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Web Site Unites City Newcomers

Richmond is known for a lot of things — history, architecture, crime — but not necessarily for being especially warm to outsiders. Some newcomers note that Richmonders can be a chilly bunch.

So much so, that if you polled new residents and non-natives about whether they found the marketing slogan "Historic Richmond Region: Easy to Love," true to life, they'd likely say no.

But a new kind of startup group could help change this perception.

It's called "Transplants," and it's an extension of the group "Twin Cities Transplants" that started in 1990 in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

The group is connected by a Web site, Those who sign on can meet others like themselves and exchange information and ideas. The site's message board is devoted to Richmond life.

"We're a social group for professionals, ages late 20s-40s, single or married, who have moved into a new city and want to build a circle of friends and a sense of community in their new city," according to the site.

The idea to bring the group to Richmond came when Kristine Kieswar, a former Minnesotan, moved to Richmond a little more than a year ago and found it difficult to meet people, particularly those who shared her interests. She contacted her former friends with the Transplants group in the Twin Cities and asked if Richmond could be added.

Already the group is active in Chicago, Seattle, Denver, Dallas and Oakland.

"It's good news for the 30ish crowd who say it's hard to meet people in Richmond. Now there will be a network for young professionals, married or single, who want to get out and enjoy the city," Kieswar says. "There's nothing like connecting with people who are in the same boat as you."

To kick things off, Kieswar plans to coordinate an informal social gathering such as a happy hour to pique people's interest.

Kieswar points out that Transplants isn't a business-networking group, and it's not a singles group, but rather it's a gathering of folks who share the difficult experience of being transplants. Even so, natives of Richmond are welcome to join, she says.

— Brandon

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