The Historic Six-Points Intersection welcomed a new neighbor last month: the 6 Points Innovation Center (6PIC for short) at it’s grand-opening ceremony. (Read about it here.)
6PIC is a hub for several nonprofits (Saving our Youth, Groundwork RVA, Storefront for Community Design and Art 180) with the shared objective to elevate and motivate local teens in Highland Park by providing programs to help support them in their individual goals. Each organization immerses teens in different projects from artwork, urban conservation, civic involvement and broadcasting, just to name a few.
We met with Kendra Norrell, the Green Team Manager for Groundwork RVA, to delve into her role within Groundwork RVA, 6PIC and the community.
Groundwork RVA’s mission statement is to “empower youth to occupy a hands-on role in creating positive changes to enhance green spaces in Richmond communities. In afterschool and summer settings, we encourage youth to think innovatively about mending community. Teens address new opportunities to connect residents by increasing access to local and National Parks, improving school campuses, and creating neighborhood assets from blighted or contaminated sites.”
The opportunity to work with teens in Northside is particularly special for Kendra. “There’s nothing to do in Northside for teenagers. I know this as a person who grew up in Northside. And it’s fun to be able to offer something back to this same area where I used to experience the same issue as these teens.”
Kendra recently returned from a camping trip in Shenandoah National Park with a group of teens through Groundwork RVA’s Green Team program. This opportunity was created through a 503(c) trust with the National Park Service to give underprivileged teens an introduction to National Parks. Kendra noted that the majority of the teens that accompanied her had never been on a camping trip or visited a National Park. This trip also provides the opportunity to engage in multiple conservation activities that introduce teens to different career paths in the National Park Service (such as trail rebuilding and working with botanists). “Taking teens on camping trips is definitely my favorite part” Kendra says as she discusses the importance of seeing teens engage in different learning opportunities outside of their normal comfort zone.
Additionally, Groundwork RVA is partnering with the Science Museum of Virginia, VCU and University of Richmond to conduct a research project led by Dr. Jeremy Hoffman measuring the heat in various parts of Richmond. Participants will visit eight different sectors in the city to measure the temperature throughout various parts of the day in order to learn more about “heat islands.” A heat island is an urban area that has more concrete surface than greenery (trees, bushes, etc) causing a much hotter climate. Typically these “heat islands” are located in lower-income urban areas as they have less greenery. Kendra points out that Highland Park is a prime example of a heat island. The team will continue to monitor the temperatures as they bring more greenery to Highland Park to see if this affects the neighborhood in a positive (i.e. cooler) way. More information can be found here.
When school starts, the team at 6PIC will have the opportunity to work with teens at Armstrong, Open, Richmond Community and John Marshall High Schools. 6PIC plans to be a hub for students to gather after school. A lounge area will be located front and center for teens to hang out. The openness of 6PIC will allow a safe space for teens to conduct very real discussions ranging from topics such as gender-neutral inclusivity and gentrification. A computer lab will be located in the center for teens to work on homework with volunteer assistants twice a week. In the back, stands a recording studio for teens to create, record and edit their own podcasts.
“We want to bring teens in this area the opportunity to discover what they like, the resources to figure out a career path that takes their interests into account as well as the decisions they need to make in high school to take steps towards that career path.” says Kendra.
That’s exactly what will happen as 6PIC’s nonprofits will each have two teens represent their organization and ultimately determine what the Innovation Center will provide for teens and how the funding will be spent. The future of 6PIC is quite literally in the teens’ hands.
“We’re ready to engage the neighborhood. We want to embrace what our neighbors in Highland Park want to see done in their community.”
6PIC is open from 9:30am-5:00pm Monday through Friday.
Volunteers and interested parties are welcome to stop by anytime.
Additionally, Kendra can be reached via e-mail at Kendra@groundworkrva.org.