After a long drive, we arrived in Charlottesville, VA. Charlottesville or “Cville” as the locals call it, is situated on the ancestral lands of the Monacan People. whose ancestors lived on this land for 10,000 years. Unlike the Powhatans, their neighbors to the East, the Monacans avoided contact with Europeans as much as possible. They gradually moved westward, away from the advancing settlers. Some stayed for several years at Fort Christanna, in Brunswick County, and eventually moved into Pennsylvania and finally to Canada, where they were adopted by the Cayugas (monacannation.com). After a 4 year battle, the Monacan people celebrated the saving of their historic capital of Rassawek in March 2022. They successfully forced an alternative route for the construction of the James River Water Authority (JRWA) pipeline, which would have destroyed Rassawek. It is illustrative for those of us fighting other such battles to look at this example.
We are staying at the Townsman Hotel on the historic downtown mall, There are a lot of similarities between Charlottesville and Ithaca: they are both college towns with nice outdoor walking malls, although the Charlottesville mall is 8 blocks long and has Ting concert pavilion at the end. Other similarities are: both towns are home to renown universities; they are surrounded by vineyards and both have a housing unaffordability problem. Charlottesville is addressing the problem of homelessness with the Built for Zero strategy being deployed in many communities across the county. Is this approach something that could work in Ithaca?
It was 75 degrees when we got here- un seasonably warm for February 23, when the daytime high is usually in the 40s. People were out in force and it was a treat to eat on a restaurant patio in the walking mall. People were out in force, and I would say Charlottevilles walking mall has a lot more energy than the Commons. And we were surprised to see that Donna the Buffalo are playing here next week.
Ithaca and Charlottesville are both liberal bastions in a conservative region. One difference is that Ithaca has not lately been a venue for a national alt right/KKK rally such the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that happened in 2017. However, we are not the enlightened safe haven we aspire to be. Ithaca also has had its KKK presence. This article in the Ithaca Times is a good reminder.
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