Richmonds of the World – A Project for the Community of Richmond, Virginia
More than a decade ago the idea of a community collaboration called Richmonds of the World, henceforth ROTW, was birthed during the discussions of the Richmond upon Thames Committee of the City’s Sister Cities Commission. Rick Tatnall was an active participant in those conversations and has continued to embrace the power of a global community of Richmond, working diligently to define and present the incredible potential impact of ROTW for Richmonders around the world and especially for fellow Richmonders in the RVA. Cobbling together 91 communities on six continents into a global collaboration requires the initiative of one community to get the ball rolling and Rick believes that this is a great opportunity for the RVA to show off its incredible creativity and innovation. And while the initial idea for ROTW came out of the City of Richmond, the Richmond being presented to the world is the regional Community of Richmond, with the City as its geographic and spiritual center, which includes close to 1.5 million Richmonders living in the footprint of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission.
Richmonds of the World Advisory Council
Since there is no handbook on how to create a global collaboration of liked-named communities, Rick has been consulting with a number of Richmond regional community leaders at various times over the past several years to get their thoughts and ideas on how ROTW can have meaning and purpose for all concerned. Eight of these community leaders have agreed to be members of the ROTW Advisory Council because they see great potential for the ROTW concept to have a very positive impact on the quality of life in their home community of Richmond Virginia:
- Donald Coleman, East End Fellowship
- Robert Creecy, Richmond Department of Fire and EMS
- Reggie Gordon, City of Richmond – Office of Community Wealth Building
- Oliver Hill Jr., Virginia State University
- Renee Hill, Virginia State University
- Jennifer McClellan, Virginia Senator – 9th District
- Ralph White, Retired Manager – James River Park System
- Greg Wingfield, Retired CEO – Greater Richmond Partnership
Richmonds of the World Administrator – Replenish Richmond
As the Chief Instigator in the creation of the global community of Richmond, Rick Tatnall and Replenish Richmond have been orchestrating the development of the organization now called Richmonds of the World. Replenish Richmond has developed a detailed strategic plan to guide the early development of the ROTW organization, both internationally and locally in the RVA. For now the Replenish Richmond website carries all ROTW information. In the Spring of 2017 the ROTW website richmondsoftheworld.org and a host of ROTW social media will be activated to start virtually connecting the RVA with the other 90 communities of Richmond.
Richmonds of the World Diplomatic Patron – Franklin Military Academy
Since Richmonds of the World was always been considered first and foremost as an education initiative, it is only fitting that those materially involved in the early development of this global community of Richmond be young Richmonders. Towards that end Replenish Richmond has formalized a relationship with Richmond Public Schools working through the Franklin Military Academy (FMA). Under the guidance of FMA Principal Sheron Carter-Gunter, the students are establishing a Richmonds of the World School Club (spring 2017) and collectively are assuming the role and responsibility of being the ROTW Diplomatic Patron.
This is a match made in heaven as the Richmonds of the World concept will get the collective attention of a lot of bright and motivated young minds and FMA students will get real world experience in the development of the global community of Richmond. FMA has both middle and high school students and draws from all over the City of Richmond, putting it in an excellent position to represent both the City and the Richmond region to the global Community of Richmond.
ROTW and the RVA > Getting started in the East End
As previously mentioned, our ultimate goal is to intersect ROTW with Richmonders all across the RVA. While we are creating a strong long term foundation through our connections with the FMA school community, ROTW needs to energize a smaller regional neighborhood community subset and build on their enthusiasm. Replenish Richmond long ago chose Richmond’s East End as that pioneering community subset and along with FMA will look to connect all ROTW related programs and activities to the East End Community Collaboration (EECC). It is quite fitting that the East End of Richmond influence the development of ROTW – the only reason there was a Richmond upon Thames committee to invent this idea is due to the importance of the View from the East End’s Libby Hill that inspired William Byrd II to name our community Richmond.
Expanding on the importance of ROTW as an education tool, we are going to start our efforts in the East End by connecting with all of the schools – public and private, Richmond and Henrico. Beginning in the Spring of 2017 Franklin Military Academy will build its ROTW Club and elect officers for the 2017/2018 school year. Starting September 2017 and following the lead of the Franklin Military Academy, the following East End schools will be invited to find a way to benefit from their involvement in Richmonds of the World by creating their own ROTW School Club:
- Bellevue Elementary, Chimborazo Elementary, Fairfield Court Elementary, George Mason Elementary, Woodville Elementary, Martin Luther King Middle, Armstrong High, Montrose Elementary, Highland Springs Elementary, Varina-Mehfoud Elementary, Fairfield Middle, John Rolfe Middle, Highland Springs High, Varina High, MathScience Innovation Center, Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT) / Church Hill Academy, Central Montessori School, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School
Working off the model developing at FMA, the East End ROTW School Clubs will figure out ways to use their new connection with communities around the world to enhance their school’s academic and youth development objectives. For instance, ROTW looks to support Chimborazo Elementary in its new role as an International Baccalaureate School – 91 Richmonds on 6 continents is about as international as you can get. Ultimately, each East End school will choose which communities of Richmond it wishes to connect with and will be supplemented in their efforts by the local ROTW organization. RVA businesses and organizations will be enlisted to assist the schools in connecting with the different subsets of their chosen Richmonds, including schools, government, business, faith and culture. Once solidified in the East End, the plan is to introduce ROTW to schools across the City of Richmond and throughout the Richmond region. Ultimately it is hoped that all RVA youth will be raised and nurtured in an environment that continually connects them to the global community, starting with the 90 other Richmonds around the world.
Richmonds of the World Global Initiatives
The ultimate objective of Richmonds of the World is for each community of Richmond to be able to increase its quality of life through its connection to the global community of Richmond. Three (3) ROTW Global Initiatives have been created to connect Richmonders locally and internationally and collectively these initiatives will be the overarching banner for ROTW efforts in the East End:
1) ROTW Education Initiative – From the beginning the idea of Richmonds of the World has been considered in terms of its ability to enhance the education and social development of students and adults related to the many compelling and interesting aspects of the global community, taking full advantage of current technology and the internet. 91 Richmonds on six continents offers a myriad of possibilities for connecting students and enhancing their ongoing education with input and information from fellow Richmonders around the world. An important element of the ROTW Education Initiative will be to involve the youth of the many Richmonds in its development. To start, the plan is to focus on connecting East End students to students in other Richmonds by taking advantage of available technology and programs,
2) ROTW Public Safety Initiative – While the many Richmonds of the world vary in size, population and other details, each community of Richmond has a strong interest in maintaining the highest level of public safety for all its Richmonders. The ROTW Public Safety Initiative will work to connect the public safety communities of all of the Richmonds in an ongoing conversation so that we can learn from each other and help each other in times of need. The first phase of the Public Safety Initiative with the development of the 3R2 Project, which intends to invest and involve Richmonders to help stop fires and other emergencies before they happen. Starting in the East End, the 3R2 Project will create a growing legion of fire and emergency prevention specialists trained to know what to do and what to look for to keep fires and other danger from ever occurring.
3) ROTW Sustainability Initiative – Over the past decade mankind as a whole has finally come to realize that we are all connected and is starting to grasp the critical importance of the phrase think globally, act locally. Sustainability involves enhancing the quality of human life with minimal impact on our natural environment and is best done from a global perspective. The ROTW Sustainability Initiative intends to connect the many Richmonds in a collaborative process that involves sharing information and ideas while investing and involving more and more Richmonders to become increasingly active in sustainable practices. In the East End, we will connect people to our natural environment with a program called the RVA Green Team which will emphasize the 4 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Replenish. All of our sustainable efforts are wrapped around our plans to create the Richmond Institute of Sustainability, a virtual entity supporting sustainable practices in all of the Richmonds, headquartered in Richmond Virginia.
Richmond to Richmond Twinning Relationship – connecting the RVA and Richmond upon Thames
The concept known as twinning and the terms twin towns and sister cities are used to describe cooperative agreements made primarily between towns and cities in different parts of the world promoting cultural, educational and economic connections. Richmond Virginia has been twinned with Richmond upon Thames since 1981 and the two became Sister Cities in 1992. In an effort to take full advantage of the power of these community to community relationships, ROTW will develop a program called Richmond Twinning to facilitate twinning relationships between the Richmonds.
Step one of this process is to re-energize the twinning relationship between the RVA and Richmond upon Thames, which has grown stagnant in the past several years. Towards that end a delegation of Richmonders and Virginians will travel to Richmond upon Thames in March 2017 to help commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas in England. The delegation will be led by Rick Tatnall and will include students and educators from Franklin Military Academy, representatives of the James River Park System, and members of the Virginia Indian tribes with a descendant relationship to Powhatan, father of Pocahontas. The delegation will look to facilitate 36 different community subset relationships (one for each of the 36 years of twinning between the two Richmonds) with similar organizations in each Richmond, like The Valentine and the Museum of Richmond.
Five Richmonds Twinning (5RT)
A significant part of the RVA’s initial involvement in ROTW will be as a testing ground and a model for the Richmond Twinning program through its Five Richmonds Twinning (5RT) project. 5RT involves a partnership between the RVA and with Richmond upon Thames to create twinning relationships with Richmond California, the Richmond District in San Francisco, and Richmond Victoria, Australia. Ultimately the 5RT project will create cross twinning relationships between these five historically connected Richmonds.
Successful twinning relationships involve developing strong connections between the various social subsets of each community and the 5RT project will start by working to connect a core group of community subsets that are present in each of the 5 Richmonds that together should guarantee the success of the project:
- United Way Worldwide
- International Red Cross
- Big Brothers Big Sisters International
- World Alliance of YMCAs
- World YWCA
- The Salvation Army
- World Organization of the Scout Movement
- World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts