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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Promoting Activity on an Urban River

Richmond, Virginia is planning a revitalization of its riverfront. How can the city ensure that economic and cultural development also happens there?


In Richmond, Virginia, a massive revitalization plan has been announced for its James River, which will bring new parks, walking trails, and public spaces to the downtown riverfront. But how can the city ensure that economic and community activity—people, in other words—also come to the river? At GOOD Ideas for Cities RVA, the James RVA team revealed their plan to encourage, share, and promote activities along the river, making it a social and cultural destination for the city. By giving the river an online personality, James RVA, the team hoped to create a social media presence for the river, one that you could friend on Facebook or tag on Instagram. A website and app would collect and map references to the river, creating a vibrant picture of what was happening there. A program with local businesses would also encourage development with incentives to create river-themed tours, retail, or pop-up eateries that could bring economic growth to the area.

Challenge: The James River is a critical resource for the region. The City of Richmond has recently announced a comprehensive plan to revitalize the riverfront in the city that includes parks, trails, and community gathering places. With this plan in mind, how can we leverage the James River and Canal Walk as an economic driver that brings not only people, but dollars to the region?

Andreas Addison, Civic Innovation Team, City of Richmond

James RVA: Larkin Garbee, Andrea Goulet, Amy Broderick, Holly Pearce, Jake Mitchell, Jeff MacDonald, Kendall Morris, Scott Ukrop, K. Giles Harnsberger, Evan MacKenzie, Sarah Keane, Ronald Rogers, Allen Chamberlain, Caitlin Kilcoin, Christie Thompson, Maureen Neal, Corey Lane, Emily Smith, Maritza Mercado

To learn more about this idea, contact kg[dot]harnsberger[at]gmail[dot]com

Video by Patrick Gregory

GOOD Ideas for Cities pairs creative problem-solvers with real urban challenges proposed by civic leaders. To learn more visit Watch more videos of recent GOOD Ideas for Cities events, and if you'd like to talk about bringing the program to your city or school, email alissa[at]goodinc[dot]com or follow us at @IdeasforCities

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