Letter from Executive Director Giles Harnsberger

Dear Groundwork RVA community,

There is no more important work to be done in the City of Richmond than the cultivation of youth into thoughtful, engaged, and empowered citizens.  One of the main criteria for the success of a city has to be is its commitment to children and support of their ability to pursue economic self-sufficiency and happiness in an environment that supports their health and well-being.  Groundwork RVA, where I’ve been privileged to be the executive director for nearly five years, is committed to working with teens to identify their own civic potential, pick up a tool, and build the just and vibrant Richmond that at times seems to evade our grasp.

I am writing with the announcement that in the fall of 2018, I am joining Richmond Public Schools as a teacher.  During the past five years, Groundwork RVA has grown from a one-person organization in 2013 to a staff of five in 2018; we’ve worked with partners to open Six Points Innovation Center; acquired a fleet of two vehicles and a trailer; established contracts for landscaping services through Richmond Public Schools, Parks & Recreation, James River Park System, and Public Utilities; and created a south side hub for bicycle repair and donation at the Bellemeade Enterprise Center.  The growth of Groundwork RVA demands a passion for management.  The next director will guide the organization to leverage even greater impact on the City of Richmond and its teenagers.

Building communities from the ground up has never been more important.  Renewing landscapes together redeems our city and gives new depth of meaning to formerly segregated spaces.  Through projects that address equitable access to parks and recreational spaces, teens are manifesting their desire to lead and to create a positive impact around them.  You know this if you are a parent whose child is eager to try out a drill that it is a basic human instinct to do good work.  Too often teens do not have the chance to express the desire to improve their communities.  Groundwork RVA provides this crucially important avenue so that Richmond’s youth can have a voice in the city’s development.

I’m excited beyond belief to engage with Richmond teens as a teacher and will continue to support Groundwork RVA and its team.  I invite you to get engaged and support our new executive director and staff so that Groundwork RVA can expand its work to every child who is eager to take a turn at the drill – practicing a new found sense of civic virtue and belief in their ability to shape their community.

To the Green Team and Green Workforce, thank you for the inspiration and for your work advocating for yourselves and your communities.  To the donors, volunteers, and newsletter readers, thank you so much for giving us the volition we needed to get to where we are today.  Thanks most of all to Groundwork RVA’s staff, Will McQuate, Kendra Norrell, Darquan Robertson, and Arsaiah Robinson, to our board members, and to friends in the Groundwork USA network.  Working with this team has been great adventure.

As we continue projects this summer – working with James River Park System and Habitat for Humanity, and with residential, public, and commercial clients – Groundwork RVA needs your belief in the possibility that we can build a healthier city together.  Teens need to know that you support them and appreciate their hard work.  Please stay in touch by following Groundwork RVA @groundworkrva on social media, and contact me at Giles@Groundworkrva.org for information on opportunities to support the organization in its next chapter.

With gratitude,

Giles Harnsberger

Executive Director, Groundwork RVA