I will be able to broaden the creative writing program so that it will be bilingual,” he says. As he recently posted on Instagram: “Con nuestro amor, salvaremos el mundo.” (“With our love, we will save the world.”) With his youthful face and mop of dark hair, Valverde bears more than a passing resemblance to the beloved former Beatle George Harrison, from whom he borrowed that quote. And, like the Beatles, Valverde seems to have the ability to broadcast his art around the globe. 434 21
Front & Center
Into the WOODS 14 favorite Charlottesvillearea hikes, from easy to “ease up!” By Erika Howsare
ur area is loaded with hiking opportunities. Though the obvious destinations—Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway—offer many wonderful trails, you can get your fix much closer to town. We’ve tried to list something for everyone, from the hardcore to the stroller-bound to the hiking-averse. Here are 14 of our favorite hikes in and around Charlottesville. BEST HIKE FOR A WORKOUT:
You’ll be craving a workout by the time you step out of the car—Crabtree Falls is over an hour from Charlottesville. (Make a nice loop of it: Drive the Parkway from Rockfish Gap to the trailhead on Route 56, then return on Route 151 through Nelson County.) Stretch your quads in the parking lot and then hit the trail. Right away, you’ll get a great view of a section of Crabtree Falls. Enjoy it, but know this is only the beginning— the trail keeps climbing for nearly two steep miles, up switchbacks, steps, and wooden walkways, and passing several other great waterfall viewing spots on the way to the top. There’s no way to view Crabtree Falls all at once; it’s just too big. In fact, it’s said to be the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi, falling 1,200 feet through five major cascades and many smaller ones. You hike alongside it, not to it. And, of course, it’s magnificent. The final viewpoint is actually above the top of the falls, where you gaze out at the Tye River valley. From here, if your legs aren’t jelly, an optional add-on is to continue another 1.2 miles to Crabtree Meadows. Or just start back down toward your car, working a whole other muscle group on the way. Length: 4 miles out and back
BEST HIKE FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE HIKING:
Loft Mountain Loop
If you’re in Shenandoah National Park and there’s someone in your group who, ahem, isn’t exactly longing to walk in the woods, the Loft Mountain Loop is a good compromise. It’s easy—part of it’s even paved—yet not so short that you’ll feel disappointed when it’s over. It includes a great view and a stretch on the Appalachian Trail (in case your reluctant trekker might enjoy claiming, when back in civilization, to have “hiked the AT”). And best of all, it’s one of the few hikes anywhere that passes an ice cream stand. As a loop, Loft Mountain avoids the we’ve-been-here-before boredom of outand-back hikes. Starting at the Loft Mountain Wayside, hike along the Frazier Discovery Trail (which passes under a large rock overhang). The big, southwest-facing view comes about halfway through the hike, and—perhaps even more to the point—it’s the Loft Mountain camp store where you can grab some sweet treats. Keep on munching as you complete the loop on a trail that parallels the campground road. Length: 2.7 mile loop BEST HIKE TO A SWIMMING HOLE:
Blue Hole at Sugar Hollow
Untrammeled wilderness this is not: Sugar Hollow is one of the most popular destinations for Charlottesville-based hikers, and for good reason. It might not be the place to find solitude—you’ll almost certainly have company on this trail— but if you don’t mind other humans, you’ll be enchanted by Blue Hole. But first you have to get there. Park at the end of Sugar Hollow Road and head to the left, toward the South Fork of the Moormans River. The trail immediately crosses the river (wear water shoes!) and, on the other side, you’ll find the wide, well-traveled path you seek. Don’t take the trail that soon dives down to the left. Keep following the river as the trail skirts the mountainside; after one more stream crossing, you’ll find yourself gently climbing toward the swimming hole. Actually, it’s a series of swimming holes; you’ll know you’re there when you CONTINUED ON PAGE 25
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Front & Center
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23
see big bare cliffs jutting out above you on the left. Check out the rope swing above the big hole—in years past, there used to be a much more bodacious one— and climb around behind the waterfall to find the smaller, more private swimming spots. The whole landscape is a study in the action of water on rock: lovely and refreshing. Length: 3 miles out and back BEST HIKE NEAR WATER: It may not look like much when you’re pulling into the entrance from Old Lynchburg Road, but Walnut Creek Park is not some dinky little patch of land. There’s a 45-acre lake in there! And nearly 500 acres of land to explore! As for hiking, you’ll probably have to visit more than once to experience all 15 miles of trails in this park. The Walnut Creek trails are wellmapped and maintained, and form a dense network that you could combine in any number of ways. But for an easy-to-navigate hike that samples the best of the park, try leaving your car in the first parking lot and starting off over the little footbridge toward Luke’s Loop. Keep the lake on your left, hook up with Wilkins Way, and just stay on it as it skirts the shore, then climbs the mountain to the park’s highest elevations before looping back to the starting point (5.1 miles altogether). Another, shorter option: the two-mile Blue Wheel trail, which starts from the second parking lot and gives you lots of lake time, too. Length: Variable BEST HIKE FOR FAMILIES:
If it’s the kids’ first time taking a real, official hike, this is a great choice for an outing with a high chance of success. It’s only a mile long, with an option to add another .6 miles if things are going well. And it doesn’t require a big climb—but it does reward hikers with big views from a summit. From the Blackrock Summit parking area, near mile 85 on Skyline Drive, follow the Appalachian Trail to the bouldery summit and gaze upon mountains
Walnut Creek Park
to the north. You can either continue around the boulders for another set of views to the south, or—for a slightly longer hike—turn right to find the Blackrock Spur Trail, which leads through a boulder field and takes a little more muscle, with 445 feet of elevation gain. Like all hikes in Shenandoah National Park, Blackrock can be found on a small map available at the entrance kiosk to the park, where you can also pick up a Junior Ranger booklet with lots of kids’ activities. This hike is also an official Kids in Parks TRACK Trail, meaning there’s a special brochure for kids available at the trailhead and the opportunity to log the hike online for free prizes. Length:1 or 1.6 mile loop BEST EARLY MORNING HIKE:
If you can get yourself out of bed early enough, make the drive out to the Montebello Fish Hatchery off Route 56 in Nelson County, and start up the Spy Rock trail before sunrise, we congratulate you. Then again, you’re not doing this for kudos; you’re doing it for the view.
The Spy Rock hike is not the most engaging trek in the region; it starts with about a mile of unrelenting climbing on a fire road (on which you may actually encounter a vehicle), then continues with another half mile of unrelenting climbing on the AT. As you proceed, though, the surroundings become more inviting, until finally you find yourself at the base of Spy Rock—a rocky dome that takes a little scrambling to summit. Once on the top, you’ll forget about all that huffing and puffing as you drink in one of the only 360-degree views in the Blue Ridge. You’re at 3,980 feet of elevation here: a real treat. And if you’ve actually made it in time to see the sun come up, so much the better. This is one of those days you’ll always remember. Length: 3.1 miles out and back
A note on fees All the hikes listed here are free, except for those in Shenandoah National Park, Walnut Creek Park, and at Crabtree Falls. Shenandoah costs $30 per vehicle, and the $55 annual pass is well worth it if you live nearby.
Front & Center
Charlottesville street STYLE
What can clothing teach us about how to be an ally? A lot. By Caite Hamilton
434: Tell me about your organization’s inception. Micah Kessel: Sharing the Walk in My Shoes Experience all over Charlottesville and the country, we have clearly seen the unexpected empathy created by discussing clothing, identity, point of view perspectives. So from early on, we developed this program with the country’s top scientists and business psychologists. As designers, we theorized that to make the greatest impact, we needed to work with the most experienced thinkers in their field, so that’s where we aimed from the beginning. By now, we’re grateful to conduct discussion and/or research in between the Harvard professor who invented the term implicit bias, the president of the Association for Psychological Sciences, and the chief of behavioral psychology at Accenture. Through our design work with these brilliant minds, we are realizing a couple of really im26 434
portant things about how DEI and social change is being approached in the wrong way by many throughout Charlottesville, and needed a few new important perspectives. The first thing we realized was—after seeing what’s happened to this country and to Charlottesville in the last number of years—it’s clear that we all needed to do more, but that implicit bias is hard to defeat because we’re so affected by those around us. We discovered that the best way to make radical change in our communities, institutions, and organizations was not by trying to change the radicals! Instead, the best point of entry is through those who are well-intended and want to better allies, but lack the experience of really walking in other’s shoes—those who are ready but don’t yet know how. The second thing we realized is that if we can get those well-intended, almost allies to truly engage in a celebration of diverse identities through clothing, immersive films, and discussions, that it becomes 100 times easier to help them to be more willing and comfortable to speak up for the rights of others. How does the immersive experience work? For decision makers, community, and organizational leaders working in diversity, equity and inclusion who have the sisyphean burden of creating change while lacking quality tools, buy in, and resources, the Walk in My Shoes Experience (walkintheshoe.com) creates powerful realizations in how to become a better advocate for your peers or team members. This process and program heals team relationships, reframes our biases, and develops the language of advocacy more powerfully than a typical DEI training or workshop. At Playground of Empathy, we facilitate Walk with your teams or classes to help remove the social mistakes made dozens of times a day, by well-intended “almost allies” who simply lack the exposure and understanding to be true allies.
IMAGES COUREESY @CVILLEFASHION
here’s a direct connection to be made between the work of Playground of Empathy and its founders’ Instagram account, @cvillefashion. The organization works to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion through its interactive Walk in My Shoes experience (during which you enter a literal shoe and explore the personal belongings of someone who differs from you—in race, sexual orientation, physical ability, or otherwise). The Instagram account, which 434 will be collaborating with in this and subsequent issues, functions much the same: “We curated the CVille Fashion Instagram purely as a fun hobby,” says co-founder Micah Kessel, “but we soon realized that both projects were about creating more allies in the celebration of all of our identities.” We asked Kessel to tell us more about @cvillefashion and how it connects to the greater mission of Playground of Empathy and the Walk in My Shoes experience.
Annie TEMMINK AGE: 31
OCCUPATION: Designer/artist (annietemmink.com) and interim technical director at Live Arts
THE LOOK: Dress from theater giveaway rack, earrings she designed for Angelo Jewelry, sweatshirt is her own design, bracelet of tiny skulls from a market in Oaxaca
“Being a creator of wearable and displayable art requires a lot of physical maneuvering, so I typically dress for function, in clothes that help me feel powerful and capable of crafting what I adore: textiles, big shapes, and carnival-style maximalist details. When I’ve spent a lot of time in more masculine, functional workwear, I feel a pull to balance out with my feminine side.”
coat from Low Vintage
“Growing up as a child in Nigeria, fashion was my shield against my society’s negativity; I used fashion as a medium to channel my inner power, express my feelings. Serving as an experiential consultant energizes, motivates, keeps me on my feet virtually, and fosters my creativity. The use of fashion elements to stimulate intellectual conversations, curiosity, enhance creativity, and most importantly, make an impact is gratifying and makes me happy.”
Sam FISHER AGE: 31
OCCUPATION: Watercolorist (fishersamuelharris.com), project manager at Lightbulb Machine
THE LOOK: Blue purse by Annie Temmink (strap by Foytik Leather), top from Darling, long skirt from Etsy
“Being genderqueer and closeted meant that I used to go out into the world every day wearing what felt like a costume, or maybe camouflage. My identity felt like a liability. When I was able to break free from that mindset, I was able to truly begin to play and embody my own identity within the context of my community. This outfit in particular was one of the first I put together that felt appropriate for the office while still feeling fashionable and authentic.”
The Walk in My Shoes exhibit—for which one walks inside a giant shoe—encourages participants to gain new perspective.
Why did you start @cvillefashion? How does it fit into the ethos of Playground of Empathy? Compared to the rigor and scientific deep dives of developing Walk in My Shoes, we curated the CVille Fashion Instagram purely as a fun hobby, but we soon realized that both projects were about creating more allies in the celebration of all of our identities. Most women, POC, and marginalized groups have incredible stories about their clothing and how they see themselves in terms of their identity. For those remaining (ahem) who are still bent on the idea of speaking the non-narrative of “I see myself as human,” we believe that sharing both the Walk in My Shoes Experience, and the CVille Fashion Insta, will give these folks too, an opportunity to say, “I see myself as a father, as a brother, as a guardian, as someone who has lost something, as someone who doesn’t know what his voice is supposed to be beyond people who look, act, and talk like me.” We do things because we’re passionate about social change by celebrating
Playground of Empathy co-founders Kelley Van Dilla and Micah Kessel
THE LOOK: Sports
OCCUPATION: Founder and Design Consultant at AIMA Consulting and the Fashion Eutopia podcast
KELLY VAN DILLA
empathy and identity. That’s also the reason we created this CVille Fashion Insta. Because yes, on one hand we’re a sophisticated group of creatives and scientists diving as deep as is imaginable. On the other hand, empathy is kindergarten rules: Be kind to each other, don’t be mean, listen when other people talk. We think the reason it can be hard to do this for others is because, frankly, we’re often not so nice to ourselves. So we teach perspectives by walking in the shoes of other people so that you can learn to see their perspectives better first. This unique approach to supporting DEI through immersive perspective building, teaches us in a deeper way how to see our biases before they negatively impact others. Then, by being nicer to others you’ll learn how to be nicer to yourself. Cyclically, by learning to be nice to yourself you’ll again learn how to be even nicer to others. That’s what being empathable, Walk in My Shoes, and what CVille Fashion is all about: making C’ville a playground of empathy for all. 434 27
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Front & Center
Best of the FEST
Local fashion marketing firm Spirit of 608 trains focus on tight niche By Shea Gibbs
orraine Sanders knows FEST. She better. She came up with the acronym. As a modern marketer, acronyms are kind of Sanders’ thing. So are podcasts, social media campaigns, viral videos, email pitch templates, lookbooks, and online networking. 434 recently chatted with Sanders about her company, Spirit of 608, where she came from, and where she’s going.
What I’m reading: The Last Law of Attraction Book You’ll Ever Need to Read by Andrew Kap and, with my kids, I’m reading Neil Patrick Harris’ Magic Misfits series. What I’m listening to: Led Zeppelin’s “Tangerine” and Claire Pelletreau’s “The Get Paid Podcast,” which is literally the only show I’ve ever known where the guests discuss real business numbers transparently. It’s a great show for female entrepreneurs.
And what does technology have to do with fashion? When you look at the fashion industry, what is driving it into the future? Sustainability and technology. Spirit of 608 produces content to help bring brands tips and advice so they can continue to grow and thrive. So they can be better for themselves and for the planet. What made you invest in FEST? I was a journalist for many years in San Francisco, both general interest and for fashion publications. I also had a blog about fashion and independent designers, and over the years, I started to write exclusively about fashion. San Francisco is the seat of so many startups, these amazing unicorn companies, and their key focus was on fashion and technology. That drove me to create a podcast in 2015. I wasn’t able to get my editor to give me enough space to report on all this cool news. Why the move from San Francisco to Charlottesville? I grew up in Richmond and wanted to move back to be closer to my family. The
434: So what does Spirit of 608 do exactly? Lorraine Sanders: Spirit of 608 is in a space I call FEST, which is my play on STEM. Fashion, entrepreneurship, sustainability, and technology—when you say it, it becomes clear why I have that acronym.
↑ interesting thing about the world without working directly with an today is you can really be any- Lorraine Sanders' agency. Online education is a Spirit of 608 where. I was curious about how it booming space. The pandemic has mixes fashion, was going to affect the podcast and absolutely contributed to it, but in entrepreneurship, business, but Charlottesville is reality so many people have been sustainability, such an entrepreneur- and techreflecting on their lives and caand technology. nology-friendly place. It’s growing, reers. Female entrepreneurs wantand I think the business community is ing to pursue something tied to a passion extremely supportive. There is no quesor mission are looking to build businesstion being in New York or L.A. gives you es and families. The online training landphysical access to people and companies. scape has aided them. But over the past few years, people who Last question. What the heck does are coming into fashion are not located 608 mean? in those places. People are no longer at It’s a reference to an ’80s film called The a disadvantage depending on where they Legend of Billie Jean. In the movie, the are. This year has made that more of a main character gets into a disagreement reality, and it’s only added to our comfort over $608. It’s a fun, campy ’80s film, and in digital connections. when I was creating the business, I decided I enjoy thinking about that movWhat’s next for Spirit of 608? ie—it makes me smile. I am a big believOver the last year, we put out the Presser in mindset, and the name makes me Dope course, a DIY training program for feel positive and confident. fashion entrepreneurs to get visibility
What I’m watching: I just watched “Tenet,” and I think I’m going to have to watch it again. It’s crazy, but good. What I’m eating: My absolute favorite splurge takeout is ordering from Petit Pois. So beyond good every time. What I’m buying: I was so glad when Darling opened their online shop earlier this year. They always have great merch, and I love what they are all about as a company. 434 29
Front & Center
RECYCLING for cycling
In 2020, Community Bikes gave 600 cycles away to children, and about 250 more to adults in need.
ommunity Bikes has been providing bicycles to Charlottesville kids and adults in need since 2001, but with the widespread rush to ride over the past calendar year, the nonprofit has shifted into another gear. According to Director of Community Development Lauren Riegl, Community Bikes doubled revenues from 2019 to 2020. The organization was fully registered as a 501(c)(3) as of February this year, and now it’s moving into a new central location in Preston Plaza. “It’s funny because it is this old organization, but in a lot of ways, we are starting fresh,” Riegl says. What hasn’t changed over the years? Community Bikes makes cycles with wheels 24 inches and under available to any kid who wants one. It gives bigger bikes to adults, and partners with other nonprofits that have clients in need of transportation. The rest of Community Bikes’ inventory, collected via tax-exempt bicycle donations, is tuned up and sold to support the organization. In 2020, Community Bikes gave 600 cycles away to children. It gave about 250 more to adults in need and sold roughly 450 refurbished bikes. “For these families, kids’ bikes are expensive,” Riegl says. “They start with a balance bike and move up from there. They grow out of them. We help with waste, as well.” Outside of retail sales, Community Bikes runs on monetary donations. Until recently, the nonprofit was 100 percent volunteer-operated, but it’s now hired two full-time and two part-time employees. The staff growth was a good thing, according to Riegl, because C’ville’s cyclers rushed to bike shops last spring. People who didn’t want to use what little public transportation was available needed a ride. Other quarantine-bound locals wanted to exercise without crowd30 434
ing into gyms. Come summer, most bike shops were out of stock. “By the end of every day, we were cleared out,” Riegl says. “It was sad. We want to be able to get as many people on bikes as possible.” The trend was hardly limited to Charlottesville. According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association, cycle sales nationwide jumped by more than 40 percent in 2020. And the increase was none too soon—the previous year, 2019, saw bike unit sales decrease by more than 20 percent. The past year was not without its difficulties for Community Bikes, though. The group learned in December it was losing its rent-free home at 405 Avon St. to a housing development and would have to be out of the space by June of this year. Reigl said the team fortunately negotiated a new space and signed a letter of intent to move into 917 #D Preston Ave. in February. Riegl says she hopes the community’s increased interest in biking will continue, and NBDA’s forecasts indicate it might. Based on changing lifestyles, heightened interest in bicycling for recreation, and a continued need to take bikes to work, domestic cycle sales should continue to grow, with U.S. revenues reaching $8 billion by 2025. For its part, Community Bikes will continue to do what it can to make bicycling appealing—putting on free repair classes, holding bike-friendly events like group rides and bike-in movie nights, advocating to make the region more cycle-friendly, launching a trailer program to bring repairs to disadvantaged areas, and partnering with the Virginia Institute of Autism. “We don’t want the cost of bike repairs to be prohibitive, and a lot of people have a hard time getting back to the shop,” Reigl says. “We want to expand access... get bikes not just to the people who would immediately come to mind.”
Community Bikes brings nonprofit mettle to refurbished pedals By Shea Gibbs
A REALTOR FOR YOUR NEEDS some of things I enjoy in the Cville area:
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Best of C-Ville Winner-19
Design is in the Details Nina Crawford 434. 296. 3400
LOCAL ARTISTS SHARE WHAT STALLS, MOTIVATES, AND INSPIRES THEM— FOR BET TER OR WORSE
BY TAMI KEAVENY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN ROBINSON Art can be intimidating. In talking with Chicho Lorenzo, Benita Mayo, Heather Owens, Michael Jones, and Megan Read, five visual artists currently working in Charlottesville, we’ve learned about each artists’ process, their comfort zones, and how they overcome their own fears when staring at a blank canvas or searching through a lens. Each one mentioned the value of community, and the vulnerabilities around putting creative output into the world. Their words offer a chance to find our own connections to the gifts of art. 34 434
Michael Jones Filmmaker, writer | independentfilmfund.org
My main medium is motion pictures, so film and video. I started writing first, but I didn’t go to school for any of those things. I’m self-taught. As far as filmmaking is concerned, I have had on-the-job training with various companies in the area, but most of what I know is a result of my own research, my own studies, my own experimentation. See more of Michael Jones' thoughts on page 44.
Heather Owens Illustrator, painter | heatherowensart.tumblr.com
For me, my work is a way to ask questions and not necessarily answer them. Some artists present a problem. Mine are just questions. I get a lot out of hearing from people who are viewing the work. They all feel very personal because I always have something in my mind that’s related to my home life, my personal life, or something that’s going on in the world. See more of Heather Owens' thoughts on page 44.
Benita Mayo Photographer, meditation & yoga instructor | benitamayo.smugmug.com
Portrait of an artist:
I am coming into the word artist. I’ve never used the word to describe myself before. Photography is my jam. In a way it’s become a very important part of my life and in others it’s become a meditation for me. It allows me to escape and allows me to get to know myself better. Some might call it contemplative photography. See more of Benita Mayo's thoughts on page 44. 434 37
Megan Read Painter, illustrator | maeread.com
Emerging as an artist:
It was the thing that always came naturally. I remember when I was about 7, and already an avid drawer, being shown by a friend of the family how not to draw what I thought I knew, but only the light and shadow, the shapes, how to use my eyes, and feeling like everything changed. But it never occurred to me that it was a career option. I suppose having my first successful solo show was the thing that made me feel like this was officially “a thing” but even now, no matter how well things go and how far my work travels, the impostor syndrome is strong. Probably always will be. See more of Megan Read's thoughts on page 45.
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Chicho LORENZO Painter, muralist | chicho.org
Upon arrival in C’ville:
I came here in 2008 when Charlottesville was voted one of the best places to live in the U.S. When I moved here my English was very bad…people related to me as ‘he’s exotic, he’s a Spaniard’ and that was okay. I found the general atmosphere here to be peaceful, and it was a quiet town. To me it was a little bit of a utopia. I’ve come to this place and everybody is happy. See more of Chicho Lorenzo's thoughts on page 45.
S WAY THE ARTIST
In their own WORDS
The art of nature: I grew up hiking and I used to go off in the woods all the time. I just love finding small unobserved things. Like you go out and see animals interacting of course, but I always enjoyed finding weird insects under rocks, I enjoyed finding these details of life that you don’t normally observe or are not normally privy to. The small interconnected pieces of life that happen in these out of the way places that impact the overall world. I overheard two people talking about my work and saying it reminded them of Henry Darger. And that made me really happy to hear. He does these incredible paintings of forests with little girls in them. Kind of creepy and fairy tale-inspired and I think that’s very much the kind of imagery I tend toward in my work. The forest feels very familiar and safe to me but also has that element of being wild and uncertain at the same time. I think that duality is something I do try to look for in my work. Being in a place that is both familiar and unfamiliar.
Michael Jones Continued from page 37 Choosing your passion: I really found my passion for cinema when I started interacting with filmmaking groups and getting hands-on experience. I realized there really wasn’t anything else I wanted to do for my career. The idea of struggling with and doing something that you like seemed like a better idea. So in 2019, I said goodbye to the full-time job and started filmmaking full-time. Letting the ideas out: After a certain point of working or experimenting in the various mediums, you’re not necessarily forcing ideas out anymore, they are just kind of coming to you organically. It’s kind of a nebulous thing, but it just appears in my head. It’s sometimes sparked by something in daily life sometimes not. It’s hard to describe how it comes about. If I don’t do anything, an idea will sit in my head and bug me. So I have to get it out. That applies to whatever I do, whether that’s writing, or photography, or filmmaking.
Benita Mayo Continued from page 39 Catching the shutterbug: It’s been an evolution. When my grandmother retired from teaching she would go on trips and come back with all these photos. She was documenting, and I think in a way I have become an extension of that. I was getting ready to take a trip to Europe, and thought, “I cannot go to Italy and bring back awful pictures. I just cannot do it.” I went on my trip...even hired a professional photographer to take me around Florence. He had access to the Duomo, and took me way up in this apartment building that had a perfect view. I took that photo, brought it back...and entered it into competition and got a blue ribbon.
Following the narrative: Constantly working is important to me so I tend to do a lot of documentary work. But I am constantly writing ideas for fictional films. I’m only starting to get around to making this happen. If you had to describe me based on my current portfolio, you’d describe me as a documentary filmmaker, but that’s not how I feel. I feel like a different type of filmmaker.
Heather Owens Continued from page 38
The C’ville effect: Ironically I came back in August 2017 when August 12 happened and all the craziness. That was something I didn’t recognize and that was really weird for me. When I was a student here (in the ’80s), I’m not sure I was as in tune to what was happening with the university and the community. I think what’s happened in the Charlottesville community has probably helped me to tap into some feelings that I wasn’t even aware of. It’s also made me more curious about lots of things. More curious about the people I meet, things that I hear, things that I see. It’s almost hard to articulate. Knowing in the moment: I was in Taos, New Mexico, and I met this gentleman. His name was Augustine, and I found his face to be so interesting. His eyes had a deepness. I could see his soul through his eyes. We start to talk, and I begin to realize that he and I are the same. He was Native American, I was African American. He was male, I was female. Other than that, there were so many things that overlapped. He invited me into his home that he was building. I later found out that that is something that almost never happens. Just in the span of 15 to 20 minutes we had formed this connection. I can see it as clearly as if it happened yesterday. He was sitting in his truck and I just remember seeing this glimpse, this knowing, so to speak. And I took the photo. I call it my first real portrait. “Stepping Stones” by Benita Mayo
Making plans: I do come with inspiration and (with watercolors) I come with a lot of preliminary sketching. I’ve come in without a plan before and I just end up with a mud painting. So I really have had to plan out more than I used to and it’s been a really good experience. Great mistakes: I had a professor who said that the difference between good art and great art is being able to completely ruin a piece by doing something that you think might make it better. That’s something I try to keep in my head as I am working. You have to be willing to completely mess something up.
That was it. I didn’t think I would fall in love with the craft. But that little taste encouraged me to want to know more about the art of photography and study the craft.
Staying focused: My yoga and my meditation practices teach me to approach things with a beginner’s mind. It’s very freeing when you do that. You let go of any preconceived notions, it allows you to let go. Yoga and photography kind of work hand in hand together. My meditation practice, my yoga practice inform my photography and I see photography more like poetry now.
Megan Read Continued from page 41
Art is a battlefield: People think that painting must just be this lovely, pleasant pastime and sometimes that couldn’t be further from the case. It’s true that the reason I loved drawing and painting from the beginning was because it is soothing in certain ways, it’s an escape, and it works with my tendency towards hyperfocus (in very specific areas). But, with painting there is at least as much time where it feels like an all-out war where nothing works the way I want it to. Where I can’t control this ridiculous gooey substance. Where paintings fall off of easels. Where I am sure that whatever I am working on couldn’t possibly turn into something worth looking at. Where I wonder why I bother and it seems impossible. And then there is light again. So the paintings from the outside are serene and quiet in most cases, but the process of their creation is the most tumultuous thing I have ever experienced and it goes in waves. An even-handed approach: All of my paintings are meticulously created in oil, sometimes on linen and sometimes on panels, and in general these quiet, shadowy works revolve around traditional elements like flowers or the nude figure (or both) but often include contemporary references. And I paint hands. Lots of hands.
On Charlottesville: When I began showing I didn’t think there was a chance that anyone here would be interested in actually buying my work and, on the contrary, there has been such an outpouring of support I am still reeling. And with the internet connecting all of us so easily, not being in a big city hasn’t made much difference in terms of connecting with galleries and participating in international shows so it’s been a very comfortable place to be. It hasn’t really influenced my process or the content of my work, but has certainly made a huge difference in allowing me the space to create the work that I want to.
“Dual” by Megan Read
Chicho Lorenzo Continued from page 43 A collective muse: My work, and I would say my whole life, is very based in mutual cooperation. I don’t take credit for what I make, what I paint. For what I create, I take credit in terms of what I practice every day, so my hand knows. But my topics are very influenced and affected by what is happening around me. Sowing the seeds of art: A mural is like a garden. You take care of a garden and things can grow from there. The mural on Barracks Road had an issue with graffiti on the wall, and I incorporated it. On this mural, there is a figure of a girl with a magic wand,
leading the parade. Somebody painted the symbol for Om in white on the tip of her wand, and I thought, “That is super cool. It adds the magic to the magic wand.” I don’t know who painted it, but it makes it a community work. Art’s impact: Artists, in many ways, are responsible for creating the impossible. I can draw whatever. If I paint it, if I draw it, it becomes real for you when you see it. When painting the mural at Mas tapas, there was a guy outside all the time who talked to me very often. He told me, “Mother always wanted me to have a farm.” So I painted a little farm for him far away in the distance, and he got so happy. That is an example of what [art] gives to people in small ways. 434 43
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No day in Charlottesville is rarely the same for me, but my perfect day would be waking up around 6am and taking my dog Jack out for a long walk (he loves to walk around grounds and hang in the gardens on the Lawn) and Co-owner of Quattro Tizi, breakfast for him (probably a snack from J.M. Stock). instructor at Purvelo I teach classes at Purvelo throughout the week, but Saturday morning classes are my favorite, followed by brunch at MarieBette (always the pancakes and bacon) with my friends Monroe, Robyn, and Mia. We usually head downtown for the City Market and a mall stroll. If it’s a nice day, we would probably head to Bellair Market for sandwiches then out to King Family Vineyards (for Crosé, of course). On the way back into town, we’d stop at Ivy Nursery for plants (Robyn and I are the plant peeps in our group). We would then deliberate on a place to go for dinner and hopefully end up at either Little Star or Mas (my faves). If we’ve planned it right, then we’ll also to head to Peloton Station afterward for the best brownie sundae in town! After we went our separate ways, I’d go home to chill with Jack on my balcony and FaceTime my best friend, Jessie, and watch Maid In Manhattan (the best movie—I think I’ve set the record for the most re-watches) with wine and leftovers from dinner. BONUS: Sunday would probably end up being an unplanned hike at Crabtree Falls with friends in town from D.C. After, I might convince them to go with me to go to Early Mountain Vineyards.
Gabriel Ofiesh gabrielofiesh.com | Charlottesville | by appointment | Mon-sat 10-5 | 434.295.9038 | Ofieshstudio@gmail.com
New but with an old Soul
If you haven’t been by Minerals & Mystics yet, we can’t wait to meet you!
We are a unique gem in Seminole Square Shopping Center filled with rocks and minerals, sterling silver natural gemstone jewelry and so much more. Each of us here at Minerals & Mystics is on our own path of spiritual discovery and enlightenment. We may have just opened in August, but we have been studying and working with crystals and jewelry for many years, each of us in a different mindset and place on our path just like you. What better way to grow than by sharing that journey with others. Join us for beautiful treasures, interesting conversations, and a like-minded community of different and wonderful seekers.
Be a rock star at Minerals & Mystics! Be sure to ask us about our private shopping experience - the Rock Star hour! www.mineralsandmystics.com Facebook.com/MineralsMystics 345 Hillsdale Drive Charlottesville VA 22901 434-284-7709