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The Changing Face of Virginia: The Virginia Experience


The fourth installment in The Changing Face of Virginia series is written by high school student and Blanton Scholar, Lindsey Matthews. Lindsey writes about growing up in Richmond, the recent changes to the city and the surrounding suburbs, and why she is honored to call herself a Virginian.  The remaining blogs will be posted over the next few months.! Also, be on the lookout for information about the 2011 Wyndham B. Blanton Scholar program early in the new year! Enjoy!

~Jennifer Rohrbaugh Nesossis, Outreach Educator


I’ll tell you what Virginia is!  Virginia is home.  My ancestors lived and died here.  I’ve lived in Richmond, Virginia, my entire life.  Some might ask, “Aren’t you curious about other places or countries?” My answer is simple: no!  Virginia is my life.  I love the people and the places, pretty much everything about it!  Whether it’s enjoying a nice spring picnic by the reservoir or a winter day spent rolling around in the fluffy white snow, Virginia is awesome. We get the best of everything!

When I talk about Virginia, I talk about the closeness I experience to my family here.

All of my relatives live within the borders of this great place, and I am lucky enough to see them a lot.  With a big family, gatherings like this are a huge deal.  We laugh, dance, play, joke, eat, and sing…  Nothing says family like a great get-together of all the relatives, especially a Christmas Eve by the fireplace or a Thanksgiving meal together!

Richmond isn’t what is used to be, though.  As with anything else in this day and age, it is evolving constantly.  More recently, a new city hall building was built in the heart of the city.  While the new building is modern and carefully designed, it doesn’t replace the artistry and craftsmanship of its previous site.  The old city hall building was built with such care and detail; its architecture is simply breathtaking.  Its huge ceilings and intricate tile work along the walls make it a rare find in a city as big and technologically advanced as Richmond, Virginia.

Another recent change Richmond has experienced is urbanization.  Once a prominent place of vast countryside and small rural communities, Virginia, specifically Chesterfield County, has experienced a recent shift.  Developments have sprung up left and right, attempting to model popular neighborhoods like Brandermill and Woodlake, despite the fact that no tenants appear interested.  Today, too many people are concerned about making their next profit.  As much as new homes are enticing, rural towns have their perks.  With little towns, there’s a sense of community.  Everyone knows everyone; people stop in the middle of the street just to say hi and catch up.   Trying to stop in the middle of a four-lane highway is impossible.  Especially during the crises we face today, everyone could use a little compassion.  Richmond used to offer this, and in some parts it still does.  One of the hardest challenges Richmond faces today is protecting this legacy.

Virginia is a complex state to say the least.  Major cities, small towns, big rivers, and cascading mountains are just a few of its many components.  As a Richmond native, I have experienced the family lifestyles and compassion the city offers everyday.  Even though it’s experiencing changes, some good and some bad, Virginia is still an amazing place to live.  In the end, I am honored to call myself a Virginian.

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Jennifer Nesossis is an outreach educator at the Virginia Historical Society.

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