Our Lens: Inside Lynchburg's "No Ban, No Wall" Protest

On the last Sunday of January 2017, 10 days into the Trump/Pence/Bannon administration, 19 adults sat in chairs formed into a circle in the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church of Lynchburg. The purpose was a meet and greet for the Seven Hills Progressive Society — a bold name for a group existing in a town known by outsiders to be synonymous with religious fundamentalism and staunch political conservatism.

Contrary to what the more fearful among the right-leaning townsfolk might imagine, this was not a coterie of sinister-minded villains who wring their hands while plotting the moral decay of humanity. Quite to the contrary, those in attendance gathered in the name of love (but not without a due air of frustration). Our new president had just signed an executive order that would effectively put a 90-day ban on immigrants from seven specific countries from walking freely on U.S. soil.

Without the lubricant of juice, crackers or coffee, the group came to a rousing agreement that on the following Sunday (yesterday), they would meet again at the church. Not to sit inside and pontificate, however, but to carry signs and walk several blocks up 5th Street to stand at the traffic circle and chant slogans of compassion and anti-divisiveness.

With permit in hand, these folks did just that, but plans did not carry on exactly as the organizers expected. The last time this group demonstrated (only a few months prior), the participants could have been counted on one hand with a finger or two to spare — which led to the organizers voicing their feeling encouraged by 19 people attending the aforementioned meeting.

On the actual day of this demonstration, news sources have estimated more than 100 folks came out to raise signs and voices in unison while an unseasonably warm February sun shone down.

An aside: My belief is that it is important for non-traditional journalism to come take part in such an event — a voice without the façade of objective reporting. This piece is only objective in the sense that I was there at the meeting the week before and I was there at the roundabout protest. Our standard local news providers (one such organization I have been employed by in the past) oftentimes lean into what is normally considered “objective” to the point of presenting its readers with utter banality. That is not what you will get here. You will read the truth as I saw it, and you can trust that my words will be honest to my experience: first-hand, yes, but admittedly limited.

What I saw was a multi-colored, multi-generational assemblage of benevolence. Spirits were high and amicable as friends who did not anticipate see one another embraced. At one point, a black woman stopped her small pickup truck before entering the traffic circle. She hopped out — her smile and sunglasses both gleaming — to record a video of the demonstrators who all cheered in response. A white woman about her same age strode over to give her a hug. The first lady waved and hopped back into her vehicle. The buildup of cars behind her uttered not a single beep until they drove through the circle and tapped their horns in support.

Despite the underlying message of unity, not all that passed through seemed to get the point. A few shook their heads (no big deal), and for a while the highest form of aggression we saw was a few oversized pickups revving their engines and peeling out, emitting a 4x4 flatulence that likely cost them a few bucks in petroleum.

Some just sped up to to get by as quickly as possible. One such speeder roared through in a large blue pickup (a peculiar trend?) with a Liberty University bumper sticker while holding a 3x5-foot “TRUMP” flag outside of the rear cab window. I don’t know if it was the metal spikes on the wheels or the undoubtedly vitriolic words of the driver and passenger that could not be heard over the cacophony of engine noise and chanting, but a few of us got the sense that these folks had trouble on their minds.

I can only imagine the train of thought careening inside the baseball-capped skulls of these gentlemen when they either heard about the demonstration or unwittingly stumbled into it. Either way, the rally inspired them enough to go grab their flag and create a display of their own.

Our voices inspired them enough to come through the circle a few times, actually, and inspired them enough on their last drive-by to make their ultimate statement. Through the rolled-down passenger window, a man yelled the name of our newly-elected alleged groper-in-chief and gave us all the middle finger.

That’s the part that I saw. What I didn’t see is that this individual decided to chuck liquid from the vehicle that wound up splashing my friend’s adult child and also drenching the coat of a friend of that same friend. I caught up with my friend to ask what had happened, and she was doing her best to contain her rage while conversing with others about going through their pictures to see if anyone happened to snag the license plate number.

She thought the flung fluid was a beverage, and I hoped she was right. When I got back to the Unitarian Universalist church, I spoke with her friend. He said that given the smell, he’s pretty sure the offending substance was “dip juice,” the putrid expulsion from an individual who chooses (freedom!) to spend his money voluntarily poisoning himself with a known carcinogenic substance.

I feel bad for my friend’s friend and my friend’s child, but really — I feel most terribly for whoever that man was who thought it to be a good idea to toss tobacco spit onto other human beings for the grand offense of believing that seemingly hateful, racist political maneuverings are not something to roll over and simply take as, “Well, I guess this is just life now. … God bless America!”

You have to be dealing with some seriously heinous inner dialogue to behave in such a vile manner. I am not sure if throwing excrement would have been any worse. In any case, the message was clear:

You think differently than me. Therefore, I hate you.

I imagine he and the driver hooted and hollered on their way to whatever Super Bowl gathering they were inevitably amped for, where they in all likelihood would sit down with people they love to watch television and to consume copious amounts of processed garbage and poisonous swill (more likely soda than beer, given the LU sticker), thereby further compromising their already worrisome mental faculties.

(If you are reading this, sir, fellow human, flesh of my own flesh, know that your hatred will only serve to poison you. It will only serve to keep you walled away from living a life of far greater pleasures than Doritos, Coke and Coors Light. The choice is yours.)

But perhaps not. Perhaps his humanity kicked in a few turns down the road and he realized how rotten that was. Isn’t it pretty to think so?

Once all those that remained were back to the sidewalk in front of the UU church, spirits were by no means dampened by the unconscious behavior of a couple unhappy campers. The organizers discussed how in the coming weeks there would be more demonstrations to pour into with this positive energy.

There was talk of how this day proved that on the grassroots, regular Jane/Joe individual level … people do care. People will stand up for what they know is good and just and loving, and that all those in favor of hateful rhetoric and action (like our friend in the blue pickup truck) will voluntarily reveal how poorly their inner narratives allow them to treat people.

And for what ends? For safety at the price of division, marginalization and death? Profit for some at the cost of environmental destruction for all? To harken back to a point in this nation’s timeline of oppression that was somehow greater than now?

With a lot of effort and a little bit of cosmic luck, perhaps consciousness will prevail, bending the moral arc closer to justice so that such hatred and fear are relegated to near obsolescence.

Keep it real. Keep it loving. Keep your dip juice to yourself.*

* - Or not even to yourself. It stands to reason that anyone willing to be so unkind to themselves is willing to exact at least that much harm on someone else.

Interested in bringing transparent, artful journalism to the Lynchburg community? Send us a message to finance OurLynchburg.

Words and photos by Marcelo Quarantotto

On the Virginian Hotel, the EDA and questioning their value to the City of Lynchburg, Virginia

Concerning the use of "public" funds for "private" enterprise

"The businessmen behind the Virginian have pledged their credit to the project, and if the whole thing fails, the city's worst-case scenario is a renovated building and a new parking deck with no liability."

The public meeting on March 24 to approve special financing for the Virginian Hotel was exciting and valuable. It illustrated a divide in the city that one seldom witnesses in a single group of the citizens. More than thirty citizens, businessmen and the heads of local nonprofits spoke about the proposal before the Lynchburg City Council and began the debate.

There was lively and sometimes passionate opposition to what amounted to a tax credit that funded a small portion of the loan for the project. The local hotel owners, fearful that The Virginian Hotel would compete with the local Quality Inn and Microtel, turned up to protest what they saw as a tax subsidy of a competing business.

I believe they were mistaken on the city's interest in the project, for the value of The Virginian Hotel is not solely its value as a place of lodging or profit-making, but as an asset or liability for the Old City. This building's survival or demise or its inherent value as a building is of no interest to the investors on Wards Road, who argued solely on terms of the value of money-making.

Several business owners, citizens, and heads of local civic organizations spoke out in favor of the project, and the City Council approved the measure in a vote of 6 to 1. 

Several who spoke in opposition challenged the decision of the local Economic Development Authority (EDA) to support the hotel project. Some citizens and business owners challenged the Council about offering special loans and grants to new businesses, and inferred that the city was handing out tax money to random businesses. This led to a series of citizens opposing the project to mock the Council by asking for handouts themselves, and other citizens indignantly announcing that they would never accept city money for themselves.

Councilwoman (and former mayor) Joan Foster answered this charge by noting that the EDA is an independent authority and has an independent ability to give grants and loans. Anyone is welcome to apply to them for grants or loans, and The Virginian Hotel won their support through an excellent proposal.

The EDA unanimously decided to support the hotel project with loans from its own funds and to sign on a special loan that will be paid through tax money produced by the property. This arrangement was misunderstood by several of the opposition, who imagined their own tax dollars were being funneled into the project.

 

"No liability"

The fact of the arrangement is that the tax dollars produced by the project will be funneled back towards the special EDA loan by the City Council, and no tax money is being spent. In fact, the arrangement provides that if the project does not generate tax revenue over a certain amount, the city is not obligated to pay anything towards the EDA loan.

The businessmen behind the Virginian have pledged their credit to the project, and if the whole thing fails, the city's worst-case scenario is a renovated building and a new parking deck with no liability. The public credit is at no risk, the public purse is not being used, and downtown Lynchburg can only be improved by this deal.

Currently, the Virginian building is only taxed $24,000 per year by the city, and this amount was set to drop considerably because the building is no longer used as housing. The developers and the city tax assessor have estimated that the new hotel will generate over $100,000 per year in taxes or more, and this is the figure that the special loan subsidy is based on.

If the hotel does not generate $100,000 in taxes, the Council is not obligated to use any of the taxes paid to pay down the special EDA loan, and the developers are on the hook for the loan out of their own pockets.

Again, the worst-case scenario would mean more tax revenue than the empty building would generate, and even the failure of the entire project would leave the city with a share of the title of the renovated hotel and the planned parking deck beside it. Had the city left itself on the hook for loans, this story would be different, and my position might be different, but the public credit is at no risk. The city stands to gain a substantial new tax revenue, or it will receive a share of the restored building itself through a default.

The first option is the wish of all, but the failure of the project is still a net improvement for the Old City, and no risk to the taxpayer. 

 

worthy of support

"Wards Road has a face only a Wall Street tycoon could love, but Old Lynchburg is beautiful, and she captures the imaginations and the residency of many of her visitors through beauty."

The Virginian Hotel is worthy of the support of the EDA and the City of Lynchburg. The hotels of Wards Road are made of particle board and kitsch, and only share-holders could love them. No one would rally for them if they were condemned, and no one will weep for them when they are demolished.

Perhaps if the chain hotels built something worth a second glance they might have civic worth beyond profit, but Wall Street has lost the ability to build anything beautiful.

I imagine their representatives would claim beauty does not pay. The Virginian Hotel, obviously, is quite different. Beside the fact that The Virginian will not compete with America's Best Value Inn, The Virginian is of special value to the city in a way that the chain hotels will never be.

Lynchburg is not an undeveloped frontier town, and Lynchburg is not the Wards Road business district. Lynchburg is an old city, and old cities were not built only to maximize profits as Wards Road was built to do. Old cities were meant to be beautiful, to last beyond one's own life, and to cultivate civic virtue.

Old Lynchburg is what makes our city distinct and uniquely valuable. Wards Road has a face only a Wall Street tycoon could love, but Old Lynchburg is beautiful, and she captures the imaginations and the residency of many of her visitors through beauty. Old Lynchburg has unique value and also unique difficulties for development, for downtown was not designed for cars.

Wards Road has no inherent value as a place, but the Old City does. The old Virginian Hotel has unique civic value, and could have been another city liability without this development. 

 

A Nearby Parallel

Staunton's Stonewall Jackson Hotel is a parallel to The Virginian Hotel. The Stonewall Jackson was once low-income housing, like The Virginian.

The City of Staunton considered a proposal to restore the hotel, and no doubt wondered if low income housing was the best option for the old building. Instead of sticking with the status quo out of a timid and craven conservatism, Staunton invested a significant amount of the public credit and tax revenue in direct support of the project.

The project was a great success, and the municipal parking deck built beside the Stonewall Jackson is now part of a major Old City success story. Staunton's downtown is lively and its Main Street businesses are stable, thanks to the risk of the City Council.

I am sure that we all hope The Virginian will be a similar story for Lynchburg. Staunton's story is a reason to be optimistic and to applaud our Council's decision.

 

The Value of the EDA

The citizens of Lynchburg could profit from a public debate about whether or not the EDA is a benefit to the city. The EDA uses public money, state grants and tax credits to encourage local efforts to aid the Lynchburg economy. They are independent and unelected. Their leadership is appointed by local elected officials.

This corporation has been around since the 1960s, when Lynchburg's downtown was being hollowed out and the economic activity was moving to the periphery. Locals were alarmed at the enormity of the waste of beautiful buildings and infrastructure, and did not want the Old City to simply fall down from neglect.

The EDA does not exist to promote free-market competition or profit-making, but local investment and local values that transcend profit.

The EDA is also Lynchburg's advocate in a cutthroat international investment market, and exists to advocate Lynchburg over other cities. If the goal of policy is simply to make money, the answer is Wards Road sprawl and multi-national corporations.

If the goal of policy is strictly free markets, industry is best served moving to wherever the lowest wages are to be found. If we value the heritage of the city, its architectural beauty and durability, its mixed use and walkable neighborhoods, and our community over profit, I think the city is served through the work of the EDA.

The EDA is also an example of a mixture of interests, for they have aided many sorts of endeavors over their history, and not strictly downtown or locally owned efforts.

 

"A Better Spirit of Compromise"

Lynchburg ought to develop a better spirit of compromise and have a flexible view of local government in order to accomplish local goals. Lynchburg has many policies that, strictly speaking, create a huge unfair advantage for downtown businesses and historic district investment, but this is a good thing for the city.

Only the blindness of ideology would insist otherwise, and those interests point towards Wall Street and away from Main Street. Tax abatements, grants, non-profit sponsorships, and unique programs like the public-private partnership at the Virginian are all about local efforts for local business.

Another contrast we can appreciate is that Wards Road will fall down, and good riddance. No one will rally to save any buildings there, for none of them are beautiful or have civic value.

Buildings built for profit today and no thought for tomorrow are like that, and the parking-lot runoff may irreparably damage our watersheds through such short-sightedness. The Old City will last for hundreds of years and remain beautiful and intrinsically valuable if we take care of it and invest in it.

I think this is a positive and creative and valuable goal for local government, and I have no more love for the multi-national corporations than I have for the national government's empire and its waste. I can understand why Wards Road Lynchburg and Downtown Lynchburg are at odds: they are competing for resources and attention.

I think city resources and attention are balanced, however, and I hope this balance is demonstrable and ultimately satisfying for all.

Weighing the benefits of the EDA may be a valuable civic exercise. Anyone who examines the actions of the EDA will come away believing that, however imperfectly, they fight for the interests of the city. I am all for promoting partnership and understanding between Wards Road Lynchburg and the Old City.

*

Click here to read a statement from the Lynchburg Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau regarding the value of The Virginian Hotel project.


Dallas Shipp is an instructor of literature, history and geography at New Covenant Schools, located at 122 Fleetwood Drive in Lynchburg.

OurLynchburg Feature: Jeremy Keesee

Photographer Jeremy Keesee travels widely in the greater Lynchburg area to share exquisite beauty and a unique perspective with our community. Some of Jeremy's favorite spots are on the Appalachian and right in the heart of downtown Lynchburg. One of the first people to embrace #OurLynchburg on Instagram, Jeremy's works have flooded our feed and helped to set a visual standard for the photos that define Lynchburg. Check out some of his recent work below and follow him on Instagram @jeremykeesee

Lynchburg renaissance at the Anne Spencer House

By Kristi Yeatman

   

The interior of 1313 Pierce St. is a remnant of the past, from the furniture to the leftover perfume in a bottle on a dresser. On the outside, the community is invited in by the rocking chairs on the black and white squared porch where one can sit among the beautiful flowers and shrubbery while enjoying a summer breeze. Venturing to the back of the house, one finds a captivating garden that stretches from the back of the house to Buchanan Street. 

In the middle, there is a small cottage where Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer would spend her days reading and writing.

The house was built by Anne’s husband, Edward, in 1903.

By a chance encounter, the home became a hub for one of the most prominent American artistic movements. Writer James Weldon Johnson was scheduled to stay with another couple while visiting Lynchburg, but one of the couple’s children became ill. The husband asked his good friend, Edward Spencer, if he and his wife could host Johnson instead.

Having just recovered from pneumonia, Anne thought the visit would be too hard on Edward, but trusted her husband’s judgment to have Johnson stay anyway. While at the Spencers’ home, Johnson discovered the poetic talent of the young wife and mother.

Upon returning to Harlem, as the story goes, he told his colleagues of the Spencers’ hospitality and Anne’s poetry.  

Shaun Spencer-Hester and I meet on the decorous porch one afternoon. We make our way to the living room, take a seat amongst the NAACP papers sprawled out on the table (the Lynchburg chapter was founded in the Spencers’ home) and settle in for a chat.

 

Shaun is the granddaughter of Edward and Anne, and the curator of the Anne Spencer House Museum and Garden. She engages me with numerous stories of her grandparents, all of which possess the common theme of a couple that were well ahead of their time.

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It was Edward who encouraged Anne’s literary interest, unheard of at the time among women of all races. In a period when women were concerned with matters of the home, Edward allowed Anne the freedom to explore her creativity. The cottage in the garden, called Edankraal, was built specifically for this purpose. Shaun tells me that Anne may have been the first woman in Lynchburg to even wear pants — which drew criticism from others in the community and became the inspiration for her poem, “Neighbors.”  (hyperlink)

This freedom of creative energy can be seen and felt throughout the property. In the front covers of books and on scraps of paper, there are complete poems that Anne casually jotted down while going about her day. In the phone closet, the walls are covered with notes and phone numbers from callers. The work of Anne’s pen illustrates the boundless atmosphere of the house. This, Shaun believes, is what drew major figures in the Harlem Renaissance to the Spencer home.

Outside of the home, the rest of Pierce Street and the surrounding area was a budding intellectual community. Figures such as Johnson, W.E.B. DuBois and Langston Hughes were able to exchange ideas with the local intellectuals in the Spencers’ living room. Whites even crossed the Rivermont Avenue Bridge to catch a glimpse of these famous figures:  The Spencers’ front door was constantly occupied with visitors coming and going, visitors from all walks of life.

For a moment during our conversation, Shaun pauses to wonder aloud what her grandmother would think of having her house now opened as a museum. Yet, it is in this very act that the energy of the house seems to continue. The front door is still revolving with people of different interest coming and going, from literary scholars to garden enthusiast, all rubbing shoulders and converging into one purpose:  the love of creativity.

Shaun’s hope is that the people and cultures of Lynchburg would continue in the legacy of Anne Spencer, as well as the other forerunners of the community:  to preserve the “flavor” of the area, as she calls it.

Anne’s garden is open daily to the public from dawn to dusk. Historic markers along the street encourage visitors to interact with the area’s rich history. Shaun also hopes to one day open the store at the corner of Pierce and Thirteenth Street, as a visitor’s center to the area.

“The Harlem Renaissance was a movement of young people who wanted to better themselves, and they used their love of art,” Shaun says, “so why can’t we continue that? Why can’t we have a renaissance every year?”

###

An #OurLynchburg Headquarters?

MAY 11, 2014 

#OURLYNCHBURG is Looking for an official headquarters, and where better than the heart of our city?

So we are participating in a city initiative that will award $10K to three growing (or budding) downtown businesses.

 

Ben Jacobs (above) has long been a friend to Lynchburg. In addition to living downtown, he owns several properties that he renovates and turns into sustainable living or working spaces and that's just for fun (he works outside of the city).

Ben gave us tours of a few properties he's involved with on Fifth Street, and we're loving what's happening at the Dollar Maxx building. 


 
 

We like this space because of its potential and location. As Ben described it, it's a brick box that can be divided any way you want.

What we and other like-minded friends are looking forward to is seeing this building turn into a creative hotspot:  studio space, gallery, cultural events something is already in the works.

Located on the Fifth Street traffic circle, Lynchburg's intended arts and culture corridor, the is within earshot of another nonprofit (yes, we're applying for status), WordWorks, and a quick bike ride to anything happening downtown.

For anyone shopping at Speakertree Records, it's just a block away on one of Lynchburg's most photogenic streets.

This is an intentional statement:  If Fifth Street is to be our arts district, let's actually give that a shot before a Dollar General or something similar sets in: the old cynicism that whispers, "Nothing gold can stay."

The point here is to say keep an eye on our blog and social media outlets, as we will update you on this process from the inside out (and through others' eyes) in an effort to explore the locations and possibilities this city has to offer.

— #OL

 

Mark Mellette - Fear is the Mind-Killer

I’ve always been bothered when people ask me questions in the gym such as, “What are you climbing these days?” or “What are you working on?” I see these questions as thinly-veiled attempts to gauge the grade I’m currently projecting, which to some, might be a normal topic of conversation in the context of a climbing gym.  To me, those questions have always seemed a subtle way of asking, “how strong are you compared to myself?” I place those questions in the same category as when someone in school would ask me how I did on a test - conversations I’d just rather not have. With regards to climbing, my opinion is that grades are an insufficient metric of a person’s climbing ability. My focus is how many days I’ve spent outside this season, or if I’ve been inspired by a climb or a boulder, or if I’m truly enjoying the act and process of climbing.

Recently I went up to The Hill, a spot near the Peaks of Otter, to revisit a project I cleaned about a year ago. I hadn’t been outside a whole lot recently and I was in severe need of some real psych. The holds are bad and the landing sucks, so all of this combines for an extremely enticing boulder problem. I love the process of developing boulders because the same pattern always emerges: find, clean, conceive, climb. I find developing so gratifying because of the process and because it’s free from the pressure and noise of the climbing gym and free from the established rigidity of a saturated climbing spot. When projecting new lines, I’m truly free to create because the boulders are bereft of the opinions of others and I’m forced to rely upon my own index of movement and strength rather than someone else’s unsolicited beta.



At the base of the project, I precariously set up my crash pads and tried a few of the beginning moves - taking a few test falls to ensure my landing. It was brutally cold which is a double-edged sword: optimal friction, but a very finite amount of attempts before succumbing to fatigue. I actually took a heart-breaking fall from very close to the top and was immediately bombarded by the shades of self-doubt and anxiety. I knew I could climb this boulder and that I could climb it on this day but it was so cold that my hands and feet were throbbing with the return of circulation and sensation between attempts. I needed to regain focus. I found the sunshine and took off my shoes to rest and contemplate. Why do I even do this? Is there a point to this and if so what is it? Was the goal to surmount this boulder or just appreciate the fact that I was alone in the woods staring out across the Blueridge Mountains? Climbing is metamorphosis… I was pitted against an immovable object that in order to climb, required that I change both physically and mentally. Breathing deeply and with my best attempt at replicating the Prana-Bindu focus, I thought about my fears and so clearly understood that fear is indeed the mind-killer. I pulled on my shoes, chalked up and grabbed the start holds. I flowed methodically through each move and found myself standing on top of what would become Focal Adhesion.

Reflecting later I realized that I truly didn’t care about the grade of Focal Adhesion… it’s a beautiful boulder with unique movement that I’m proud to catalogue in my index of movement. What’s more, that whole process taught me that once grades become arbitrary, anything is possible. I prefer to approach climbing not with the preconception that I can only climb a certain grade but rather with an eye for climbs that I’m inspired by.   

 

 

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear - From Frank Herbert's Dune Book Series


Our Lynchburg Projection Series | Week 4 in Review

DJ KillGXXD:

Aww man, what a night! It's such a great feeling to play experimental music in Lynchburg and be accepted. I struggled with that for a very long time. I thank "Our Lynchbrurg" for creating a platform for me to expose this new style of music. Each night we get a great response from our crowd and there is no better feeling. Paris and I look forward to performing a lot more in Lynchburg. Thanks for all the support you guys! Peace.

 

Edgar Endress shares the art of the Floating Lab Collective inside at WordWorks!

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Outside of Word Works a small crowd gathered to view the live DJ sets and projection.

Outside of Word Works a small crowd gathered to view the live DJ sets and projection.


Back and forth DJ action between KillGXXD and Literal Sense...

...and Paris Jones gettin' in the mix, too.

...and Paris Jones gettin' in the mix, too.

OurLynchburg Projection Series | Week 2 in Review

KillGXXD.

KillGXXD.

Matthew Addington | Foster & Asher:

I've never really been a part of putting together a live performance event before, so when we go into setting up these projections each week, there is a certain bit of tension. But when the music starts playing and the projector fires up, a semi-surreal aesthetic begins to germinate.

A parking garage suddenly turns into an interactive piece of art. Cars slow down, passersby become a congregation of curious observers. 

Magic happens. Lynchburg has an organic, strangers-dancing-with-strangers party in the streets.

This togetherness is the payoff for participation  starting conversations, finding common ground, and creating the dialogue to connect our city.

We do this to let you know:  There is a unified many who are eager and willing to have those conversations that initiate action toward a better Lynchburg. 

The most sure-fire way to hit all the artistic offerings of Lynchburg's First Fridays is to hop on the Art Trolley.

The most sure-fire way to hit all the artistic offerings of Lynchburg's First Fridays is to hop on the Art Trolley.

The story of Lynchburg includes our collaborators but it is so much more.  Be involved by hashtagging #OurLynchburg on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The story of Lynchburg includes our collaborators but it is so much more.  Be involved by hashtagging #OurLynchburg on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Carlina Muglia | Congruence Yoga:

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As Matt mentioned above, there is a special energy that is created when people come together for events. OurLynchburg's second projection was only one of many happenings on the night of March 7, 2014. WordWorks! hosted an open-to-the-public exhibit from the Floating Lab Collective (FLC).  WordWorks! is an incubator for young writers grades K through 12, providing a place for kids to explore and express through writing.  

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The various pieces of the FLC exhibit were dynamic, covering topics of social import such as: frustration over the economy, how we influence one another in small and large communities, creative problem-solving on a community level. The genius of presenting these topics in the context of WordWorks! is that FLC has come up with creative, engaging visuals which grab and hold attention of children and adults alike. My experience at WordWorks! was one that tickled my intellect and left me pondering how social research can be conducted in this manner here in Lynchburg.

After my stint at WordWorks!, I made my way to what had become party central at the parking garage at Ninth and Commerce. I love dancing, and DJ KillGood always has the ability to get me moving. Happily, that was the case for a crowd of friends who happened upon us as they were leaving Riverviews Artspace. It was 40 degrees outside, but that did not deter the merriment.

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Speaking of magic have you seen DJ KillGood's party helmet? Aside from its colorful LED light system, it also seems to emit an atmosphere of feel-good frivolity.

Our friend Nathaniel (Gull) was still in town, and got in on the action! Hey may or may not have started the first OurLynchburg projection dance party. True to form, he took the party mobile and up through every floor of the parking garage.

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My final foray of the evening was a stop by Pastiche at Main to see the Emily Flint exhibit. Her human portraits are captivating and moody. The pet portraits combine some of my favorite things:

  1. A quality wood grain used to an artistic end (simple but very satisfying to my eyes)
  2. Cute animals.

Its cool to observe an artist express his or her range of emotion in one show.

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Final Thoughts:

Marcelo Quarantotto | Foster & Asher

This is Vic. Vic is a writer. And when I say writer, I mean a REAL writer — someone who wakes up every morning (at a time when many people are coming home from an evening’s shenanigans), sits down at his keyboard and bleeds.

It’s the only way to get to the level of ability and numerous publication credits that he carries.

 

Vic also coordinates various events at Riverviews Artspace. I peaked around the corner from the projection spot, and was able to check out the current exhibit during First Fridays and to say hi to another DJ friend of mine, Jxn Prdxnz.

 

Ok. Back to the projection.

That morning, I told Nate (KillGXXD) that given the weather, he shouldn’t feel obligated to perform. He said that if we were projecting, we was DJing. 

 

And he did. For nearly three hours — and not only did he not complain once, he danced behind, in front and all around his stand, with people and by himself, for the pure joy of it.

KillGXXD's brother Paris Jones (and their manager Stretch) arrived later on in the evening to dance and perform a few of his originals (see below for video).

 
 

Thank you, to everyone who happened by and hung out for a bit. It's not every day that you see someone out on the street DJing in a giant mascot head with flashing LEDs.

I'm looking forward to warmer projection nights, when the events will naturally evolve and grow.

So for now, in response to the challenge, "Pics, or it didn't happen," we'll do you one better:

 

CLICK TO WATCH:


OurLynchburg Projection Series | Week 1 in Review

by, Carlina Muglia | Congruence Yoga

 

 
Here I am opening my heart to Lynchburg for a backbend, while Gull plays in the background. My intention was to demonstrate how yogic training can allow a person to overcome physical adversity, not only in their own body but also in his or her environment — be it rambunctious children or 32-degree ambient temperature.

Here I am opening my heart to Lynchburg for a backbend, while Gull plays in the background. My intention was to demonstrate how yogic training can allow a person to overcome physical adversity, not only in their own body but also in his or her environment be it rambunctious children or 32-degree ambient temperature.

Almost a week later, I am still aglow with the warmth and support Lynchburg has for people who are willing to step outside the box and take risks for the sake of love. After a little over a month of planning, meetings and web development, I knew our first projection and performance would feature live music, yoga and video, but logistically speaking that was about all I knew. Thankfully, Matt and Marcelo are pros and all I had to do was ready myself for what was certainly going to be the coldest hour of yoga in my life.  

Gull was every bit as positively energetic as ever. He is one of my favorite artists, and I have so often wanted to feature his music in collaborative way.  He and I share a highly kinesthetic way of moving in our environment, so a mashup of live yoga + music was a very natural fit. It was an honor to be allowed to work with someone who manifests art out of every breath, as Nathaniel (Gull) does.  

 

 
The Gull video featured in the first week's projection reel was recorded in the Congruence Yoga Studio. :)

The Gull video featured in the first week's projection reel was recorded in the Congruence Yoga Studio. :)

You might also be thinking that my white unitard and the one Gull is wearing in his video look awfully similar. Good eye!  (We share.) 

You might also be thinking that my white unitard and the one Gull is wearing in his video look awfully similar. Good eye!  (We share.) 

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I tried to stay in my yoga-zone because my movements were stoking my fire from the inside out, but occasionally I would look up and see my friends from all over the city which was, of course, warm and fuzzy in a totally sentimental way. During a one-footed balancing posture that I nearly flubbed, I looked up and saw Rachel Jonas from Bikram Yoga Lynchburg and knew that I was looking at a sister-in-yoga. It was enough to bring me back to my mat with focus but also to remind me that yoga does not always have to be so serious just like art, just like life.

 

 
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"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."

— Carlos Castenada

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After I was done yoga-ing, I popped over to White Hart Café to a hot cup of Teasource Gold, and wound up chatting with friends in line and with the very playful baristas that work the evening shift. There was a steady flow of people back and forth between the projection site at Scene 3 Boardshop and the café. 

When I saw Leah with three of my favorite cute girls from around town all thoughts of cold were banished from my mind. Leah Peeks is an artist's artist, and the three minis in this picture are all shaping up to be creators as well.  

When I saw Leah with three of my favorite cute girls from around town all thoughts of cold were banished from my mind. Leah Peeks is an artist's artist, and the three minis in this picture are all shaping up to be creators as well.  

Glass Oaks closed the performances by playing a few songs — frigid fingers and all. I've shared a good amount of time with the men of Glass Oaks lately, and their tirelessly good spirits were "just the thing" as the sun and temperature dropped.

Glass Oaks closed the performances by playing a few songs frigid fingers and all. I've shared a good amount of time with the men of Glass Oaks lately, and their tirelessly good spirits were "just the thing" as the sun and temperature dropped.

The people that showed up to the first projection are many of the same people that make Lynchburg what it is. They all work hard and many of them have children who were also present at the event.  It's inspiring to know that we influence one another and hold one another accountable, all the while with an understanding that our highest motivation is a love of life and our community. It is my hope and intention that all the things I do are evidence of that love so the people of Lynchburg — young and old and everyone in between are emboldened to share joyously within our community. In this way, we begin to craft the story of OurLynchburg.

 

Week 1 in Review
by Carlina Muglia / Congruence Yoga