I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Virginia Women’s Monument on Capitol Square, titled “Voices from the Garden”, biking to the event on my first RVA BIKE SHARE excursion. It was a great experience, cycling up the hill (okay that required some effort!) first to Sefton Coffee to meet up with other women entrepreneurs, members of the RVA Boss Babes Group, to enjoy conversation before walking together to the ceremony.
IN THE GARDEN
Honoring the contributions of 410 years of Virginia’s women, and part of Commemorate 2019, this monument will feature 12 important female figures, well-known and lesser-known, of Native American, African, and European descent, that played major roles in weaving the fabric of our nation. This will be an innovative, interactive monument to help Virginians, Americans, and all visitors to our beautiful Commonwealth celebrate, not just the sacrifices of these 12 women, but all women whose heroics may still go unsung. The Virginia Capitol Foundation is still at work raising money for completion.
Bob Brown, Richmond Times-Dispatch photographer, managed to catch me peering at the model, and while fun to be snapped for the paper, I am more pleased for the chance to open up the dialogue into these women and others like them, including those among us now. Their stories run deeper than the soil, they forge a continuous line from the women that called the shores of the James River their home for thousands of years before Jamestown was settled by the English. The title of the monument is fitting way to symbolize the accomplishments Virginia women have prized from the soil. From Mother Earth with her fecundity, to native women, forming hand-built bowls or digging up the tuberous plant, Tuckahoe, to grind into flour. From African women teaching little girls to dress a wound, to blend spices, or to just blend in, so secret reading lessons would go unnoticed; to English women, recording thoughts, keeping poise and decorum in public, while aiding a rebel cause behind closed doors. Strong-willed women, all Virginia women, all essential parts of this land where America began and which has continued to change as women have enriched her soil with a deepening diversity, an ever lovelier garden of flowers representing women from nation upon nation, upon nation upon nation, who now call Virginia home. Who come not just to claim the soil as birthright but to roll up their sleeves, and do the hard and important work of citizenship, and demanding from this claim what it offers them, a chance to live a beautiful life of freedom, by each, to her own definition.
*Our Signature, Jamestown Island and Discover Downtown Richmond Bike Excursions, focus on the freedom and fun of a bike, an important invention in its time for offering women a new freedom, explores our history and our present by placing the past on the landscape and highlights the four major events that happened to the colony in 1619, two of which are 1) the first large group of women to risk the uncertainties of life and marriage in Virginia and 2) the first Africans to arrive on our shores in chains, both traded for provisions. The English women as brides in exchange for tobacco, and the Africans for corn and other provisions.
Come with us and experience Virginia with us!
Anne Poarch • Founder