Author Archive

Future of Housing and Benefits for Seniors

Friday, September 16th, 2022

The Charlottesville Area Alliance Housing Team is excited to start educating the public on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Missing Middle Housing, as well as the zoning implications that go with it.  Specifically, the Alliance wants to contextualize these housing concepts in terms of how they would benefit seniors to age in the community.

The panelists for the program were Ian Baxter, regional planner, Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission; Alex Ikefuna, Office of Community Solutions, City of Charlottesville; and Stacy Pethia, principal planner for housing, Albemarle County.  The program was expected to be moderated by SSV President Sue Friedman.

Program Summary

The program was moderated by SSV board member Bob Beard (far right above) who is a former news anchor with CBS 19 in Charlottesville and a longtime reporter in Washington, D.C., including CNN, NBC and Reuters. The three representatives of the area’s housing programs were extremely knowledgeable of the affordable housing dilemmas faced in our area. Each program has studied the concerns and have goals for the future. Sources of future funding will be from public, private and nonprofit organizations. Knowing the need of those who require services and encouraging citizens to participate in the process is essential. Other concerns expressed were the desire for real time metrics, public outreach, and creating a sustainable infrastructure. An abundance of statics was available such as 40 percent of Albemarle County residents spend more than the goal of 30 percent of their income on housing. The City of Charlottesville has a goal of spending $10 million per year on affordable housing. They met this goal in 2021.

Elections in the Future – Ranked Choice Voting?

Sunday, August 14th, 2022

Delegate Sally Hudson (D), 57th House District, described the many benefits of ranked choice voting and the likely hood of it becoming more available in Virginia.  She also answered questions about future elections in Virginia.

Delegate Sally Hudson represents Albemarle (part) and Charlottesville, and serves on the Finance Committee and the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee. In 2019, she became the first woman to serve Charlottesville in the Virginia State House. In her first term, she delivered high-impact legislation to address some of the most pressing challenges we face, from unemployment and evictions to essential health care coverage. As a labor economist, Sally has invested her career in securing the resources and opportunities that every family needs to thrive.

Sally is president of Ranked Choice Virginia and the force behind the bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly.

Sally is an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia, where she teaches statistics in the School of Public Policy. Sally studied economics and math at Stanford University and earned her PhD as a National Science Foundation fellow at MIT.

Grant Brownrigg, Senior Statesmen of Virginia Secretary, shown with Delegate Sally Hudson, moderated the meeting.

To understand Ranked Choice Voting and its advantages, read Bob Gibson’s article in The Daily Progress.

Initiatives to Mitigate Local Climate Change

Monday, June 13th, 2022

What does climate change mean to YOU and to our community? An introduction to climate change action at the local level was presented. Hear how the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and UVa are working together with the local climate collaborative to address climate change issues. And learn YOUR role.  The meeting was moderated by Sue Friedman, Senior Statesmen president.

Program Summary

Click here to see the PowerPoint slides that the speakers used.

Click here to see a video of the event.

Our past programs on climate issues have focused on state and regional efforts while this program focused on local programs and initiatives. Gabe Daley, climate protection manager for Albemarle County; Susan Elliot, climate protection manager for the City of Charlottesville; Andrea Ruedy Trimble, sustainability director for the University of Virginia; and Susan Kruse, executive director of the Community Climate Collaborative were the presenters. The goal of all these groups is to decrease greenhouse admission by 2050 and developing an environment that does nothing to increase emissions.

Collecting accurate data is a shared goal of the groups. Greenhouse Emission Inventory is used by both the city and county. Since Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, policy models need to be consistent with state regulations and cannot be locally determined. In our area 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation and 40 percent from buildings. Since three-quarters of transportation emissions come from a single driver in a car, improving the options to reduce this is necessary. Better public transportation, sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping to provide shade are being developed to encourage leaving the car at home. The city, county and UVa are all looking at electric buses and “greenfleet“ programs. At UVa, infrastructure initiatives include geothermal wells, increased use of sustainable building products and solar panels. Paying for these improvements is an ongoing concern. Grants and federal funds help and UVa has several hundred thousand feet of roof space which can be rented for solar panels. Each presenter concluded with website links and encouraged the audience to get involved by educating themselves and volunteering. UVa has information available on social media, websites, newsletters, and reports. City has information at Charlottesville.gov/1085/Climate-Action-Planning (or/notify me – for news flashes). The county’s activities are at Albemarle.org/climate (or /stewardship) and the C3 website is theclimatecollaborative.org.

General Assembly Update – 2022

Saturday, May 14th, 2022

Three of our local General Assembly members were able to participate in our annual May General Assembly Update meeting: Senator Creigh Deeds (D), Delegate Matt Fariss (R) and Delegate Sally Hudson (D). The program was introduced by Sue Friedman, president of SSV, and moderated by SSV board member Ella Jordan.

 Click here to watch a video of the meeting.

To listen to a podcast of the meeting:

 

Moderator Ella Jordan. Sen Creigh Deeds and Del Matt Fariss, Del Sally Hudson

Program Summary

The current status of Virginia government with a Republican governor and Republican majority in the house and a Democratic majority in the Senate has led to gridlock in approving the budget, which is still not finalized. If it is not approved by July 1, 2022, it is possible that Virginia government will shut down. All the participants expressed hope that agreement will be reached. Even with the current budget surplus the parties agree that what must also be taken into account is that the cost of supplies, labor, etc., have significantly increased so the state is not as flush with cash as it seems.

Many topics were addressed during the presentation, but mental health was a priority of all three speakers. Funding for better support services and housing for persons with mentally illness were primary needs. The differences between running a business or government have caused some concerns with the Democrats who believe that the more transparency the better as opposed to the Republican position that some work should not be public information in that it may stifle participation in government.

Other questions from the audience concerned the Dillon Rule (local government needs state approval to raise and levy taxes), constitutionality of executive orders, the Tip Line, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Who Belongs? Virginia’s Constitution and Defining the Political Community

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

Virginia’s 1776 Declaration of Rights defines government as being for the common benefit. Since then, the Constitution of Virginia has been periodically revised, defining who belongs to the political community. Virginia’s successive constitutions have reflected the great battles of successive eras – the age of Jacksonian democracy, Civil War and Reconstruction, post-Reconstruction white supremacy, civil rights and greater inclusiveness. Virginia’s present Constitution became effective in 1971. Over 50 years have passed since its adoption. How well has it stood the test of time? What are the challenges of our era?

Watch a video of the presentation by A. E. Dick Howard, who is the Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law at the University of Virginia.  Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Professor Howard is a graduate of the University of Richmond and received his law degree from the University of Virginia. He was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where he read philosophy, politics, and economics. After graduating from law school, he was a law clerk to Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The program was moderated by SSV board member Bob Beard who is a former news anchor with CBS 19 in Charlottesville and a longtime reporter in Washington, D.C., including CNN, NBC and Reuters.

A podcast of the event is below.

Program Summary

A. E. Dick Howard, the Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law at the University of Virginia and widely acknowledged as an expert in the fields of constitutional law, comparative constitutionalism, and the Supreme Court, was our speaker on the Virginia constitution. His program began with the history of Virginia’s constitutions and how they have evolved. The original voters were male with a “permanent common interest” i.e., property owners.

The first modifications in the 1829 convention were mild and made modest changes. By the 1851 convention the property owner requirement was dropped. After 1865, to be readmitted to the Union, the Virginia constitution had to ratify the 14th amendment and agree to allowing former slaves to vote.

At the end of Reconstruction, laws began to become more restrictive against Black and lower-class white voters. This was the start of a poll tax, difficult registration requirements, and grandfather clauses. The result of these laws had been that in 1870, 50 percent of Black voters were registered and in 1902 that number was five percent.

Governor Goodwin convened the most recent constitutional convention with a group of distinguished Virginia men with Professor Howard as executive director. The final document was passed by a 72 percent vote in legislature when Holton was governor. The major changes in the current constitution as listed by the speaker are these: organization of the educational system with the introduction of standards of quality, anti-discrimination clauses (including gender) for the first time, funding of public schools at both the state and local level, the court system was reorganized to be more efficient, and introducing environment as part of public policy.

In summary, Professor Howard feels that the constitution has stood the test of time well and reflects the will of the people while acknowledging the need for a healthy amendment process. Questions were then taken from the audience. The entire text of the Virginia Constitution can be accessed at this link: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/constitutionfull/#

A Garden for Everyone

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont is in the design phase, however much has been done already.  The community is welcome to visit.  Building a public botanical garden is not an easy feat. Botanical Garden of the Piedmont (BGP) has been driven by the Charlottesville community’s input, aspirations, and desire to be a place of beauty, education, healing, and unity.  The input phase of the garden design process is ongoing.  Through our continuous outreach, we hope to ensure that the built garden will represent the hopes and dreams of the entire community.

This presentation by executive director Jill Trischman-Marks outlines what has already been achieved toward building this garden, and gives insight into the road map ahead.

A video of this presentation can be found by clicking here.

A podcast of the presentation follows.

Jill Trischman-Marks is a landscape architect with almost 30 years of experience in the Central Virginia area. Jill holds a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia. Projects she has worked on include the five original gardens at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, the Thomas Jefferson Parkway in Charlottesville, and the Poplar Forest entrance road and trails in Forest Virginia.

The program was moderated by SSV board member Norman Dill.

Program Summary

The 14-acre site near Charlottesville High School is in its early planning stages and is actively recruiting input from the citizens. Modern botanical gardens embed themselves in their community to deal with urban challenges. The mission of BGP is to invite community members to engage in nature, to educate and inspire through beauty and importance of plants, to advance sustainability and to promote human environmental well-being.

Already an award winner of its master plan from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The completion of the site analysis has identified needs such as a bus stop to improve access. Input from the community desires native flora, trails, amphitheater, visitors center, aquatic discovery area near stream and a canopy walk. A specific planting design has not yet been developed, but the guiding principles are established.

What is happening now: Invasive plant and garbage removal has opened an area for outdoor space during COVID allowing for groups to gather and the stream to revive. Garden Guardians, a group of volunteers, meet twice a month to maintain the site. Another volunteer group, Garden Guides, provide free tours two Saturday mornings a month. In addition, there are grant writers and even a drone operator who provides pictures and videos used by designers in planning stream restoration. BGP is making a concerted effort to develop a garden for the whole community to embrace and enjoy nature and each other.

The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont is free and open daily from sunrise to sunset. There is a community survey on their website for individuals to participate in. For more information: piedmontgarden.org, or email info@piedmontgarden.org

Moving Forward with Equity in Our Community

Thursday, February 10th, 2022

We were told how the University of Virginia and Albemarle County are addressing equity in our communities. We learned the difference between equity and equality, and how equity can improve the well being and quality of life for all community members.

A video of the Zoom meeting can be viewed by clicking here.

Listen to the podcast below.

 

Program Summary

Elizabeth Beasley is in the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion where she is director of community partnerships. In addition she is a member of the President’s Council on University-Community Partnerships and cochair of its Public Health Work Group. She began her presentation answering the question, “What is the difference between “equal” and “equity.” Equal implies that there is a one size fits all resolution to an issue. Equity is different in that it is an intentional way of equalizing responses according to the needs of the recipients. The goal of the President’s Council is to build partnerships with the community such as using local vendors, improving public health and public housing. Practicing good neighbor ethics, pursuing actions with mutual benefits and building authentic partnerships are ways of achieving equity between UVA and the local community.

Putnam Ivey de Cortez from Albemarle County’s Office of Equity and Inclusion coordinates programs for the county government. The mission statement of this program is to improve the well being and quality of life for all community members. In order to accomplish this goal, understanding the issue more thoroughly is essential so, the speaker presented several demographic studies. For example, factors affecting health were found to be 20% clinical care, 30% health behaviors, 40% socioeconomic factors and 10% physical environment. These statistics provide the foundation for determining the work the staff is trained to do. Currently the county is revising their comprehensive plan and soliciting a broad selection of its citizens to give their input. If you are interested learn more and apply at engage.albemarle.org/AC44workinggroup.

Bob Beard moderated the program. He is an SSV board member and a former news anchor with CBS 19 in Charlottesville and a longtime reporter in Washington, D.C., including CNN, NBC and Reuters.

 

 

Marijuana: Medical and Adult Use In Virginia

Friday, January 14th, 2022

Ngiste Abebe provided a two-part program: medical marijuana, and adult use marijuana (legalized/decriminalized recreational use).  She answered many questions from the Zoom audience.  The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Peyton Williams.

A video of the presentation can be accessed by clicking here.

You can listen to a podcast of the presentation by clicking below.

 

Ngiste Abebe is vice president of public policy at Columbia Care, one of the nation’s leading medical cannabis companies. She serves as the president of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association and on the board of the District of Columbia Cannabis Trade Association. Prior to that, she was co-founder of Undaunted Ventures, a political consulting firm which specializes in innovative narrative, training, and leadership coaching services, and which grew out of her work training progressive organizations and working on campaigns across Virginia. She is the co-founder and co-director emerita of New Leaders Council Virginia, a progressive leadership institute. Ngiste holds a BA in Public Policy from the University of Chicago and a Masters in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. She’s a NORML board member, vice president of Public Policy for Columbia Care (industry-leading medical marijuana dispensary) and newly appointed by Governor Northam to the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Board. She happily gives and receives recommendations for sci-fi novels and board games.

Program Summary

Ngiste Abebe’s presentation focused on the medical marijuana program and adult legalized use in Virginia. The original legalized use (2018) of cannabis in Virginia was for pediatric seizures. Currently its primary use is for pain, anxiety and insomnia as prescribed by a certified practitioner. Registration at the Board of Pharmacy is necessary for individuals or medical personnel to prescribe the drug. Unless registered, health care providers can talk to patients about the drug but cannot prescribe it. Lack of resources, including basic knowledge and locations to buy the drug, prevent having easy access to legal cannabis for medical use. The nearest available resource to Charlottesville is Salem, Virginia. In addition, complying with state regulations is challenging for sellers and growers to accomplish.

Legal adult recreational use is now up to one ounce and four individual cannabis per adult in Virginia.  Because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, one cannot buy cannabis for recreational use through providers where medical marijuana is sold legally in Virginia. In other areas where pot is sold legally it is a strictly cash operation. Business owners cannot use banks (federal law) and are subject to robbery and excessive security costs. (The illegal pot industry is an estimated $2 billion.)  In spite of all the challenges, legalization of marijuana in Virginia has bipartisan support in the General Assembly. Ms. Abede suggests the following links for more information:

Virginia NORML: https://www.vanorml.org/
Weekly Facebook Live on Fridays at 4pm:
https://www.facebook.com/vanorml/
Action alerts:
https://www.vanorml.org/act

Cannabis certification provider: https://www.vanorml.org/doctors

How to register with Board of Pharmacy: https://www.vanorml.org/register

 

Becoming an Age-Friendly Livable Community

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

A discussion was held of the eight elements that contribute to an age-friendly community, and how the Charlottesville Area Alliance (CAA) is advocating to ensure these are included in area comprehensive plans. Through evaluation, planning, education, advocacy, and engagement, the Alliance hopes to create a community that fosters happier, healthier residents of all ages.

A video of this session can be found by clicking here.

Upload or listen to the podcast.

These are the participants.

Peter Thompson has served as executive director of The Center since 1999. The Center positively impacts our community by creating opportunities for healthy aging through over 100 programs and scores of partnerships. The Center at Belvedere recently received the American Institute of Architects Merit award for design in aging and has won the Pinnacle Award as America’s premier community center as well as numerous local and state awards. It is the first national accredited center in Virginia, achieving this highest standard every five years since 2001. Peter received his B.A. in History from UVA and his MPA in Nonprofit Management from VCU. Recent community service includes the board of directors of OLLI, Madison House, Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce, and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. He is Virginia’s representative to the National Institute of Senior Centers Leadership Council and he helped found the Charlottesville Area Alliance where he serves as Chair of the Transportation Work Group.

George Worthington is the dementia services coordinator with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services Division for Community Living Division. The Dementia Services Coordinator position was established in 2013 in response to Goal 1, Objective A of Virginia’s first Dementia State Plan, published in 2011: “Create a position and obtain specific funding to hire a full time Dementia Services Coordinator (DSC) to coordinate the services provided to persons with Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementia working in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Commission.” George oversees Virginia’s dementia-capability by recommending policy and coordinating statewide data collection, research and analysis; and training and awareness efforts in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Commission.

Kim Volker is the manager of Central Virginia with Care is There, a Geriatric Care Management Company.  She works with lifestyle coordinators, clients and referral sources and enjoys being able to service the agency’s clients and families as they navigate through the process of aging.  She always told her father that he was committed to her continued education and she was privileged to be allowed to take care of him. Kim can now serve others from that experience.

Sue Friedman, SSV Vice President, moderated the session.

 

 

 

 

Program Summary

The December SSV meeting began with our annual meeting with reports from the committees and the elections of officers for the new year: President Sue Friedman, Vice President Peyton Williams, Secretary Grant Brownrigg and Treasurer Jim Peterson. Annual dues remain at $20.00 per year and are now payable on the SSV website by credit card via PayPal, in addition to mailing a check.

Peter Thompson presented an overview of CAA whose mission is to lead the advancement of an age friendly community which is good for everyone. CAA has been accepted as a partner in the WHO/AARP age-friendly network, which gives the group access to a global network of advisors and groups working toward similar goals. There are eight standards for successful communities such as outdoor space, transportation, housing, social inclusion and health services. George Worthington spoke on age and dementia friendly perspective working together and including a dementia friendly aspect to its plans such as dementia friends’ initiative to keep individuals involved in the community. He also presented information of the CAA’s social participation action plan to increase participation and education to foster the understanding of aging and dementia and CAA’s housing efforts. Kim Volker provided information on CAA’s new alliance: citizen advocates to increase the engagement of citizens in legislative priorities identified by CAA. The final topic was the CAA goals for transportation such as bus stop improvements. Questions were then taken from the audience. There is a lot of local government support for the goals of CAA and currently it is networking successfully with many different organizations in the central Virginia area.

Virginia and Climate Change – Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Friday, November 12th, 2021

William Shobe, a professor at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Policy at the University of Virginia and director of the Center for Economic and Policy Studies, reported on what studies tell us about the likely technology mix needed for a transition to carbon neutral by 2050, and the likely costs and benefits of getting there. Some of these studies model decarbonization of just the electricity sector, commensurate with the requirements of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, while others look at economy-wide decarbonization. He also discussed some of the key roadblocks that need to be addressed if the decarbonization goals are to be achieved at a reasonable cost.  The program was moderated by Bob McGrath, past SSV president.

The virtual session was recorded and the video can be seen here:  https://youtu.be/kbYp674SF8M

Below is a podcast of the session.

Program Summary

Professor Shobe spoke on the energy transition initiative that Virginia reduce electricity carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and the pathways to reach this goal cost effectively. He discussed not only the opportunities to accomplish this, but also the roadblocks to getting there.

In 2006 Virginia reached the peak of carbon emissions and there has now been a considerable drop off. The reason behind this decline is the decrease in coal use and the increase in natural gas. After years of minimal usage of renewable energy sources, there is now a growing interest in hydro, solar and wind energy production. Since 2010 the importation of electricity into Virginia has decreased reducing carbon emissions. Since 2016 solar production has become increasingly popular. Currently the cheapest new resource to build is solar. In 2021 Virginia has produced the same amount of energy from solar as coal.

It was noted that the planning of these solar projects all started before the Clean Air Act was passed.

Professor Shobe stressed the importance of regional cooperation. Virginia belongs to PJM (named for the first three participating states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland) a group that shares energy consisting of neighboring states. East coast states developing offshore wind energy will have to work together as well as local and state governments needing to develop policies to encourage building of new facilities. To the last point, for local governments to be willing to support new plants, they want to be able to tax at the same rate as other development projects, not the current reduced rate.

The biggest roadblocks to reaching the 2050 goal are reducing carbon emissions in transportation, buildings, and industrial. Progress has already been made as in decarbonizing electricity.

Professor Shobe is hopeful that costs will come down in some energy sectors and new technologies will be available to make products more affordable. In the end, he feels with advance planning and cooperation a zero-carbon emission goal may be accomplished.