Is my backyard better than yours?

One of my former bosses used to say perception is reality. I’m not sure I agree with that statement, but I do know that misperceptions have a way of creating hard feelings.

Take the misperception that some folks have about life in east Richmond and in eastern Henrico County. For some people east has become the ugly stepsister of west.

Reasonable people know that each part of our region has good things to brag about. So allow me to brag some about my neck of the woods. Then I hope you’ll feel free to jump in and share what’s great about where you live.

I’ve lived in eastern Henrico since moving to the Richmond area four years ago. We had a choice of where to live and we chose here.

Sometimes when I tell people where I live, I can almost see them thinking “Why do you want to live THERE?!” And some of them come right out and ask me why I chose east over west or any other place.

My part of far eastern Henrico is rural without being remote. We’re surrounded by woods and we’re not too far from the James River.

I can leave my house, drive about 15 minutes on Route 5 to the edge of Richmond; and have a fabulous Sunday brunch at The Boathouse Restaurant.

Or I can head west and be in Williamsburg for a little history and shopping within 30 minutes or so. It takes a bit longer if I avoid I-64, which I usually do.

I can easily take advantage of the cheaper early morning flights out of Richmond International Airport without having toget up before the crack of dawn. And I don’t have to pay any tolls.

In case you don’t know, eastern Henrico has some neat little communities. Varina is one of the most well-known. But there are lots of others tucked among the woods, hills and horse stables. Sandston. Highland Springs. Seven Pines. Glendale. Elko and others.

About two months ago as I started exploring how I could better connect with my community, I met Mark Romers, president of the Eastern Henrico Business Association.

It turns out Mark and I share a similar goal. One of my missions is to help others learn about some of the good people and places in eastern Henrico. Mark said that’s also one of the association’s missions.

He said while he doesn’t have anything against the east end of Richmond, he wants people to know that eastern Henrico has its own character and its own identity therefore the two geographic areas shouldn’t be considered the same.

I’m not trying to pit one part of the region against the other. I have friends all over the area so I know that every community has good things going for them. I also know that my little part of the world isn’t perfect. No place is. I know what I like and that happens to be right here where I am.

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6 thoughts on “Is my backyard better than yours?

  1. Troy Bell

    No doubt, eastern Henrico has its advantages. Along the lines of your mention of proximity to RIC, if your business dictates frequent air travel – you’re near the airport and its not like living under the shadow of a large hub. White Oak coming online has made some things more convenient, as has the January opening of the Airport Connector off Pocahontas 895. Now, you can invite your friends up from Southside and the trip is a breeze.

  2. Carol Mawyer

    I have lived in Eastern Henrico County, in the Elko community to be more specific, for 20+ years. When my husband and I relocated to the Richmond area in 1987 and bought our first home in the “east end” colleagues questioned WHY we’d want to live there! He worked downtown and I worked in Chesterfield County! As I commuted across the river people, I ‘d see bumper stickers that touted “West is Best” and “South of the River by invitation only.” I was amazed by the geograpical boundaries that Richmonders had established. West End. Southside. Northside. Downtown. The Fan. Far West End. Really? Aren’t all these areas what makes Richmond Richmond?

    Yes, I drive 20+ miles to get to my my current job at VCU. Yes, I’m 8 miles from the nearest 7-11 and even further from a Starbucks, a Target or a real mall. But I love my home that is nestled on a 1-acre wooded lot. I love that I really know my neighbors and their kids and their extended families. I love the fact that we hold block parties and rally around each other to remove downed trees (from driveways, roofs and even county maintained roads) when hurricanes or winter storms strike. I love that my yellow lab can amble across the road and is warmly greeted as she plops down for a nap on any number of my neighbors’ porches. Life just doesn’t get much better!

  3. Karen A. Chase

    Consumer perception is sometimes based in experience, but it’s often a result of poor marketing. Too often neighborhoods, even those like Church Hill where I live, let the media take control of their publicity efforts. They speak up the most when the news has reported an event in their area, and wrongly labeled them as “East End” as though it’s a bad thing. Reactionary marketing again allows outside forces to influence the perception of our consumers. Ideally, our East End neighborhoods should positively and proactively promote their areas through planned marketing efforts, messaging and branding. Press releases, newsletters, articles, events, website and social media marketing are all a part of that mix. With time, a positive image is the one roaring the loudest and most often, and if backed by great experiences, it will drown out negative perceptions. Your article is a fine example of how to begin to change the tides.

  4. shominik

    Let’s all do it, Karen!
    Anyone who lives on the “east end” should keep reminding others that there are so many positive things in our corner of the world.

  5. MaggieB

    I find that living in southern Chesterfield county sometimes people do the same thing to us! I laugh when I hear someone refer to the Chesterfield Town Center as “southside”! Heck, that’s 30 minutes north of me! Think Chesterfield Courthouse, Magnolia Grange and Pocahontas State Park! Yes, we live a bit removed but I love the fact that in The Highlands we can have a 2+ acre wooded lot and when we arrive home the only sounds other than a lawn mower and children laughing are the birds!

    We moved here 9 years ago and had our pick of where to live…and Southern Chesterfield County suits us just fine!

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