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Growing Power From the Ground Up


In response to “Powerless” (Back Page, Aug. 13), Thad Williamson's prescription for a more vibrant, empowered Richmond confirms the importance of grassroots groups currently striving to “develop and build enough power in this city to begin driving the public agenda.”

The Partnership for Smarter Growth, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization, is one such group. We connect concerned citizens to one another and to training and resources related to land use, transportation, and quality of life. The mission is to create and foster smart-growth citizen groups in eight localities in the Richmond region to engage in a more democratic process for planning the future of our communities.

In the city, we have partnered with others in an Envision Richmond campaign to gather over 1,000 petition signatures in support of the citizen-based, groundbreaking Downtown Master Plan.
Our strategy? Building power through grassroots organizing and education and encouraging a groundswell of public participation in the shaping of our city and our region. Smarter growth means reinvestment in existing communities, which positively impacts air and water quality, housing affordability, job accessibility, public infrastructure efficiency, community and economic vitality, and quality of life for all citizens — including those underrepresented high-poverty neighborhoods and public school children Mr. Williamson justly spotlights.

The firm belief that everyone deserves a place at the table defines smarter growth and the grassroots movement transforming our political and built environment. Maybe by next year's Style Weekly Power List, more members of “the existing leadership class, inside and outside of government” will recognize the power, innovation and shared economic success to be gained from dynamic, broad-based, civic participation.

Sheila Sheppard
Partnership for Smarter Growth

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