Tom Tom Founders Festival Social Media Panel Tonight!

By Social Media

Tonight I’ll be taking part in a panel discussion: it’s part of the Tom Tom Founders’ Festival . Tonight’s event is focused on “Place Based Innovation” and the panelists will be talking about social media. I’ll be joined by:

The event begins at 6:59pm and is at The Gleason building in downtown Charlottesville. I hope you can join the discussion or engage on Twitter with the hashtag #TTFF. Charlottesville Tomorrow will be on hand to create a podcast of the event.


13 BIG Things We Love about Charlottesville, Virginia

By Communications, Media, Public Relations

I’ve self-ordained as Charlottesville’s curator of what we love about our town. I cataloged 32 Small Things We Like About Charlottesville, Va., which led to an opportunity in Woman’s Day Magazine reaching more than four million. 

Now I’m thinking BIG and asked friends and followers what big things they like about our home in Central Virginia. The results are in:

  1. The Lawn at the University of Virginia
  2. John Paul Jones Arena (and specifically, basketball games at JPJ)
  3. Shenandoah National Park
  4. The Downtown Mall
  5. The Blue Ridge Mountains
  6. Monticello
  7. Two excellent hospitals/health care systems, Martha Jefferson Hospital (with a brand-new facility) and the world-class presence of the University of Virginia Health Care System
  8. Our designation as the locavore capital of the world
  9. Food! (Great farms, bakeries, restaurants, wineries, breweries and more!)
  10. The great musical legacy; that big acts come to town when they could easily pass a town this size by in favor of larger venues
  11. The Charlottesville Community Scholarship Program, established by the Charlottesville City Council to help make higher education accessible to all citizens and employees of the city
  12. It’s a small town with all the culture of a big city
  13. The (mostly) open-mindedness of the people who live here

This list is by no means complete. What would you add? Remember, we’re looking for BIG!




Connecting to History through the Socialization of Food: A Morning with Leni Sorensen

By Social Media

I spent the most amazing morning this weekend learning to can peaches and tomatoes. I’m fascinated by and deeply attracted to learning skills mastered by generations before me. (See my passion for homemade pie at Pie it Forward). 

Mostly these skills are related to food; growing it, cooking it, preserving it and preparing it in ways that I never learned as a child. While I was thrilled to spend the time learning a valuable method of preserving the dozens of tomatoes that are about to pour forth from our fabulous back yard vegetable garden, I was even more enthralled with my teacher, Leni Sorensen.

Dr. Leni Sorensen is the African-American Research Historian for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello. Leni is a treasure; an endless source of experience, passion for craft, thoughtful consuming, preparing and creating and a gentle, nurturing soul. She is an actual grandmother and someone you want to adopt you the minute you meet her. Leni welcomed me into her kitchen and her garden and I was immediately at home.

It may be partly the culture I live in; in Charlottesville, Va., locavores outnumber Baptists* and bring to the consuming of local foods a fervor some cultures reserve for religion. It’s counter to the culture I grew up and worked in, even five or six years ago, thinking little of the origin of my food and less still about the economy and practices required to provide me out of season produce.

Leni, through teaching students like me to can fruits and vegetables, to bake bread, to cut and freeze beef and pork, is spreading a kind of retr0-socialization, so that we may provide more sustainable lifestyles for our families.

The contrast is not lost on me that my technology-driven peers, professional women grafted to smartphones, bloggers and massive consumers of electronics who, at the same time are gardeners, knitters, crafters. We cook, shop and plan our meals around a local structure and try to reach back to a time when food was healthier; life, simpler. We find each other via social networks and learn from one another’s content online. I was introduced to Leni via a friend who is a food blogger, (who I also knew online long before we met in person) and discovered her classes via Facebook.

It’s kind of fascinating, isn’t it? Technology is bringing us together to focus and learn arts that were it not for the ability to connect in this way, would undoubtedly fade out of our consciousness. I’m grateful for people like Leni and for these tools that allow us to find our passions and connect with others that share them. You can find information about Leni’s classes and what she’s up to in her kitchen and garden on her website, The View from Indigo House.

*I’m not sure if there are actually more locavores than Baptists in Charlottesville but I will tell you this: in the five and a half years I’ve lived here I’ve met dozens of people who are confirmed and self-described locavores and have yet to meet someone who told me they are Baptist. Very scientific, I know.

32 Small Things we like About Charlottesville, Va.

By Uncategorized

I was inspired by my friend Melissa Gilliam aka MilliGFunk, and this post, Grace in Small Things, sharing what readers love about St. Louis, Missouri. I decided to put the question to my own community of Charlottesville, Va.

Here are some of the small things we love about Charlottesville:

  1. Marco and Luca dumplings
  2. The view coming down 250 from Pantops
  3. Beer Run
  4. The Whale Tails
  5. Walking on the grounds of UVa
  6. Number 904 at Saigon Cafe
  7. Seeing people you know
  8. Dogwoods in the spring
  9. Connecting with dogs’ siblings via social media
  10. Dog friendliness
  11. Being able to pick apples, ride a horse, float a river or hike the Appalachian Trail within a short drive
  12. Outdoorsy feel
  13. Big city offerings in a quaint small town
  14. Azaleas in full bloom in May along the 250 bypass
  15. The hike to Bear Fence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park
  16. Walking the downtown mall
  17. Having lunch (or even better WINE) outside on the downtown mall
  18. The fact we still have bookSTORES
  19. The independent coffee shops
  20. The Festival of the Book
  21. Pie Fest
  22. The VA Film Festival
  23. The Chocolate Festival
  24. Knowing the name of your mailman
  25. Food: specifically tons of amazing local restaurants, local farms and farmers markets and CSAs, most of the population loving local and shunning chains… I don’t know what I’d do without Spudnuts, Bodos, Beer Run, Mas, The Nook, Sticks, Christians, Horse & Buggy, Relay Foods, the Saturday market…all our awesome, awesome local businesses
  26. Iconoclastic bagel shops that won’t slice more than 3 bagels per order and will look at you like a space alien if you mention the word “toasted.” 🙂
  27. Any given day of the week, half the town is in a coffee shop. Love a bustling morning office
  28. Local eggs and other great local groceries
  29. Support for entrepreneurs. This town makes most things possible!
  30. That despite the first snow of winter there were musicians playing outside at the Downtown Mall
  31. Public observation night at UVa observatory
  32. Cafe Con Leche from Cafe Cubano

Another reader had a “like,” and a question: “I like the fact that, even in the midst of a traffic jam, it is a custom in Charlottesville to let somebody else merge into the stream of cars from the side, ahead of you. This little piece of civilized, polite behavior makes me feel good about my city. Tell me, is this common elsewhere, or is Charlottesville unique in this feature?”

What do you think?